Go ahead, seek adventure
Volvo's Jim Nichols, product technology communications manager, said the V90 buyer has a keen sense of adventure, prefers active hobbies, and while they focus on outdoor activities, they relish in the adventure prep as much as the experience itself. It's for those reasons that buyers would choose this car over the standard V90.
To that end, Volvo threw me the keys and let me loose on rugged trails in Arizona with two warnings: you'll have very limited cell phone reception and we'll have multiple sweeper cars with spare wheels and tires in case you get into trouble.
Within minutes of entering the rugged trail Volvo had chosen, it became clear that it would be easy to pop a tire if I failed to pay attention to my driving line or drove too quickly.
Naturally, I decided to seek my own adventure and headed off the pre-set route in search of photo opportunities. Within minutes, I feared I was about to get stuck, but the Volvo's all-wheel-drive system and 8.3-inches of ground clearance kept the car moving through fine, powdery sand and up a small hill. The 360-degree camera system was a blessing as it displayed what was in front of, next to, and behind the car as I slowly made my way through tight passages.
As the day wore on, I passed Jeep Wranglers with drivers giving me funny looks, as if to say, "Boy, that shiny Volvo doesn't belong here." But it did, as it was able to do every single thing I threw at it. From running water crossings to uphill ascents with little traction, the Volvo just kept going, and it probably could've done more. I was also certainly more comfortable in the Volvo's cossetting cabin while trouncing through the trails than those in the Wranglers.
Back on the highway, the V90 Cross Country's suspension and tires soaked up any road imperfections with ease. The extra ground clearance and those special tires may actually help the ride quality versus the already comfortable V90.
The steering is nicely weighted, though it doesn't provide a ton of feedback as to what's going on down on the road. That's the flipside to the added ride height and unique tire equation.
In terms of fuel economy, the on-board trip computer indicated 25.2 mpg in mixed driving and just a hair under 30 mpg on the highway. These findings align perfectly with the EPA ratings of 22 mpg city, 30 mpg highway, and 25 mpg combined.
Why you should want it
Volvo's realistic with its expectations for the V90 Cross Country. It plans to sell a couple thousand annually, and that includes the random non-Cross Country V90 wagon (which must be special ordered from the dealership only--none are being stocked on dealer lots).
But this is a fringe vehicle, as the V90 Cross Country has no direct competition. While the Audi A4 Allroad is similar, it's smaller and has less ground clearance at only 6.5 inches. Mercedes-Benz offers the E-Class wagon here in the U.S., but not an all-terrain model, and the Subaru Outback doesn't offer nearly the level of luxury or refinement one will find in the V90 Cross Country.
Volvo's built a luxury wagon Americans will accept. With a crossover SUV stance, more than enough space for all your gear, and capabilities beyond most of what your weekend excursions will demand, it's the perfect recipe for today's suburban adventurers.