What is it?
The V90 Cross Country replaces the XC70 in the Volvo line up now that the XC title is saved for their SUVs. So where does this V90CC fit in?
Well it's a more rugged off-road version of the V90, with a raised ride height and wider track making it a viable rival for the likes of the Audi A6 Allroad, and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain.
Let’s not forget though that this isn’t Volvo’s first foray into the world of all-terrain estates, as back in 1996 they introduced us to their 850 Estate, which was quite a beast.
On the road
Our car for the week was the 190bhp D4 version which in the Cross Country range is the cheapest and slowest, which is a bit of a misnomer as at £40,605 it ain’t cheap, and with a top speed of 130mph and 0-60mph time of 8.5 seconds, neither is it sluggish.
Unless you drive a track car around on a daily basis, I’m willing to bet that you will hardly notice the extra 65mm of ride height, as it wafts you along on any surface in comfort. Start throwing it around corners and you’ll probably notice some wallowing, but on the whole I really enjoyed the experience, especially whilst on a day out exploring Anglesey.
Our car was fitted with self-levelling rear air suspension, a £950 option which is a no brainer if you’re going to use your Cross Country as a load lugger.
Off the road
The Cross Country gives you an extra 60mm increase in ride height, plus a further 5mm due to higher profile off-road tyres. As well as skid plates and hollowed-out Cross Country lettering on the rear bumper it also comes with plastic wheel arches and lower body extenders which gives it a sturdier look and covers the widened front and rear tracks.
Obviously the V90 Cross Country isn’t a mud-plugger, and with a maximum wading depth of less than a foot (only 300mm) I’d avoid deep puddles, but it does clamber over most obstacles with remarkable efficiency. As you can see, I didn’t shy away from the hard stuff, and the Cross Country didn’t falter, though its suspension can feel quite harsh when off the beaten track.
Earlier on the year I had the opportunity to take it around the off road course at Millbrook, and with its dedicated off-road mode and standard hill descent control it performed incredibly well. In fact, I’m always surprised that Volvo don’t promote their 4x4 abilities more as they’re pretty good.
Spacious, well equipped and comfortable - very comfortable.
My only gripe with the interior, and this is in general, not just the V90, is the fascination manufacturers have with slapping a huge iPad-style touchpad in the middle of the dash. Yes they are efficient and offer lots of controls - I can actually lower the rear head restraints in the V90 with a single touch - but what a distraction! I find it astonishing that we’re not allowed to even touch a mobile phone whilst driving, but gawping and fiddling with a 9” touchscreen is ok. Give me old-fashioned knobs and dials any day.
Bare with me for a moment whilst I put my soapbox to one side..... there we go. Yes, the interior is classy, in fact there isn’t much difference between this and the normal V90.
It’s a very comfortable place to be, front and back, though I did think the dash could have done with a splash of colour, it’s a bit bland.
Of course, interior space is vast as you would expect from a Volvo estate with 723 litres growing to 1,526 litres in the rear with the seats down.
When it comes to safety features I genuinely have no idea where to begin - it has loads. There’s Pilot Assist & Adaptive Cruise Control which is a semi-autonomous drive tech, then there’s Run-off road protection. Amusingly, the latter took me by surprise whilst I was driving the XC90 around Millbrook Testing Facility a few years ago. How it works is quite simple, once the car recognises that all 4 wheels are off the ground it automatically tightens the front seatbelts, which is a brilliant idea, obviously. However, when you’re driving quickly over a short bridge or the crest of a steep hill and all wheels leave the ground, the same happens. I can attest that the seatbelt really does grip you, tightly!
Engines and transmission
There’s one 2ltr diesel, in 2 formats, and a petrol which are all mated to an 8-speed automatic gearbox.
190bhp - 0-60 in 8.5 in seconds - 130mph - 54.3mpg combined - CO2g/km 138
235bhp - 0-60mph in 7.2 seconds - 140mph - 53.3mpg combined - CO2g/km 139
320bhp - 0-60mph in 6 seconds - 140mph - 36.7mpg combined - CO2g/km 176
Does the V90 Cross Country hold its own against the Audi A6 Allroad and the Mercedes E-Class All Terrain? That all depends on your own tastes, brand loyalty and requirements, personally I really enjoyed the whole experience. The overall cruise-ability and ambience in the Cross Country is up there with the best of ‘em.
Of course it carries a price premium over a standard V90, but for those who live down muddy and rutted lanes, or find themselves in remote locations, you will appreciate this car’s off-road ability and its cosseting ride.