• Top 10 Highlights of the 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country

    AS SUVs started to gain popularity in the ‘90s, Volvo developed “Cross Country” or “XC” versions of their venerable wagon blueprint.
    • Volvo V90 Cross Country
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    Ahh, the wagon. It’s a body style that’s had to take a back seat – a third-row back seat, that is – to SUVs and crossovers in North America ever since manufacturers realized they could sell tall ride heights and room for the parents, the kids, the pets and all their gear.

    It’s too bad, really; Europeans are still seeing the wagon as an automotive staple, but even there, tall hatchbacks are starting to take over.

    It hasn’t stopped Volvo from building what they’ve always been known for, however; in fact, they’ve adapted. AS SUVs started to gain popularity in the ‘90s, Volvo developed “Cross Country” or “XC” versions of their venerable wagon blueprint. They added AWD, more ride height and body protection but kept the car-like dynamics and easy loading of the wagon.

    For 2017, they’ve done it again and after putting it through its paces on central Sweden’s frozen roads (and lakes), we can safely say: it is fantastic.

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    • Volvo V90
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    Style Matters

    The V90 Cross Country proves that just because wagons are a pretty basic two-box shape, a few details can greatly add to a car’s presence. The 3D chrome dot grille, “Thor’s Hammer” headlights and gorgeous two-tone wheels – not to mention pleasantly-angled rear hatch – all see to the 2017 V90 CC blasting the wagon mould to bits. The plastic cladding, meanwhile, does well to add a little toughness to the styling package.
    • Volvo V90 CC
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    Get on your High Horse

    60mm may not sound like much, but you can see the added ride height between this and the V90 wagon on which it’s based. To ensure that all loose ends were tied off, Volvo has also added underbody skidplates for those who really want to put their V90 CC to the test. We did, and we found the suspension to be tuned to the point where we felt like the skidplates were superficial. We didn’t bottom out once, and the dampers are so well sorted that we didn’t realize how bumpy the road was until we got a closer look at it.
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    Anchored

    Ride height is one thing, but without a properly-implemented AWD system its effect gets watered down. Luckily, Volvo’s system is adept at quickly analyzing what’s going on beneath you, and which axles and wheels are slipping, and which need the power. Progress is confidence-inspiring.
    • volvo engine
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    Don’t Forget the Powertrain

    As advanced as the AWD system is, Volvo’s modernization of the wagon doesn’t stop there. There’s power aplenty, and the way in which it’s made is both traditional and not at the same time. It’s a four-cylinder, turbo engine – that’s pretty standard these days for cars this size – but it gets the added benefit of a supercharger, too. The combined forces make 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque and make for great, linear progress across the rev range; we never felt like the big wagon was straining under our right foot. The result is a car that feels much lighter than it is.
    • volvo v90 drive modes
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    The Power of Choice

    Not so much in the engine department – Europeans get a diesel and the four cylinder turbo, we just get the latter – but in the drive mode department, of which there are four: Eco, Comfort, Dynamic and (of course) off road. The differences can readily be felt; Eco keeps the throttle response down, comfort keeps the electronic nannies in full finger-wagging mode and Dynamic makes it so you can actually get the tail out without too much intervention. AWD, meanwhile, makes scrabbling over loose or slippery terrain a breeze.
    • volvo v90
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    Room for the Whole Team

    Even with the flat-folding rear seats in place, the V90 CC still provides over 950 L of cargo capacity; that’s only a few litres down on what’s provided behind the second row in an XC90 SUV. Since the V90 CC is car-based and lower to the ground, loading your (and possibly three of your teammates’) hockey bags and stick shouldn’t be a problem. Folding the rear seats flat, meanwhile, provides a cavern of space.
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    Enough about the bags; what about the people?

    Not to fear; they’re in good hands. Volvo has long been known for developing some of the best seats (often called “chairs”) in the business, but the V90 CC takes it to another level with just the right mix of materials. Supple leather, gorgeous open-pore wood and aluminum accents abound. There are some shortcomings – the a-pillars, for example, are finished in cheap plastic where other manufactures are using soft materials – but it’s hard to question the CC’s luxury claim. It almost makes the $61,000 asking price seem like a bargain.
    • volvo v90 interior
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    Tech, too

    Interior quality is one thing, but at this level, you need the tech to go with it. This is not lost on Volvo; the optional Bowers & Wilkins audio is concert-like in its sound quality (you have to love the real metal speaker grilles, too), and the infotainment interface is a slick one, with a 7-inch touchscreen as its centerpiece. There’s also support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, but the way you have to use Volvo’s interface to navigate these apps does take some getting used to.
    • V90 Cross Country
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    Better Safe than Sorry

    In addition to their wagons and their comfortable seating arrangements, Volvo has always been at the forefront of the safety world. The V90 CC is no different, adding the Volvo Pilot Assist II safety suite to its repertoire. Pedestrian warning, active lane keep assist, adaptive cruise – it’s all here, and it’s all well-implemented. VPAII also adds run-off road mitigation, which predicts the edge of the shoulder and keeps you away from it. It’s a good feature to have, though we found it a little overly-sensitive as the road quality got poorer. We didn’t get the chance to test the large animal detection system – kinda hard to arrange for an elk to cross the road on a whim – but if it works as advertised, it can spot the slow-moving beast 300 metres down the road and apply the brakes up to 30% of maximum.
  • Plug in on the way?

    Volvo folks on-hand were understandably cagey about what the future might hold for the CC, but they did go so far as to hint that a plug-in hybrid version could be here soon. They also had T8 PHEV versions of their XC90 SUV on-hand to test, and it did a remarkable job considering the conditions. No reason to think the V90 CC – which shares its Volvo SPA platform with the XC90 – wouldn’t be able to perform just as well.

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