Volvo V60 Cross Country — Outdoor adventure in style

By Jim Meachen and Ted Biederman

Volvo has endowed a version of its excellent V60 luxury mid-sized wagon with 2.6 inches of additional ground clearance, added front and rear skid plates, included standard equipment roof rails, and made all-wheel drive standard equipment. Presto! Now we have the 2015 V60 T5 AWD Cross Country for those among us who are forced to handle nasty winter weather or who want a more traditional wagon with the capabilities of a crossover to tackle light-duty off-roading.

The fender arches are adorned in black to visually fill in the gap created by the lifted suspension and all models come with 18-inch wheels and Continental all-season tires. While the V60 Cross Country is endowed with crossover-like attributes, it retains the car-like qualities of the regular V60, but with an elevated ride height that actually offers a commanding view of the road ahead.

Volvo's wagons have always measured up as practical and safe transportation, seldom mistaken for stylish. That's all changed with the new V60, which is based on the S60 sedan. It's gorgeous with sloping, curvaceous lines, and nothing is lost in translation with the slightly more macho Cross Country. We consider it the best looking vehicle in Volvo's current inventory and one of the best looking wagons in the business.

With the added wheel travel and the Haldex all-wheel drive system that can send up to 50 percent of engine torque to the rear when needed, the Cross Country can, indeed, go where the standard V60 dare not travel. That includes muddy trails and heavily snow-packed roadways.

It seems like this should be the vehicle of choice for a majority of people who adore the styling and the wagon-like properties of the new V60. But the Cross Country comes with a big asterisk. The only engine available is the carryover 250-horsepower turbocharged five-cylinder with slower acceleration and considerably lower fuel economy than the all-new and delightful Drive-E engines. The standard V60 can be ordered with the new 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder putting out 240 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The key numbers here are 0-to-60 in 6.1 seconds and EPA mileage rated at 25 mpg city, 37 highway and 29 combined.

The carryover T5 five-cylinder, mated to a six-speed automatic, is slower, rated at about 7.5 seconds from 0-to-60, with a mileage rating of 20 city, 28 highway and 23 combined. In fairness, we found the engine had adequate performance for all the chores of driving life. But we couldn't hide our disappointed when upon taking possession of our Cross Country test vehicle we discovered the new engine and transmission combination was not on the menu.

While the V60's 43.8 cubic feet of maximum cargo space measures up quite well in the hatchback/wagon genre, it doesn't fare as well against the standard crossover segment where storage space runs half again as much. This is due to the slopping roof design that gives the car an attractive appearance, but cuts in on the functional side.

There was no disappointment inside the vehicle, however. The ergonomics are very good, and the seats feel as though you could roll out of them on the other side of the country no worse for wear. We found them extremely comfortable and supportive. Our vehicle also came with Volvo's new award-winning in-car control interface, Sensus, comprised of the center touch display, driver information cluster and a head-up display.

Unlike most touch displays, Volvo's Sensus system is built using a unique infrared sensing technology that allows drivers to operate the system while wearing gloves, and also ensures a more robust and responsive system. The interior materials are top drawer, and the switchgear works with a precision that is friendlier than that of comparable German luxury makes.

The V60 Cross Country comes in two
trim levels, base and Platinum. Standard features for a starting price of $41,940 including a $940 destination charge are generous and include the aforementioned 18-inch wheels, skid plates and roof rails; power sunroof; front and rear foglights; remote engine start; dual-zone automatic climate control; eight-way power front seats; navigation; a 3G data connection with WiFi hotspot; and satellite and HD radio.

Unlike most manufacturers, Volvo offers a long list of desirable equipment as standalone options so a buyer doesn't have to purcha
se a "bundle" of options to get the one he desires. For instance, blind spot monitoring can be purchased alone for $925; heated front seats, $500; Harmon Kardon Premium Sound, $1,200; and dual screen rear entertainment, $2,170.

Our Platinum trim vehicle with several options carried a bottom line of $49,350.

Base price: $41,940; as driven, $49,350
Engine: turbocharged 2.5-liter inline 5-cylinder
Horsepower: 250 @ 5,500 rpm
Torque: 266 foot-pounds @ 1,800 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Drive: all-wheel
Seating: 2/3
Wheelbase: 109.2 inches
Length: 182.6 inches
Curb weight: 3,602 pounds
Turning circle: 37.1 feet
Towing capacity: 3,500 pounds
Luggage capacity: NA
Cargo capacity: 43.8 cubic feet
Fuel capacity: 18.8 gallons (regular)
EPA rating: 28 highway, 20 city, 23 combined
0-60: 7.5 seconds (manufacturer)
Also consider: Audi Allroad, Subaru Outback, Volvo XC70

The Good
• Excellent seats
• Top safety ratings
• Off-road capable

The Bad
• Limited cargo space

The Ugly
• Below average fuel economy