Rally, Rally Good

2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country Review: Setting the AWD Bar


March 7, 2019 Cars By Photo by Andrew Maness
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The 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country, a variant of the excellent V60 wagon, boasts 8.3 inches of ground clearance courtesy of a three-inch lift. Tasteful body cladding has been added to let you know that the Cross Country is ready for rugged activities. Apart from those changes, the V60 Cross Country is visually identical to the V60. For most people in the market for a do-it-all vehicle, looks take a backseat to function. So how does the V60 Cross Country stack up, not just against its own family, but all comers in the marketplace? It should come as no surprise that Volvo’s winning streak rolls on.

The Good: Design language that started with the XC90 in 2014 hasn’t lost any of its luster with the new wagon. Little additional flourishes give the V60 Cross Country an aggressive stance. If it has a bad angle, I couldn’t find it. The cars I drove were all fitted with a set of attractive 19” wheels wearing the badass Michelin X-Ice North winter tire in studded form, the ideal setup for the V60 Cross Country. As is the case with any other new Volvo, praise is due for the cabin’s tasteful, flowing and detail-oriented Scandinavian design. I doubt you’d find more supportive and well-proportioned seats in any vehicle under six figures. Even above that mark, seats this good are still few and far between.

Read Now: The Best All-Wheel-Drive Cars on the Road

Who It’s For: Those with an active lifestyle who appreciate a seriously comfortable car interior.

Watch Out For: There’s no question that the V60 Cross Country is plenty quick, but you won’t find yourself longing to hustle it along winding roads just for the heck of it. As is the case with other members of the current Volvo family it is a pleasure to be in the driver’s seat, just as long as you keep in mind that “sportiness” is not intended to be the main attraction here.

Alternatives: Direct based-on-a-wagon competition is limited to the Audi Allroad. The Subaru Outback, Volkswagen Alltrack and Buick TourX don’t deliver nearly the same level of refinement as the V60 Cross Country, however, they are certainly viable alternatives for those in the market for a lifted long-roof who wish to spend less.

Review: I’ve always been of the mind that most inclement weather – especially extreme cold – can be easily tolerated if you have the right gear. You’ve got to be tactical in your choice of layers to optimize both comfort and functionality. Gear must be windproof and breathable, warm and light, stylish and functional. Truly great gear checks all the boxes. As I prepared to travel to Northwest Sweden in late January, I wasn’t packing anything but my most trusted stuff. However, I would soon find that the most essential item was waiting for me on site.

Luleå, Sweden, is but a mere 80 miles from the Arctic Circle. Fresh snow clung to the pines surrounding a small airport loading zone lined with Volvo XC40s waiting to whisk us off to the first part of our wintery experience featuring the Volvo V60 Cross Country.

Over the course of the next 24 hours, I found the V60 Cross Country to be an invaluable weapon in facing wintery conditions, both physically and mentally. Volvo’s class-leading and comprehensive suite of standard safety features removes any trace of stress one might deal with when driving through unfamiliar territory that’s known to be populated with large four-legged animals. The three-stage heated steering wheel and heated seats were equally comforting as I repeatedly found myself hopping out of the car to take photos of the surreal scenery before the low winter sun faded out completely.

Once the last of the purple and pink had gone from the sky, I was able to admire the exceptional swath of light put out by the LED headlights. If you’ve ever worn a really great headlamp while hiking in the dark you’ll understand what a difference crisp light makes while blazing a trail. That’s what driving the V60 CC along a snowy dirt road a night reminded me of. Out of respect for the car and my passenger, I decided to forego any attempts at doing my best Gunnar Andersson rally-driving impression, at least until the following day out on the ice track that Volvo had laid out for us.

Volvo’s “Off-Road” mode changes engine, gearbox and all-wheel-drive settings in favor of gaining more grip. It will surely make weekend warriors feel like they can conquer any speedbumps the REI parking lot can throw at them. I was genuinely impressed by how adept the hill descent control was at keeping the car in line when going down a steep ice-covered hill, especially in that it made no obnoxious audible noises like many other systems in far more purpose-built off-roaders do.

With Volvo’s blessing, I selected “Dynamic” mode, first with traction control on and then with it set to “Sport”. After a couple of laps under computer control, in which the car straightened itself out when ice slid it sideways, it was time to make the V60 CC dance without intervention from the nannies. The combination of a well-balanced chassis, an excellent all-wheel-drive system courtesy of BorgWarner and those top-tier Michelin winter tires makes for one hell of an enjoyable experience on ice and snow.

Verdict: After years of languishing under uninspired ownership, Volvo has not only been restored to its former glory, but the company is building vehicles that set the bar for their respective segments. The V60 Cross Country is a prime example: it is equally impressive in both form and function. These days a Volvo is not only a pragmatic choice but also a universally attractive one. Each time I’ve been behind the wheel of a new Volvo, whether for a couple of hours or over a week, I’ve had people tell me what a great looking car it is inside and out. That type of universal love for a vehicle is increasingly rare in our era of highly opinionated takes, especially for something that’s not a traditional status symbol or fetishized object.

What Others Are Saying:

• “With 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque on offer, the T5 setup feels just-right in the V60 Cross Country. In fact, I prefer this engine to the more complex T6 and T8 setups in Volvo’s other cars. The added power of the V60’s T6 engine is nice, but with a turbocharger and a supercharger offering assistance, there are often weird bursts of power in weird places throughout the engine’s rev range. Instead, the turbo-only T5 offers predictable punch, achieving maximum torque from 1,800 rpm.” — Steven Ewing, Roadshow

• “Pop the V60 Cross Country into its trim-specific “Off-Road” mode to recalibrate the engine, gearbox, and all-wheel-drive system in pursuit of more grip. The suspension is now spongier and more comfort-oriented, and with the addition of standard hill-descent control means the V60 Cross Country can tackle steep descents like a boss.” — Jeff Perez, Motor1

2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country Specs

Powertrain: 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four; eight-speed automatic; all-wheel drive
Horsepower: 250
Torque: 258 lb-ft
Weight: 4,130 pounds
0-60: 6.8 seconds

Volvo hosted us and provided this product for review.

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