2017 Volvo V60 Cross Country T5 Drive-E AWD Premier Road Test Review

The benefits of an SUV along with the better handling of a car

Volvo's Cross Country line is quite unique in the industry. Certainly the Swedish company is not alone when it comes to producing crossover utilities, but unlike Volvo most premium-branded competitors duke it out in the regular SUV classes against the XC60 compact and XC90 mid-size models. Volvo takes things a step further by offering raised, muscled up versions of its V60 and upcoming V90 wagons in an effort to fill the niche between car and SUV, the V60 Cross Country and soon to arrive V90 Cross Country truest to the original crossover concept.

The idea isn't new. The first Cross Country rode on the mid-size V70 P2 (second-generation) platform way back in 1999, while this V60 Cross Country arrived for the 2015 model year, along with its S60 Cross Country sibling that's attempting to toughen up the four-door sedan segment.

The V60 Cross Country makes total sense to me. Then again, unless you carry a lot of very expensive kit around and your neighbourhood requires the security of a lockable trunk (hence the S60 Cross Country), wagons are a lot more useful and more often than not look sportier than their three-box counterparts, whereas SUVs can be heavier and more cumbersome.

Sophisticated sport wagon and SUV styling

I like the V60 Cross Country's taller (than a wagon) profile and stylish body cladding, which is simple matte black around the wheel cutouts and purposefully non-SUV-like in between where sculpted silver rocker extensions reside. These are beautifully detailed, as are the lowered front and rear fascias with stunning silver undertrays, which happened to look body-colour on my Bright Silver Metallic painted tester. Lastly, an italicized "CROSS COUNTRY" nameplate is discretely written in embossed block letters across the rear bumper's thick matte black garnish. Flush-mounted albeit still useful roof rails allow attachment of a roof rack with cross members, while down below are machine-finished V-style five-spoke 18-inch alloys with light grey painted pockets wrapped in 235/50R18 Pirelli Scorpion Verde all-season rubber, combining for a nice look and great traction.

Those taller tire sidewalls are joined by a 65-mm (2.5-inch) increase in ride height for 200 mm (7.9 inches) of total ground clearance and considerably more wheel travel, which together with undercarriage protective skid plates, standard Haldex torque-vectoring all-wheel drive, hill descent control, hill start assist, and a host of active traction and stability control tech, improves off-pavement capability. Understand, this is a soft-roader, but it's certainly good enough for tackling a muddy dirt road on the way to the summer cottage or a snow covered ski hill parking lot, plus a little more when called upon. At the same time it takes to corners much better than your average SUV, because its centre of gravity is considerably lower. All the while the Cross Country's 360-degree visibility is improved over the regular V60, the extra height providing a better vantage point amid congested city traffic.

Strong power and a comfortable ride

Volvo keeps things simple when it comes to choosing powertrains and trims. The sole T5 Drive-E AWD powertrain consists of a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder making 240 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, driving all wheels via an eight-speed automatic with "Geartronic" manual mode. It was smart to replace last year's 2.5-litre five-cylinder and six-speed auto combo even though the engine and transmission spent just two years in this relatively new model, the smaller four producing 10 horsepower and 8 lb-ft of torque less output, but with a smaller displacement and two additional forward gears considerably better fuel economy at 10.8 L/100km city and 7.8 highway compared to 11.8 and 9.1 for the 2015-16 version.

I certainly didn't notice any lack of power, the V60 Cross Country delivering strong straight-line performance from standstill to freeway speeds, while highway-passing performance was also very good. There's even plenty of power and loads of grip for a fun stint through a winding canyon road, but it was the Cross Country's ride quality and overall comfort that really impressed. The regular V60 already offers a very compliant fully independent suspension, but the Cross Country's greater wheel travel makes it even more comfortable, while its standard eight-way power-adjustable front seats are some of the best in the industry.

Loads of standard and optional features

Volvo covers these in its T-Tec Textile upholstery in $45,200 base trim, although my $2,500 pricier Premier tester was upgraded with leather in the same Off-Black tone. You can opt for Soft Beige instead, or pay another $750 for contoured sport seats in all Off-Black, two-tone Off-Black and Soft Beige, or Beechwood (a rich saddle brown). My tester came with the standard Milled Aluminum inlays, which looked fabulous and had that cold feel of genuine metal, although if you're more of a traditional luxury fan a mere $425 will buy you Urbane Wood or Piano Black Wood inlays.

Along with items already mentioned the V60 Cross Country's standard features list includes the usual premium suspects such as power-retractable heated side mirrors, an electromechanical parking brake, pushbutton ignition, a beautiful leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, dual-zone auto climate control, Bluetooth phone connectivity with audio streaming, navigation, driver seat memory that also adjusts the side mirrors, heatable front seats, HD and satellite radio, rear parking sensors, Volvo On Call telematics services, a powered glass sunroof, power-folding rear headrests, and more.

Additionally, the V60 Cross Country includes a very impressive combination of active and passive safety features including City Safety autonomous braking that detects vehicles as well as cyclists and pedestrians, Dynamic Stability Control with sport mode, torque-vectoring Corner Traction Control, whiplash protection front seatbelts, and more. Some of these help it earn a best possible Top Safety Pick Plus score from the IIHS, as well as 5 Stars from the NHTSA.

12-speaker Harmon/Kardon audio is superb

As mentioned earlier my tester was upgraded to Premier trim, which added unique 18-inch alloys, bright side window mouldings, silver roof rails, proximity access, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a gorgeous full-colour adaptive digital TFT gauge cluster, and the already noted leather upholstery, while you can improve it further with active dual-HID headlights with auto high beams and headlight washers, auto-dimming side mirrors, LED accent lighting, a HomeLink garage door opener, a digital compass, a heatable windshield, heated windshield washer nozzles, a heatable steering wheel, heated rear seats, an interior air quality system, front parking assist, a rearview camera, 3G Wi-Fi hot spot connectivity, a 12-speaker Harman/Kardon audio system, a Quick-Fold Front Passenger Seat, dual two-stage child booster seats, adaptive cruise control with Queue Assist, Distance Alert, Driver Alert Control, road sign information, lane departure warning, collision warning along with pedestrian and cyclist detection with full auto brake, and lane keeping assist.

Along with these factory options the V60 Cross Country can be had with dealer-installed accessories such as a front blind view camera that adds a 45-degree field of vision to the left and right, rear window sunshades, a rear seat entertainment system with dual eight-inch screens, a protective steel grille that stops rear cargo from entering the passenger compartment under heavy braking or accident, rubber all-season floor mats, a cargo mat, and more.

An superbly crafted spacious interior

The V60 Cross Country offers up a nicely designed interior that gets high marks for design and build quality, which means you'll be pampered with soft touch surfaces across the dash top and instrument panel, while each door is skinned in higher end pliable synthetics, which isn't always the case in this class. As noted its metal inlays are real, while Volvo dresses up other cabin areas with a tasteful assortment of satin finished and textured metals.

The floating centre stack continues to be an attractive styling statement, while all of its switchgear is superb and its main 7.0-inch Volvo Sensus interface is easy to operate and filled with features. My tester's upgraded TFT gauge cluster was even more advanced, the large centre dial surrounded by secondary digital meters, while the displays are configurable depending on the drive mode selected.

As noted the V60 Cross Country's front seats are comfortable with plenty of adjustment and more importantly good inherent design, while the car's front passenger compartment is spacious too. It would be in ideal choice for a road trip, as you'd probably arrive more refreshed then when setting out. I also had no problem comfortably fitting in back. After positioning the driver's seat for my five-foot-eight frame I had about four inches ahead of my knees and another four or five above my head, Volvo smartly sculpting the rear portion of the roof out to increase ceiling height. Rear passengers also enjoy vents built into the backside of each B-pillar, and overhead reading lights, whereas my tester was upgraded to include three-way heatable outboard seats. Additionally, no matter which door you're using the Cross Country's taller ride height makes for easier ingress and egress.

Spacious and versatile cargo capacity

This benefits loading too, the cargo area large at 430 litres behind the rear seats when measured below the retractable cargo cover or 692 litres from the cargo floor right up to the roofliner. Fold the solidly built 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks flat and its gear-toting capacity increases to 1,220 litres, which makes for a versatile cargo/passenger environment that lets your rear passengers enjoy the comfort of a window seat while long items, such as skis, are stowed in the middle.

Story credits: Trevor Hofmann, Canadian Auto Press
Photo credits: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press
Copyright: Canadian Auto Press Inc.

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