by Jake Lingeman
Previously the racing arm of Swedish automaker Volvo, Polestar has earned a reputation for tuning cars and as an EV-developer in its own right. Now boasting its own lineup in the USA, including the new Polestar 2, there's loads of value to be had from the liftback-styled sedan. While the Polestar 2 is rather restrained in appearance, buyers can have upwards of 400 horsepower to play with when opting for the dual-motor AWD setup. An entry-level single-motor model with 231 hp is also available for the first time at a much more reasonable price. Both are a delight to spend time in, and offer one-pedal driving, which the driver may enjoy more than the passengers - but we'll get to that shortly.
It competes with several new players in the premium compact EV segment including the Tesla Model 3, Kia EV6, and BMW i4. What the Polestar 2 loses in the looks department, it makes up for with impressive technology and neck-snapping acceleration in the case of the dual-motor model.
For the 2022 model year, the Polestar 2 is much more attainable than before. There's a new single-motor variant with front-wheel drive with pricing starting at $45,900. Also coming in at under $50,000 is the more powerful dual-motor model with all-wheel drive, making it around $10,000 cheaper than last year's Launch Edition. This dual-motor model is essentially a less luxurious version of the discontinued Launch Edition, doing away with fancy extras like the glass roof for a metal one. The new entry-level model has a 270-mile range and produces 231 horsepower.
Other smaller changes to the lineu include a new gloss black Polestar logo on the steering wheel, while the optional Plus Pack gets a mechanical heat pump that reduces battery drain to heat the cabin, thereby improving range. The dual-motor model's range has now increased from 233 miles last year to 249 miles this year, thanks to controller software improvements.
See trim levels and configurations:
The Polestar 2's conservative lines remain. The five-door fastback isn't an unattractive vehicle, but its lack of visual punch is a bit odd for a brand trying to establish itself in the market. That said, many will also appreciate the clean, minimalist lines. Adaptive LED headlights and 19-inch wheels are standard, but 20-inch items are available. We'd avoid these as they make the ride too harsh. The Thor's Hammer daytime running lights are one way to identify this car as a member of the greater Volvo family. Available features include a panoramic roof, pixel LED headlights, and a semi-electric folding tow bar.
The standard Polestar 2 has a 107.7-inch wheelbase, a length of 181.3 inches, a width of 78.1 inches including the mirrors, and a height of 58.2 inches. With the dual-motor model's optional Performance Pack, all dimensions remain the same except the height which decreases to 58 inches. The dual-motor model has a weight upwards of 4,650 pounds, whereas the new single-motor version is lighter at around 4,400 lbs, according to the manufacturer. The Polestar 2 is significantly heavier than the lightest Tesla Model 3 (3,880 lbs) which explains why it can't match the Tesla in terms of performance.
Void (black) is the only standard color. Paired with the Polestar 2's unassuming lines, it's quite a stealthy-looking vehicle in this color. For $1,200 more, shoppers can choose from Snow, Magnesium, Thunder, Moon, and Midnight. Overall, it's a color palette that's as subtle as the car itself, ranging from white through gray and blue, to black. The Performance Pack on the dual-motor model adds 20-inch wheels with gold caps, gold Brembo brake calipers, and a high-gloss black roof segment if you do want to stand out a little more.
There's more diversity in the Polestar 2 electric vehicle lineup this year. The new single-motor variant directs power to the front wheels only and develops 231 horsepower and 243 lb-ft of twist. However, it's still a heavy vehicle so the 0 to 60 mph time for this model is seven seconds. Throttle response isn't quite as sharp as one typically expects from an EV, and it's slower than the base Tesla Model 3 that needs only 5.3 seconds for the benchmark sprint. The Polestar 2 single motor has a top speed of 100 mph.
The dual-motor derivative produces 408 hp and 487 lb-ft. It gets AWD as standard and takes a quick 4.5 seconds to hit 60 on its way to a top speed of 127 mph. For $4,000 more, the much better performance of this model makes it an attractive choice, but you'll need to give up some range.
Both Polestar models have a braked towing capacity of up to 2,000 lbs.
An AC synchronous, permanent magnet electric motor powers the base Polestar 2 and develops 231 hp and 243 lb-ft. Linked to a single-speed transmission, this derivative provides reasonable power and nice mid-range shove once you are on the move. For city driving and occasionally longer jaunts, most will be satisfied with this model. This was the model we drove in our latest foray with the 2, and we found it to be more than satisfactory
The dual-motor version adds AWD and another electric motor, raising outputs to 408 hp and 487 lb-ft. You can easily feel the difference in power between this one and the base model, where that characteristic wave of torque from low-down can be addictive between traffic lights. Although the Polestar 2 isn't an inherently sporty vehicle, the quicker dual-motor model is more satisfying to drive.
Let's start with the one-pedal driving. The Polestar 2 has several modes for automatic braking regeneration, including 'off'. But we like the one-pedal driving feel, not just to save the brakes, which will get old before they wear out, but also to recapture as much energy as possible. Like many of these EVs, it's fun to make a game out of snapping off the throttle pedal an eighth of a mile from the stoplight to see if it can be timed perfectly. Our only complaint here is that it feels a little more jerky for passengers, with one of ours getting a little queasy with the hard acceleration and snappy regen.
The Polestar 2 keeps its batteries down low in the chassis, which means it handles way better than an equivalent gas-engine vehicle thanks to its super low center of gravity. Around interchanges and switchbacks, it will stick to the inside of the corner easily, leaving you to hold on tightly as the g-forces pull you sideways. Changes of direction are just as sickeningly quick.
The Polestar 2 has a MacPherson front suspension system and multi-link rear setup. That, combined with reasonably sized wheels and tires (get the taller ones), make for a comfortable ride even over broken pavement. The AWD model would be a blast in the winter, though we would suggest some dedicated snow tires because of all the power.
A Sport/ESC mode can be selected through the touchscreen, which turns all the power to maximum and adds a little more effort to the steering. We didn't use it much considering the Polestar 2 already feels high-strung without adding any extra code to turn up the wick.
Polestar has managed to improve the range of the dual-motor model this year. Last year, it had a 233-mile range but that's now 249 miles according to the EPA. This model can attain 94/84/89 MPGe city/highway/combined. EPA estimates for the single-motor derivative are 113/100/107 MPGe with a claimed 270-mile range. Compared to the Standard Range RWD Tesla Model 3, the Polestar 2 single-motor derivative is quite on par - Tesla claims 267 miles of range. Naturally, the Long Range Model 3 takes the cake with 334 miles of range. These Tesla figures were correct at the time of writing, but as Tesla makes regular and sudden updates to its models, they may very well be different depending on when you look.
Both Polestar models have a 400V lithium-ion battery with a 78-kWh capacity. With DC fast charging, the battery can be replenished from 10-80% in 33 minutes. A DC charging capability of up to 155 kW is possible. Total charging time on AC power is around eight hours at up to 11 kW with a 240V outlet. Charging can also be completed via a 120V outlet but Polestar has not published these charge times. In practice, we experienced about 10% less range than expected in both vehicles, and charging times on a DC fast charger were also longer than claimed, though we got enough in a half hour to complete our test drive.
Polestar provides two years of complimentary free fast charging (30 minutes) at Electrify America charging stations starting from vehicle handover.
Polestar has designed an excellent interior. No animal-derived products are used in the construction of the standard cabin, yet the textiles and other sustainably sourced materials that are used all feel high-quality. A fat center console houses the user-friendly touchscreen and also separates the driver from the front-seat passenger, creating a sporty and cocooning feel in the front row. That 11.15-inch display is clear, and with Google Android Automotive OS software, it is quite easy to get used to. Standard features include an eight-speaker sound system, semi-electric front seats, front/rear parking sensors, and dual-zone climate control. With its link to Volvo, it's no surprise that the Polestar 2 is loaded with safety features like run-off road mitigation, oncoming lane mitigation, and post-impact braking.
Polestar has simplified accessing the car and the starting procedure. The doors unlock by simply pulling on the handle, and a seat sensor replaces the usual start button. A digital key uses Bluetooth, further speeding up access to the car.
The Polestar 2 comes with two rows and space for three in the back when the seats aren't folded to provide more cargo space. Though it's a compact fastback sedan, there seems to be plenty of space for adults to sit in comfort, although we'd stick with two in the back. Rear headroom measures 37 inches and legroom is 33.9 inches. In the front, passengers get 39.6 inches of headroom and 42.2 inches of legroom.
The standard seats are made of a vegan material, look cool, and are comfortable. We'll be glad when eco-conscious EV buyers make boring brown leather a thing of the past. We did notice that there's a plastic seam on the center console that lines right up with where we brace our knee while driving. After a full day in the car, we could feel it bruising. The test driver in this case was 5-foot-10, so we're guessing shorter or taller people wouldn't have the same problem. Nevertheless, the driver has a great seating position with good visibility.
As standard, the Polestar 2 has Charcoal embossed textile upholstery with 3D etched deco. This vegan upholstery is a tactic often employed by manufacturers in electric vehicles. What will matter more to the average buyer is that the material feels good and appears to be of outstanding quality. A Charcoal headliner and textile floor mats are also standard. There are several other color choices but some of them are limited to certain exterior colors. Zinc embossed textile is another choice that can be paired with 3D etched deco.
Slate and Charcoal WeaveTech upholstery is a sustainable replacement for leather, and it's paired with Black Ash deco. However, this option requires adding the $4,000 Plus Pack. With this pack selected, you can add on another $4,000 on top of that ($8,000 in total) to get Nappa leather in Barley with reconstructed wood deco. This adds ventilated seats too.
With the dual-motor model's optional Performance Pack, you'll get gold seat belts.
Being an EV with no gas engine in front, the Polestar 2 has a front storage compartment measuring 1.2 cubic feet. More useful is the rear luggage area which offers 14.3 cubes, including 1.4 cubes of underfloor storage for keeping laptops and the like out of sight. One might've thought that the single-motor model's loss of a second motor at the back would have increased its cargo capacity, but both models have the same-sized trunk. The 60/40-split-folding rear seat frees up 38.7 cubes of space when it isn't being used.
Inside, there are four cupholders catering to occupants in both rows. The glovebox is a decent size, as are the door bins. The cupholder in the center console can be removed to free up more storage space. Our tester also came with wireless charging in the center console courtesy of the Plus Pack - it did disconnect and reconnect a few times as we were whipping around corners, though.
The two Polestar 2 models primarily differ in terms of their motors and performance, but they're both generously equipped. As standard, the EV comes with a rearview camera, front/rear parking sensors, a rain sensor, keyless entry with hands-free access, semi-electric front seats with heating and lumbar support, HomeLink, and a 12V power outlet in the trunk. The dual-zone automatic climate control system can be set up to warm or cool the car before you get inside. The safety specification includes collision avoidance with pedestrian and cyclist detection, forward collision warning, a lane-keeping aid, cruise control with an adjustable speed limiter, a driver alert function, and post-impact braking.
More features can be accessed via one of several packs. The Plus Pack adds a heat pump, upgraded upholstery, fully power-adjustable front seats, wireless charging, heated rear seats, and a heated steering wheel. To flesh out the safety suite, the Pilot Pack equips a blind-spot monitoring system with cross-traffic alert, rear-collision mitigation, adaptive cruise control, and a surround-view camera.
An 11.15-inch center display dominates the center of the dash, while a 12.3-inch display takes the place of analog gauges for the driver. The main infotainment uses Android Auto OS as a base, with Google services built-in including Maps, Play, and Assistant. Large fonts and contrasting colors make it easy to see the icons, but since this is a new vehicle with a new infotainment architecture, most of the icons were unfamiliar to us, even when broken into four quadrants. The Google Assistant function can take care of most needs through voice controls, though. The system is always learning from every Google-connected device. Polestar also notes that if you have another Google device, it will already recognize your voice. Spotify comes included, so all you have to do is log in and start playing your favorites. Fortunately, Apple CarPlay is also standard.
It has four USB-C ports and the base radio is an eight-speaker, 250-watt system. Upgrade to the Plus Pack and you get a Harman Kardon setup with 13 speakers and 600 watts.
The 2022 Polestar 2 has been part of a recall together with 2021 models for a battery energy control module microprocessor that may reset and cause the system to disconnect. At the time of writing, no reliability ratings were available from J.D. Power.
The electric Polestar 2 comes with a four-year/50,000-mile full vehicle warranty and an eight-year/100,000-mile hybrid system warranty. Polestar says that the battery modules are individually repairable, which could be a big positive for long-term ownership.
There is no Polestar 2 safety review from either the IIHS or the NHTSA, but with Volvo's safety reputation, we expect it to be one of the safest cars in its class. The 2021 model received a full five-star Euro NCAP rating.
NHTSA safety ratings are not available at this time.
Every Polestar 2 car comes with nine airbags, which include a driver's knee airbag, dual inner-side airbags, and dual curtain airbags. The front seats offer whiplash protection, and the likes of a rearview camera, tire pressure monitoring, hill start assist, and an acoustic vehicle alert system are all standard.
Many assistance features are included by default. The list consists of collision avoidance and mitigation with both braking and steering support, cyclist/pedestrian detection, run-off road mitigation, forward collision warning, oncoming lane mitigation, a lane-keeping aid with steering support, post-impact braking, road sign information, and a driver alert function. Adaptive cruise control is an optional extra but a more basic cruise control system with an adjustable speed limiter with speed sign support is standard.
The optional Pilot Pack includes a host of additional driver aids. By ticking this box, you'll get blind-spot monitoring with steering support, cross-traffic alert with brake support, rear collision warning and mitigation, adaptive cruise control, and emergency stop assist. The Pilot Assist system works at speeds of up to 80 mph and assists with acceleration, braking, and steering. The Pilot Pack also adds a 360-degree camera system, auto-dimming exterior mirrors, pixel LED headlights, LED fog lights with a cornering function, and active bending headlights.
The Polestar 2 is an EV for the everyman - those who need a good amount of utility and economy, if not much style. The Kia EV6 is better looking, as is the BMW i4, in our opinion. The Tesla Model 3 could go either way (the Kia and Tesla are competitive on price, and the BMW is about 10 grand extra).
We'd also suggest you get your kids or grandkids to get all the tech set up. It took us a few hours, and we're used to trying out new systems. Someone moving to this from a legacy vehicle will certainly feel the teething pains of learning something new. However, like many of these modern vehicles, not just EVs, there's so much more useful capability that it would be a shame not to learn it well.
The fun-to-drive quotient is high, especially with the dual-motor setup and low center of gravity, despite the above-average ride height. The cars that can take this liftback sedan off the line are few and far between, which means it can move around traffic like it's standing still. Would we pick this over the EV6 or i4? Probably not, but we wouldn't condemn anyone who did, and it's a personal choice. Another member of the CarBuzz team might, and it shows how good the Polestar 2 is.
Polestar 2 prices work out cheaper than the Tesla Model 3 once the federal tax credit is taken into account. The Polestar 2 Long Range Single Motor model begins at an MSRP of $45,900. The Long Range Dual Motor variant begins at $49,900. These prices exclude a destination charge of $1,300, potential incentives, tax, licensing, and registration. The Polestar 2 qualifies for a federal tax credit of up to $7,500, making it more affordable than the Tesla Model 3. New Teslas no longer qualify for this tax credit. By comparison, the Model 3 starts at $44,990 for the base RWD model and increases to $50,990 for the Long Range.
The cost of the Polestar 2 can increase to over $70,000 in the USA if you tick enough option boxes.
The 2022 Polestar 2 is offered in a choice of two trims: the Long Range Single Motor and Long Range Dual Motor. The biggest difference between the two trims is that the dual-motor version adds a second electric motor for an output of over 400 hp, along with AWD. The single-motor model makes do with 231 hp and FWD. Both utilize a single-speed transmission.
The base model and dual-range version are similarly equipped. Both come with LED exterior lighting, dual-zone climate control, an 11.15-inch central touchscreen interface, an eight-speaker sound system, nine airbags, forward collision warning, post-impact braking, and a lane-keeping aid. The front seats are heated and partially electrically adjustable.
Polestar offers the Plus and Pilot optional packs on both variants. These will add equipment like a Harman Kardon sound system, heated rear seats, a panoramic roof, adaptive cruise control, and blind-spot monitoring.
Exclusive to the dual-motor version is the Performance Pack with 20-inch wheels, Ohlins dual-flow valve manually-adjustable dampers, Brembo brakes, and gold brake calipers.
On the base model, the Pilot Pack is the cheapest package at $3,200. It adds adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, cross-traffic alert, a 360-degree camera, and park assist. It also includes Pixel LEDhealights and LED front foglights with cornering lights. The Plus Pack is more focused on comfort and convenience. Priced at $4,000, the highlights here include a Harman Kardon sound system, full power front seats, heated rear seats, and a fixed panoramic sunroof. This option requires you to select the WeaveTech upholstery, too.
To access the $5,000 Performance Pack, you'll need to first upgrade to the dual-motor model. This pack comes with Ohlins dual-flow valve shock absorbers, 20-inch wheels, performance summer tires, gold Brembo brakes, gold seat belts, and a high-gloss black roof segment. We'd skip this option as the bigger wheels spoil the ride, and we don't see many owners often choosing to adjust the dampers, a task that can only be done manually.
The main choice with the Polestar 2 is whether you want the dual-motor or single-motor powertrain. As much as we love the extra thrust, the 231-hp version is the one to get here. Range is better and it still feels quicker than most cars you've probably driven, thanks to instantaneous torque. And front-wheel drive is fine for the winter, though special tires help immensely.
With only a few option packs available, there isn't too much to change up in terms of customization. The Plus Pack adds the new heat pump, so we'd suggest that one to maximize range in colder climes. And the Pilot Pack has the driver awareness and assistance features such as a 360-degree camera, so we'd add that too. That brings the price up to around $54,400 including the destination charge, but it slips down to $46,900 after the federal tax credit is applied.
This is a much closer battle now that Polestar has expanded its lineup. At the bottom of the respective ranges, the single-motor FWD Polestar 2 takes on the RWD Model 3 Standard Range Plus. The Tesla starts at $44,990, and the Polestar at $45,900, but the Swedish car qualifies for a $7,500 tax credit. The base Tesla is much quicker but has a range that's shorter by three miles. Comparing the Model 3 Long Range sedan with the dual-motor Polestar 2's spec sheet, the Tesla is way ahead in terms of range. We think that Polestar has crafted a nicer cabin, and its rear luggage area is a bit bigger. It's also going to be a more unique sight on the road. However, the Model 3 is a little better to drive, especially the base RWD when measured against the heavier, FWD Polestar. This is a tantalizingly close battle, but for now, we think the Model 3 lineup still has the edge.
The Polestar 2 has another Tesla rival to contend with. However, there's no Standard Range version of the Model Y so it starts at a much pricier $58,990. For that outlay, you get a 318-mile range and a 0-60 time of 4.8 seconds. If you can live with the Polestar 2 dual motor's shorter range, it's both cheaper and quicker. However, the Model Y is a proper crossover and boasts far more overall cargo space than the Polestar, so it's the easy choice if that matters to you. Polestar's infotainment system is a bit easier to use, and its cabin isn't as stark as the one in the Tesla. Tesla's build quality issues are hardly a secret at this point, which isn't an issue you're likely to encounter with the Polestar 2 since it's a Volvo product. It's another close call, but this time we'll take the Polestar for its nicer interior, uniqueness, and much more appealing price tag.
The most popular competitors of 2022 Polestar 2: