The Volvo V90 Cross Country B5 at a glance
Before the SUV was the off-road station wagon
Even before the hype about sport utility vehicles really set in, Volvo and Audi launched off-road versions of their mid-range station wagons V70 and A6 at the end of the 1990s. There are now a number of higher-level station wagons, although the best-known representatives of that guild continue to use the nicknames Cross Country and Allroad.
Only mild hybrid drives
For almost four years now, Volvo has been offering the current generation of the V90 Cross Country, with the last revision at the beginning of 2020 – primarily under the hood. The regular gasoline and diesel engines have since become obsolete and are always being expanded to include a 48-volt mild hybrid system. Basically, it is the same drive selection as the regular V90, with the crucial difference that there are no plug-in hybrids available for the V90 Cross Country.
The four-cylinder lacks emotion
Meanwhile, the new mild hybrid petrol engine B5 with 184 kW or 250 PS (combined fuel consumption: 8.0 l / 100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 182 g / km²) works in the test car. A powerful engine, without airs, but also without emotion. Normally, the four-cylinder turbo whispers quietly, but at higher speeds it pushes itself unpleasantly into the foreground. Although the two-liter displacement and a maximum of 350 Newton meters of torque are completely sufficient for everyday traffic – a creamy six-cylinder or a beefy eight-cylinder would also fit the V90 Cross Country. Although these would most likely be limited to 180 km / h according to the current Volvo philosophy.
Test consumption by 10 liters per 100 kilometers
We know that Volvo will probably no longer offer larger engines. The fuel consumption of the Volvo V90 Cross Country B5 shows that downsizing has its limits. You should plan on 10 liters of premium gasoline per 100 kilometers, a little less can only be achieved with a lot of restraint. Longer, motor-free sailing stages through the mild hybrid system can only be achieved in eco driving mode, which must be activated manually each time. The fact that the turbo gasoline engine has a cylinder shut-off that deactivates two of four cylinders in the partial load range is something you won’t notice while driving.
Great automatic, high-traction four-wheel drive
The eight-speed automatic transmission also makes a name for itself, especially because of its inconspicuousness. Gear steps are always entered appropriately, the gear change is imperceptible. With all-wheel drive, the V90 Cross Country uses a situation-dependent system. The engine power is primarily directed to the front wheels so that the rear wheels can be switched on at lightning speed if slip is detected. If you choose the off-road program using the adventure wheel, the drive torque is distributed in a basic ratio of 50 to 50 percent between the front and rear axles.
Chassis without height adjustment
Together with a ground clearance of 210 millimeters, the ascent to the ski lodge, the drive to the winery or climbing the curb at the supermarket is easy. One downer, however, remains: Volvo only offers an optional air suspension for the rear axle for the V90 Cross Country. Although the vehicle level is automatically leveled when loading or when the trailer is towing, the chassis cannot be adjusted in height.
Regardless of this, the big Swede glides smoothly over all kinds of bad road surface and the spring rate cuts a good figure even on dirt roads. However, the extremely soft suspension setup also leads to what is probably the biggest point of criticism in the driving chapter: the steering. It is too spongy from the middle position and could have more feedback.
The interior of the Volvo V90 Cross Country
In terms of the interior, there is familiar Volvo chic to be considered. Everything sits and fits, the choice of materials looks high-quality. The optional nappa leather comfort seats are also extremely comfortable and more than a recommendation for long-distance drivers. Although we are writing about a car with a total length of 4.94 meters: the interior is not as airy as we would have expected. At the front it is the massive dashboard that disturbs the passenger’s freedom of movement early on. At the back, taller adults only sit reasonably comfortably after consulting the first row. Above all, the strongly curved front seats limit the knee room.
Good service, weak voice input
Sometimes the service also raises questions. As in all other current Volvo models, there is a raised infotainment touchscreen in the center console, below which there are prominently positioned title jump buttons and the volume control. The climate control is still not ideally hidden in the operating menu; the font of the small-scale menus could be a little larger, especially for older generations. Not only does the digital display behind the steering wheel seem a bit outdated now, the voice control system also lags behind the competition. But there is finally the possibility to charge your smartphone inductively.
Loadmaster with hook
Anyone who finds the Volvo V90 Cross Country interesting not only because of its visual appeal but also because of its practical charms will be delighted with an easy-to-load trunk with 560 to 1,526 liters of storage volume. In contrast to the smaller Volvo models, the luggage compartment cover in the V90 is automatically linked to the standard electric tailgate. The rear seats can be folded down completely and at ground level. The Cross Country can also take a maximum of 2,400 kilograms and pulls more than a Mercedes E-Class All Terrain (2,100 kilograms). One Audi A6 Allroad a six-cylinder diesel, on the other hand, is always allowed to pull 2,500 kilos.
The Volvo V90 Cross Country is a very comfortable long-distance car for adventurers or all those who love the visual appeal of an SUV but don’t want to drive one. Raised seven centimeters than the normal V90 station wagon, the all-wheel drive Cross Country offers more flexibility on bad roads, but with a cost price of 60,096 euros (including 16% VAT) it is not a special offer. The emotionless and alternative four-cylinder drive is less suitable for the adventure, the infotainment now looks outdated. (Text and image: Thomas Vogelhuber)