Review: 2019 Volvo V60 Cross Country
The Cross Country trim on the V60 is the perfect road trip companion for those seeking a bit more adventure.
THE PROS & CONS
- What’s Good: Luxurious interior, Sensus infotainment system is one of the best in the industry, very comfortable, great list of active and passive safety features
- What’s Bad: Sensus system can take a while to load, Cross Country trim is not available through Care by Volvo.
When I was a kid, most of our family vacations consisted of road trips. I hate to date myself, but this was a time when crossovers where not popular. People had vans, trucks, cars and, of course, the almighty station wagon. When I saw that the new Volvo V60 wagon was on the press fleet, I eagerly reached out to book it and take it on a good old-fashion road trip.
Jasper, my four-legged fur baby, and I left bright and early in the morning. We put in 12 hours from Vancouver to Edmonton to visit a friend and spend the night. We drove another 300km south to Calgary for my cousin’s wedding followed by 980km back through Banff and home to Vancouver. In seven days I drove just over 3,400km and I got to know this wagon intimately.
In driving through two provinces, I became very conscious of how few station wagons are on the road these days. The V60 proudly stands out against a market that has moved away from this style of vehicle.
Stopping often to stretch my legs and let Jasper pee, I had a moment of clarity while I was taking a photo of this Volvo. The backdrop was a glassy lake with the mountains in the distance and I fully appreciated just how handsome the 2019 V60 Cross Country is. This trim level adds 60mm of ground clearance and tough body cladding to give it a more rugged appearance. Parked in front of the Canadian wilderness, the Volvo looked right at home.
Adding more than just good looks, the Cross Country trim includes hill descent control and standard all-wheel drive (AWD). A few small details make this the trim of choice if you crave a bit more adventure in your travels.
Smaller than most SUVs and some CUVs, the wagon was at home in the city, on the highway and on roads that were less than ideal.
I can only find one small downside to a station wagon versus a utility vehicle, and that is the amount of height available inside for extra cargo. If you have a large family and/or take adventures with bikes or a lot of camping gear, you might need more space.
For this road trip, all I packed was my roller bag, purse, a large cooler for food, and Jasper’s kennel. The second row seats fold flat and split 60/40. Everything that I had with me fit in the trunk with room to spare. I easily would have been able to accommodate another person and their luggage on this adventure. Though the long trunk lacks the height of an SUV, it still offers a very functional space filled with hooks and storage cubbies for smaller items.
This Volvo wagon handled all the ups and downs of the road trip with ease. And there were many of both on this trip.
The Coquihalla Highway is a 543km road in southern British Columbia that provides the shortest land connection between Vancouver and both Edmonton and Calgary. The road is very steep, reaching an elevation of over 1,244m (4,081ft). Sections of the highway have sharp corners that require vehicles to slow down from 120km/h to 60km/h. As someone who has done a lot of driving in my life, the Coquihalla is the ultimate test for any road trip vehicle.
Not once did this Volvo hesitate. The T5 badging means that under the hood of this wagon is a 250hp direct-injection turbocharged engine. The power plant is paired with an eight-speed geartronic automatic with start/stop and adaptive shift.
The engine is more than adequate. Nothing seems to take away from the laid back feeling behind the wheel. Keeping the revs low, there is never a need to push it. The gearbox is decisive, smooth and felt effortless over the entire 3,400km.
With three drive modes to choose from (Dynamic, Comfort and Off-Road), it was nice to have options. However, I don’t think that this V60 was intended to be an exciting car to drive. ‘Dynamic’ tightens the steering and ‘off-road’ came in handy when needed, but comfort mode is where I spent 80% of my time.
I took a quick jaunt off the highway to try out the Off-Road mode. This setting calibrates the gearbox, engine and AWD system to better tackle slippery, uneven surfaces, as well as enabling hill descent control. Loose gravel and mud were no issue. Off-Road is a great option to have if you plan on getting off the beaten path with this wagon.
Sensus is Volvo’s infotainment system, and a long trip was the perfect opportunity to really get up close and personal with it. The system is described perfectly on Volvo’s website as, “Built-in USB and auxiliary connectors, plus wireless connectivity via Bluetooth, and broadband technology, so you can disconnect from home and reconnect with the road.”
The portrait-oriented touch screen enables easy and fast access to a long list of functions and features. From audio, navigation and convenience apps, I was able to quickly connect via Bluetooth and manoeuver through the sections. Everything you need is right at your fingertips, either on the touch screen or the redundant controls on the steering wheel.
Keep in mind that this system is similar to a computer, and updates are needed from time-to-time. The software updates are available for your vehicle at no charge during your scheduled maintenance visits.
However, just like a computer, sometimes the system needs to load. After many hours on the road, I am uncertain as to when and why this happened. Randomly, and less than 20% of the time, when starting the car I had to wait before I could adjust any of the audio or climate controls.
Despite the annoying loading period, I think this is one of the best infotainment systems on the market today. The technology is simple, intuitive and most importantly, responsive. The graphics are crisp and the button on the bottom of the touch screen acts similar to the home button found on Apple devices.
On this long road trip, the Premium Package for an additional $3400 proved worthy. Adding fog lights, headlight washers, four-zone electronic climate control, Drive Mode Select, LED Bending Headlights, as well as a 12.3-inch driver display (aka the digital instrument cluster). In a nod to their Scandinavian heritage, the LED lights are aptly named Thor’s hammer.
Heated seats for the driver and passenger are standard. You need to add on the Climate Package for an additional $1250 to get a heated steering wheel and heated windshield washer nozzles; two options that make cold Canadian winters a bit more manageable.
Yes, some great features are only available for an additional cost, but don’t be fooled. The base V60 Cross Country still comes with some tasty standard features, like two zone climate control, a massive panoramic sunroof, 8-inch driver display, 9-inch Sensus touchscreen, power-operated tailgate and smartphone integration with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
Volvos are known to be some of the safest cars on the road. The wagon I drove has a long list of innovative and advanced safety features. Like many of you, I find some of these new features to be annoying. Lane keep assist and blind spot warning irritate me so much that I often turn them off after I have tested the features for a review.
On this trip, however, I was beyond grateful to have these driver assists. After spending a solid eight hours behind the wheel, I was feeling fatigued. I finally enjoyed the peace of mind knowing that technology was helping to keep me safe.
Volvo City Safety is standard. This driver support system helps to detect, alert, and avoid low-speed collisions. When driving in unfamiliar cities, you can focus on the road ahead, while the technology alerts you to pedestrians or cyclists that suddenly emerge in front of your vehicle without warning.
With a starting price of $43,900 for the base V60, you get an elegant, sporty and versatile vehicle. The Momentum trim has a luxury feel to it, while the Inscription trim bumps the price to $55,400 and delivers more technology and sophistication. Volvo’s website says the V60 Cross Country has rugged capability with dynamic styling and is the best choice for those seeking more adventure. It is priced in the middle of the family starting at $48,900.
Subscribing to Care by Volvo provides you with amenities such as Winter Wheels & Tires, maintenance, road hazard protection, and normal wear-and-tear all rolled into one flat-rate monthly payment. At the time I wrote this review, only V60 or S60 in the R-Design trim are available through this program. Choosing the Cross Country means a traditional lease or purchase.
If you are in the market for something that is not mainstream, yet is ready for anything, this Volvo V60 Cross Country was an impressive surprise. The V60 has certainly come a long way from the station wagons I grew up with. I can’t think of a more competent road trip vehicle for those who don’t need all the space of an SUV.