by Belinda Anderson
The idea that modern consumers need SUVs and crossovers to make daily life easier by providing enough space to haul people and their stuff in some semblance of comfort, is firmly ingrained in the minds of buyers, worldwide. But, these types of vehicles are by no means the only options out there. In 2018, the Volvo V60 Cross Country accounted for twice as many sales as the regular V60, proving that wagons - and lifted wagons like the V60 Cross Country - have more than just some value to add to the market. With raised ground clearance, interior space in spades, and a magnificent cabin, there's isn't much to dislike about the Cross Country, although the soccer-mom look doesn't appeal to everyone, and the powertrain may be a little too sedate for some. With popular rivals like the Subaru Outback, Audi's A4 Allroad and even the more visually-appealing XC60 in the Volvo fleet, should you even glance in the direction of the Swedish wagon? Yes, and here's why.
The V60 Cross Country moniker took some time off in 2019, and came into 2020 as an all-new model, based on the same Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA) as its siblings, the S60 and larger Volvo vehicles like the S90 and XC90. The second generation Cross Country features a brand new motor: a four-cylinder turbocharged Drive-E power plant with the T5 denomination, which is aimed at better performance and improved efficiency. The all-new V60 CC also includes the Pilot Assist driver assistance suite as standard, making this the safest V60 Cross Country yet.
Wagons look clunky, old-fashioned, and, well, elderly, don't they? Perhaps not all wagons are created equal, though, because calling the V60 CC clunky and old-fashioned is close on blasphemous. 18-inch five-spoke black diamond cut alloy wheels are set in black wheel arches, while LED headlamps and daytime running lights courtesy of the God of Thunder catch the eye; dual integrated tailpipes and a thoroughly modernized rear-end are particularly appealing, too. There's a sleekness and sense of agility about this vehicle, and while the back end is undoubtedly wagon-esque, it's not at all off-putting. A laminated panoramic moonroof is also standard fit, increasing the amount of real estate taken up by glass and giving the V60 CC a sense of airiness.
At 188.3 inches in length, the Cross Country is almost an inch longer than the standard V60 wagon on which it's based. Although both are 75.4 inches wide (with mirrors folded), the Cross Country stands much taller at 59 inches to the standard V60's 56.4 and boasts a slightly longer wheelbase of 113.2 inches. Most notable is the difference in ground clearance, which is the Cross Country's claim to fame: 8.3 inches as opposed to 5.4 inches on the standard wagon. Although not built for hard-core off-roading, the V60 CC can take on some of the milder beaten paths and has an approach, breakover, and departure angle of 17/18.4/22.8 degrees, respectively. The V60 CC weighs in at around 4,202 lbs, which is somewhat heavier than a similarly specced T5 V60 wagon.
While the rest of the world gets more powertrain options for the V60 CC, the United States is limited to only one: the turbocharged T5 four-cylinder gas engine with 250 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque, which is shared across Volvo's 60- and 90-series cars. On the V60 CC, it's paired to an eight-speed automatic gearbox and is solely available as all-wheel-drive - still, this is sufficient to tow around 2,000 lbs unbraked and a 220-pound load on the roof. Volvo claims the V60 CC can get to 60 mph in 6.4 seconds, although some independent tests have found this figure to be a little optimistic. Still, the general performance of the Cross Country is nothing to look down on and the engine and drivetrain work together well to get the V60 CC up to cruising speeds, and on to a 140 mph top speed. The automatic gearbox isn't the best in the segment, but it provides smooth shifts and rapid gear changes as requested by your right foot, although pushing the motor really hard does result in some engine noise permeating the cabin.
This niche vehicle has characteristics of standard sedans, wagons, and SUVs all rolled into one, and the Swedes have pulled off a brilliant combination of these driving styles in the V60 CC. With a noticeably higher ride height and soft-tuned suspension, the Cross Country makes for a really pleasant ride - it's not quite as pillowy as a regular luxury sedan, and it's somewhat less sporty than we expected, but it absorbs rough surfaces without breaking a sweat, and gives in to minimal body roll in corners. It's sufficiently agile, with well-weighted steering that makes for an easy drive that's satisfyingly responsive. There are also various drive modes to suit the multiple personalities buried beneath the metal, with Dynamic mode responsibly keeping tabs on the traction, while Sport mode is slightly more engaging (not that we'd imagine blasting through corners with the kids and dog in the back is ideal). Switching to Off-Road mode allows the Cross Country to engage hill descent and hill hold on rougher terrain, and while this isn't a hardy Toyota 4Runner that climbs mountain peaks for fun and fills-up on protein-laced gasoline, the V60 CC manages impressively well.
Not quite as efficient as the V60 wagon, the Cross Country earns EPA ratings of 22/31/25 mpg on city/highway/combined cycles - just a point or three behind the FWD wagon. Audi's A4 allroad manages similar estimates at 23/31/26 mpg, while the Subaru Outback is available with a more economical and less powerful 2.5-liter engine that offers 26/33/29 mpg.
Although not mind-blowingly efficient, the V60 CC will manage a class-average range just under 400 miles from its 15.9-gallon tank.
Where the V60 CC expectedly shines, is in its ability to cart around your family and all that comes with them. Five passengers and a large amount of luggage will fit easily into the V60 CC, with ample headroom all around, and legroom being generous up front and sufficient in the back row. Taller folk will be happy in all perches barring the center back seat, which is best reserved for kids. Still, car seats can be easily installed with enough space to ensure dirty little feet don't scuff the back of the front seats. The spacious interior provides a serene, ergonomic and beautiful environment to travel in, as is expected from Scandinavian design. Standard seating is in premium leather, with the front seats power-adjustable and heated - ventilation is an optional extra. There are also a variety of color and upholstery options available to truly customize the interior, including Nappa leather and the Blond City Weave Textile option, which we find particularly striking. A massage function and special interior trim can be optioned, including Iron Ore or Linear Lime inlays. The V60 CC offers one of the nicest, most uncluttered cockpits in the segment.
When you go up against SUVs and crossovers, you have to bring ample cargo space to the fight; the V60 CC does the most, in this regard, with 23.2 cubic feet behind the back row, expanding to 50.9 cubes when the seats are folded flat. For further convenience, Volvo has added a cargo divider and storage tray under the load floor, too. While the Audi A4 allroad offers one cubic foot more with seats up, it's around 7.6 cubic feet more voluminous when the back row is flattened. However, the Volvo's shapely rear is much more than just good to look at - it has a wider aperture with an easier liftover than the Audi allroad, making it more convenient to load.
For all your pocket knick-knacks, the V60 Cross Country also offers many in-cabin storage solutions, including compartments in the door panels and center tunnel console, seatback pockets, a decently-sized glovebox and cupholder both front and rear.
As a one-model-only variant - and a new-for-2020 one at that - the V60 Cross Country is understandably comprehensively specified with comfort, convenience, and safety features. The beautiful leather seats offer heating and power-adjustment in front, including memory and lumbar settings. Dual-zone climate control and a humidity sensor work together to ensure the ideal environment, while thoughtful touches like two 12-volt power outlets, a HomeLink transceiver, and a compass keep things convenient. Auto stop/start functionality, hill start and descent assist, as well as a parking camera and parking assistant with front and rear sensors, are all standard. And, as expected, the safety suite is extensive - a blind-spot information system with cross-traffic alert, forward collision mitigation, cruise control, and lane keep assist are factory fitted.
A bit of a mixed bag, the Volvo V60 Cross Country's infotainment system isn't bad, it's just a little complicated to get the hang of. The Sensus system is standard, and includes navigation and full smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto; this is displayed on a portrait-oriented nine-inch screen and can be managed by controls on the steering wheel, the responsive touchscreen itself, or via voice recognition. HD Radio, SiriusXM radio, and Bluetooth allow for audio and media streaming through to a ten-speaker high-performance sound system. For even better sound playback, two upgrades are available: an $800 Harman Kardon system with 14 speakers, or a $4,000, 15-speaker Bowers and Wilkins Premium setup. While not as user-friendly as Audi's MMI suite in the allroad, at least initially, the Sensus suite becomes second-nature once you've waded through it the first few times.
Although the V60 Cross Country is recall-free at the time of writing, this generation is still in its earliest phase. Still, as it shares a platform, powertrain, and on-board technology with the 90-series of Volvo cars, the majority of hiccups should be out of the way. J.D. Power hasn't provided a rating for reliability and dependability, but the manufacturer provides a new car warranty for the first 50,000 miles or four years of ownership, as well as complimentary scheduled maintenance for three years/36,000 miles. Roadside assistance comes standard for the first four years after purchase, too.
The NHTSA has not run the V60 Cross Country or it's sibling, the V60, through any crash tests, and the IIHS hasn't done so either - at least not for in wagon form. The S60, with which it shares much of its DNA, was awarded a Top Safety Pick+ by the IIHS in 2019, and scored a solid streak of Good ratings for all six evaluations for the 2020 model.
As self-proclaimed leaders in motoring safety, Volvo has naturally packed the V60 CC with as many safety features as possible to set your mind at ease. This includes seven airbags (dual front, side curtain, front side, and a driver's knee airbag), hill start and descent control, a rearview camera, and front and rear parking sensors. Advanced driver aids supplement this system with the blind-spot information and rear cross-traffic alerts, forward collision avoidance, cruise control, and lane keeping assist. The Pilot-Assist Driver Assistance system with adaptive cruise control can also be optioned on by means of the $2,500 Advanced Package.
The Volvo V60 wagon has already won over many family-oriented consumers, and in V60 Cross Country guise makes for a brilliant all-rounder. The new design looks better than ever, and with ample ground clearance and all-wheel-drive, handles competently both on and off the tarmac. It offers a brilliant alternative to traditional SUVs and crossovers by providing car-like driving and SUV-like space, with a capacious trunk and comfortable, roomy seats. The benefit of buying a Volvo is that safety and reliability are not just synonymous with the brand, but literally make up the very DNA of the car. We're not overly enthused by the rather bland engine, and would have loved the option of a more powerful motor to really take things to the next level, however. But we're won over by the whole, handsome package, although Volvo (and wagons especially) have a lot of 'old-timey' history to shake off, and the newer generation of cars are working hard at it. The Cross Country may be a lifted wagon, but it's an excellent one, and investing in it would not be a mistake on any front.
With one model to choose from, the price list is simple: a 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country has an MSRP of $45,745 before options and excluding licensing, taxes and other miscellaneous charges, as well as a $995 destination fee. Adding more desirable options such as heated rear seats and steering, massage function to the front seats, and the upgraded sound systems can easily push the price over $50k.
|T5 Cross Country||
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
We'd have no qualms buying the V60 Cross Country as is, and since there are no mechanical changes to opt for, we'd spec it with a few added conveniences and luxuries to really compound on it's comfortable, spacious and practical nature. We'd add the Luxury Package at $2,200 for the massage function and ventilated Nappa seats, and the $2,500 Advanced Package for the Pilot Assist system and head-up display. We'd like to skip over the Cross Country Pro package but it's a prerequisite for the Luxury Package, so we'll go with the flow and throw in at least the Harman Kardon upgrade at $800 on top of that. The electrically folding trailer hitch makes sense for family vacations, and adds $1,570 to the total price, while a few aesthetic preferences add up to a total price tag of $56,610.
Sibling rivalry has never been so civilized as comparing the V60 Cross Country to its crossover brother, the XC60. Disclaimer, the XC60 is easily one of our favorite vehicles in the Volvo fleet: it's devilishly handsome yet urbanely charming, and has an almost $5k cheaper price tag for its base model. It features the same base powertrain as the V60 CC, but can also be had in a 316-hp T6 variation, or as a Plug-In Hybrid that makes 400 hp and keeps your gas mileage down. There's a bit more choice here in terms of drivetrain too, with FWD being an option on the XC60. Comparing apples to apples, though, the T5-powered XC60 shares much of the V60 CC's standard features, including the safety suite, moonroof, climate control, and infotainment system. Main differences lie in the capabilities of each vehicle; where the V60 CC serves as a practical family commuter with executive class and some rough-terrain-ready characteristics, the XC60 is able to face just a bit more off-road with fractionally more ground clearance at 8.5 inches, and load more with substantially more room in the trunk. The biggest bonus of choosing the XC60, however, is that you can swap out the engine for a more powerful one, thereby doing away with one of the few gripes we had about the Cross Country, to begin with. Pick whichever one works for you and your family - both will keep you safe and comfortable on, and off, the road.
More of a crossover than a wagon, the Subaru Outback has been around for ages and has carved out a name for itself as a capable off-roader with a smooth ride and ample cargo space. Refreshed for 2020, the Outback looks much nicer overall, and boasts a new 2.4-liter turbocharged engine and an upgraded CVT gearbox - if not for the newer engine, it would be far behind in outputs compared to the V60 CC. The upgraded motor makes slightly more horsepower and torque (260 hp and 277 lb-ft to be precise) than the 250 hp and 258 lb-ft of the Cross Country, allowing it to tow around 3,500 lbs in this guise. By all accounts, this is a more utilitarian vehicle, and the masses of cargo space it provides simply adds to this. Base models cost a lot less, too, with starting prices of $26,645, although the entry-spec version is not nearly as well specified as the V60 CC nor as luxurious. Upgrading the Outback entry-level model to the levels nearing V60 CC opulence will bring the pricing more in line, we'd rather just stick with the beauty, class, and safety of the Volvo as is.