Expert Reviews

First Drive: Volvo V90 Cross Country

Friday 03 February 2017

First Drive: Volvo V90 Cross Country

The idea of an estate car being given a makeover to make it more ‘off-road friendly’ doesn’t seem like an alien concept to us now, but the idea only really came to light with the Volvo V70 Cross Country of the 1990s. Move forward to the present, and the Swedish manufacturer is at it again, with a Cross Country version of its latest V90 estate.

Offering a 65mm increase in ground clearance over the standard car, as well as four-wheel-drive and descent control as standard, the V90 Cross Country is for those who want a little more traction from their estate car when the weather turns nasty.

Looks & Image

There aren’t just mechanical changes going on here, but visual ones too. The largest one of these is the black plastic body cladding, which runs around the wheel arches and the lower areas of the bodywork. It’s not as bold as that found on the smaller XC70, but it still gives that all-important air of off-road ability.

Though its extra height does give the V90 Cross Country an odd look to begin with, it soon makes sense.

Inside, it’s business as usual. The standard V90’s cabin is a thing of minimalistic beauty and, thankfully, the same can be said of the Cross Country version. There’s plenty of real wood used throughout, as well as swathes of leather and soft-touch plastics.

The centrepiece of the interior is the large touchscreen. It’s an easy-to-operate infotainment system, and is very intuitive to use.

Space & Practicality

As a Volvo estate, it’ll come as no surprise that the V90 Cross Country offers plenty of space. The boot measures in at 560 litres with the rear seats folded up, rising to 1,526 litres with them folded down. This is by no means class-leading, but it’s still large enough for most families.

Even taller adults will find that they have plenty of leg and headroom in the back of the Cross Country. When considering the amount of space on offer, kids will be spoilt for legroom.

Behind the Wheel

Given that it has been raised a considerable amount, you’d expect the V90 Cross Country to feel vastly different to the car upon which it is based. However, its relation is much closer – though if you tried really hard to notice any changes you’d find that the car is a touch more prone to lean through the bends. The suspension doesn’t have the creamy edge that the standard car has either – though this is really nit-picking.

In day-to-day driving, you really won’t notice too much of a difference. The V90 Cross Country is no sports car – make no bones about that – but for the most part it’s a relaxing motorway mile-muncher.

However, where a difference really can be felt is off-road. That increased ground clearance, coupled with skid plates and improved traction really take away any fears when driving over rutted surfaces, and it certainly feels more sure-footed in inclement weather.

As with the standard car, you get the choice of two diesel engines. Both are four-cylinder turbocharged units, and both are paired to an automatic gearbox. However, whereas four-wheel-drive is an option on the V90, it comes as standard on the Cross Country. Though those engines may sound small when compared to the V90 Cross Country’s size, the truth is that they provide it with excellent economy figures. Despite having four-wheel drive and a raised ride height, it’ll still return more than 50mpg.

Value for Money

The base V90 costs just below £35,000, while the Cross Country demands a premium of almost £5,000. However, given the exceptional levels of standard equipment that comes with it, that isn’t half bad. It comes with satellite navigation as standard, as well as climate control and heated seats – though features such as fully electric seats come as optional extras.

Who would buy one ?

The V90 is ideal for anyone who wishes to really get the most of their estate car without the possibility of damaging it. Though many may choose a Land Rover Discovery for this task, the V90 Cross Country doesn’t fare as bad as you’d think – it has the space of the Discovery and can cope with most demands of most drivers, but handles far more like a conventional estate car than a high-riding SUV. 

Facts at a Glance

Model: Volvo V90 Cross Country D5
Engine: 2.0-litre turbodiesel (232bhp)
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Performance: 0-60mph in 7.5 seconds, 140mph top speed
Economy: 53.3mpg
Emissions: 139g/km

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