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A sophisticated station wagon that is easier and more rewarding to drive than an SUV, but just as practical.

COURTESY VOLVO - The 'long roofline' styling of the 2021 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD makes it look low and sleek, despite having a large amount of interior room and cargo space.The Volvo V90 Cross County T6 AWD is one of my all-time favorite cars, especially for anyone who lives in the Pacific Northwest.

For starters, I like station wagons because they drive like cars but offer nearly as much cargo space as many SUVs. And when equipped with all-wheel-drive, like all Cross Country versions of the Volvo V90 wagon, they provide extra traction in wet weather driving.

On top of that, the Cross County comes standard with Volvo's most impressive engine, designated the T6, which is both turbocharge and supercharged to produce 316 horsepower and 295 foot-pounds of torque out of a 2.0-liter inline four. And it is raised slightly, which gives it more ground clearance. When equipped with the option lower body contrasting cladding and fender trim, the Cross Country projects a rugged look that encourages fast trips through snow-covered woods.

COURTESY VOLVO - Even the rear of the 2021 Volvo V90 Cross Country is attractive. And the increased ground clearance helps with mud, snow and deeply rutted neighborhood roads.

Despite that, it's unlikely many Cross Country owners do much serious off-road driving. At least not with the low profile street tires that came on it, With a starting price of $54,900 (our top-of-the-line verson was $67,740) they are probably more concerned about protecting their investment from scratches and dents. They — and you — should be happy to know Volvo's AWD system will help keep you safe on paved roads in heavy rain and moderate mud and snow. And the extra height helps tame the deeply rutted streets marked as "Roadway not improved" in many neighborhoods outside downtowns, like where I live in Portland, Oregon.

But that concession raises an obvious question. Why spend the extra dollars when there are a number of less expensive AWD wagons that are also good in wet weather? As a week of test driving confirmed, the answer is, the V90 Cross Country T6 AWD raises the bar on styling, engineering, comfort and performance, and easily challenges comparable vehicles from better selling luxury companies.

COURTESY VOLVO - Slippery roads are not a problem in the 2021 Volvo V90 Cross County T6 AWD because of its excellent all-wheel-drive system.

The V90 was first introduced in 2016 as the wagon version of the S90 sedan. Although Volvo first became well known in this country for its well-engineered but boring boxy cars and wagons, the 90 series is about as far away from those models as you can get. The new versions are sleek and sexy, including the V90, which is considered a "long roofline" wagon, which gives it a low look despite having a lot of interior space. A while the interiors of the earlier models could best be described as utilitarian, the newer ones are downright sensuous, with flowing lines that meet around a huge, 12.3-inch display screen in the center of the dash. With the exception of a few well-placed pieces of chrome and wood trim, every inch of the interior of our tester seemed lined with supple leather, which made slipping into the Cross Country feel like stepping into a driving glove.

On the road, our Cross County was so incredibly smooth and quiet, I frequently found myself driving faster than I realized. The sophisticated engine and refined eight-speed automatic transmission work together so well, it felt more like gliding than driving through traffic. This is not how most people expect a stations wagon to perform. But, as has been repeatedly said, the V90 Cross Country T6 AWD is not you're father's Volvo.

COURTESY VOLVO - The centerpiece of the interior of the 2021 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD is its 12.3-inch display screen.

Few changes have been made to the V90 this year. The exterior styling has been tweaked slightly to make it look even sleeker, a cabin-air particulate-filtering system has been added, and a new Bowers & Wilkins stereo system produces high fidelity without the "concert hall" sound of the previous version that made everything — including the news — sound like it was being delivered in an empty theater.

But when something is as good as the V90 Cross Country T6 AWD, no additional work is required. If you're considering a luxury SUV, take the time to test the better driving but equally practical Volvo wagon. You should be pleasantly surprised.

COURTESY VOLVO - Even rear seat passengers ride in comfort and style in the 2021 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD.

2021 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD

Base price: $54,900

Price as tested: $67,740

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: 20/30

Overall length: 195.2 inches

Curb weight: 4213 pounds

Final assembly: Gothenburg, Sweden


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