► Rugged V90 CC driven
► Tested in Pro D5 spec
► Worth your attention over an SUV?
Despite the domination of SUVs, premium car makers are still keen enough to get buyers into rugged estates, and few brands have been doing it longer than Volvo.
The V90 Cross Country is its latest offering, and it sits alongside the regular V90 estate, S90 saloon and XC90 seven-seat SUV in Volvo's 90 Series of models. Think of the V90 Cross Country as a stepping-stone between the regular V90 and the plush XC90 SUV.
But is it worth foregoing the SUV image? Read on for our full review of the V90 Cross Country.
But first – what's the V90 Cross Country like to drive?
Driving the V90 Cross Country is a chilled-out experience. The steering lacks any real feedback and is overly light – but that along with the smooth eight-speed auto make for a relaxed driving experience.
At a motorway cruise, very little phases the multi-chamber air suspension, and the actually-quite-small-for-this-class-of-car wheels with their big side walls helps offset at least a bit of the chunkier potholes. At lower speeds, though, the ride setup makes the V90 CC a little fidgety over the largest of bumps – more so at least than a Mercedes E-class All-Terrain that's on larger standard rims.
The only significant fly in the ointment is the engine. Our D5 PowerPulse version has 232bhp and a heady 354lb ft – plenty of oomph for swift overtaking manoeuvres – and towing a horsebox if you're into that sort of thing – but it sounds really agricultural.
Granted, a four-cylinder diesel will never win an award for utmost driving refinement but it's really quite coarse in urban driving. Looking at the engine alone, the E350d All-Terrain's silky-smooth diesel V6 just sounds so much sweeter, and has even more shove under its belt.
What's the V90 Cross Country's interior like?
The inside of the Cross Country V90 is lovely, just like the rest of the 90 Series range. It's a real mix of comfort, solidity and technology.
Cabin quality is up there with the best; all of the switchgear is suitably chunky to the touch and the knurled finish on the volume dial, drive select roller and ignition switch feels properly premium.
The seats feel a little firm but have plenty of support, and our test car had quality Nappa leather upholstery, too. The little Swedish flag tags are a clever easter egg.
The high centre console leads towards a portrait infotainment screen. We won't ramble on about this too long as it's the same system 'Sensus' used in most other modern Volvos: properly crisp graphics, responsive iPad-like touchscreen but even after continued use you still spend way too long looking at it/stroking it even when carrying out simple in-car commands.
And the tech? How's the infotainment and semi-autonomous equipment?
Our test car had a huge number of optional extras including a gorgeous Bowers and Wilkins stereo, head-up display and even a three-pin plug in the rear seating area. What topped it off, though, was Volvo's Pilot Assist.
Pilot Assist is a semi-autonomous driving system that allows your rugged V90 to accelerate, cruise, brake and steer itself in a lane. It's spookily clever and was almost completely unflappable when it came to driving obstacles, but at times we felt the car ping-ponging between the lane markings at motorway cruising speeds. Not always ideal.
Is the V90 Cross Country still practical?
Is a pig's bottom pork? Come on – it's a Volvo estate. The boot is truly enormous, and our model had a few of clever usability features such as a pop-up barrier to stop your shopping rolling around, a ski hatch in the middle seat backing, a power-assisted tailgate and power-folding rear seats.
Those relegated to the rear seats won't feel short changed, either. Space is good, even for the taller occupant, but the transmission tunnel is quite high (to accommodate for the all-wheel drive system) so those in the middle will have to get used to playing footsie.
Would we have a V90 Cross Country over a comparable XC90? Personally, the jury is out on that one; the XC90 is a very good car but the V90 Cross Country makes an incredibly strong case for itself.
You'll benefit from almost all of the off-road capability and interior practicality of its 4x4 sibling with none of the polarising image that an SUV gives off. It's superbly well-built inside, armed to the teeth with tech – and it's pretty comfy, too.
Sure, A Mercedes E-class All-Terrain offers a more luxurious experience, but the Cross Country should still be on your radar.
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