What do we actually prefer for our year-round carry-all-mobile: an SUV or a wagon?
Today’s marketplace still favors the SUV. They offer more room, have enough ground clearance for year-round adventures, and can seat four adults comfortably. The reality is the latest new vehicle sales split in Minnesota alone favor SUVs, along with pickup trucks and vans, all totaling 70 percent of all new vehicle registrations in the past year.
However, there seems to be a small groundswell of a backlash against the mighty SUV. There is a group of us that would rather have a wagon than an SUV. They may have been considered endangered species, but our GLBT community can tell you otherwise. For example, we are truly split between taking delivery on the Outback wagon and the Forester SUV. Volkswagen has seen a rise in Golf sales driven by the new-for-2017 Alltrack.
These lifted, go-anywhere, rugged-ized station wagons have been around for quite some time. Subaru has offered their Outback for as long as we have been loving them — 1994, to be exact. A few years later, a European automaker jumped into this all-new segment with their own take on the all-wheel drive wagon designed for adventure.
In 1997, Volvo brought out the original V70 XC, the Cross Country wagon. For those who could afford one, they bought them and loved them equally to the Subaru. Twenty years later, Volvo still feeds the active lifestyles set with the latest version of their Cross Country wagon, the V60.
We were lucky to get a 2017 V60 Cross Country wagon in, as winter seems to not know what it wanted to do for its remaining days as a season. Not only will we look at whether Volvo has the right formula for the lifted, rugged-ized wagon, but we will look at what it can do for GLBT customers who might have a few extra thousand dollars to spend on a V60 Cross Country.
The V60 is based on what Volvo now calls the “60 Series.” This is a “compact” platform that underpins a sedan (S60), a wagon (V60), and an SUV (XC60). The V60 is one of the few wagons on sale in this country that matches up with other wagon variants of other premium compact sports sedans, such as the BMW 3-Series. In fact, one can get a V60 as a Polestar model, offering a 362-horsepower turbocharged and supercharged engine and a lot of nice high performance goodies.
The V60 Cross Country is the personality-opposite of the Polestar. Instead of racing shoes and a matching jacket, the Cross Country is a down “sweater” jacket and hiking boots. We actually admit that the Cross Country is the better looking of the V60 lineup; maybe it’s because of our love for the Outback and Alltrack.
The big difference in the V60 Cross Country is the 7.9 inches of ground clearance. Both the front and rear ends have also enough clearance for approach and departure angles. The honeycomb grille adds that extra Cross Country touch to the V60, along with the cladding around the wheel openings and lower body areas. The V60 is actually a handsome sporty wagon, with its sloping roofline at the rear.
The V60 shares the same wheelbase as the S60 sedan, the short wheelbase version. While it is accommodating up front, rear seat room is actually saved by the longer roofline. Rear leg room is about the same as the short wheelbase sedan, which is still fine for average-sized adults. Front seats are upholstered in very strong leather covering a heavily bolstered design made for safety, support, and comfort. You can also pack up to 43.8 cubic feet of weekend warrior goodies in the rear of the V60 Cross Country as well.
As with our previous experience in the Volvo S60, the instrument panel is actually quite familiar. You can choose a theme for the instrument binnacle, which offers plenty of information using TFT technology. The speedometer and tachometer are in real time and quick to change, as are the other gauges. The fuel gauge remains as an eight-light display off to the left of the main instrumentation. Controls are a mix of push buttons on the center stack, along with multifunction knobs.
The Sensus infotainment system is controlled by multifunction knobs and buttons below a static screen on top of the center stack. Navigation graphics are top-notch, while every other screen was sufficient. Sound from the 12 Harman/Kardon speakers was good.
There is only one driveline available on the V60 Cross Country. The T5 engine is a 240-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder Drive-E workhorse that loves to gobble up the miles and enjoy the drive. An eight-speed transmission, along with Volvo’s current all-wheel drive system round out a solid driveline designed to manage traction when necessary. That would also mean going off the highway for some adventuring. While it delivers solid performance, it also delivers good fuel economy. We averaged 27.7 MPG in our care, which is higher than the advertised fuel consumption figure.
The ride quality is quite good on smooth surfaces; however, you do feel bumpy roads when they become present. The suspension does a great job absorbing the ride, but you do feel it from the tires. Though it rides higher than a normal V60 wagon (or S60 sedan), it handles and corners quite decently.
Steering is also quite precise and provided a tight turning radius. The thick-rimmed steering wheel is perfectly grippy to control and handle the lifted wagon. Brakes are superb, with solid stopping power and distance in normal and panic situations.
As for safety, the V60 Cross Country offers all of Volvo’s IntelliSafe suite of active technologies. These include features such as Blind Spot Information, rearview camera with cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, City Safety auto-braking technology, active high beams, front collision warning, and adaptive cruise control.
The base price for the V60 Cross Country is $41,700. Our tester came with a sticker price of $50,130. “Normal” V60 wagons start at $36,150 with all-wheel drive available. You might not get 7.9 inches of ground clearance and the body cladding, but you do get a fun sports wagon to drive.
That is what the Volvo V60 Cross Country is all about: being fun to drive. It can also take on a weekend’s worth of fun to go along with the drive. The fact that these lifted wagons are the prime alternative to the SUV/Crossover makes it a more desirable offering to attain. If you are on an SUV backlash, you cannot go wrong with what the V60 Cross Country can do for you. Remember, the operating word here is “fun.”
Let’s be honest here. If you wanted a wagon with higher ground clearance and a tougher skin, you would rather spend less money on the Subaru or the Volkswagen. However, if your budget was higher and wanted the same amount of fun and versatility found in those two other lifted wagons, the Volvo V60 Cross Country is a superb choice. It still is after 20 years of Volvo Cross Country wagons.