Volvo V90 Cross Country Launch Review
Andy Harris, Motoring and Property Editor
Volvo has been making Cross Country versions of its estate cars for two decades. The idea is simple but effective - raise the ride height for better ground clearance, add some chunky looking body protection and a capable four-wheel drive system.
It is therefore no surprise that Volvo now offers a Cross Country version of its latest V90 estate.
The market for this type of car is not huge, with buyers increasingly turning to large 4x4 models. Volvo's seven seat XC90 takes care of that market very nicely.
Rivals are few and far between the most obvious being the aging Audi A6 Allroad, with the Skoda Octavia Scout available for those of more modest means.
Viewed alongside the V90, the 65mm increase in ride height of the Cross Country is easy to spot. Skid plates front and rear provide protection for vital components when the going gets tough, whilst plastic wheel arch extensions should help to shrug off passing shrubbery.
Hollowed out Cross Country lettering on the rear bumper recalls past models and helps give the car some individual identity.
Volvo interiors have always majored on comfort, whilst the latest models have seen a distinct push upmarket. The Cross Country apes the plush V90 with a unique black walnut dash and some cross-stitched leather the only standalone features.
The leather clad seats are sumptuous and supportive, with powerful heaters built in for those frosty starts. The driving position is spot on and all the controls work with mechanical precision.
Four generously proportioned adults will have space aplenty, with 560 litres of boot space for luggage. The rear seats fold electrically for those longer loads; a little flat-pack furniture from Ikea maybe, though something more antique might be in order for those with a Volvo-sized budget.
Cross Country models come positively brimming with equipment such as the intuitive nine-inch touchscreen controlling most of the car's major functions including the satellite navigation. The car boasts full connectivity whereby passengers can browse the internet, so no more bored children on long car journeys.
Other highlights include LED headlights, smart alloy wheels, an electric tailgate and dual-zone climate control.
An array of options can be specified including the £2,000 Xenium pack which includes a power glass sunroof, parking camera and a 'Park Assist Pilot'. Or how about a top notch Bowers and Wilkins premium sound system for £3,000? Lovely as they are I could live without both.
Of more interest is the optional adaptive damper system (£1,500), which allows the driver a choice of settings depending on mood, road conditions etc. It works well in practice and is a box worth ticking.
Two versions of the Cross Country are available. D4 models are priced from £39,785 and come with Volvo's 190hp four cylinder diesel powerplant.
D5 prices start at £43,585 and engine power is upped to 235hp aided and abetted by Volvo's clever PowerPlus technology. This clever system eliminates turbo lag for brisker performance.
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Of perhaps more interest, the economy figures are very similar with both models predicted to return around 54mpg on the combined cycle.
Most of the time the four cylinder engines are smooth and refined, only when fully extended will the lack of rivals' two extra cylinders be noticed.
As well as the increased ride height, Volvo has chosen to fit the Cross Country models with bespoke higher profile tyres. Not only are these designed to grip well in off-road conditions, they also help make the ride more cosseting than the ordinary V90 models.
A touch more body roll is evident, but nothing that need worry a buyer unduly.
Volvo had organised a modest off-road excursion through a forest. The previous day's rain ensured that there was plenty of mud and deep puddles. I can report that the Volvo made light work of the reasonably demanding conditions.
It skipped up the hills and the hill-descent control ensured safe descents once over the top. Ultimately lack of ground clearance would be the obstacle to tackling more challenging terrain. Farm tracks, a muddy field or a snow covered hill will all be dispatched with ease.
No Volvo would be complete without a raft of safety equipment and the Cross Country doesn't disappoint. Of particular note is the City Safety system, capable of detecting pedestrians, cyclists and animals. Pilot Assist and Adaptive Cruise Control are also standard; this semi-autonomous technology will take care of the steering (unless you exceed 80mph), accelerator and braking. It works wonderfully well and takes the stress out of motorway driving.
The V90 Cross Country is an impressive and capable car. Of great interest to country types who don't wish to lumber around in a full size 4x4, Volvo's latest offering should be well received.
Luxurious, comfortable and surefooted, the Cross Country will look good whether parked up outside your favourite town restaurant or covered in mud at a country show. It has a touch of class, something that is sadly missing from some of its brasher German rivals. Reason enough to purchase perhaps?
Volvo V90 Cross Country
Priced from £39,785
D4 and D5 variants boasting 190 and 235hp respectively
Standard 8-speed automatic gearbox
Combined economy around 54mpg
65mm higher than V90, bespoke tyres
High level of standard equipment
Raft of active and passive safety features
Maximum towing weight 2,500kg (braked)
Volvo V90 Cross Country Launch Review, 9th February 2017, 10:01 AM