Premium all-wheel-drive wagons are popular with an ever-shrinking subset of people who prefer the driving dynamics of a luxury car but also want the practicality of an SUV.
The number of luxury wagon options available is dwindling, with even a brand like Volvo that’s synonymous with wagons whittling down its Canadian lineup in recent years. In fact, the 2022 Volvo V90 Cross Country is the only version of the brand’s biggest wagon to make it to market here.
With all-wheel drive, raised suspension, and a new mild-hybrid powertrain, the V90 Cross Country may be niche, but it’s wonderfully so.
Gone are the days of the “boxy but good” Volvo wagons. Based on the same platform as the S90 sedan, the V90 Cross Country has perfect proportions and is drop-dead gorgeous from every angle. Sporting beautiful, curvaceous lines with some ever-so subtle hints to classic models, the V90 is suitably elegant, and is certainly likely to age well.
Standard are 19-inch wheels, but you can upgrade to either 20- or even 21-inch alloys to fill out the wheel wells. Complete with body cladding and a raised ride height, the V90 Cross Country provides visual cues to its added capability.
Simultaneously exuding a feeling of luxury and Scandinavian simplicity, the interior is cleanly laid out and made up of richly textured, high-quality materials that are pleasing to both the eye and touch.
Safety is serious business at Volvo. The company literally invented the three-point safety belt, padded dash, and rear-facing child safety seat, along with countless other innovations. The V90’s safety equipment includes steering-responsive LED headlights, a semi-autonomous driving system with adaptive cruise control, front and rear collision warning and auto braking, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, lane-keeping, and park assist, to name a few.
Features like the breakaway engine, whiplash protection system, and side impact protection system are undetectable until you need them but could most certainly save your life in the event of a crash.
A proud member of the Volvo Saved My Life Club, I was involved in a serious collision where a number of these safety systems did their intended jobs. Multiple paramedics arrived on the scene, one of whom gravely stated, “If you weren’t driving a Volvo, you’d be dead.” That was all the validation I needed to replace it with another Volvo wagon the next day. Had it been equipped with the advanced active safety features offered on the V90, the collision wouldn’t have even happened in the first place.
Many desirable features you’d expect from a vehicle of this price point are included as standard, including dual-zone climate control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, leather seating surfaces, semi-autonomous driving technology, and a panoramic sunroof. If you’d like more you can get it, but you’ll have to pay.
My tester featured an upgraded sound system ($3,750) and the $1,000 Climate package that adds headlight cleaners, and a heated steering wheel and rear seats. It also featured the Lounge package ($3,850) that included four-zone climate control, rear window shades, massaging memory front seats, and a cushion extender. The $2,000 Advanced package consisted of a head-up display, upgraded interior lighting, and a 360-degree camera. It was also adorned in deep, rich Thunder Grey Metallic paint, which is a $900 option.
User Friendliness: 8/10
Aside from the audio and cruise control functions on the steering wheel, most interactions with the vehicle’s systems take place through the large touchscreen mounted on the centre of the dash. The previous system has been replaced by a Google-based interface, which seems faster but feels like a step backwards in that the small icons aren’t as intuitively laid out or as easy to interact with while driving.
Information on the 12.3-inch digital dash is clear and easy to read day or night. Seat controls and mirror switches are handily within reach, making it easy to find their ideal positions. Safety technology is unobtrusive and seamlessly integrated.
The only real gripe I have with the V90 in this area is related to one very un-Volvo-like element. The wireless smartphone charger is situated within the centre console area among the cup holder recesses in such a way that accelerating or braking with any abruptness whatsoever causes the phone to slide out of the charging area.
Practicality is the name of the game when you opt for an all-wheel-drive Volvo wagon, but surprisingly, the Swedes have been usurped by not offering the most cargo room in the class any longer.
The rear cargo areas of the 760 and V70 wagons of old could handle everything you could throw in there including the kitchen sink; but the V90’s power-operated hatch opens to accommodate a paltry 551 L of cargo capacity. Of course, there are roof rails for additional storage. The cargo area increases to 1,517 L with the 60/40-split folding seats dropped, but both the Audi A6 Allroad and Mercedes-Benz E 450 All-Terrain offer more.
The Cross Country ups the V90’s ground clearance 60 mm to 204 mm (eight inches) to navigate cottage roads or deep snow.
Volvo has been upping its interior game over the last few years and it shows. Materials such as brushed aluminum and Nappa leather are rich in texture and feel high in quality. Volvo’s seats are some of the most comfortable and supportive in the business, allowing for long stretches to be driven with ease. The four-way lumbar support, cushion extensions, and massage functions only add to the experience.
Building a vehicle with a human-focused approach results in an ergonomic driving experience. The interior is not only inviting, but quiet and serene on the highway, thanks in part to insulated glass all around. Rear passengers get plenty of legroom, and the benefit of the panoramic sunroof, along with the ability to adjust climate and seat heating functions for themselves.
The V90 Cross Country gets an updated powertrain for 2022, with a 2.0L four-cylinder engine that’s both supercharged and turbocharged, and features a 48-volt mild hybrid system. Down 21 hp from last year, the V90 is rated at 295 hp at 5,400 rpm and 310 lb-ft of torque as low as 2,100 rpm which allows for a towing capacity of 2400 kg (5,291 lb). Thanks to its combination of turbocharging and supercharging, acceleration feels plentiful and linear all the way through the powerband despite taking longer to reach 100 km/h from a standstill than both the A6 Allroad and E 450 All-Terrain.
Driving Feel: 9/10
The Cross Country’s elevated ride height accommodates suspension that soaks up the bumps for a deliciously smooth, supple ride. Steering is light, predictable, and seemingly effortless, but offers enough feedback to let the driver know what’s happening where the rubber meets the road.
Shifts from the eight-speed automatic transmission are smooth and nearly imperceivable. Changing driving modes or shifting into manual mode allow for greater control over the driving experience. The stop-start function shuts off the engine to save fuel while stopped but can be disabled if you prefer. The brake pedal feels a tad on the spongy side but is in no way ineffective. In fact, it is quite adept at bringing the car down from speed in a safe and predictable manner.
Fuel Economy: 7.5/10
Natural resources Canada (NRCan) rates the mild-hybrid V90 Cross Country B6 at 10.6 L/100 km in the city and 8.1 on the highway for a combined rating of 9.5, which is marginally better than both the A6 Allroad and E 450 All-Terrain, which both use six-cylinder engines. Over the course of a week that coincided with heavy snowfall through a variety of conditions including heavy traffic and highway speeds utilizing the various driving modes with stop-start enabled, I averaged 11.9 L/100 km.
The V90 Cross Country’s sticker price starts much lower than the comparable Audi A6 Allroad and Mercedes-Benz E 450 All-Terrain wagons; but as with all cars in this segment, options add up quickly. It also feels every bit worthy of its $77,450 price tag here, with an impressive amount of elegance and poise.
I’m currently on my fourth Volvo (third wagon and second Cross Country) and the V90 Cross Country makes subtle connections to its ancestors but has gone decidedly upmarket in every conceivable way. It accelerates faster, drives smoother, handles better, and uses less fuel. Its technology, styling, and build materials are all far superior. The steering wheel feels substantial in your hands, and the multitude of passive and active safety systems beneath the surface provide peace of mind.
The 2022 Volvo V90 Cross Country can do the majority of what most people expect from a luxury SUV, only better. Volvo has always been premium, but new models feel suitably luxurious and modern. Driving characteristics feel stable and serene, yet still offer enough engagement to be enjoyable. All-wheel drive, an elevated ride height, and decent cargo capacity aren’t encumbered by the excess size and weight of larger vehicles.
The V90 Cross Country is the kind of car I would (and very well may) buy with my own money when it comes time to replace my current Volvo wagon, and I have no problem recommending others to do the same.
|Peak Horsepower||295 hp @ 5,400 rpm|
|Peak Torque||310 lb-ft @ 2,100–4,800 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||10.6 / 8.1 / 9.5 L/100 km cty/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space||551 / 1,517 L|
|Model Tested||2022 Volvo V90 Cross Country B6 AWD|
|Price as Tested||$79,565|
$11,500 – Climate Package, $1,000; Lounge Package, $3,850; Advanced Package, $2,000; Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound System, $3,750; Metallic Paint, $900