Volvo took a niche car and made it that much more niche.

2016 Volvo V60 Cross Country T5 AWD Review

The tall-ish wagon makes a strong case for itself

By: Amos Kwon

Web2Carz Editor-In-Chief

Published: June 1st, 2016

Wagons aren't hot sellers, and the standard Volvo V60 station wagon is no exception. The Cross Country version is a bit of an odd duck, then, providing a wagon profile and space with the added height of a crossover. We suppose the mentality behind it is meant to appeal to a wider base of customers, considering that crossovers are the fastest growing segment in the auto industry.

The formula, however, doesn't appear to be working since sales of the V60 Cross Country actually lag behind the V60 station wagon, whose sales are pretty lousy anyway. But we're big fans of Volvos regardless of the statistics, so we were pretty excited about getting behind the wheel of the V60 Cross Country to see what it was all about.

  • Driving Impressions

    We were a bit skeptical about the driving experience, with our bias against amplified station wagons that have only elevated ride height and no increase in space or utility, but the Cross Country does a more than adequate job of managing pavement in spite of its bumped up ground clearance. With its throaty burble, the acceleration was good, and it took corners better than we thought it would.

    If you ever chose to do more than navigate parking lot speed bumps and the occasional pothole, the V60 Cross Country is up to the task thanks to the added wheel travel and the Haldex all-wheel-drive system, which can send up to 50 percent of engine torque to the rear axle before the front wheels have slipped even a fraction of a full rotation. Its on-road and off-road manners are very composed thanks to a stiff structure and great suspension.

    • Ride Quality: One of the V60 Cross Country's best qualities. It was composed and solid on just about every surface.
    • Steering: The steering is decent but not as sharp as we'd like. Not surprising, given the nature of the vehicle. It lacks real precision and feel but still manages to do the job without being vague.
    • Acceleration: The sound and feel are more vigorous than reality. We're estimating a 7+ second 0-60 time, which isn't terrible but not as quick as say a Kia Sorento SXL Turbo.
    • Braking: Brakes are excellent with good feel and progression. No issues here.
    • Handling: No one will accuse it of being a good autocross car, but for something this heavy and tall, it manages turns pretty well.

  • Technology and Safety

    The V60 Cross Country's technology works fine, but it's a bit dated, primarily because of the myriad buttons in the center stack that include a numeric keypad, surrounded by buttons for various car functions. None of it seems modern compared to versions by BMW and Audi. That being said, we actually like it better than the ones from Cadillac and Lexus, but that's not saying much. It just feels like Volvo needs to update their S60/V60 line to reflect modern times. The new XC90 should lead the way for these necessary changes.

    The 2015 Volvo V60 Cross Country gets a host of expected safety features like front side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and active front head restraints. Also standard is Volvo's City Safety forward collision mitigation system, which detects imminent collisions with other cars and can automatically apply the brakes. The Tech package gets an enhanced version that detect pedestrians and cyclists. Other safety options are lane departure warning, blind spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, a seemingly unnecessary lane change/merge assist and a driver drowsiness monitor that we didn't test.

    • Infotainment Screen Size/Quality: Easy to read with no major visibility issues. We can't wait, however, for an upgrade in size that will likely follow the XC90's version sometime soon when the car is redesigned.
    • Bluetooth Phone Pairing: Some minor re-pairing issues when re-entering the car. Manually selecting the phone again is a bit frustrating. At times, it wouldn't recognize our iPhone. Grrr.
    • Voice/Sound Quality: Clear voice calls on both sides. The audio system's upgraded Harmon Kardon speakers were clear and voluminous.
    • Controls: The interior's weakest point due to the keypad and confusing buttons on the perimeter of that pad. This needs a serious update with bigger buttons and a better layout. The four multi-function knobs that flank the keypad are also confusing.
    • Safety: As expected, there are plenty of robust safety features, especially as you climb the options ladder. The V60 Cross Country received the top score of "Good" in IIHS crash safety testing. Thanks to frontal crash prevention technology, it also received a rating of "Superior."

  • Exterior Design & Styling

    When the fleet service dropped off the car, our reaction was "wow." This is one handsome car, in spite of the weird height for a station wagon. The white paint was nicely contrasted by matte finish silver and black wheels that fill the wells nicely. Despite its off-road leanings, Volvo wisely decided not to festoon the car with all manner of body cladding like they did with the V70. The blacked-out window and mirror trim, wheel-arch trim, dark window tinting, front and rear faux skid plates", silver rocker trim, and rugged-looking honeycomb grille finish off the car nicely.

    • Front: Though it wants to be a rugged vehicle, the V60 Cross Country's front end is still handsomely done without going overboard. There are thankfully no brush guards, only a beefed up grille and black trim to set it apart from the stock wagon.
    • Rear: Aside from the black trim between the taillights, it looks identical to the V60 wagon. Signature L-shaped taillights still look good after many years of use by Volvo.
    • Profile: The car looks very attractive in profile with big diamond-cut alloy wheels and one of the best wagon proportions in the business.

  • Driver and Passenger Comfort

    First and foremost, other manufacturers need to copy Volvo front Contour seats since they're some of the most comfortable, most supportive versions in the industry. Through long drives and a lot of stop-and-go Chicago traffic, they were superb. The contrasting brown and black leather is a welcomed colorway compared to monochromatic versions from other premium car manufacturers.

    The rest of the car is solidly put together with nice brushed aluminum trim and wood trim (though we'd prefer matte finish here instead of the glossy sheen). The car's center stack has an antiquated keypad we could do without, but its waterfall design still looks great. Though the V60 Cross Country isn't huge in the rear seat space department, 6-footers can sit without too much discomfort. The optional child booster seats are a huge convenience.

    • Front Seats: Simply fantastic. Big, supportive and very, very comfortable. They look pretty damned good, too.
    • Rear Seats: A bit cramped for leg and headroom, but manageable for most short-medium drives. Only kids will be truly at home here on road trips.
    • Visibility: Good visibility out the front and sides. The thick C-pillars and high ride height make rear viewing a bit compromised but not terrible.

  • Storage and Cargo Room

    The V60 Cross Country isn't spectacular when it comes to storage, something that's a bit disappointing when it comes to a CUV/station wagon. The center stack's storage is tucked behind the waterfall panel, a weird location that's sacrificed for style. Pretty much useless in our book. Door pockets are a bit small-ish, and there's no convenient place to put your phone except for the cupholders.

    • Storage: This area needs work since we expect better utility from Volvo. Our old 240 wagon had better storage options, frankly.
    • Trunk/Cargo Room:The 43.8 cubic feet of cargo space isn't massive, but it'll hold a weekend's worth of gear.

  • Final Impressions

    It's a car we didn't expect to like, but in spite of all its weirdness, we really loved it. No, it's not huge inside, nor is it particularly sporty or engaging to drive. But what Volvo does with its niche CUV-like station wagon is pretty special. It looks fantastic, and it's supremely comfortable for the driver and front passenger. None of the interior looks cutting edge, nor does any of the cabin (aside from the seats) seem very special. But it carves out a good place for itself in the midst of a sea of crossovers whose shape is as interesting as a bar of soap.

    The V60 Cross Country is more of a unique flavor for a CUV. It's not a Swiss Army Knife of a car, nor is it a rapier. It is, however, a truly attractive vehicle that owners will appreciate for its mild utility, its great safety ratings, and its distinctly Swedish style.

  • Price & Specifications

    Engine: 2.5-liter turbocharged 5-cylinder

    Transmission: 6-speed automatic with Quick Shift

    Drivetrain/Layout: all-wheel drive, front-engined

    Power Output: 250 hp, 266 lb-ft of torque

    Fuel Economy (mpg): 20 city / 28 highway

    Base Price: $41,000

    As Tested: $49,775 (incl. $940 destination fee)

    Standard Features: electronic stability control, hill descent control, touring chassis with advanced stability control, corner traction control through torque vectoring, electronic brake distribution and assistance, 18" alloy wheels, Sensus Navigation with 7-inch color LCD monitor, 160W high performance audio system with 8 speakers, in-dash single CD with WMA & MP3 capability, HD Radio/USB & AUX inputs, Bluetooth hands free with audio streaming, SIRIUS Radio with 6-month complimentary subscription, Sensus Connect with 6-month complimentary subscription with unlimited data and in-car Wi-Fi hotspot, Volvo On-Call with 6-month complimentary subscription, 10-year emergency crash notification, smart phone apps including engine remote start, City Safety - low speed collision avoidance system, unibody high strength steel safety cage, inflatable curtain head impact protection, front safety belts with height adjustment and force limiters, Whiplash Protection System with driver and front passenger dual stage supplemental airbags, security system with backup battery for siren, rear cargo cover, tire pressure monitoring system, LED daytime running lights, rear park assist, 8-way power driver seat with 3-position memory, power passenger seat, front sport seats with power lumbar support, Shimmer Graphite aluminum inlay, push-button start, leather and Silk Metal steeriing wheel, tilt and telescoping steering wheel, electronic parking brake, dual zone electronic climate control, heated power outside rearview mirrors with memory, 40/20/40 flat folding seats with center armrest, power foldable rear seat headrests, rain-sensing windshield wipers, power retractable exterior mirrors.

    Options on our test vehicle: Platinum: Harman Kardon Premium Sound System, active dual Xenon headlights with washers, accent lighting, auto-dimming rear view mirror, keyless drive, convenience package, rear park assist camera, HomeLink integrated garage door opener, adaptive crusie control with Queue Assist, collision warning with full auto brake, pedestrian/cyclist detection with auto brake, distance alert, lane departure warning, road sign information, active high beam; Climate package with Child Booster Seats: heated front seats, heated windshield, heated windshield washer nozzles, interior air quality system, power child locks, dual outboard TwoStage ChildBooster Seats; BLIS Package: blind spot information system, cross traffic alert, front park assist, lane change merge aid, metallic paint, Urbane Wood Inlays, 19" OBR Matte Black Wheels.

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Volvo V60 Cross Country?

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