Volvo’s V60 Cross Country wagon/crossover wisely borrows some styling pizzazz from the likes of Mazda, then goes about saturating the vehicle with its usual core competency, safety.
Pretty nice combo, but it ladles on enough luxury to push the V60 to luxury-level pricing, but without the ride to match.
You can look at the V60 competing on two ends of the wagon/crossover spectrum, starting with Subaru’s Outback, which is considerably less expensive, but has a nicer ride and at least as much off-road capability. Or you could look at the Volvo competing with the likes of BMW or Audi wagons and small crossovers, in which case the V60 is a bit less pricey at its base level, the T5 Drive E that starts just above $37,000.
The V60 Cross Country is fully a luxury crossover with the intent of being amenable to going off road. At 7.9 inches, its ground clearance is greater than the standard V60. The sharp looking metallic bronze test car though added a Platinum package, plus four others to go from a $41,700 base price to $50,130. I question how many buyers will be fording streams and straddling large boulders with such an investment.
Certainly around town and on the highway the V60 Cross Country is a fun drive. Its peppy 2.0-liter turbocharged direct-injection I4 kicks out 240 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. Tromp the gas pedal and hold on, this will rock. There is one caveat though, the V60 suffers from major turbo lag at slower speeds when you get on and off the gas pedal frequently. My advice, try to plan ahead if you’ll need a burst of speed.
Like most luxury makes, the Volvo slips gently through the gears with an 8-speed automatic tranny aimed at fuel savings. There’s also a stop-start system to turn off the engine when not in use, still somewhat disconcerting at times. This one turns off as the vehicle decelerates lower than 4 mph and coasts to a stop. You really don’t notice much, but you’ll notice the vibration as the engine refires once you take your foot from the brake.
Handling is sporty and fairly precise. A BMW it is not, but then it’s as responsive as other German makes and most other luxury crossovers that put an emphasis on performance. With all-wheel-drive and its firm steering the V60 feels athletic in corners and supremely stable.
However, the vehicle’s overall firm feel delivers a rather abrupt ride, one that feels overly firm on all city streets and really only calms down on the highway. Several riders asked if the vehicle was “supposed” to feel like this. I believe so!
Inside, the V60 looks luxurious and stylish. This one had a black leather interior with brown stitching that reflected the car’s exterior color. Satin chrome trims the doors and center stack with a textured stack face.
Seats were extremely snug up front and Volvo’s headrests can be uncomfortable for shorter passengers. The headrests angle forward and can push a short passenger’s head a bit forward, making for a less than relaxing ride. These need to be angled back a bit.
The navigation/radio screen here is small compared with most vehicles today too, yet the Harman Kardon sound system is a delight to hear. Tuning the radio is a bit awkward, but Volvo continues its phone-style keypad below the screen so you can program and store a variety of channels easily.
Climate controls are easy with dials and directionals obvious and simple to use. The test car also added a climate package for $1,550 that includes heated front seats (3 levels) and a heated steering wheel. The seats become absolutely scorching on the high setting, so start on 2 and move down to 1 as soon as you feel the heat building. The steering wheel also becomes extremely warm, but it’s quick to heat so you can click it off after a few minutes.
That package also includes two child booster seats, a benefit to folks with younger families, assuming they can afford this Volvo.
There also is a sunroof overhead and adequate sun visors, sadly they do not slide to sufficiently block all side sun. However, there are good overhead front seat lights.
Ultimately the passengers’ safety is well protected with oodles of tech devices, a Volvo hallmark. Oddly many are part of the pricey add-on packages, so few are standard.
For instance, the blind-spot information system that includes front and rear park assist costs $925.
The Platinum package that adds $3,650 includes not only the awesome radio, but active dual Xenon headlights w/washers. These help spread light around a turn as the car is turning. The package also includes a rear park-assist camera, adaptive cruise control and active high beam lights that automatically pop on the bright lights when the car is on a dark road. They turn out when another car approaches.
Also added via the package is a collision warning system that automatically brakes when it senses the driver isn’t slowing enough to avoid a rear-end collision. It also can see pedestrians and cyclists and will brake if the car is getting too close too quickly. Three red lights atop the dash also flash and a warning is sounded in such situations.
Lastly the package delivers a lane keeping aid to tug the wheel toward the lane’s center if you stray too far to either side.
On the practical side there’s reasonable storage behind the second row seats, which will also split and fold down. And the V60 will tow up to 3,500 lbs. I was disappointed though that the test vehicle did not have a power hatch, plus the inside release and key fob trunk release did not work.
A few other points of interest, the steering wheel is extremely thick and covered in leather. Folks with small hands might not find it comfortable. You also must pull the rear door handles twice from outside to open the doors. There’s a port for your key fob if you’d like to use that to hold the fob instead of dropping it in a cupholder or keeping the big fob in your pocket. And in back, the rear seat headrests will fold down with the push of a dash button to increase rear visibility when no one is riding in back. It’s also a fun way to annoy rear seat passengers by flipping the headrests forward, if you’re that sort of person! I was!
Gas mileage is fine for a heavy luxury crossover, but may seem a bit low for since this is a small crossover. I got 25.1 mpg in a fairly even mix of city and highway driving and the EPA estimates 22 mpg city and 30 mpg highway.
The test car hit $50,130 with a $995 delivery fee and all its options. There are many trim levels and both front and AWD models. The top level T6 Drive E R-Design Platinum (that’s a mouthful) lists at $50,390. But it’s your choice of what works for you and your bank account.
FAST STATS: 2017 Volvo V60 T5 AWD Cross Country
Hits: Sporty looks, power and handling, plus AWD. Heated seats and steering wheel, sunroof, crash warning and automatic braking, blind-spot system, rearview camera and other safety hallmarks.
Misses: Rough, over-firm ride, major turbo lag, small dash screen, visors don’t slide and rear hatch not powered nor did it automatically unlatch via the key fob or the inside release. Snug front seats and intrusive passenger headrest.
Made in: Gothenburg, Sweden
Engine: 2.0-liter DI I4, turbo, 240 hp
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Weight: 3,925 lbs.
Length: 182.6 in.
Wheelbase: 109.2 in.
Cargo: 43.8 cu.ft.
Tow: 3,500 lbs.
MPG: 22/30 (EPA)
MPG: 25.1 (tested)
Base Price: $41,700
Platinum package (Harman Kardon premium sound system, active dual Xenon headlights w/washers, accent lighting, auto-dimming rearview mirror, convenience package, keyless drive, rear park-assist camera, HomeLink, adaptive cruise, collision warning w/auto brake, pedestrian/cyclist detection w/auto brake, distance alert, driver alert control, lane keeping aid, road sign information, active high beam), $3,650
Climate package w/child booster seats (heated front seats, power child locks, dual outboard two-stage child booster seats, air quality system, heated windshield washer nozzles, heated steering wheel, heated windshield), $1,550
Blind-spot info system w/front & rear park assist, $925
Metallic paint, $560
19-inch BOR matt black alloy wheels, $750
Test vehicle: $50,130
Sources: Volvo, www.kbb.com
Photos: Mark Savage