There’s a certain irony to the fact that I’ve just flown across the country to a snow-less, mid-50s Lake Tahoe, California to drive the new V60 Cross Country on ice, while Volvo’s US Headquarters in northern New Jersey is just one day removed from Snowpocalypse 2015®. But seeing as the V60 Cross Country and XC70 before it are statistically the Volvo models most likely to be found off-road, perhaps this rugged location is a bit more appropriate than a snow-covered 5 th Ave.

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For the facelifted second-generation car, Volvo stuck to the same formula that has made the Cross Country a success- adding an additional 65mm to the V60’s ride height, a new honeycomb grille, black window trim, aluminum sideblades, and black body cladding. While  relatively minor, these changes culminate to make the Cross Country look much tougher than its standard sibling. Keeping with the athletic aesthetic, passengers will find that deeply bolstered, leather sport seats with brown contrast stitching have been fitted as standard, as is SENSUS Connect with Navigation.

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On our Lake Tahoe test route, the extra suspension made itself very apparent as the Cross Country seemed to have a ride quality much more compliant than the V60 R-Design tester I had a few weeks back. That extra 65mm of travel and the slightly taller rubber working in unison to soak up larger bumps without issue, yet the car never felt overly soft. In the twistier stretches of our route the Cross Country stayed surprisingly composed, never leaning excessively.

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Power comes by way of the two-and-a-half liter T5 that we all know quite well by now, tuned to an output of 250hp and 266 lb-ft of torque and designed to run on regular 87 octane fuel. At Lake Tahoe’s roughly 6,000ft of elevation, the five cylinder proved to be more than enough to get my Cross Country up to speed. Fuel economy is fairly good in this configuration as well, with the EPA estimates coming in at 19mpg city and 28mpg highway. Our long-term 2013 S60 T5 AWD was able to achieve 33mpg on long, highway drives and I think the V60 Cross Country should easily exceed the EPA rating with a bit of conservative driving.

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Life on the inside of the V60 Cross Country ain’t bad either. One nice small touch that I particularly liked was the CC 's Elegance dashboard theme with its brown hue, an exclusive to CC models.  The aforementioned sport seats are incredibly supportive while maintaining Volvo's industry leading comfort. Volvo’s SENSUS Connect system remains a somewhat tricky system to use, requiring new users to take their eyes off the road when fiddling with car settings.  I do wish that Volvo’s Navigation system had a bit more information on the screen, like altitude and Audi-esque Google Maps-based satellite map readout for example. The car also had a bit more road noise in cabin than I would have preferred on rougher surfaces.

Ice Drive

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To explore the boundaries of the 5 th Generation Haldex all wheel drive system we reported to the Truckee Tahoe Airport bright and early, just as the sunlight begins to cut through a dense fog and reflect harshly off of the icy surface that lie in front of us. A man walks over to the car, leans in the window and instructs me to take a few laps of the pear-shaped course he’s created- some with traction control active, and the rest with it off. “Don’t be afraid to slide,” he says.

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As I make my way around the circuit with traction control engaged, the Volvo sends braking inputs and power to each wheel as it sees fit, helping studded Nokian rubber respond to steering inputs on the extremely slick surface. Working in total cooperation, the system is powerful enough to make the driver feel largely in control and most importantly, keep the car pointed in the intended direction.

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With the traction control turned off, the 5 th Generation Haldex unit more than happy to rotate the V60 Cross Country with aggressive throttle input. Coupled with some help from weight transfer, a driver can quite easily balance the car in a drift in slick conditions should he or she choose to do so. Normal driving conditions will reap the benefit of 5 th Generation Haldex as well, helping the car to feel quite a bit more eager on turn-in than previous models.

Verdict

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Volvo used nearly two decades of experience in the Crossover arena to create a truck-ish vehicle that will gladly do just about anything owners can throw at it, and much more that they probably won’t. While many won’t take advantage of all 7.9 inches of ground clearance, many will take advantage of a good portion of it. And Volvo knows this, as the car is currently undergoing a launch strategy which puts extra emphasis on markets like Colorado, the Northeast and the Pacific Northwest.

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As the first vehicle to carry the Cross Country nomenclature in quite some time (XC is now regulated to SUVs and the like), the V60 Cross Country does a phenomenal job of being a true all-rounder. Starting at just over $41,000 (our tester came in at $49,350), we think the V60 Cross Country should be a clear winner for the brand.

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Check out additional images from our first drive of the 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country right here .