Now presenting its all-new 2017 V90 Cross Country, Volvo demonstrates again that it has a way with wagons.
Going back generations, the Swedish auto manufacturer has persisted in developing rugged, safe, and dependable station wagons, even when 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. Volvo 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 erodes that capability somewhat. The wheelbase is 116 inches between the front and rear axles.
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. But Volvo eventually 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 V-6 and V-8 engines in favor of four-cylinder power. But its 2.0-liter powerplant 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 horsepower 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 to the gallon.
Acceleration from 0-to-60 mph in 6 seconds, 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.
The V90 Cross Country has 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.
Copyright © 2017 Motor Matters
|Base price||$56,295 (as tested: $63,545)|
|Curb weight||4,221 lbs.|
|Engine type||DOHC turbocharged supercharged 4-cyl|
|Epa mileage rating||22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway|
|Fuel capacity||15.9 gal.|
|Horsepower (net)||316 at 5700 rpm|
|Overall length||194.4 in.|
|Torque (lb.-ft.)||295 at 2200 rpm|
|Vehicle type||5-passenger AWD midsize wagon|
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