We say hello to Volvo’s latest wagon offering (and so long to unnecessary plastic cladding)
Words by: Adam Allen
Egregiously extraneous plastic cladding does not a good wagon make.
Agreed. Somehow, someone in Volvo’s design team embraced the idea when the concept of Cross Country wagons was conceived in Gothenburg that they should have chunky, black plastic cladding on the rocker panels and front and rear facias to impart the impression that Volvo wagons were tough, go anywhere conveyances. The plan didn’t exactly succeed, because Volvo wagons aren’t really meant to challenge say, a Jeep Wrangler off the beaten path- plus it looked like it drew on model year 2000 Pontiac products for styling flourish inspiration. Still, many folks love a good marketing spin and so the CC models did succeed in finding homes in a good number of driveways despite their garish add-ons. This time around, the increased ground clearance is still there but the aesthetics are vastly cleaner and you could reasonably call it handsome.
It’s been a quite a while since a wagon has cozied up in the Carpages Garage.
It was a little over two years to be exact the last time that occurred and it happened to be a Volvo as well, although one of a decidedly different stripe- it was the Polestar fettled V60 wagon, and it was excellent. It was also a very limited production high-performance model, so getting your hands on one was a challenge. What the 2020 V60 CC you see before you lacks in apex-slaying acumen it more than makes up for in availability and comfort. Plus, we have never shied away from our love of wagons and so we welcomed it with open arms- we’ve always waxed poetic about their superior versatility, driving dynamics and fuel economy over their SUV counterparts.
Let’s discuss what Volvo’s latest V60 Cross Country brings to the table.
Like all Volvo products currently on sale, the V60 CC rides on the Scalable Product Architecture (SPA in Volvo parlance) which means it underpins everything from the pint-sized XC40 to the large XC90 and everything in between. This is a good thing, because not only does it save Volvo a ton of cash from having to develop different bones for their various sedans, wagons and SUV’s but it also happens to be a proven foundation from which to build a car on. There’s the increased ground clearance you would expect of a Cross Country model to the tune of 65 millimeters and an off-road driving mode with a new hill descent feature for those who really do have the need for a vehicle that will trade tarmac for dirt every now and again. Android Auto and Apple CarPlay have also been added to Volvo’s excellent but sometimes laggardly infotainment Sensus infotainment system.
It’s downright handsome inside.
In recent memory, we cannot think of a Volvo interior that has been off-putting in any way. Take a look at the images in the gallery and it’ll be pretty hard to refute how lovely and inviting the cockpit of our V60 was. We begin with the seats, which are, as always, revelatory in their comfort and support and still amongst the very best in the industry. They make for an ideal perch to take in your surroundings but also to admire the luxurious refinement and smoothness you are treated to on every journey. Some of the switchgear takes some getting used to like the ignition switch and the toggle for the various drive modes, but that does not mean that they are any less beautiful to look at. And speaking of things that are nice to behold, Volvo just might have the best lighting engineers at their disposal. While heading home after visiting friends who live in a rural area late one night, we were awestruck at how incredibly bright and sharp the headlights and taillights were in the pitch dark. The Thor’s Hammer design scheme up front may not make quite the same impact they did aesthetically back when we first clapped eyes on them in 2014 but their performance is staggering. They also swivel dramatically when you turn the steering wheel which actually does help you see what’s around the bend. We had a couple of hockey bags to schlepp home with us and the cavernous and versatile cargo area proved more than up to the task.
OK, but does it drive as elegantly as it looks?
Elegant is a good descriptor for the way the V60 CC carries itself down the road. Confident and dignified are other adjectives that are good fit to articulate what the driving experience is like, but sporty is not. And that really doesn’t matter for a couple of reasons. One, people who have this car on their radar are not looking for that kind of stuff. Two, the way the controls and mechanical bits impart a relaxed, soothing vibe to the proceedings aren’t going to encourage those kinds of shenanigans. When we first learned that the V60 CC wasn’t going to be available with the most powerful turbo and supercharged version of their four-cylinder engine family we were a bit sad. Our blues disappeared after getting more familiar with merely turbocharged version (the only engine available to us) and 8-speed gearbox work so well together getting the V60 up to speed that you really don’t miss the extra horsepower. Where the V60 Cross Country really shines is the ride quality it treats its occupants to. You might think that with 65 millimeters of extra ground clearance over regular V60s might invite some nautical body roll or imprecise suspension movements, but that simply is not the case. The car moves with the same surefootedness as the lower-to-the-ground V60 but with a positively sumptuous ride. This caused us to excitedly proclaim that the V60 Cross Country is the best riding Volvo we have ever encountered, and that includes the air sprung XC90 SUV, no shrinking violet itself in that department.
What might go wrong?
We suppose you could ask for a more inspiring engine note or that when you select the Polestar Engineered driving mode that things wake up a bit more than they do but those gripes make it seem like we’re reaching. The biggest complaint we can levy towards the V60 Cross Country is that the Sensus infotainment system is ready for a rethink, one that gels with Volvo’s minimalist ethos. The menus are busy and not well thought out, and there are times when you catch it napping and it won’t respond as quickly as you might expect when attempting to execute a command.
Should I buy a Volvo V60 Cross Country?
Folks, did you actually read this Road Test? Let us summarize for you: here you have a stylish and luxurious wagon that will whisk you around in comfort and safety in any weather conditions with whoever and whatever you need take with you along for the ride. Since BMW and Audi no longer have a wagon that competes in the entry level luxury segment and the V60 CC is a much better choice than Mercedes C-Class long roof, we think we just made up your mind for you. If the world wasn’t so obsessed with SUVs, we would raise the alarm that the V60 is so good that it would be in danger of cannibalizing XC60 sales- after all, it does handle better, is more efficient and rides better than its SUV brethren. It should be noted that XC60 sales aren’t exactly tanking so perhaps there is room for both of these excellent choices after all. That said, we know which one we’d have.
2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country T5 AWD– Specifications
- Price as tested: $60,045
- Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger wagon
- Powertrain Layout: Front-engine/All-wheel drive
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Engine: 2.0 turbocharged inline-four, DOHC, 16 valves
- Horsepower: 250 @ 5,500 rpm
- Torque (lbs-ft.): 258 @ 1,500-4,800 rpm
- Curb weight: 1,792 kg (3,950 lbs)
- Observed Fuel Consumption: 12.6L/100km (19 mpg)