It’s been a while since we got some seat time behind the wheel of a Volvo… 10 year in fact!!! Wow – time flies. So what’s changed in the world of Volvo since the last time? Plenty has changed over the years, but one thing that hasn’t changed is the Volvo of today is still as awesome as the Volvo of the past. This week’s test is a huge departure from the typical SUV infested roads of Canada – it’s a station wagon!!! It doesn’t have some newfangled label that the media people come up with – it’s a plain old station wagon – and damned if it isn’t still better than an SUV!
What Is It?
- A good old station wagon that is more economical than any SUV/CUV and probably holds more stuff too
- Nobody does station wagons (Estates if you’re British, Combi if you’re German) better than Volvo
- The B6 engine is a supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-Litre four-cylinder with a 48-volt hybrid system
- 8-speed Geartronic automatic with All-Wheel Drive (AWD) and Hill Descent Control
- High Ground clearance – 204mm
- 19” Rims are standard
How Does It Look?
- When the wife walked up to get in it – I got “the look”
- Well… it’s a wagon. Very rarely can you say they’re sexy, but this one looks pretty fine
- The colour is Thunder Grey – it almost looks like it’s a flat finish from a distance
What’s It Like Inside?
- Driver’s position is perfect
- Visibility is perfect
- Let’s start this baby up and see what happens… where’s the push button start? There isn’t one… there’s a “key” in the centre console you turn to start (and stop) – this isn’t very Volvo, this is… progressive – and cool!!
- What’s this? A digital centre infotainment unit? There’s no perfectly shaped people in seats for the climate controls!!! Say it ain’t so… That’s what made Volvo… a Volvo!!
- But, it’s actually very intuitive – no need to find the owner’s manual to operate
- The driver gets a nice 12” digital display that has numerous menus to sift through and find the one that suits you best
- Adjust the mirrors, check. Pair the phone, check. Put the shifter into drive… you pull the shifter back three times to get D. To park you press the button. This isn’t very Volvo
- Tilt and telescopic steering wheel is manual… what? Why isn’t it electric – especially at this price point?
- The Heads-up display allows you to watch your speed (the speed limit flashes to let you know), blind spot info and turn-by-turn navigation is also available on the HUD
- The multi-way seats have a 2-person memory and a superb massage – for both front seats!!!
- The vertically-oriented 9” touchscreen includes the usual Apple CarPlay/Android Auto/Navigation. Connecting my phone was easy and within seconds I was listening to music via Bluetooth. There’s 2 USB-C inputs inside the center armrest, but there’s no regular USB plug anywhere in the car – very odd. I guess those USB sticks are going the way of the cassette and CDs, time to put all my music on my phone
- The Infotainment interface is Google-based and incorporating a Digital Services Package that includes: fully integrated Google Maps and hands-free voice control with Google Assistant that offers real-time traffic info and automatic rerouting. You also get Google Play and wireless phone charging… and here’s a bonus – a four years subscription of the Digital Services Package is included
- Volvo Cars app (included in the Digital Services Package) lets you preheat, pre-cool and more before you set off
- The Bowers & Wilkins 1,400-W high-end audio system includes “19 separate hi-fi speakers (including the iconic Tweeter-on-Top centre speaker) are seamlessly integrated into the cabin to surround you with a pristine sound that feels spacious and true-to-life, just as the artist intended”
- The system is fantastic once you take the time to set it up. However, it only allows front bias rear bias or a weird combo of the two with plenty of emphasis on the front. You can’t adjust side to side or tweak it with just the right amount of sound/fade…very disappointing for that much money it should make me weep with pleasure
- Thanks to the open-and-tilt panorama moon roof there’s plenty of light in the cabin – pressing the button, it doesn’t open all the way however – just about 1½”… But wait! My wife discovered it opens fully – you have to swipe the button backwards and the sunshade opens and then the roof. To close it you swipe it forward. It’s a bit odd, but once you know what to do it works a treat
- Reversing into parking spots at the mall is very easy thanks to the 360° camera – you don’t even have to turn around, just watch the screen and drive accordingly
- Opening the rear hatch is easy enough by using the kick method, if you have the fob in your pocket
- Cargo Volume: 26 cu-ft
Optional Lounge Package is included on the test vehicle. It’s a bargain at $3,850 when you get all of that good stuff added in…
Ventilated Nappa Leather interior; Grey Ash wood accents; Tailored dashboard and door top panels; Four-zone climate system; Power 4-way lumbar support; Power passenger seat with memory; Driver Power cushion extension (thigh support); Front seat massage; Rear door sun curtains.
Also included in the test vehicle (optional):
Climate Package – Headlight cleaning/Heated steering wheel/Heated second row of seats w/individual three-level controls
Advanced Package – Head-up display / 360° camera / Advanced air cleaner PM 2.5 / Interior high level illumination
So How Quick Is It & How Does It Handle?
- Initial throttle input allows for a lot of travel before you actually move. Generally I don’t stomp on the go pedal at every stop sign/light
- Stabbing the pedal gets an instant response and a “Woah tiger! Not so fast!!” from passengers
- The steering is nicely weighted and quite sporty
- The engine/transmission are perfectly matched, making the V90 a very comfortable drive, regardless of how frugal or aggressive you are with the throttle
- Unlike most vehicles in 2022, there is no Sport Mode – in fact there are no modes whatsoever in the Cross Country
- Behind the wheel, it’s extremely quick, whether you push the ‘Sport Mode” button or not
- This car is on rails – literally, nothing upsets its balance
- The brakes are a little touchy and grabby until you get used to modulating them
- The rear air suspension responds instantly to maintain height, stability and comfort
- Towing Capacity: 1,580 kg
Horsepower: 295 @ 5,400 rpm
Torque: 310 @ 2,100 rpm
Top Speed (limited): 180 km/h
0 – 100 km/h (secs): 6.4
What Does It Cost?
For up-to-date pricing and options in your region visit: Volvo Canada
Base Price: $65,950
As Tested: $77,450
Climate Package ($1,000)
Lounge Package ($3,850)
Advanced Package ($2,000)
Bowers & Wilkins audio system ($3,750)
- Rated at (L/100 km): City – 10.6 / Highway – 8.1 / Combined – 9.5
- We averaged 8.6 L/100 kms during highway driving at 120-130 km/h
- In the city I got it down to 7.7 L/100kms, but averaged around 9.4
- Over the entire week of driving, we averaged 9.8-10.9 L/100km around town in short trips
- Here’s something weird… I get in the V90 and it says 650 kms until empty. That’s pretty good. I drive 50 kilometres and when I stop it says I have 790 kms till empty!!! And I was getting 8.6 L/100 kms for the journey. I’m no rocket scientist, but that’s incredible! When I pulled into my driveway 20 kms later – I had 650 kms till empty. I was doing 120-130 km/h all the way home. Essentially I drove 70 kms for free! I wonder if the lease payments work the same way….
- Basic: 4 years/80,000 km
- Powertrain: 4 years/80,000 km
- Complimentary Maintenance: 3 years/60,000 kms
- Roadside Assistance: 5 years /100,000 km
Audi A6 AllRoad, Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain Wagon, Subaru Legacy Outback
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
- The Good: It’s a Volvo – safe as a bank vault
- More Good: It’s a station wagon, not an SUV… and that’s a great thing
- The Bad: No Sport mode (I’m REALLY trying hard to find something bad to say)
- The Ugly: It takes Premium fuel – at 20-25¢/litre more than regular when it’s at $1.80/litre that adds up. In Europe that isn’t an issue cause they use 95 fuel in everything
What’s The Verdict?
This is NOT the Volvo of the past, but it is a much better version of it. It’s not boring to drive, it’s extremely comfortable and safe. We’ve always loved Volvo’s – except for the one I actually purchased, well we loved it but hated it equally – but that’s a different story. Nobody does luxury interiors better than Volvo and if you do a lot of long distance driving – THIS is the vehicle for you.
When discussing the price with my wife, I kinda thought it was little on the high side, but she reminded me that we’d paid over $50k for our S70 T5… back in 1998. And that didn’t have anywhere close to the safety, luxury or tech that the Cross Country possess. Looking at it like that – it’s actually a very well-priced car!
Copyright © 2022 by Iain Shankland. All rights reserved.
Text / Images: Iain Shankland