|Positives: Rugged and sophisticated good looks, excellent interior comfort and technology, powerful acceleration, good handling, great ride, the best Volvo wagon in decades.|
|Negatives: One engine offering for now, infotainment system can be slow to respond at times, grabby brakes are annoying, gets pricey with options.|
|Bottom Line: Volvo knocks one out of the park in the name of station wagons. The V90 Cross Country has plenty of space, uniquely handsome looks, and excellent levels of comfort and technology. It's also pretty good to drive with ample thrust from the 316 hp engine and decent handling and steering chops.|
Conventional wisdom says that taller cars don't drive as well as ones that have a lower center of gravity. There's generally more body roll and, hence, less control. But because the donor V90 wagon hasn't actually arrived on our shores yet (Volvo smartly released the Cross Country version first because Americans actually buy them). But from what we experienced, there seems to be nothing lost in translation since the Cross Country is pretty great to drive.
Ride Quality: An excellent blend of sporty and comfortable with great shock absorption. It leans toward being more insulating and removing road feel.
Acceleration: cThe powerful supercharged and turbocharged 316-hp 2.0-liter inline-four, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission, along with all-wheel drive results in solid thrust. Throttle response is pretty good. 0-60 comes in a hair under six seconds, which is great for a car this heavy (4,221 lbs). Our only chagrin was that the engine feels inconsistent, finding difficulty providing even power across the range.
Braking: We weren't fans of the grabby brakes that were hard to modulate, but the pedal feel was decent, and there was no mushiness to speak of.
Steering: The steering is light but accurate and on center. There's very little feedback, but that doesn't prevent you from placing it into a turn well.
Handling: There's minor body roll, but the big wagon never feels out of sorts and handles its weight pretty well.
We've been big fans of the Sensus system, and once you get acclimated to its functionality, every other UI system feels antiquated. It reduces button clutter, adds beauty, and works virtually seamlessly. It's also a bonus that the V70 Cross Country still has big and simple physical audio controls just below the screen.
Infotainment System: It takes some time to get used to, but then it's great to use, as well as view. There were some lag issues in our tester that we didn't experience with the S90 we drove last year with the same system.
Controls: Steering wheel controls were big and easy to use, and the gearshift knob felt great in the hand, too. We didn’t quite like the placement of the ignition button between the seats and would rather have it on the dash where it belongs. The knurled aluminum drive mode selector feels good but is a bit small to use quickly.
Bluetooth Pairing: Quick pairing, as well as top notch pairing retention on multiple startups.
Voice Call Quality: Excellent quality on both sides, and the great sound deadening and noise cancellation make it that much easier to conduct calls on the road.
A neighbor said he hated it, but he wears Bermuda shorts with his polo shirts tucked in, paired with Teva sandals. so we won't pay attention to that comment. We love the looks of the Cross Country because it looks equal parts sophisticated wagon, as well as post-apocalyptic transportation with the dark trim, elevated stance and big tires.
Front: The new S90/V90 design takes Volvo to the modern age with a large grille and the handsome Thor's Hammer lights. The Cross Country gets a revised lower fascia and ruggedized grille treatment. It's not as clean as the V90 wagon, but it works for the tougher aesthetic.
Rear: Other than badging and ride height, the only difference between the Cross Country and the V90 is the thicker aluminum-colored surround that connects the exhaust ports. We're big fans of the taillights on Volvo's wagons and crossovers.
Profile: The big wheel arches, rugged tires, and black trim actually contrast the long, lean body quite well. We also like the darkened rear window treatment that add a sinister touch.
Cabin: We think the entire cabin is a work of art, including the seats and dash. We especially like the unique materials texture and flat shape of the top of the dashboard, which is quite original.
Volvo has always been known for comfort, and the Cross Country is consistent with that approach. Wherever you sit in the wagon, it's set for commutes and long trips without a hiccup.
Front Seats: The Multi-Contour front seats are supportive and cosseting at the same time, and we especially loved the near-infinite adjustment, along with the thigh bolsters that kept our backsides fresh on our road trips.
Rear Seats: Plenty of headroom and legroom, and the rear seats are quite comfortable, but the rear seat cushion sits a little bit low for our tastes.
NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The big tire's tall sidewalls keep the ride cushy, and the noise insulation is pretty good, too. We didn't notice any rattles or creaks during our review period.
Visibility: Decent visibility based on a good seating position, but for a company that once toyed with see-through A-pillars, they're a bit on the thick side in the Cross Country.
Climate: Volvos also have great climate systems, and the Cross Country blows cold air with the best of them, keeping us cool during some seriously hot Chicago days.
The V90 Cross Country has not yet been crash tested by the IIHS or the NHTSA. It's likely that neither body will test the vehicle since sales numbers will likely be very low.
IIHS Rating: Not tested.
NHTSA Rating: Not tested.
Standard Tech: The Cross Country's list of standard safety features is pretty long and includes Low Speed Collision Avoidance System/Pedestrian & Cyclist Assist & Large Animal Detection, Pilot Assist - Semi Autonomous Drive System, Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), lane departure warning & Driver Alert Control, 10-Year emergency crash notification, and Blind Spot Information System & Cross Traffic Alert
Optional Tech: None.
Some of the potential cabin storage space has been compromised for the sake of artfulness, but it's still pretty utilitarian. The long cupholder section to the right of the shifter has a gorgeous wooden sliding door, as does the small compartment at the base of the center stack. We just would've liked to see a better spot for our phones than the cupholder and the armrest. The cargo section is easy to load and unload, and pretty sizeable for a wagon--even going toe-to-toe with some crossovers.
Storage Space: The center armrest is sculpted on the outside but roomy inside. There's a very small storage cubby just in front of the cupholders, but it's only good for tiny items like coins and keys. Door pockets are deep and long.
Cargo Room: The Cross Country has 19.78 cubic feet with the seats in place and 53.89 when the second row is folded flat. It's fairly close to the Audi allroad (27.6 and 50.5) but considerably less than the Subaru Outback's cargo hold (35.5 and 73.3). We loved the rear air suspension that lowered when we were loading and unloading.
We wouldn't call the the V90 Cross Country a miserly vehicle because the tendency is for the driver to mash the pedal because the turbocharged and supercharged 4-cylinder sounds great. You have to be willing to drive the car in Comfort or Eco, where the throttle mapping changes and the suspension gets mushier. But it's also not painfully thirsty and can attain good mileage on the open road.
Observed: 17.8 mpg
Distance Driven: 246 miles.
Driving Factors: A mix of urban and highway driving, primarily in the more aggressive Dynamic mode. Driving in Comfort or Eco would no doubt result in much better mileage. 30 mpg highway is respectable for a car of this size and power.
The Bowers and Wilkins system isn't cheap, but it's a good one. We enjoyed listening to the clean and full sound throughout our many drives. The ability to customize sound is also impressive.