Earlier this year, we headed to Sweden to get our first taste of the new 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country on snow-covered roads and a frozen lake. Last week, we slipped behind the wheel of the automaker’s premium midsize wagon for a considerably different but more enlightening day in the desert outside of Phoenix, Arizona. This time around, it was spring rains that added a new dimension to the on/off-road ramblings, which even included an ultra-brief moment exploring this new Volvo’s towing capability.

The vehicles we drove were U.S-spec production versions of the V90 Cross Country, which initially is being marketed here only in a T6 AWD configuration. One had the Convenience Package and the other matched it with the second major option group: the Luxury Package. While the latter brings a bit more panache to the Cross Country’s already upscale feature mix adding things like front buckets with massage capability, 4-zone climate control and a power-activated cargo cover, Volvo says the functional competency of all versions is identical. Both Cross Country models we spent time in also complemented their standard Eco/Comfort/Off-Road/Dynamic driving modes with the optional rear air suspension featuring Volvo’s CCD active adaptive dampers. 

Versatile cruiser

Our drive began with a mix of city streets, state roads and interstate highway miles that pretty much confirmed what we discovered about the vehicle in Sweden. Referred to by its maker’s as a “Scandinavian Sanctuary,” the V90 Cross Country truly does qualify as a first-rate cruiser, quiet, comfortable and tastefully refined, although the cabin noise level does vary noticeably over different surfaces. Its 316-horsepower turbo and supercharged 2.0-liter Drive-E 4-cylinder pulls strongly and smoothly as it sends motive force to an equally polished 8-speed automatic and then on to each corner through the full-time electronically controlled all-wheel drive system.

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Things got more interesting when the pavement ended. While admittedly not intended to be a hard core offroader, the V90 Cross Country proved remarkably capable of traversing dirt trails and splashing through water-filled washes. Credit that skill to its recalibrated suspension tuning, hill descent control and fairly generous 8.3 inches of ground clearance–2.3-inches more than a standard V90 wagon–which are complemented by tweaked programming of its Off-Road drive mode that remaps the traction control and sends more torque to the rear wheels at speeds up to 18 mph. That mode allows one to more effectively slip the Cross Country into and out of low-traction corners using the throttle. Custom-tailored Pirelli all-season tires also do their part to impart what Volvo calls “relaxed confidence” to the Cross Country’s character, by smoothing the ride and enhancing traction.

Designed to stow and tow

Aimed at active lifestyle buyers who want a more conventional alternative to a traditional SUV, Volvo admits the V90 Cross Country won’t rack up near the sales numbers as the XC90. But this new V90 variant does offer impressive functionality in its own right. The Cross Country’s more easily-accessed front and rear seats are definitely adult friendly and its large, power-activated rear liftgate opens onto a 25.5 cu.ft. cargo bay that can be expanded to a 53.9 cu.ft. mini cave by flat-folding the backs on its 60/40 rear bench. To help make better use of the V90 Cross Country’s built-in 3,500-lb towing capability, Volvo also is offering a deployable trailer hitch as a $1,310 dealer-installed extra. Containing both 4-pin and 7-pin connectors, this slick ball assembly tucks away neatly under the rear bumper when not in use.

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The V90 Cross County models we drove were well-optioned examples that offer an assortment of ala carte extras including a Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound System, Head-up Display and metallic paint to further boost their respective bottom lines to $64,640 and $69,440, respectively. However, even the base Cross Country that opens at $54,295 boasts an impressive roster of upline standards. Topping the list are full LED lighting with corner-following headlamps, leather upholstery, Dark Walnut wood trim, 10-way power front comfort seats, a glass panoramic moonroof, digital main instrument cluster, Sensus Navigation with the smartphone-like center touchscreen and front/rear Park Assist. There's also a comprehensive suite of safety features including Volvo’s Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving system, collision avoidance, blind spot alert, run-off road mitigation/protection and more. No matter how you equip it, there’s plenty to like about this latest addition to the Volvo family.

More Volvo News:

2018 Volvo XC60 offers even more space and more safety

2017 Volvo S90 Video Review and Road Test

2017 Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine Plug-in to offer Polestar power upgrade


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