Volvo’s new V60 Cross Country is the newest competitor in the exclusive station-wagon-on-stilts segment.
The new-for-’15 V60 Cross Country ($41,940, including transportation) is an elevated variant of Volvo’s compact, five-passenger V60 station wagon ($36,890). Along with its most natural competitor, Audi’s allroad quattro, it reworks ground first tilled by Subaru’s Outback.
The Cross Country rides 2.6 inches higher than the V60 and Volvo’s quick-acting all-wheel-drive system is standard. Front and rear skid plates advance the notion that the Cross Country is wilderness-bound.
But it’s not. The Cross Country’s metier is the ski hill, the cabin whose road often goes unplowed. In snow country, an extra 2.6 inches of ground clearance can be the difference between a disaster and nice day.
The Cross Country embodies Volvo’s Scandinavian aesthetic. More Euro-wagon, less hiking boot. Instead of body-cladding, badges and bulging wheels, expect blacked-out window- and mirror-trim, dark-tint windows and a honeycomb grille.
The V60’s station-wagon profile produces a comfortable step-in height, its elevated ride height provides a commanding view.
Inside, low-pile sisal-type floor mats share space with contrast-stitched leather. Volvo’s up-level Contour seats, standard on Cross Country, are unusually supportive and comfortable.
Navigation, a sunroof and Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity are standard. The infotainment user-interface is dated and button-heavy, but relatively intuitive. Standard kit includes Bluetooth phone and audio, a 7-inch central display, smartphone-app integration and an eight-speaker audio system with CD player, satellite and HD radio, an auxiliary audio jack and a USB/iPod interface.
An excellent Harman Kardon system is available.
Safety gear includes Volvo's City Safety system, which operates at speeds of up to 31 mph. It can detect an imminent collision and automatically apply the brakes if the driver doesn’t. An available Technology package includes pedestrian- and cyclist-detection and avoidance.
Other safety options include lane-departure warning, blind spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, lane change/merge assist and a driver-drowsiness monitor. Another web of electronic systems combat roll-overs, skids and other vehicle-control mishaps.
Volvo’s Haldex all-wheel-drive system is one of the best in the business. It can send up to 50 percent of engine torque to the rear axle before the front wheels have slipped even 1/17th of a rotation. It includes a technology called Corner Traction Control by Torque Vectoring which sends power to the outer wheel(s) in a corner, improving handling and vehicle stability.
The Cross Country’s turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine makes 250 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, It’s neither quick — 0-60 comes up in 7.5 seconds — nor especially efficient. It’s EPA-rated at an estimated at 23 mpg combined (20 city/28 highway).
Because its chassis is tuned to accommodate off-road passage, the V60’s ride is stiffer than its conventional V60 cousins’. Its height and extended wheel travel allow considerable body-lean in fast corners. The Cross Country is most enjoyable when driven with restraint.
Volvo drops its new wagon into a crossover-crazed world. Buyers seeking a crossover’s utility but not its bulk should give it a look.
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2016 Volvo V60 Cross Country T5 AWD
Vehicle base price: $41,000
Trim level base price: $41,000
As tested: $49,775
Options included Harman Kardon sound system; active dual-zenon headlights w/washers; automatic high beams; adaptive cruise; collision-warning w/auto-brake; pedestrian/cyclist detection w/auto-brake; distance alert; driver-alert control; lane-departure warning; road-sign information; heated seats, windshield, steering wheel and windshield-washer nozzles; integrated child booster seats; blind-spot warning; cross-traffic alert; front park-assist; lane-change merge assist; metallic paint, and more.
Tow capacity: 3,300 lbs
EPA ratings: 23 combined/20 city/28 highway
Regular unleaded gasoline specified