Swedespeed

For the Volvo Enthusiast

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3 May 2017

Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” The 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country has been designed to reconnect people with their true passions and to live their lives to the fullest through amazing journeys. This Scandinavian sanctuary truly inspires rediscovery in a manner unique to a wagon and unique to Volvo.

The first of Volvo’s Cross Country lineup was launched in 1998 with the Volvo V70XC. This fourth-generation Cross Country has grown in style, technology and capability. The V90 Cross Country’s target demographic is a 30 to 60yr old in a managerial or executive role with high net income, a keen sense of adventure, prefers active hobbies and enjoys preparing for an adventure. Volvo’s research concludes that six out of ten people globally want to spend more time pursuing outdoor activities. Hiking, running and cycling are the most popular. Volvo’s V90 Cross Country ad campaign challenges one to rediscover his or her passion and adventures once loved but no longer prioritized.

The V90 Cross Country remains a well-balanced vehicle when the road ends and the trail begins. Our highway driving was as smooth and comfortable as a Volvo S90. Raised 6cm (2.3 inches) higher than a V90 for a total of 21cm (8.3 inches) of ground clearance and a slightly wider track, the V90 Cross Country feels as capable as the Volvo XC90. If you don’t need the third-row seating found in the XC90, the V90 Cross Country is the better choice.

As the V90 bounced around on the roughest of rock-strewn surfaces of the Arizona desert, the cabin remained luxuriously quiet. There were no squeaks or rattles introduced during the few hours we drove through the desert. The V90 Cross Country should satisfy most overland adventurers but if your needs are more extreme, consider a purpose-built off-road rig. From the distinctive Thor’s Hammer LED headlights to the classic Volvo tall taillight design, the fit and finish, panel gaps and paint quality were outstanding. Our press drive successfully put Volvo’s cabin air filters to an extreme test through the dust of the desert trails.

Volvo’s large Sensus touchscreen, infotainment system operates like a tablet, with swipe gestures for menus and pinch-zoom on the navigation screen. Once acquainted with the user interface, the overall user experience is enjoyable. The dashboard is elegant with high-quality materials and few physical buttons to detract from the interior design. The optional Bowers & Wilkins stereo system sounded better than a similarly equipped Volvo XC90. If you enjoy music, check this box on your order form! The V90 Cross Country interior is simply a luxurious cocoon surrounded by state-of-the-art technology.

The body lines of the wagon are, as Volvo describes, a blend of a sophisticated suit with off-road capabilities. The concave, vertical curvature of the front grille presents a proud and confident character with 23 ribs and five rows of metal studs. Pirelli developed new and distinctive 19-inch and 20-inch tires specific for the V90 Cross Country. The tires offer a softer, more rounded profile for a more comfortable ride with better grip on uneven surfaces. Volvo adjusted more than 200 characteristics to fine-tune the chassis. The V90 Cross Country’s all-wheel drive system’s software balances normal driving with the unpredictable nature off-road driving. While the V90 Cross Country shares the DNA and sheet metal of its siblings, it is its own vehicle within Volvo’s 90-series.

The V90 Cross Country is not only unique within the 90-series, Volvo does not see a direct competitor making it unique within the automotive industry. The Audi allroad or Mercedes E-Class wagon might be cross-shopped. The Subaru Outback and VW All-Track are down market and more direct competitors for the V60 Cross Country. Volvo is forecasting just a few thousand units per year adding to its exclusivity in the marketplace.

Starting at $55,300, Volvo is moving their largest, adventure wagon up-market. Fully loaded, the price climbs to nearly $70,000 for Volvo’s affluent target audience. Since the introduction of the XC90, many swedespeed readers voiced concern that Volvo’s new, up-market pricing strategy would alienate a segment of Volvo’s loyal customer base who may not have the high-net income to buy a new 90-series Volvo. The 90-series cluster is the halo line for the brand and the XC90 has been a tremendous success bringing many new-to-Volvo consumers into the family. Volvo’s approach has been a win for the bottom-line. Continued success will drive more innovation and enthusiast-based models, such as a convertible and additional high performance Polestar vehicles.

To elevate the driving experience, Volvo offers a $4,500 Luxury package with fully coordinated paint over the standard black fender cladding and bumpers, 4-zone climate control, heated rear seats, rear sun curtains, backrest massage front seats and more. The T6 engine delivers 316hp and 295 lb-ft of torque which is more than enough power for highway merging or towing a small boat. The eight-speed automatic transmission provided extremely smooth shifts and contributes to 0-60 sprint of 6.3 seconds and a very reasonable fuel economy of 22 miles-per-gallon in the city and 30 miles-per-gallon on the highway, 25 combined.

My one minor critique is the mainly earth-tone exterior color pallet. While these colors are nice and safe, additional classic Volvo colors such as Ocean Race Blue and Passion Red, like the 1998 V70 XC on display with the V90 Cross Country during our press event, would brighten dealer lots. Volvo wagons look amazing in a bright red with the black accents. Unique colors available through the highly-recommended Volvo Overseas Delivery program would add another benefit to an already unforgettable experience. Additional interior leather choices like Beechwood Brown or a leather and Nubuck suede option similar to the XC90 R-Design would be my other recommendation. The V90 Cross Country deserves adventurous and bold colors.

The V90 Cross Country enables owners to experience life’s most adventurous journeys without the excess of a full-size SUV. If you have room for just one Volvo, the V90 Cross Country is my recommended model. It is the most well-rounded, four-season capable Volvo I have driven. It is sophisticated and luxurious with state-of-the art technologies and interaction systems, in addition to providing off-road capabilities for remote destinations. The V90 Cross Country is distinctly a wagon and proudly reflective of Scandinavian design traditions.

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