2015 Volvo V60 Cross Country Review

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We, at our organisation,  like our wagons low, stylish, and fast, so when Volvo showed its low, stylish, and (in some forms) fast V60 wagon in tall, pseudo-crossover Cross Country form, not all of us were completely stoked. Does the world need another crossover-y thing, or perhaps more cynically, do we need another apologist wagon that feels the need to butch itself up? Furthermore, does Volvo, of all companies, need a car like this, given that the V60 Cross Country will share showroom space with the thematically similar XC70?

Well obviously there are a few points that need to be fine tuned and a rare implementation which should be either looked into on priority or discarded. Having said that nothing is perfect and the major of the functionality is more than impressive. Those questions aside, we’re not disappointed with the execution and it is above par than the expectations we had, is the general sense going around. Volvo’s designers restrained themselves from slathering the car with off-road addenda like body cladding, roof cross rails, and brush guards. Indeed, what we have here is essentially a V60 with 2.6 inches of additional ride height, blacked-out window and mirror trim, dark window tinting, front and rear “skid plates” (neither of which appear to protect much of anything), silver rocker trim, and a honeycomb grille. The fender arches are trimmed in black to visually fill the gap created by the lifted suspension, and whether you choose the $41,940 Premier or the $45,590 Platinum trim level, every V60 Cross Country will ride on the same set of diamond-cut 18-inch wheels wrapped with 235/50 Continental all-season tires. All together, the high-riding V60 projects a remarkably different aura than does the standard V60, and it works, mostly because it still looks like a proper wagon.

 

Inside, occupants face the same pretty dashboard as other S60/V60 variants and sit on some of the world’s most comfortable chairs (Contour seats, in Volvo-speak). Our test example was gussied up with $400 wood inlays, although the advancing age of the interior design is evident in the button-heavy center stack and fussy user interface. The configurable instrument screen, however, looks slick, serving up data in Eco, Elegance, or Performance themes. Low-pile sisal-like floor mats and contrast-stitched leather upholstery also are standard, along with navigation, a sunroof, and Wi-Fi hotspot connectivity.

 

A jaunt in California from scenic Calistoga to Lake Tahoe in the V60 Cross Country taught us little we couldn’t have predicted: It’s tall, tippy, and soft, pretty much the exact opposite of the V60 Polestar. The taller perch gives occupants a commanding view of the road ahead while enjoying the innately more relaxed (read: less upright) seating position of a proper car, and that we really like. The familiar 250-hp turbo five-cylinder emits its distinct growl upon full-throttle acceleration, although its power is merely adequate. (Volvo claims a zero-to-60-mph time of 7.0 seconds, which is probably about right.) The steering and brakes lack much in the way of zeal or bite, and amplified body motions lower cornering speeds to crossover levels.  These remarks are one side of the coin but there is more to it than meets the eye. Some features leave your mouth wide open and your heart racing and your mind wishful. To elaborate, on the upside, the ride is velvety and the cabin remains hushed even at triple-digit speeds.

What the V60 Cross Country does reasonably well, however, is invite off-pavement-ish adventures ranging from the benign—say, parking with two wheels off the shoulder at a roadside fruit stand—to the moderately challenging, such as exploring muddy two-tracks. We wouldn’t attempt much more, though. But between the added wheel travel and the Haldex all-wheel-drive system, which can send up to 50 percent of engine torque to the rear axle before the front wheels have slipped even 1/17th of a rotation, the Cross Country can easily go where other V60s cannot. All the while, we noticed no squeaks or thunks when traversing diagonal ruts, and the well-tuned shocks dulled impacts both off-road and on.

Of course, the elephant in the room—which is to say the other crossover-y wagon thing in the showroom—is the aforementioned XC70, which is about eight inches longer, 2.3 inches taller, and 0.4 inch higher off the ground. And at $38,490, its base price is cheaper than the V60 Cross Country’s. Add in its vastly more capacious cargo area (72.1 cubic feet maximum versus 43.8 for the V60) and the XC70 is the more sensible choice, even though the V60 CC’s lackluster 20/28 mpg city/highway fuel economy is better than that of the XC70 AWD and its straight-six.

So what’s the point of the V60 Cross Country? By Volvo’s own admission, the V60 Cross Country is unashamedly more about style than practicality (the oddball S60 Cross Country sedan version being even more so). That calculus may change some, however, once the XC70 scales up to the upcoming S90 sedan on Volvo’s new SPA platform in the coming years. Some things we can confirm and give it in writing and some are resting upon perceptions and depend upon the beliefs of people and their own experience. While it’s debatable whether the world needs another faux CUV, it’s nice that another station wagon has been added to the landscape, and we’ll continue to take those in whatever form they come. To conclude, Volvo never has been a front runner as compared to its competitors from Germany. The Audi’s, Volkswagen’s, BMW’s et al make the top of the list as far as the technological advancement and style is concerned, However, having put the cards on the table, we must appreciate its effort to be distinctive and different from the normal. It provides a sense of freshness with all its models giving us a feeling that it cares least about the competition but more about the target audience it has created for itself in the past few decades. They define the magical combination of style and substance in their own beautiful way!