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Volvo V90 Cross Country makes station wagons cool again

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If you haven't considered a station wagon, it's time to take a serious look at the 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country. You'll get everything you wanted from an SUV, plus a far better driving experience.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JEFF ZURSCHMEDIE - The V90 Cross Country is far more than an appearance package. You get 8.3 inches of ground clearance, which is enough to drive on 99 percent of the roads where you would take an SUV. There's an old joke that automotive journalists are the last great defenders of the station wagon. It's funny because it's true, but it's true for a good reason. We know that station wagons offer you the convenience and cargo-carrying capacity of an SUV with the performance, fuel economy, and handling of a sedan.

The Volvo V90 wagon came out last year as a partner to the S90 sedan. Both are based on the same platform as the popular XC90 SUV. Volvo has just released the V90 Cross Country edition, which bridges the gap between the urbane V90 wagon and the SUV world. The Cross Country uses the wagon body, but stands a little taller, offers a little more rugged suspension, and comes with Volvo's excellent all-wheel-drive system.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JEFF ZURSCHMEDIE - The tech in the V90 Cross Country is the same as the rest of Volvo's 90-series vehicles, with a large tablet-style touch screen system in the center of the dash. The V90 Cross Country comes with Volvo's 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder Drive-E engine, rated at 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. This is put together with a smooth and efficient 8-speed automatic transmission and Volvo's on-demand AWD system for an easy and enjoyable driving experience.

On the road, the V90 Cross Country is as smooth and quiet as the standard V90 or S90. Many station wagons suffer from increased road noise because there's no rear seat bulkhead between your ears and the rear axle. But this is not a problem for Volvo wagons. Even on our rough freeways, the V90 Cross Country will be quiet enough to hold a normal conversation, or to fully appreciate the optional Bowers & Wilkins sound system.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - For extra comfort, you can get the Cross Country with both heated and ventilated seats, and get this — you can get optional massage-action seats to make your commute something like a spa experience. For extra comfort, you can get the Cross Country with both heated and ventilated seats, and get this — you can get optional massage-action seats to make your commute something like a spa experience.

The tech in the V90 Cross Country is the same as the rest of Volvo's 90-series vehicles, with a large tablet-style touch screen system in the center of the dash. This display makes using the navigation a breeze, and it responds to your practiced gestures like swiping, pinching and so on.

PORTLAND TRIBUNE: JEFF ZURSCHMEIDE - Rear seat passengers will be very comfortable in the 2017 Volvo V90, and there's plenty of cargo space under the hatch.The V90 Cross Country is far more than an appearance package. You get 8.3 inches of ground clearance, which is enough to give you the ease of entry and exit of a crossover SUV, and also enough to drive on 99 percent of the roads where you would take an SUV. We drove the Cross Country over about 20 miles of rough gravel and dirt roads, and it performed flawlessly.

The bottom line here is simple. If you haven't considered a station wagon, it's time to take a serious look at the 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country. You'll get everything you wanted from an SUV, plus a far better driving experience.

2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country

Base price: $56,295

Price as tested: $56,295

Type: Full-size station wagon

Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder (316 hp, 295 lbs-ft)

Transmission: 8-speed automatic with AWD

EPA estimated mileage: 22/30

Overall length: 194.4 inches

Curb weight: 4,221 pounds

Final assembly: Torslanda, Sweden