The 2018 Volvo V90 Cross Country is a luxury wagon with a hint of SUV. This is accomplished by taking the regular V90, raising the ride height a touch and installing all-wheel drive (AWD) as standard, then adding a scuff plate at the back and some cladding along the sides. The idea behind it is to have practicality on a par with a crossover and a slightly higher driving position, but with a more carlike center of gravity and the tidier handling that comes as a result.
It’s an approach the company started with the XC70 at the turn of the millennium and has since been taken up by Audi with Allroad versions of its A4 and A6 wagons. Volvo does the same thing with its V60 wagon and S60 sedan. Overall, they might best be described as luxurious yet practical conveyances equipped for mild off-roading duty.
The regular V90 midsize wagon has debuted for this model year, but the Cross Country version arrived last year. The number is an indication that these V90 siblings share the same platform with the S90 sedan and XC90 SUV, both excellent vehicles. They all play their part in the resurgence of Volvo as a major player in the luxury game, with arguably handsome styling, elegant and well-considered interiors featuring fine materials and state-of-the-art safety features.
What’s New for 2018?
A less powerful T5 drivetrain joins the range, leading to a lower entry price. And a T6 AWD Volvo Ocean Race trim comes in at the top of the range.
What We Like
Superb looks inside and out; high-quality cabin materials; safety features; usefulness; doesn’t plow the usual SUV furrow
What We Don’t
We’ll let you know if something springs to mind
The V90 Cross Country starts out with the T5 powertrain that features a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine making 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. It links to an 8-speed automatic transmission, and power goes to all four wheels. Incidentally, the regular V90 comes with a T5 that’s front-wheel drive only. So if buyers want an all-wheel-drive/T5 combination, the Cross Country is the only choice.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at 23 miles per gallon in the city, 31 mpg on the highway and 26 mpg in combined driving.
The T6 option features a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine that is both supercharged and turbocharged to generate 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. This is also paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission and an all-wheel-drive system. Fuel consumption is 22 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 Volvo V90 Cross Country premium midsize wagon comes in T5 AWD, T6 AWD and T6 AWD Volvo Ocean Race trim levels.
The T5 AWD ($53,295) has 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry/ignition, a panoramic sunroof with a powered sunshade, aluminum roof rails, selectable drive modes, all-LED exterior lighting, rain-sensing wipers, a rear skid plate, dual-zone automatic climate control, leather upholstery, heated/10-way power-adjustable front seats with driver’s-side memory settings, power-folding/self-dimming mirrors, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, a powered/hands-free tailgate, a cabin air quality system, the Volvo Sensus Connect infotainment system with a 9-in color display, Wi-Fi, navigation, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration (including the Volvo On Call app with remote car control), Bluetooth and a 330-watt/10-speaker audio system with two USB ports, auxiliary audio input and satellite/HD radios. Plus an array of advanced driver aids (see the Safety section below).
The T5 is eligible for a Plus package that includes quad-zone automatic climate control, high-pressure headlight cleaning, a 12.3-in digital driver information display and active "bending" headlights.
The T6 AWD ($57,095) comes with the more powerful engine, along with blind spot monitoring, a heated steering wheel, 19-in alloy wheels and the contents of the Plus package above. The T6 is eligible for a Luxury package that adds super-comfortable front seats covered in Nappa leather with ventilation, massage functions and cushion extensions, along with heated outer rear seats, rear sunshades, a power-operated cargo cover and leather covering for the dashboard.
The T6 AWD Volvo Ocean Race ($61,495) has its own cosmetic additions (inspired by the company’s sponsorship of yachting events), rear air suspension and 20-in alloy wheels.
A Convenience package includes a universal garage-door opener, heated windshield-washer nozzles, a 360-degree camera system and a self-parking feature.
Other options include a head-up display, 20-in wheels, self-leveling rear air suspension, integrated child booster cushions for the outer rear seats, a rear-seat entertainment system and a Bowers & Wilkins 1,400-watt/19-speaker audio system.
Behind the rear seats is 33.9 cu ft. of cargo capacity, expanding to 53.9 cu ft. when those rear seats are folded down. Maximum towing capacity is 3,500 pounds.
Standard features include antilock disc brakes, traction/stability control, active front head restraints, hill-descent control and a full complement of airbags.
The V90 Cross Country hasn’t been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). But we’re not expecting safety to be a problem; this is a product of Volvo, a company that has made a name for itself by emphasizing the welfare of its customers and their surroundings.
There are plenty of advanced driver aids, such as adaptive cruise control with detection of pedestrians, cyclists and large animals, plus forward- and rear-collision mitigation, blind spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, run-off road mitigation and protection, lane-departure warning, road-sign recognition and a driver-drowsiness alert.
Behind the Wheel
This is truly a gorgeous interior. The dark walnut wood trim pieces feel as if they were sanded down by meticulous Shaolin monks. And no one would be surprised if Volvo said it used a unicorn’s mane for the brushed finish of the aluminum accents. Even the standard seats are some of the most comfortable to ever be installed in an automobile. That’s just the way Volvo does things.
Rear legroom measures 35.9 inches, which is pretty generous; the XC90 SUV offers 37 inches. This car also enjoys 8.3 inches of ground clearance, only an inch-and-a-bit lower than the XC90 (the regular V90 has six inches). So with all-wheel drive, an off-road setting among the driving modes and a decent set of tires also in the equation, that rutted dirt track to the holiday cabin won’t be a problem.
Ride quality is decidedly on the comfortable side rather than anything sporty. The T5 engine has an adequate amount of muscle, but the T6 would be a better choice for a fully laden wagon.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Audi A4 Allroad — The A4-based Allroad is another wagon with SUV leanings. Although it’s technically a compact, it’s spacious enough to encroach on midsize territory.
2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake — Stylish, roomy, useful, luxurious and elegant. Comes with all-wheel drive as standard.
2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic wagon — Not endowed with any kind of SUVlike tweaks apart from standard all-wheel drive, but it’s luxurious, practical and spacious all the same. Has two extra seats in the cargo area.
Used Audi A6 Allroad — If there’s a club whose members all have wagons with SUVlike modifications, then there would be no shame in turning up with an A6 Allroad. Providing you can find one.
The middle-trim T6 AWD seems like the best choice. It has more standard equipment than the T5 and is eligible for a few options. Music lovers should give the Bowers & Wilkins audio system upgrade a listen.