Now presenting its all-new 2017 V90 Cross Country, Volvo demonstrates again that it has a way with wagons.
Going back generations, the Swedish vehicle manufacturer has persisted in developing rugged, safe and dependable station wagons, even when — as in the United States — they fell out of favor.
Now Volvo has added another element: refined luxury and off-road capability that should please its stalwart band of disciples as well as win it some converts.
The resurgence of this venerable company arrived with its 2016 XC90 crossover sport utility vehicle, which earned it Truck of the Year Honors from an independent group of automotive journalists. It followed with the S90 luxury sedan and V90 station wagon.
Now it has taken the genre a step further with the Cross Country, which slots between the V90 station wagon and XC90 three-row crossover. It’s not a new concept; Volvo has been delivering Cross Country models for several decades.
The new one is distinguished from the V90 by a taller ride height, bigger wheels and 8.3 inches of ground clearance — about the same as a standard Jeep Wrangler, which gives the Cross Country some solid off-road chops. However, its long wheelbase — the 116-inches gap between the front and rear axles — erodes that capability somewhat.
If it can’t go everywhere, the Cross Country can certainly handle terrain that would frustrate most luxury cars. Plus, its automatic all-wheel drive system makes for confident motoring in foul weather conditions.
Curiously, early Volvo cars and wagons came with rear-wheel drive, a challenge in wintry Sweden. Back in the middle of the 20th century, if you wanted front-wheel drive, your Swedish car of choice was a Saab. But Volvo eventually also moved to front-drive and now sophisticated all-wheel drive as well.
Unlike vintage Volvo wagons, the new V90 Cross Country is no truck. It is a luxury car with quality construction, fine materials, comfort and convenience features, and most of all, the driving experience sought by buyers who can spend north of $60,000 on a refined five-passenger car with copious cargo space.
It is quiet and controlled on the highway with minimal intrusion of mechanical, wind or road noise. The steering has the heft and feel common to expensive luxury cars. And, should you happen to encounter dirt and gravel, the Cross Country grips the terrain and easily absorbs bumps, though the ride deteriorates because of tires that were chosen for looks as well as capability.
Volvo has forsaken V6 and V8 engines in favor of four-cylinder power. But its 2.0-liter is no ordinary four-banger. It uses both a supercharger and a turbocharger, with direct fuel injection. The supercharger, driven by the engine, provides boost at lower engine revolutions and the turbo, which runs off exhaust gases, kicks on to enhance horsepower and torque.
On the V90 Cross Country, the engine delivers 316 hp with 295 lb-ft of torque, or twisting force. The power gets to all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. EPA city/highway/combined fuel economy is 20/30/25 miles per gallon.
Acceleration from zero-to-60 miles an hour happens in six seconds, with a top speed of 140 miles per hour, according to Volvo’s specifications. That’s a bit faster than the larger XC90 crossover — but the V90 Cross Country weighs 360 pounds less.
As an unabashed luxury/performance vehicle, the Cross Country starts at $56,295 with a full suite of safety, convenience and comfort features. Among them: Volvo’s Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive system with adaptive cruise control, run-off road protection, blind-spot warning, panoramic sunroof, leather upholstery, automatic climate control, navigation system, satellite radio and walnut wood inlays.
The tested Cross Country also arrived with the $1,200 optional rear air suspension system, premium Bowers & Wilkins audio, park assist, a surround view camera and metallic paint. All of the items brought the tested price to $63,545.
You can spend more by tacking on the $4,500 luxury package, which includes ventilated Nappa leather upholstery, leather trim on the dash and doors, power load cover, front-seat backrest massage and rear sunshades.
With all that, however, the V90 Cross Country has several curious shortcomings. Steering wheel tilt and telescope adjustments are manual, not power; the sun visors do not slide on their support rods to fully block sun from the sides, and the sunroof shade is a perforated cloth that admits too much sunlight.
Nevertheless, for a small number of luxury wagon aficionados there are few, if any, other choices.
- Model: 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country four-door wagon.
- Engine:0-liter four-cylinder, turbocharged and supercharged, 316 hp, 295 lb-ft torque.
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with all-wheel drive.
- Overall length: 16 feet 2 inches.
- EPA passenger/cargo volume: 98/34 cubic feet.
- Weight: 4,221 pounds.
- Towing capability: 3,500 pounds.
- EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 22/30/25 mpg.
- Base price, including destination charge: $56,295.
- Price as tested: $63,545.
Disclaimer: This test drive was conducted at a manufacturer-sponsored press event. The manufacturer provided travel, accommodations, vehicles, meals and fuel.
Photos (c) Volvo.