Volvo's always been known in the U.S. for its safe, boxy wagons. Even though SUVs have long accounted for most of the brand's sales, the Volvo wagon is iconic.
For good reason, too. If you want a comfortable, luxury wagon for the whole family, Volvo's the best game in town.
And after spending a week in the company's lifted, all-wheel-drive V60 Cross Country, it's easy to recommend the Swedish wagon as a slick and stylish crossover alternative.
The most important thing to know is that this gorgeous and impeccably appointed wagon, tested with just about every option, stickers for $56,990. A fair bit of cash, but thousands cheaper than the latest Mercedes C-Class or BMW 330i we tested. This despite offering similar equipment, similar power, wagon practicality, and a truly beautiful interior. Compared to similarly equipped and appointed SUVs, like a well-optioned Mercedes GLC or Audi Q5, the Volvo fares even better.
And it doesn't feel anything like the budget pick. The exterior design — which mostly matches every other Volvo — still looks refined and modern. The supple cream leather, linear lime matte wood inlays, diamond-cut controls and premium aluminum accents work together perfectly. It's not a new look for Volvo, but the interior still feels more cohesive and impressive than just about any other competitor's.
Plus, you get the superb Bowers & Wilkins stereo system and Volvo's Pilot Assist semi-autonomous system. Volvo continues to knock it out of the park with comfort, too, delivering some of the most consistently comfortable seats for long journeys. Supple suspension and a relaxed driving demeanor help, too.
There's also plenty of power, even if the upgraded T6 and T8 powertrains from other Volvos aren't available on the V60 Cross Country. You're still getting 250 horsepower out of the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which is more than enough for highway merges and passing maneuvers. And while we've often noted that T8 Volvos feel over complicated, with turbocharging, supercharging, and hybrid assist, the T5-only V60 Cross Country feels smooth and effortless, even though there is occasional turbo lag.
While we were impressed with Volvo's Sensus infotainment system when it first debuted in 2015, it hasn't improved as quickly as rival automakers' solutions. It's quicker than when it launched, but we still encountered long startup times that made it hard to get in, set a navigation destination, and go. And even after spending a lot of time in Volvos over the years, it can still be hard to remember where settings and toggles are buried. It's not a dealbreaker, but it's got a learning curve and can still occasionally frustrate even when used correctly.
And while Volvo bests the Germans in terms of style, interior design, and value, the overall driving experience isn't quite as well-rounded. The Volvo is comfortable and composed, but it also lets in a decent amount of engine noise under acceleration and some noticeable road noise while cruising. It's still decent for the class, but it's not the all-around luxury king.
Driving excitement also wasn't a priority, as the V60 is noticeably less engaging than other compact luxury offerings from Geneis, BMW, Alfa Romeo and others. Even in dynamic mode, it feels like the big, heavy wagon that it is. Volvo never promised anything different, but it's something we should mention.
All V60 Cross Countries come with the T5 engine and all-wheel drive. You pretty much can't avoid paying $645 for a paint color, unless you want a basic white wagon. If you're okay with the looks of the 18-inch wheels, we'd recommend them over the 19-inch ones to save $800 and improve the ride of the V60.
Most buyers should get the $2,500 Advanced Package, which brings a 360-degree camera, Pilot Assist, full-LED active bending lights and a head-up display. For $2,200, we'd also add the Luxury Package to get upgraded, cooled leather seats with a massage function. And while we love the $4,000 Bowers & Wilkins stereo, that's a huge price to pay when you can get a Harman Kardon audio system for just $800. We'd do that, bringing our total price to $52,540.
The V60 Cross Country hasn't received a ton of fanfare, in part because it's merely a continuation of what Volvo has already done many times. The company consistently offers stunning exterior designs, gorgeous interiors, and serious technology at significantly lower prices than more mainstream luxury brands,.
It's not a perfect car by any means, but people considering compact luxury crossovers would be silly to overlook the V60. It offers pretty much everything you need for a discount, yet it never feels cheap or half-baked. It's got the space, technology, and comfort to satisfy almost anyone. Driving enthusiasts or hardcore off-roaders may not be impressed, but for everyone else the V60 is an incredible value.
Driving Experience: 3.5
Price as tested: $56,990.
*Ratings out of 5.