Review of: 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country 4dr Wgn T6 AWD
2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country: Beautifully practical
By Stephanie Wallcraft
Oct. 30, 2017
Canadian consumers are overwhelmingly gravitating toward crossovers these days. But what if you really want a vehicle with the stance of a car but the capabilities of an SUV without compromise? If that sounds up your alley, boy, does Volvo ever have the car for you.
At a starting MSRP of $61,900 and an as-tested price of $67,875, the Volvo V90 Cross Country is not cheap. For keen buyers with the necessary budget, though, it will hit all the right notes. Nearly all of the off-road-capable wagons on the market fall into a smaller size category, such as the Volkswagen Golf Alltrack, Subaru Outback and, in the luxury space, the A4 allroad quattro, and Volvo’s own V60 Cross Country.
But the A6 allroad quattro – which could measure up to the V90 Cross Country’s wheelbase, ground clearance, and cargo capacity – isn’t part of Audi Canada’s line-up, nor does any other brand, luxury or otherwise, offer a car to us Canucks that can compete on all of those counts.
In other words, in the Canadian market, the V90 Cross Country stands largely on its own. Good thing it’s a complete stunner inside and out.
Pros & Cons
- + Styling
- + Acceleration
- + Comfortable, spacious interior
- - Price
- - Touchy safety systems
Along with the XC90 and S90, the V90 and V90 Cross Country are part of the first batch of completely redesigned Volvo products released since the company was taken over by Chinese holding company Geely in 2010. That means that this car, like the others in its range, is about as composed-yet-sexy an offering as you’ll find in its segment.
Its stately grille and Thor’s-hammer headlights form lines that continue into definitive shoulders, which carry all the way through to Volvo’s signature upright taillights. The 19-inch alloy wheels and 21.3 cm of ground clearance on the V90 Cross Country give it a brawny final touch. If wagons are your thing, this one is a thing of beauty.
True to Volvo’s new form, the V90 Cross Country’s interior is brimming with top-notch materials. This tester’s seats are made very comfortable with the optional sport-seat Nappa leather package ($1,800), which bumps up the quality of the upholstery and adds driver and passenger thigh-cushion extensions (which, as a rarity, come forward even further than I need them to).
Adding on the climate package seems like a no-brainer for our climate. It adds heated outboard rear seats, a heated steering wheel, heated washer nozzles, and a heated windscreen for $1,350.
Unlike the Volvo S90 sedan with which they share a platform, the V90 and V90 Cross Country have a long enough wheelbase to accommodate a standard panoramic sunroof, which adds a much lighter and more open feel to the interior. (The S90 will begin offering it when the long-wheelbase becomes the standard in Canada in 2018.)
But in the unnecessary spend column, the metal mesh decor inlays add $425 to the price tag, while the standard black-walnut highlights are more appealing to my eye.
As is typical with wagons, the V90 Cross Country’s cargo space falls a touch shorter than its SUV equivalents but significantly better than most cars, sporting 912 litres behind the 60-40 split second row seats that drop at the push of a button to expand to 1,526 litres behind the first row.
Volvo’s standard tablet-like 9.3-inch infotainment screen is one of my favourites. The controls are easy to work, you can access anything from navigation to temperature and heated seats with a quick press, and it’s a joy to be able to preview what’s playing on a group of satellite radio stations at once. (Admittedly, the temptation to scroll through 20 or so to find the best song can be distracting.) The system is quite slow to get moving on start-up, but once it gets going, it’s excellent.
Volvo is also starting to integrate smartphone app compatibility into its new systems, which means that Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are both available now.
On the safety side, Volvo lives up to its reputation with a robust slate of standard features: low- and high-speed collision mitigation with pedestrian and cyclist detection, lane-departure warning, road sign information, driver alert (for at-the-wheel dozers), road edge and barrier detection with automatic steering, active lane-keeping aid, and active cruise control are all included. However, some of these systems aren’t perfect—the collision mitigation alarm scared me half to death when it went off as I passed stopped oncoming traffic on a curve, for instance—which might lead some drivers to turn them off rather than live with the sound effects.
Driving the V90 Cross Country’s feels delightfully spirited. Its 2.0-litre turbo- and supercharged I4 Drive-E engine makes 316 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and, more importantly, 295 lb-ft. of torque between a readily available 2,200 and 5,400 rpm. It feels like it’s champing at the bit right off the line, and then the eight-speed automatic hits its sweet spot and away she goes—and this is in comfort mode. Dynamic mode takes it up yet another notch, with tighter throttle response and more aggressive shifts.
While engine start-stop is enabled in comfort mode to save some fuel, there’s an eco mode that shortens shifts and softens throttle response to assist a little more. I finished my week in the V90 Cross Country with a final reading of 10.3 L/100 km, which is well above the 9.4 combined rating obtained by Natural Resources Canada. But I drove mostly on city streets during my time with it—and I was having far too much fun enjoying the crisp handling and satisfying pedal output to give eco mode much more than a cursory test. Sadly, I had no opportunity to test the car’s off-road capability, which provides added control away from the pavement at speeds up to just shy of 30 km/h.
Yes, the price tag on this car puts it out of reach for the average Canadian family. But for those who have the budget, there’s a lot of value here versus what you’d get spending the equivalent amount elsewhere, even at the base trim. On top of the features already mentioned, the V90 Cross Country includes self-cleaning headlights, LED fog lights with cornering, memory driver’s seat, power liftgate, interior air-quality maintenance system, and heated front seats.
Ready to go from twisty mountain roads to challenging cabin lanes and everywhere in between, the Volvo V90 Cross Country is a practical and satisfying car that meets the diverse needs of Canadian drivers.