Way back in 1998, Volvo introduced a variant of its V70 wagon that has since become nearly as iconic as the Volvo Wagon itself: the Cross Country. The intervening years saw nomenclature changes eschew the “Cross Country” name, simply calling the vehicle V70 XC, and then XC70. Seventeen years later, Volvo has revived the Cross Country nameplate in the US, with the 2015.5 V60 T5 AWD Cross Country. Based on the V60 wagon, Volvo has gone to great lengths to give the new Cross Country some SUV styling cues to differentiate it from its V60 roots- blacked out window trim and tinted the windows make window openings look larger; fender and lower body cladding emphasize the size of wheelarches to give the vehicle the appearance of being taller.
While the V60 Cross Country is a new vehicle for Volvo, it is put together with familiar parts from Volvo’s parts bin. The 250 HP, five-cylinder turbo with Geartronic six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive is the same combination we tested in a 2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD, and in fact the five-pot will look and sound familiar to a generation of Volvo owners. As in the S60 T5 AWD, selecting the transmission’s Sport mode hastens shifts and throttle response (as well as likely increasing fuel consumption). For more sedate driving around town, Drive is the preferred gear selection.
From the driver’s seat, the V60 Cross Country echoes its sibling S60’s stylish interior, complete with configurable TFT instrument cluster (allowing choices of Performance, ECO, or Elegance display themes instead of analog instrumentation), and SENSUS infotainment system. The electronic instrumentation is legible, and controls are logically placed and work as anticipated. Pairing my iPhone was a straightforward task, as were radio tuning, iPod browsing, and voice-commmanded destination entry on the navigation system.
Although the digital instrumentation and SENSUS infotainment software has been updated, the Scandinavian layout of the interior is largely unchanged from this platform’s launch, and retains features like the clever storage compartment ahead of Volvo’s distinctive “waterfall” console, and a complete telephonic keypad on the dash which doubles as infotainment station presets . One appreciated feature of the Technology Package (itself included in the Platinum Package) on the test vehicle was the Road Sign Information camera system, which uses a camera to read speed limit signs and then display the posted speed on the speedometer.
Volvo’s comfortable, supportive seats (with dark gray “offblack” upholstery and brown stitching) are great thrones from which to pilot the crossover wagon, whether just around town or on a longer drive. The V60 Cross Country is quiet inside, with nice materials used giving the interior an upscale feel. Back seat legroom is tight behind tall drivers, as is the case with the S60. The rear seatback folds flat in 40/20/40 sections, and offers a retractable cargo net to separate the boot from the passenger compartment in either folded or upright positions.
Volvo’s advertising campaign for the V60 Cross Country shows it being driven out into the wilderness on unpaved tracks in rugged-yet-serene natural settings. During my week with the V60 Cross Country, I was able to explore similar terrain on a trip to the mountains east of Seattle. A mild winter meant that Forest Service roads were covered with mud, potholes, and gravel instead of snow, and on these surfaces the Cross Country’s body structure felt solid, which is an improvement from previous generations of Cross Country and XC70 vehicles . The raised suspension height and additional ground clearance meant i never bottomed the car. All that suspension travel meant that the Cross Country handled the pot-holed gravel road much better than I had anticipated. On that excursion I also learned that the Twilight Bronze “crossover wagon” looks good clean or covered with mud. That said, the cladding collects road dirt and mud, which is easy to get on your pant leg when entering and exiting the vehicle.
While the Cross Country’s taller suspension compared to the standard V60 provides additional ground clearance and gives the Cross Country more of an SUV stance, it also raises the wagon’s center of gravity, which is noticeable underway by additional lean in corners, and by the tall wagon sometimes feeling a bit unsettled when cruising down the interstate. The suspension meant that the car didn’t beg to be hustled briskly down my favorite winding country roads, but it did provide a comfortable ride in all driving conditions. Optional speed-sensitive steering on the V60 Cross Country provided good feedback.
The car I tested was equipped with Volvo’s adaptive cruise control with queue assist. This system manages the throttle and brakes to maintain appropriate following distances from highway speeds down to stop-and-go traffic. I took advantage of this system in a rush-hour commute from Seattle to Washington’s state Capitol, Olympia. The 70 mile trek was choked with traffic, taking two hours and 20 minutes on congested Interstate 5. During that slog, I used the brake pedal just twice (when my instinct overruled my trust in the technology) , and gas pedal only about five times (to quickly pull out to another lane). I otherwise let the Volvo mind the stop-and-go, which it did flawlessly.
Fuel economy ratings for the V60 Cross Country are 20/28/23 MPG (City/Highway/Combined); during my week covering 365 miles in the V60 Cross Country, I saw consumption of 21.7 MPG at an average speed of 32 miles per hour, according to the Volvo’s trip computer. Admittedly, a majority of these miles were in suburban stop-and-go conditions. This was actually better than the 20.7 MPG I got from the 2013 S60 T5 AWD sedan we reviewed which shares a powertrain with the V60 Cross Country.
The 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country starts at $41,000, with all 2015.5 V60 and S60 models receiving Sensus Navigation and Volvo’s Sensus Connect/Volvo On Call connected services as standard equipment. The vehicle reviewed included the $3600 Platinum Package [Harmon Kardon Premium Sound System, Active Dual Xenon Headlights with WAshers; Accent Lighting; Audo Dimming rear view mirrors; Convenience Pkg; (Keyless Drive; Rear Park Assist Camera, HomeLink; Digital Compass); Technology Package (Adaptive Cruise Control w/Queue Assist; Collision warning with full auto brake; pedestrian/cyclist detection w/auto brake; distance alert; driver alert control; lane departure warning; road sign information; active high beam)], $1550 Climate Package [heated front and rear seats; heated steering wheel; heated windshield; heated windshield washer nozzles, IAQS], $925 BLIS Package [BLIS; Cross Traffic Alert; Front Park Assist; Lange Change/Merge Aid], $560 metallic paint, $325 speed-sensitive steering, $400 Urbane Wood inlays, and $940 destination charge, for a total of MSRP of $49,350. The V60 Cross Country’s most obvious competitor is the Audi allroad. Comparing the two, the V60 Cross Country has 30 extra HP (without requiring premium fuel), while the Audi costs about $750 more when equipped similarly.
The V60 Cross Country does seem to live up to the image created by Volvo’s marketing group. It is capable and competent on paved or unpaved routes, comfortable and quiet around town, and equipped with safety and luxury fittings to justify its presence in both the Volvo showroom and in its price range when compared to competitors.