The first and perhaps most important thing to know about attempting to do ridiculous things in a Volvo EX30 on ice is that it will lie to you. You'll take it out, try to engage in a few good-natured slides, and quickly realize that the stability and traction control systems are way too conservative for the winter drifts you may want. 

And so you'll try to turn them off. A few taps deep into the 12.3-inch, vertically oriented touchscreen reveals a handy little toggle that says "ESC Off." It's easily flipped, and the requisite little yellow icon appears at the top of the display. The implication is clear: Your life is in your own hands.

2025 Volvo EX30 Quick Specs
Battery 64 Kilowatt-Hour Lithium-Ion NMC
Range (EPA Estimated) 275 Miles (RWD) / 265 Miles (AWD)
Max DC Fast Charging Rate 153 Kilowatts
Output 268 HP And 253 LB-FT (RWD) / 422 HP And 400 LB-FT (AWD)
Base Price $34,950 + Destination (Core RWD) / $44,900 + $1,295 Destination (Plus AWD)
As-Tested Price $41,895 (Ultra RWD) / $48,195 (Ultra AWD)
Volvo EX30 Ice Drive

But it's lying. The stability and traction control systems are still very much enabled. The car will actively and aggressively cut power if you apply too much throttle or steering. Big, glorious ice drifts are effectively verboten.

You know what? That's okay. Because this isn't a sports car. Most people won’t ever want to drive that way in winter weather; in fact, they want the opposite outcome. The starting-around-$35,000 EX30 is Volvo's latest and smallest car on the market, and it's also the brand's most significant EV by a mile. Its stability control systems are so good that even though I lamented the lack of drifts, I was impressed by how well both the all-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive flavors managed the minimal grip available.

Volvo flew me all the way up to northern Sweden to get a little more seat time in the EX30 ahead of its U.S. release later this year. This is the second time I've driven the thing. Last year, our drive was in sunny Lisbon.

This time, it was through snowy Luleå in Sweden. 

Gallery: Volvo EX30 Ice Drive (Volvo Pics)

Heading North

Back there in Lisbon, my first impressions of the EX30 were of a fresh, clean car that drove like something far more polished and poised than you might expect given its size and starting price. It was comfortable on the highway, quick on secondary roads, and had excellent ride quality throughout. In the flesh, I found its design to be conservative yet classy (typical Volvo), while the interior felt frugal without feeling cheap. I was really quite impressed with the thing.

Volvo EX30 Ice Drive

Now, with a second go in a more northerly latitude, my intentions were far more focused on finding out how well the single-motor, RWD version handled an arctic winter and whether it'd be worth the extra $6,000 to get the dual-motor, AWD flavor.

I wasted no time in jumping into the RWD version. Prior to this car and the single-motor XC40 and C40 Recharge, Volvo hasn't sold an RWD car since the '90s. Though it pales in comparison to the 422-horsepower dual-motor EX30, the single-motor, RWD EX30 is no slouch at 268 horsepower to the rear wheels. 

Volvo EX30 Ice Drive

A layer of snow and ice substantially reduces the value of excessive power and increases the value of spinning more wheels, as would become immediately apparent. On the snow-covered roads around Luleå, the RWD EX30 took its time getting going from a standing start. The traction control systems quickly and effectively cut power to match the grip. This meant no tail-out cornering antics of the sort that you might enjoy in YouTube videos of rally-prepped Volvos of yore.

Once going, though, the RWD EX30 was perfectly manageable, even in places where the edges of the road were defined only by orange poles protruding from the snow. The EX30's stability control system kept things locked down on snowy surfaces, aggressively braking individual wheels and cutting power to ensure that this little crossover kept on moving in the right direction, not spinning in the wrong one.

Volvo EX30 Ice Drive

All this was aided immensely by a set of Michelin snow tires, studded winter-only rubber that is far more aggressive than you'll typically find on American cars but is de rigueur around here. Their blocky tread provided excellent grip through the loose snow, while the tungsten-tipped studs would prove invaluable on the ice.

On The Ice

Despite my visit corresponding with the trailing end of the Swedish winter, the ice was still frozen so thick that it was impossible to tell when you'd switched from land to lake. There was none of the slushy mess around the shore that's so commonplace around the shores of most frozen American lakes these days.

Volvo EX30 Ice Drive

Volvo had plowed a 2.3-mile course for us to play, effectively a big triangle with a series of slaloms out and back, providing ample opportunity to check the EX30's ability to change direction. The ice had been tractionized for us, gouges cut out to help those tires find purchase, but after the better part of a week of journalists sliding around, many of the corners were polished to a delightfully low-mu sheen.

Launching onto this course on the RWD EX30 was again a relaxed affair. Foot to the floor, the rear wheels spun up briefly before the traction control reined in any stud-flinging wheelspin and brought the car smoothly up to speed. Disabling the stability and traction control systems via the touchscreen liberated a fraction more wheelspin, but nothing more.

Volvo EX30 Ice Drive

On the move, with the systems "off," the stability control algorithms kicked in whenever you again asked for too much power or turned the wheel past about 90 degrees. As before, the inside wheels braked aggressively to help the car pivot when otherwise it might have understeered or oversteered into the many pillowy snowbanks.

The resulting drive character was not the most exciting, if I'm honest, but it was nevertheless impressive. As someone who's driven RWD cars through snow and ice, sometimes barely coming out alive, the control in the EX30 was remarkable. I could literally keep my foot flat on the accelerator through a slalom. The car simply figured out the right speed on its own. It was all too easy. If you're someone with less experience behind the wheel in bad conditions, or perhaps you're someone thinking about buying an EX30 for an inexperienced driver, this will be music to your ears.

Volvo EX30 Ice Drive

Dual-Motor Fun Time

With the AWD dual-motor EX30, it's a different story. Doubling the number of spinning wheels meant driving off the line with substantially more eagerness. Even on the ice, the car leaped forward from a standing start and was quickly carrying way too much speed for the course's tighter corners. 

Here, I needed to be far more active on the brakes, slowing the car down and balancing its grip through the turns, which caused me a few headaches. When I'm ice racing, I actively use left-foot braking to balance the car's speed and grip through the corners. 

Volvo EX30 Ice Drive

The EX30 does not like this. In fact, if you brush the brake without first taking your foot off the accelerator, the Volvo not only abruptly cuts all power but also pops up a little warning on the infotainment screen telling you to please stop doing that. 

Thankfully, the one-pedal mode in the EX30 provides a taste of the same effect, immediately shifting the car's weight toward the nose to help turn-in. With gentle throttle application and some light countersteering, it was even possible to link the corners together with modest drifts.

Volvo EX30 Ice Drive

Here again, though, the story is controllability. The AWD EX30 is just as quick to kill the throttle and keep you out of trouble. But the additional power means more speed and a lot more fun. If you're split between the two, AWD vs. RWD, the big question is budget, of course, but unless you're a speed demon who really needs brutal acceleration, the RWD flavor is the better buy. If you live somewhere with lots of snow, put a little of the money you save toward a set of proper snow tires and you'll be golden in all conditions.

Which Volvo EX30 Trim Is Best? 

There's little penalty for that extra performance. Thanks to a clutch on the front axle, the AWD EX30 only uses that front motor when it's needed, meaning you only have the penalty of a little extra weight and some additional rotational mass to deal with.

Volvo EX30 Ice Drive

That's why the dual-motor EX30 only loses about 10 miles compared to the RWD model, an EPA-estimated 265 vs. 275 in the RWD, which might make it a no-brainer for anyone living in parts of the world where you might actually drive in these conditions. There is the not insignificant matter of cost, though, $6,000 more for the dual-motor over the single-motor version.

The EX30 starts at $34,950 for a base, single-motor, RWD car. A top-shelf, dual-motor Ultra trim starts at $46,600, plus the $1,295 destination charge. 

Volvo EX30 Ice Drive

For that, you're admittedly not getting a demon on the ice, but it's a remarkably safe SUV -- assuming you splurge for the right tires, anyway. It also reinforced my impressions of a crossover with comfortable on-road manners and a, clean, cost-conscious, but compelling interior. 

We're hearing there's a huge amount of anticipation around the EX30's launch, and I'm convinced this thing lives up to the hype. If you've already put in your pre-order, rest assured you're waiting on something good. My second go behind the wheel of the EX30 just left me wanting even more time behind the wheel, while showing that RWD can work and work well even in the worst of conditions.

Volvo EX30 Ice Drive

Tim Stevens is a veteran editor, analyst, and expert in the tech and automotive industries. He helmed CNET's automotive coverage for nine years and acted as Vice President of Content. Prior to that, Tim served as Editor-in-Chief at Engadget and even led a previous life as an Enterprise Software Architect. Follow Tim on Twitter at @tim_stevens and catch his Substack.

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