Station wagons have not enjoyed widespread popularity for a long time, but that may be changing due to the influence of crossover SUVs and, in the case of Volvo, upscale brands making concerted efforts to make these vehicles much more attractive in their own right. A case in point is the 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country, a sleek wagon version of the handsome S90 sedan. The Cross Country package, for those not familiar with it, is an off-road inspired version of a standard wagon, with a taller ride height, some additional cladding and requisite all-wheel drive. Think of the V90 Cross Country as the big brother to the Audi A4 Allroad and Subaru Outback.

While Volvo is offering the standard V90 station wagon on an order basis, buyers will not be able to purchase those models from dealer inventory. But they will find the V90 Cross Country in stock since the company believes the higher capability and off-road inspired design cues are more in step with current consumer preferences for SUV-style vehicles. That trail cred is telegraphed by the aforementioned cladding, a 2.3-inch higher ground clearance that comes in at 8.3-inches, standard roof rack and skid plates. The V90 has a more aggressive look that features a metal-stud grille rather than the waterfall design found on the standard S90/V90 models along with blacked-out molding on the greenhouse. 

Turbo/supercharged 4-cylinder power

All Volvo V90 Cross Country models come equipped with a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that combines both turbo and supercharging to produce 316 horsepower and a flat torque peak of 295 lb-ft from 2,200 to 5,400 rpm. The output is delivered to all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic. There are four drive modes, Eco, Comfort, Off Road and Dynamic and the electronically controlled all-wheel drive system features hill descent control as standard equipment.

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We had a chance to drive the 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country in Sweden, both on-road and during ice-driving exercises on a frozen lake (which was wet and slippery as temperatures hovered just around the freezing mark). While the cars were equipped with studded tires, there was plenty of sliding around on the low-friction lake surface. What we were able to discern was the car’s balance and its ability to quickly and seamlessly transfer traction from the front to the rear axle. The steering has great feedback and it was quite easy to drive the car on the throttle allowing the rear end to drift out and tuck back in on demand. This confidence translates to effortless on-road performance that blends responsive dynamics with a supple ride thanks to the car’s long 115.8-inch wheelbase. Adding to the comfort level is the extensive use of laminated glass that quiets the interior. Even though our test vehicles rode on studded rubber, not much in the way of tire noise was transmitted to the cabin. The V90 is a born cruiser which will make for a terrific road tripper.

Comfort, convenience

Volvo has done an admirable job in matching its interior design with the upscale look of the exterior. Standard features include leather seating, dark walnut wood inlays (mesh metal accents are a no cost option), heated seats and steering wheel and a panoramic sunroof.  The effect is a light and airy cabin with a contemporary functional look. The large center screen, with its vertical orientation uses the same tablet-inspired touch, swipe and pinch capability as the XC90. If you’re unfamiliar with the layout, it takes a little practice before it becomes intuitive. Thankfully, there are some redundant controls for the radio on the dash, as well as other buttons on the steering wheel for us slow learners.

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Other standard features include Pilot Assist (which combines lane-keeping steering assist with adaptive cruise control), a blind spot information system, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, driver alert sensing, road sign information and lane departure warning.

Prices for the 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country start at $55,300, plus $995 destination. There are two option packages, a $4,500 luxury group and a $1,950 convenience package. The former includes ventilated Nappa leather seating, backrest massage, leather upholstery on the dash and door panels, heated rear seats, 4-zone climate control, power-operated load cover and body-colored door sills, bumpers and fender flares. Convenience items include HomeLink, a compass in the rearview mirror, park assist pilot, high-level interior illumination and a 360-degree surround view camera. A rear air suspension is a $1,200 standalone option, as are a color head-up display ($900), Bower & Wilkens premium sound system ($2,650), 20-inch alloy wheels ($750), rear booster seat cushions ($500) and metallic paint ($560). Deliveries of the 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country begin in March.


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