By introducing the V90 Cross Country, a curvaceous statement that practically begs you to ditch the SUV, Volvo isn’t cannibalizing the XC90, its own smash hit of an SUV. It’s delivering an alternative for folks who love to lead an active lifestyle, and introducing a reimagined tradition of style-conscious estate cars.
Two decades have passed since Volvo first applied the Cross Country nameplate to its V70 wagon, creating the XC70: the brand's first competitor to the Subaru Outback and other wagons with off-road aspirations. With the Cross Country moniker comes more than just a rugged appearance, and Volvo’s recently introduced 316-horsepower V90 Cross Country, which can go from 0 to 60 mph in six seconds, is no exception. It’s a full-fledged substitute for a diet of empty-calorie SUVs.
All-wheel drive is standard, as is a ground clearance of 8.3 inches — or a hoist of 2.3 inches over a standard V90. The only traditional, long-roof wagon with greater lift is the Subaru Outback, with 8.7 inches of clearance. By contrast, the Audi A4 Allroad only sits 6.5 inches off the ground, and Volvo’s own XC90 clears barely an inch more than the V90 Cross Country does. It's also available with black cladding on the lower area of the body. Don’t need the extra ground clearance, but want the look? Stop by your local dealer and place a factory order for a garden-variety V90 customized to your specifications. Volvo realizes that its sexy wagon will be a flagship, not its bestselling product, so don’t panic if you don’t see dealers stocking both types of wagons.
Nearly everything you need to know about how the V90 Cross Country feels, acts, and drives can be gleaned from our first drive of the related S90 sedan. All of the goodies and tech features from the XC90 and S90 can be found in the V90, including a vertical center touchscreen, a wraparound dashboard, sumptuous material finishes, and an impressive, optional sound system. The best aspect of driving the V90 Cross Country is how it feels significantly smaller on the road than it actually is. If conditions become dicey, you can toggle through the V90 Cross Country’s drive modes, and send power to all four wheels on demand.
You’re less likely to use the V90 Cross Country’s advanced safety features every day, however — like the seat-belt pretensioner that locks up and tightens if the V90 believes you’re losing control of the vehicle. This only happened to us during an induced skid when we drove over ice. The seat belts grasp your whole body with a death grip. Imagine a blood pressure cuff that constricts your chest without mercy, and you’re halfway there. With a product as likable as the V90 Cross Country, it’s really a no-brainer. Think of it as a hiking boot that you can wear year-round, both durable and fashionable enough to impress and endure. Go climb a mountain and find out for yourself. [From $55,300; volvocars.us]
Cheat Sheet: 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country
- 8.3 inches of ground clearance
- Standard all-wheel drive
- 32.2 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seats, it’s as commodious as a large SUV
- 0 to 60 mph in a rapid six seconds — as quick as a Mazda Miata, and surprisingly so
- Loaded with standard features, including panoramic sunroof, leather, navigation, and parking assist
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