A very fresh alternative to German and Japanese rivals.
As the latest iteration in its flagship series of cars, the 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country ushers in the newest version of Volvo’s coveted Cross Country lineup. Based on their latest Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform, it joins the ranks of the critically acclaimed S90 sedan and XC90 sport utility, in addition to the also-new V90 wagon. The XC90 was DoubleClutch.ca Magazine’s favourite SUV in 2015, and the S90 cleaned up with Car of the Year honours in 2016. The recently-debuted XC60 (previewed here) and other upcoming vehicles in the 60 lineup are also to be built on SPA, and are expected to bolster what’s been a very strong past few years for the Swedish automaker.
From 1996 to 2016, the XC70 was a slightly jacked up wagon version of the V70 wagon or S80 sedan, depending on the year. Today, since it shares underpinnings with the XC90, the V90 Cross Country still has all the makings for a comfortable family cruiser that can also tackle mild off-roading and all sorts of inclement weather with a full load of cargo. Recently, Volvo Canada handed over the keys to a handsome Maple Brown Metallic V90 Cross Country, complete with a sleek Volvo-branded accessory box on the roof and mud flaps in the wheel wells.
Starting at a base price of $61,900, the test vehicle included a multitude of options, and based on past testing of various Volvo models, many of them are quintessential to a sublime motoring experience. A $1,500 Premium Package adds fancier accent lighting, a 12-inch instrument cluster display, and four-zone automatic climate control. The $1,350 Climate Package adds heating to the steering wheel, windshield, rear seats, and washer nozzles – bump it up to $2,300 if you’d like a graphical heads-up display. A $2,000 Vision Package adds auto-dimming mirrors, a blind spot monitoring system, power retractable side mirrors, and extra cameras for the visual park assist system.
For standalone options, the $3,250 Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system is also a must-have for any audiophile – it possesses unparalleled levels of clarity, and is as about as good as it gets for factory car audio. There’s also a nifty (for $1,510) nifty hideaway trailer hitch that locks and unlocks with the push of a button. With the as-tested price coming in over $75,000 excluding the cargo box, the V90 Cross Country does command a pretty penny, but provides a convincing argument against the likes of the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE (reviewed here), Audi Q7, and even the Acura MDX and Lexus RX.
Even though the cargo box on the roof provides space for all the junk in the world, there’s also 723 litres (25.5 cubic feet) of cargo capacity with the rear seats left up. The interior itself is among the industry’s best in terms of design and feel, with build quality fit for a king and material selection that gives the V90 Cross Country a big touch of class. The Charcoal Nappa interior will likely age and stay clean better than the almost-white Blond leather that’s also available, but the sexiness of the Blond interior is hard to deny. Seat comfort is also among the best in the business, with extreme levels of comfort and support that make the V90 Cross Country an amazing road trip machine.
To control most functions of the vehicle, a 9.3-inch touchscreen is planted in the middle of the centre stack of the V90 Cross Country. It’s a responsive unit with a huge number of features integrated, and so will take some time to get used to. The climate controls are fully embedded in this system, and while dedicated buttons or knobs would be preferred for basic fan, temperature, and heated seat controls, it does make the overall design and look a bit cleaner. It’s a bit akin to using an iPad, which can be at least a bit distracting when on the road.
Providing motive power for the V90 Cross Country is the same Drive-E 2.0-litre twincharged inline-four cylinder engine as the previously tested S90 and XC90. With both supercharging and turbocharging providing forced induction, it puts out 316 horspeower combined with a healthy 295. lb-ft of torque. The supercharger makes itself known with a confident slight whine at lower revs, and the turbocharger comes on strong as you approach the 6,000RPM redline. All things considered, Volvo specifies that the 0-100km/h sprint can be done in 6.3 seconds.
Thanks to both systems, there’s absolutely no lag under heavy throttle application, and the power also doesn’t taper off in the top end. Power output is fairly modest compared to other vehicles in its class (it’s trumped by the BMW X5, Mercedes-Benz GLE, and Audi Q7), but the V90 Cross Country is still able to merge and pass with authority. Smoothness and refinement is quite good, but the exhaust note from the four-banger won’t be quite as good as a V6 or V8.
Paired with the Drive-E motor is an Aisin-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission. It provides crisp shifts without hunting, and always keeps the twincharged engine at the ideal RPM for performance and drivability. In doing so, it also manages to optimize fuel economy. Although its aforementioned power output is a bit lower than others, the returns on fuel economy give the V90 Cross Country a fairly significant advantage. It’s rated for 10.2L/100km in the city, and 6.6L/100km on the highway. Observed fuel economy returned 9.4L/100km in mixed driving. Premium fuel (91 octane) fuel is recommended, and tank capacity is 60 litres.
On the road, the jacked-up Volvo wagon is a svelte and serene cruiser, with wind noise and road imperfections kept at bay. The ride itself is typical European-firm, and while you will feel many bumps and potholes a bit more sharply, the quality of the ride is second to none. Highway cruising is an absolute pleasure, and at the same time, the V90 Cross Country manages to not fall flat on its face when going through a corner. Body roll is kept in check, and although there’s not much feedback coming through the steering wheel, the Cross Country remains almost as sure footed as the lower-slung S90 sedan. The driving dynamics and premium fuel fit the price tag perfectly. The only real rival here is the Audi A4 allroad (reviewed here), which offers a similar body style and driving dynamics, but is slightly smaller.
With the 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country joining the ranks, there’s even more choice for consumers interested in what the Swedish automaker has to offer. With their last several models hitting the ball out of the park entirely, there’s no reason to believe that the V90 Cross Country won’t do the same. With an excellent feature set, industry-leading design, and available accessories that are aesthetically attractive, all of the vehicles rolling off the line on the SPA platform have every reason to be considered on every shopping list in this price range. With great fuel economy and solid performance, it’s a very fresh alternative to German and Japanese rivals. The nearly two years’ worth of sales growth at Volvo will agree.