Volvo’s Cross Country models have been around since 1997 and they’re a big reason why people are drawn to the Swedish brand. With the new generation of the S60/V60 launched for 2019, we get a completely redesigned and improved version of the adventurous compact wagon.
As you know, this type of vehicle is nowhere near as popular as it once was, with SUVs and crossovers becoming all the rage in North America these days. How good of an alternative is the new 2019 Volvo V60 Cross Country? That’s what we aimed to find out during our test week.
Volvo keeps receiving praise for its latest designs and deservedly so. They’ve done a remarkable job and have elevated the brand to benchmark status. We particularly like the LED headlights that not only look sharp with their “Thor hammer” daytime running lights, but also pivot in corners to better light the road.
The V60 Cross Country nicely stands out from the regular V60 with a 75-millimetre increase in ground clearance, protective cladding around the wheel arches and lower body, plus a slightly different front grille. It displays a more rugged character and, for good measure, our tester replaced the standard 18-inch wheels with sleek-looking 20-inch alloys.
Come to think of it, if a car like the Jaguar I-PACE can pass for a crossover, why should we view this Volvo wagon any differently?
A Wonderful Cocoon
The transformed interior impresses just as much. The panoramic sunroof floods the cabin with sunlight and the available cream-coloured seats make it even more inviting. Comfort lives up to Volvo’s excellent reputation and finding a perfect driving position is easy. Material selection, attention to detail and the level of noise insulation also get high marks. On the other hand, visibility is not so great from certain angles due to the narrow side and rear windows, the thick B-pillars and the large housing for the IntelliSafe system behind the rear-view mirror.
In the rear, two normal-size adults can sit in the 2019 V60 Cross Country and not feel any discomfort or lack of space. Accommodating a third person between them proves more challenging because the transmission tunnel is big and the middle position has a hard seatback.
As for the cargo area, versatility is definitely a good word to sum it up. While a tad smaller than most compact SUVs, it can still pack 658 litres and the low threshold is appreciated. Transporting the dog to the vet or bringing back a ton of groceries from the supermarket is no big deal.
The seatbacks fold 60/40 instead of the more practical 40/20/40 split, but the operation is done electrically as standard and there’s even a pass-through for long items, such as skis. Total capacity amounts to 1,441 litres. We also liked the removable cargo cover with two different height adjustments, as well as the small panel that lifts up from the floor to help you organize your cargo and keep bags secured. By the way, a power liftgate comes standard, too.
Let’s go back to the front passenger quarters to talk about the focal point of the dashboard: the vertical 9.0-inch touchscreen. It’s easy to access and works like a tablet. However, Volvo’s Sensus infotainment system can be frustrating at times. Even though designers cleaned up the layout around it, the fact is that too many vehicle functions are buried within the various menus, thus distracting you from the road. Kudos for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility. On the flip side, the two USB ports should not be concealed in the storage compartment between the seats.
Only One Engine
All Volvo models from the 60 and 90 series ride on the automaker’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) ensuring that the 2019 V60 Cross Country delivers a solid, stable ride. Safety is exceptional in true Volvo fashion. The automatic emergency braking system can detect pedestrians, cyclists and large animals alike—an industry first.
For now, the lone engine option is a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder called T5. It produces 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque via an eight-speed automatic transmission. The latter is flawlessly smooth, while the power on tap is mostly sufficient considering the vehicle’s aspirations and audience. Volvo’s 316-horsepower T6 engine would certainly have yielded more exciting acceleration, but with the available Dynamic mode, there’s still a way to make things more interesting.
A T8 plug-in hybrid powertrain producing around 400 horsepower and offering some EV range is not part of the lineup yet, but Volvo has already announced its intention to electrify every model it sells in the near future. In the meantime, you can rely on the auto start/stop feature to save at the pump. If you find it too annoying, the technology can be turned off, but why would you waste any drop of premium gasoline that Volvo recommends?
Super-smooth and pleasant to drive on paved roads despite a lack of feedback from the steering wheel, the V60 Cross Country proves surprisingly competent and inspires confidence on other types of terrain. In addition to the more generous ground clearance, this model stands out from the base V60 with standard all-wheel drive and an Off-Road mode (speaking of which, Volvo should replace the weird drive mode button with a simple dial).
The latter comes with Hill Descent Control, which is ideal on steeper descents as it maintains a constant speed anywhere between 8 to 40 km/h—all you have to do is steer the vehicle. Our test week ended with a session in the mud, dirt, gravel and even an abandoned old quarry. The sexy Swede felt at home and we had a blast.
Pricing and Competition
Starting at $48,900 before freight and delivery charges, the 2019 Volvo V60 Cross Country offers a single trim level, unlike the regular V60 ($43,900). Our tester featured several options and packages bringing the total to a little over $60,000.
Vehicles like this one are few and far between on the market. The V60 Cross Country competes directly against the Audi A4 allroad ($48,500) and, to a lesser extent, the top-line version of the Subaru Outback ($42,295 for the outgoing 2019 model). It also contends with compact luxury SUVs, starting with Volvo’s XC60.
The problem is that the XC60 is less expensive ($46,800) in comparable T5 AWD version. If you want a more fuel-efficient, car-like driving experience, go with the V60 Cross Country. If you insist on easy access to the seats and more substantial cargo room, opt for the XC60 instead. Incidentally, both can tow up to 3,500 pounds.