Expert Reviews

Test Drive: 2015 Volvo V60 Cross Country

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This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car

Wagon love is a beautiful thing. In a world of crossovers and SUVs and pickups and family sedans, the wagon is a dying breed, but a few small brands are carrying the torch, and providing us few, proud wagon loyalists with our practicality, efficiency and superior dynamics. Wait, why is this wagon so high?

Well, no matter, call it whatever makes you happy and calling it a wagon makes me happy in a landscape of dwindling wagon options.

Hmmm, is it a crossover? Well, it’s a Cross Country, and it’s ride height is certainly crossover-y, but there isn’t much in the way of body cladding a la Subaru Outback or even Volvo’s own larger XC70 cross-wagon, just a tad around the wheel wells, and this black and white scheme reminds me more of an Audi ‘Titanium’ treatment than a Volvo crossover. Well, no matter, call it whatever makes you happy and calling it a wagon makes me happy in a landscape of dwindling wagon options.

But that’s alright, because for every manufacturer that drops a wagon, Volvo seems to add a trim to their V60 wagon lineup. The V60 Sportwagon has four basic trims and four engine options and the Cross Country is available in four trims, but with only one drivetrain option for now: the T5 AWD.

The T5 is a turbocharged inline-five-cylinder making 250 hp and 266 lb-ft of torque, not to be confused with the T5 Drive-E, which is a turbocharged four-cylinder, which should not be confused with the T6 Drive-E which is a turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder that is more powerful than either of the above, though sadly only available in the XC60 with FWD at the time of writing.

Let’s move on before my brain explodes. The T5 in the Cross Country certainly hits the sweet spot, the full bulk of torque available from 1,800 to 4,200 rpm, dialed into a six-speed automatic and standard AWD. The throttle and the transmission are not calibrated to pin you back in your seat, and the V60 CC is all the better for it. Official fuel consumption ratings are 11.8/8.3/10.2 L/100 km in city/highway/combined, and I saw a reasonable 10.4 L/100 km the week.

Power rolls out smoothly and the transmission mildly slips between gears, neither quickly nor roughly, which seems just fine for its mission, and although a Sport mode is available, it seems out of character with this luxury wagon. There is only a muted roar to accompany a spirited application of throttle and the AWD puts power to the ground evenly. Very well judged.

The ride, too, is well calibrated, the raised platform (66 mm higher than the standard V60) offering plenty of suspension travel, but a middle ground in cornering attitude between the lower Sportwagon and XC60 SUV. Go figure. Steering is a bit heavy, and the winter tires compounded its somewhat spongy character, but it responded well enough that these are nitpicks easily dismissed and forgiven in a luxury-oriented wagon – it’s no Polestar, after all. While I loved the V60 Polestar Wagon’s almost incomprehensibly superb handling and livable ride, the Cross Country is likely a far more familiar and desirable experience for Volvo owners, a soft, cushy ride that rolls gently in the corners but never wallows.

It’s a perfect match for these splendid Volvo seats that cushion and support and coddle with the right mix of padding, contour and in our tester trimmed in rich, creamy tan (Beechwood) leather. Now, the seat bottoms and backs are great, but the fixed headrest is little intrusive for me and may not suit all body types. The materials throughout the cabin are of the same calibre as the leather, soft touch plastics or more leather at frequent contact points and switchgear with tight tolerances and firm action.

Facing you is a digital gauge cluster that can be set to three different themes, Elegance, Tech and Sport, the first two with large analogue style speedos and the latter with central tach and digital speed readout in the middle and power gauge to the right where the others feature the tach. On the left is either engine temp or efficiency guide. Along with the classy housing, it’s a modern, elegant and stylish gauge cluster without trying to hard, but one’s speed was easiest to keep track of in the very angry Sport mode.

Although Volvo’s floating console has been copied by several competitors and isn’t the novelty it once was, it too is elegant and modern, if less functional than the digital gauges. Our Cross Country’s dash was trimmed in a cool aluminum finish, and despite the closely packed buttons clustered in the middle and four dials with inset buttons, many of the interface’s functions are easily accessible via steering wheel controls. Perhaps over time the main menu shortcuts for audio, phone and nav (which I prefer rather than backing out through several menu layers using the steering wheel controls) would become second nature, but even after back to back weeks in two Volvos, I found the mix of a highly stylized, dense font and icons confusing and counterintuitive. The fan zone guy remains one of the coolest dudes in the car biz.

Back seat visitors will regret the shortage of space compared to competitors like the A4 Allroad or BMW 328i Touring. There is space enough to get a car seat installed and strap in the kiddos, but a rear-facing seat would make the front passenger awfully cramped. What? You think I’m going to put a rear facing seat behind myself?. The added ride height here diminishes the bending required, so again it is a fair compromise between the taller XC60 and Sportwagon versions of the V60.

Moving back to the cargo bay, we find a small but practical square area and quality materials - even here. The thick carpeting wraps all the way to the beltline inside the wide, square trunk and there are a couple of small trays under the floor along with the spare. While a cargo cover and cargo net (to prevent loose objects from flying into the cabin in a collision) are much appreciated they are bulky and heavy on the occasion you might need to remove them. Sadly, no clever bag holder as in the XC60, but the seats do split 40/20/40 and fold flat. Plus, the driver can collapse the rear headrests by a button on the centre console to open up maximum rear visibility. Neat.

The Cross Country starts $44,100, which is a $1,700 premium over the equivalent V60 T5 AWD Sportwagon for a slightly different look and feel, but all of the same interior quality and that extra 66 mm jacked up ride height. Those with rutted tracks to the cottage or that prefer to charge through snow berms left by the plows rather than digging out will appreciate the extra clearance, but other drivers that prefer a more stable cornering attitude and sleeker look will want to stick with the Sportwagon.

Since we’ve opened up the pricing, let’s take a look at some of the features that each trim offers. As we’ve already mentioned, AWD with hill descent control and the six-speed automatic are standard, and additional equipment on the base model includes: T-Tec fabric seats, sunroof, heated seats, power driver seat with memory settings, 18-inch wheels, Volvo Sensus infotainment system with seven-inch screen, satellite radio, Bluetooth, auto climate, rear park assist and the gloss black exterior trim with metallic finish trim and ‘skid plates’. Volvo’s Destination charge is $1,195 and with the $100 A/C tax, the V60 Cross Country starts at $45,395 before taxes.

The next trim up is the T5 AWD Premier, which brings leather seating, proximity keyless entry and start, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, new look 18-inch ‘Neso’ wheels and the adaptive digital gauges for $46,300 ($47,595 with Destination and A/C Tax in).

Step up to the Premier Plus trim at $47,100 ($49,150), and you add Homelink garage door opener, back-up camera, power retractable side mirrors, and a grocery bag holder.

But wait, there is still one trim left to cover: the Platinum, ringing in at $50,400 ($51,695) and here we see navigation, Harmon Kardon premium audio, auto-dimming exterior mirrors and accent lighting.

Any of the above trims can be optioned with the $1,350 Climate package with heated rear seat, which includes heated rear seats, heated windshield and washer nozzles, heated steering wheel and air quality system. Alternatively, you can get the heated windshield and washer nozzles, heated steering wheel and air quality system with built-in two-stage booster seats in the two rear outboard positions in the similarly creatively named Climate Package with Booster Seat. The booster seats are also available as a standalone option for $650, though not with the heated rear seats. Frankly, I wish all package names were as clear and obvious as this.

A BLIS package is available for $1,000, but it’s not a really good massage and spa treatment (I’m sure I’m the first person ever to make that joke). Rather, it is Volvo’s BLind spot Information System (BLIS), packaged with cross-traffic alert, lane change merge aid and front and rear parking sensors.

A $1,500 Technology Package is available on Premier trims and above, packing in adaptive cruise (that will pull you down to a complete stop and then restart you if you are not stopped for longer than a few seconds) forward collision warning and pedestrian and cyclist detection, both with full braking capability, driver and distance alerts, lane departure warning with lane keeping aid, road sign info and active high beam. That’s a lot of kit for $1,500, and for those that can’t stand all the beeps and warnings, the problem is your driving, not these systems. What you are, in effect saying, is that you are a bad driver, you like being a bad driver, and you hate it when your car reminds you that you are driving badly… who actually wants to wander lanes? Does anyone actually think it is better to have a momentary lapse, drift into another lane and cause an accident than to have a slightly unnerving tug on the steering wheel or brakes or buzz in the seat? Hey, if you’re on a racetrack, feel free to turn them off, but on public roads, if those beeps are going off, that’s a sign of poor driving, whether it be following too closely, changing lanes without signaling or simply being inattentive. If you stay focused on your driving and stay in your lane, no beeps. Do I hear the beeps? You bet I do. Do I get angry with the car? No, I chastise myself for whatever lapse prompted it. Until we have fully autonomous cars, these are driver fails, not in-car nuisance nannies.

However, with the Volvo we have a genuine problem: the lane departure warning sounds like this:

Every time I heard it, I giggled with glee. Whenever I could safely do so, I demonstrated it to friends and acquaintances. This is not safe driving behaviour. Please Volvo, make the sound annoying, not a reference to one of the all-time greatest comedy movies, ever.

But wait, there’s more! Several of the premium paint options are an additional $800, interior treatments can add another few hundred here and there (our Beechwood leather was a $500 option) and active bi-xenon headlights with washers are another grand.

Of course, our test car came with ALL of the package so we could experience the full range of goodies the V60 Cross Country. It is indeed, filled with much goodness, but climbed to $57,345 when the option sheet was tabulated. To be honest, I don’t have an issue with that price, and I think the premium leather and pearl coat paint helped it achieve its full potential as a luxurious and practical family vehicle. The V60 Cross Country is just a slightly different flavour in Volvo’s wagon lineup, and one that we hope will help them revive this beloved segment.

4 years/80,000 km; 4 years/80,000 km powertrain; 12 years/unlimited distance corrosion perforation; 4 years/unlimited distance 24-hour roadside assistance

Audi A4 Allroad
BMW 328i Touring
Infiniti QX50
Mercedes-Benz B 250
Porsche Macan S

Model Tested 2015 Volvo V60 Cross Country T5 AWD Platinum
Base Price $50,400
A/C Tax $100
Destination Fee $1,195
Price as Tested $57,345
Optional Equipment
Climate Package $1,350 – heated rear seats, heated windshield, heated steering wheel, heated windshield washer nozzles, interior air quality system; Technology Package $1,500 – adaptive cruise control w/ queue assist, collision warning w/ full auto brake, pedestrian & cyclist detection w/ full auto brake, distance alert, driver alert control, lane departure warning, road sign information, active high beam, lane keeping aid; BLIS $1,000 – blind spot information system, cross traffic alert, lane change merge aid, front and rear park assist; active dual xenon headlights w/ headlight washers $1,000; metallic paint $800