When Volvo revealed that it would not be offering the V90 station wagon in the U.S., we thought about what customers will be missing when they step inside their local Volvo dealer. In addition to the V90, the Swedish car firm is also discontinuing certain trims of the V60 as it focuses on enhancing the appeal of its rugged Cross Country models. But while the Cross Country will be the only V90 variant sold in the U.S. from now on, does it have what it takes to carry on the family legacy?
Exterior Styling Retains Core Essentials, Enhances Trail Ready Aura
The exterior styling of the V90 Cross Country shares many of the elegant lines that define the standard V90, but unlike that model, the Cross Country does stand out in a few minor ways. The Cross Country comes with rugged styling touches, including plastic lower cladding, different wheels, and a slightly tweaked lower front bumper. The key difference is the 2.5 inches of extra ground clearance, which allows the Cross Country to have a slightly higher stance than comparable V90 models.
When combined with some of the elegance that’s baked into the V90’s design, the Cross Country manages to have a distinct personality as if it’s wearing a nice pair of all-weather boots to go along with its upmarket cardigan and docker pants. That also translates into having more elegance than rivals like the Subaru Outback Wilderness and the Audi A4 Allroad, which allows the Cross Country to be more discrete about its trail roaming intentions.
Swedish Simplicity Continues To Define Luxurious Interior
When it comes to interiors, very few companies are doing them as well as Volvo these days. While the folks at Mercedes-Benz might cry foul at our assessment, there’s no denying that Volvo has been killing it when it comes to interior design. Warmth and comfort have always been Volvo hallmarks, and our tester manages to blend the two effortlessly. Warm leather accents blend with the elegant dash design and the large switches to create a user-friendly experience.
Other touches include genuine open-pore wood, a tablet-style infotainment system, and the beautiful speaker covers for the Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system. The passenger room in the Cross Country is good front and back. Still, this focus on comfort does cause it to sacrifice some cargo-hauling capability, with the Swede falling short to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class estate and even the decidedly more mainstream Subaru Outback with the Volvo sacrificing a few cubic feet to both of its competitors.
But while the bulk of the interior delivers on all of the goods, the 12.3 inch Sensus equipped infotainment system still hobbles the entire experience. The screen itself is lovely to look at and has crips graphics. But the software responsible for navigating various menus and functions is still as slow as ever, and there are times when we had sluggish performance, especially when starting the car in the morning, with the performance picking up a bit after a brief wait.
Trail Ready Performance Defines V90 Cross Country
Performance for our tester comes from a 2.0 liter twin-charged (super and turbocharged) four-cylinder engine which is good for 316 hp and is mated to an eight-speed automatic. This spirited engine delivers crisp acceleration with the supercharger covering the lower end of the rev band and the turbocharger taking over in the higher reaches. However, a flaw with this setup that was present with our tester is that the acceleration is not linear, and there were times when the engine felt unsure of itself.
Handling in our tester was very composed, and even with the extra few inches of ground travel, the car’s handling demeanor still maintained a confident and stable personality. The Cross Country is not a Jeep Wrangler by any stretch of the imagination, but it did an admirable job of handling some of the light trails that we threw at it during its stay with us. The V90 Cross Country is not the sportiest wagon out there, but it’s still very nimble and should be exciting enough for most wagon buyers.
Braking in our tester was strong and confident though we did note a slightly spongy pedal which did little to affect our thoughts on the brakes. Performance-wise it seems the Cross Country will confidently pick up where the standard V90 left off, especially since it does not diverge too far from some of the driving behavior that has made the model beloved with its group of loyalists.
Pricing for the 2021 V90 Cross Country starts at $54,900, which allows the base model to serve as a balance of luxury and value. ur tester came loaded with options, including the $4,000 Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system, the $2,800 lounge package, and the $1,200 air suspension. All told, these options and more helped shoot the price up to a final figure of $67,740. That’s a lot for a Volvo, but it’s also a bargain when compared to the price of the E-Class estate, which can be double the price here when comparably equipped.
The V90 Cross Country also offers one of the highest fuel economy ratings in the luxury wagon segment, with the EPA claiming that the Cross Country can go up to 30 mpg in freeway driving. This strong showing in fuel economy allows the V90 to be a very tempting road trip purchase, especially when you consider how flexible the Cross Country is when tasked with hauling roof-mounted carriers or even small kayaks and boats.
To sum it up, the 2021 Volvo V90 Cross Country represents an evolutionary shift by Volvo. With the standard version and its smaller V60 companion being cut from the U.S. lineup soon, the Cross Country is a compelling alternative for those that want a rugged four-season vehicle but don’t want to fully submit to the prospect of owning an SUV or CUV model. Volvo claims that the Cross Country family will have a pivotal role in expanding Volvo’s sales and allow the trim to go hand in hand with their growing pool of SUV models. The future looks bright for Volvo, and we look forward to seeing what’s next for the brand.
Carl Malek has been an automotive journalist for over 10 years. First starting out as a freelance photographer before making the transition to writing during college, his work has appeared on numerous automotive forums as well as websites such as Autoshopper.com.
Carl is also a big fan of British vehicles with the bulk of his devotion going to the Morgan Motor Company as well as offerings from Lotus, MG, and Caterham. When he is not writing about automobiles, Carl enjoys spending time with his family and friends in the Metro Detroit area, as well as spending time with his adorable pets.