It's a nice and cushy cruiser that has a good amount of get-up-and-go.
Swedish automaker Volvo has seen some tumultuous times as of late. Having been attached to the Ford Motor Company prior to the 2008 global financial meltdown, they were sold off to China’s Geely in 2010. Rather than bringing in sweeping changes, so far it appears that Geely has largely left Volvo alone, being the sugar daddy and bankrolling some great products over the last few years. They’ve been allowed to bring some quirkiness to the table, and the 2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country T5 AWD is a perfect case in point.
With today’s trend in the industry being the crossover utility vehicle, the S60 XC is a crossover utility sedan, for those who absolutely prefer the sedan body style over a hatchback. Volvo Canada sent the DoubleClutch.ca team an Osmium Grey Metallic example for evaluation – would it prove to be a viable alternative to a crossover, or will it be an answer to a question that nobody asked?
With an as-tested price of $55,300, our S60 XC tested came with every available option. The $1,350 Climate Package adds heating elements to the rear seats, the steering wheel, the windshield, and even the windshield washer nozzles. For $1,000, the Technology Package adds adaptive cruise control, lane keeping, and forward collision warning systems that are completely able to fully apply the brakes in the event of an impending collision. A blind spot and cross-traffic warning system is $1,000, and dual xenon headlights with washers add another $1,100, for a total of $4,450 in options. All paint colour options are metallic, and will add $800 to the total cost of the S60 XC.
While it’s no surprise that the S60 XC isn’t able to carry the same amount of cargo as a V60 Cross Country (see review here) wagon, the trunk area of the S60 is a double-edged sword. The cargo floor is significantly raised with a gargantuan spare tire cover. This cuts into the overall available volume, but it does result in a fairly flat load floor with a liftover height that’s the same as the load floor itself.
Under the hood, there’s only one powertrain option available to the S60 Cross Country. Combined with a refined six-speed automatic, the ubiquitous T5 is equipped a 2.5-litre inline-five cylinder engine from the Volvo Modular family. This unit can trace its lineage back to the early 1990s in models such as the 850. With continual refinement improvements and power bumps along the way, the T5 engine boasts 250 horsepower at 5,400RPM, and a torque peak of 266 lb-ft between 1,800 to 2,400RPM.
The low torque peak across the rev range is immediately apparent when behind the wheel, as the T5 has excellent throttle response off the line. There’s no turbo lag at all, which could likely be attributed to a slightly larger displacement and an extra cylinder as compared to today’s 2.0-litre four cylinder turbo mills. The low-end torque honeymoon does taper off as the revs climb past 3,500 rpm however, although the T5 doesn’t completely run out of breath. Ninety-nine percent of drivers will enjoy the T5’s usability in day-to-day situations. For the one-percenters, consider the even more powerful S60 T6 or Polestar editions.
With a ride height bump of 65 millimetres (2.5 inches), the S60 Cross Country is noticeably taller than the regular S60 (review here), and the XC gets extra plastic cladding around the wheel arches that highlight this effect. Combined with an all-wheel-drive system capable of torque vectoring, drivers can be assured that traction won’t be an issue when inclement weather hits. When combined with a good set of winter tires, it’ll be able to go just about anywhere.
Owing to its relatively tall 235/50R18 tires, the S60 Cross Country rides like an absolute dream. The thicker sidewalls add an extra cushion for the ultimate in highway comfort, and the relatively soft spring rate adds to the cream puff effect. That said, well-tuned dampers keep the ride from being excessively floaty, and the body motions are kept in check across all ranges of bumps and undulations. The easy-going ride means that most drivers will be tempted to maintain higher highway cruising speeds than most cars, and the S60 XC will regularly find itself in the speedier end of traffic flow. Combined with awesome seat comfort and great ergonomics, long driving stretches are a wonderful way to pass time.
To complement the great highway cruising experience, the Volvo S60 Cross Country has a selection of multimedia to further aid drivers and passengers alike. The audio system packs a decent punch and is put together by the likes of Harman Kardon. There’s a full navigation system with traffic and voice command, and Bluetooth audio streaming and phone pairing is fairly easy to do. Unfortunately, the screen is not of the touch variety, but thankfully the dial and button interface is fairly simple to get used to.
The S60’s instrument gauge cluster is a neat digital screen that is still legible under bright daytime light. Unique to the Cross Country model is a brown background hue on the “Elegance” setting within the cluster. While the Cross Country variant itself is new, the S60 has been around for several years, and some of the interior touches reflect the age. This is not to say that the ergonomics are poor, though – expect future iterations of S60 and Cross Country to follow suit with fabulous interiors such as the 2016 Volvo XC90 T6 Inscription that was recently tested.
With the T5 engine, the city fuel economy is rated at 11.8 L/100km in the city and 8.6 L/100km on the highway. After a full week, observed fuel economy was 9.9 L/100km with a balance towards highway driving. This isn’t quite the greatest relative to the more modern turbocharged 2.0-litre, four cylinder engines of the competition, but the extra low-end torque and refinement is a small price to pay. Volvo themselves has a new “Drive-E” series of 2.0-litre four-cylinder motors, but those powertrains are only available on the front-wheel-drive portions of the S60 and V60 lineup. The Drive-E is an even bigger torque monster than the T5, and should return even better fuel economy. The catch is a premium fuel (91 octane) requirement, whereas the T5 is happy to take regular 87 octane.
Overall, for its $55,300 sticker price, the 2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country T5 AWD is a nice and cushy cruiser that has a good amount of get-up-and-go. The low-end torque serves to make acceleration and daily driving a breeze, and the ride quality can’t be beat. If you absolutely must have a sedan, and don’t mind a slightly dated multimedia system and a fairly small trunk, the S60 XC is a great, if not only, alternative to a full-blown crossover SUV. In the 1980s, AMC’s Eagle was just about the only contender in this format, and in the 2000s, only the Subaru Legacy Outback sedan filled this lonely segment. For 2016, Volvo is bringing the S60 up to the plate by using shared mechanicals from other vehicles already in their lineup, and the Cross Country will fill its small niche well.