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.
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.
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.
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