The Cross Country's Next Act

A Victory & Reseda review of the 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country

Remember the first Volvo Cross Country wagons?

Then, you might remember the first generation V70 wagons. The first Cross Country wagon arrived for 1998 as a new twist on the burgeoning SUV trend.

Understand that this was not a new idea. In the mid-1980s, Honda and Toyota responded to Subaru’s rugged 4WD wagons with their own all-wheel-drive Civic and Tercel (respectively) wagons with plastic cladding and added ride height.

Subaru came out with its first ruggedized wagon in the Outback back in 1995. Audi responded with the A6 allroad quattro in 1999. You might say that the V70 Cross Country arrived just in time for a little competition.

There had been others who have came and went in the ruggedized all-wheel-drive wagon segment. Subaru, Audi, Buick (for a few more months), and Volvo remain. In fact, the latter brand – the Swedish one – has two ruggedized wagons in its stable right now. The larger V90 has been joined by the smaller V60 Cross Country. This is the fourth iteration of the "premium compact" wagon dating back to that original V70…OK, 850, for those who scrutinize their Volvo history deeper than I.

You might think that the new 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country is a little late to the party. I would argue otherwise.

The Cross Country is just a part of a growing V60 wagon lineup that was introduced for the 2019 model year. In contrast to the previous generation model, Volvo designed the V60 wagon to be more of a mainstream. While it was built upon the new generation platform, the most visual change was the length of the roof designed to carry more behind the second row height-wise. This added more practicality and cargo space overall.  

The V60's overall design continues with the "Thor's Hammer" LED lights that split the front headlamp units to bridge the slightly concave grille. The result is a sculpted look that keeps the V60 distinguished among its rivals. From there, the longer roof crowns a very handsome side profile, along with a third glass that is more three-dimensional in look and use. The rear liftgate is framed by a taillight design with the familiar vertical lens along the corners of the roof, carried through with another horizontal lens that cuts across most of the liftgate.

What distinguishes a Cross Country from the rest of the V60 lineup is the slightly raised ride height by 2.5 inches. Furthermore, there is increased ground clearance of 0.4 inches – both stats are compared to a T5 Momentum model. Volvo adds a specific grille texture and plastic side cladding on the lower edge of the body, including the wheel arches. The Cross Country also rides on 19-inch alloy wheels and Pirelli P-Zero All Season tires.

The V60's lower profile may seem "just right" with its cabin space with much of Volvo’s current interior themes. The Cross Country is offered in the Momentum grade interior, which actually is quite luxurious. Of course, my tester would come in a cream-colored leather, offering front seat power adjustments for rake, recline, lumbar, and the cushion extender.

Front seat occupants have plenty of space to drive and roam. Average-sized adults and children will find the rear seat to their liking. They do get heated seats in the back along with their own climate controls. This was proven on a couple of airport runs to fetch my roommate and her boyfriend from their quick weekender.

In the last V60, you only got 43.8 cubic feet if space with the rear seats folded. In today's V60, you get 50.9 cubic feet with all seats down. That longer roof helps tremendously.

One thing I love about the current lineup of Volvos is its dashboard setup. The V60 Cross Country is no exception. It is truly a thing of beauty and function. Instrumentation is fully digital and customizable. In the middle is where the Sensus infotainment system lives inside a large portrait-oriented touchscreen. This screen also houses many of the vehicle functions, including climate, various audio playback options, and several seat adjustments – to name a few. The clean design continues onto the console where the starter and electronic parking brake are located.

Unlike the last two Volvos I worked with these past few months, the V60 Cross Country has an actual gear lever – not a crystal/glass/chrome flip knob. This is definitely smile-inducing.

If I have not heaped enough praise upon the Bowers & Wilkins audio system. You have 15 speakers positioned perfectly to accommodate the three Sound Experience settings. Not to mention the 1,100 watts of power that drives the sound around the wagon’s interior. I still submit to you that this is my favorite original equipment audio system equipped in any vehicle that I worked with. It is not just in the V60 that I make this claim – it is in every Volvo model that has it available.

For the V60 Cross Country, only one engine is offered: a 250-horsepower 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. The eight-speed automatic shifts very well and the all-wheel-drive system keeps the V60 Cross Country on track through any weather. This powertrain is responsive and smooth. It is as you really don’t need the T6 or T8 to run this V60 Cross Country. In terms of fuel economy, I averaged only 22.5 MPG – thank you winter.

This ruggedized compact sports wagon has some great driving dynamics and manners. The ride is solid, but the handling is truly superb. It is what you expect from a premium compact ruggedized sports wagon. The only complaint I had was with tire selection. I’m sure the Pirelli P Zero All Season tires are fine in some climates year-round. However, I am in Minnesota. We have snow and ice on our roads. Perhaps an investment into a second set of winter tires on steel wheels (or, Volvo’s alloy wheels) would make things better in our winters.

The steering system offers great feedback and a sharp turning radius. Steering weight can be adjusted depending on which drive mode you are in. And, yes, you do have drive modes in the V60 Cross Country. No Snow mode, though. Just my own gripe.

The brakes are also solid with excellent stopping power in normal and panic situations. The system also can stop the car itself, if it detects an oncoming vehicle from the front or back of the V60 Cross Country. Volvo calls this City Safety, which is a part of a host of excellent driver assistance features called Intellisafe. And, yes, it worked! Volvo's decades-long commitment to making safer vehicles is one reason to consider any of their vehicles.

For pricing, the V60 Cross Country starts at $45,100. My tester had a few options tacked on to the bill, giving it a final price of $56,990.

If you’re not interested in the Cross Country model, the V60 lineup starts off with a Momentum T5 with front-wheel-drive at a base price of $39,650. You have a choice of trim levels, including the top-of-the-line Polestar Engineered model with its 415-horsepower T8 plug-in hybrid driveline (including a turbocharger and a supercharger). Oh, the dreams of many long-roof fans worldwide!

If you live in the northern climes – or, think you’re from the northern climes – the Volvo V60 Cross Country will help you fulfill that want of winter all year round. What it does well is to offer up that modern Volvo-ness that has transformed the lineup in the past few years. It also gives you more in terms of ergonomics, space, and performance compared to previous generations of V60/V70/XC70 wagons.

For all of the execution and superior qualities that the Volvo V60 Cross Country, it’s arrival is right on time. And, so will you.

DISCLAIMER: Vehicle provided by Volvo Car USA

All Photos by Randy Stern

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