2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country first drive review: the wagon Americans should want

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Americans have made it clear. We don't like wagons anymore and haven't for quite some time. That makes it hard for automakers to justify building them despite enthusiasts screaming and running with pitchforks.

This, of course, presents a problem for an automaker like Volvo, whose history is tied to the wagon. It's also why the Cross Country series was born 20 years ago. These lifted wagons, as capable as most crossovers, somehow appeal to Americans.

With the the 2017 V90 Cross Country, Volvo thinks it has created the perfect weekend getaway car with the right mix of driving dynamics, capability, and luxury.

Has it?

A wagon built for adventure

The V90 Cross Country is the latest, and last, addition to the 90 series lineup. It starts with the new V90 wagon, but it's a bit more than just a lift kit with some styling bits.

While the chassis is raised 2.3 inches overall, giving it 8.3 inches of ground clearance, the track was also increased 0.79 inch on each side, and there are wheel arch extensions--gray plastic is standard, but opt for the Luxury package and they get painted to match the body color--to accommodate larger wheels and tires.

CHECK OUT: 2018 Volvo V90 first drive review

Speaking of tires, Volvo worked with Pirelli to create a specific Scorpion Verde all-season tire that is a little more rounded in profile to help provide the best grip for off-road situations. The sidewalls say VOL and customers will be able to purchase them both at the dealership and from Tirerack.com.

2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country

2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country

Offered only with Volvo's T6 powertrain, the V90 Cross Country is powered by a supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 making 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. An 8-speed automatic transmission sends power to all four wheels and hill descent control is standard.

Stefan Sällqvist, senior product manager for the 90 series globally, told us that there are currently no plans to offer the plug-in hybrid T8 powertrain in the V90 lineup in the U.S. The V90 Cross Country also doesn't come with the 250-horsepower T5 turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, while the standard V90 does.

Like most new cars, the V90 Cross Country has drive modes, four of them: Eco, Comfort, Off Road, and Dynamic. Obviously, the V90 doesn't have the Off Road mode. Each mode modifies throttle response and shift patterns.

READ: 2017 Volvo S60 and V60 Polestar first drive review: the 365-day sports cars

An air suspension is available for self leveling in the rear, just like the V90. You cannot get it at all four corners, however, as the hoodline can't accommodate the air setup.

A base V90 Cross Country isn't very basic. Priced from $56,295, it comes standard with Volvo's Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driver assist system, the Sensus 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, laminated side windows, heated front seats and steering wheel, LED daytime running lights, a laminated panoramic sunroof, blind-spot monitors, and lane-departure warning with run-off mitigation.

Only two option packages are available: For $1,950 the Convenience package comes with niceties such as headlight washers, a 360-degree camera system, and parking assist. Opt for the $4,500 Luxury package and you'll add everything from massaging front seats and a leather-wrapped dashboard to 4-zone climate control and rear-door sunshades, along with the painted exterior cladding.

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