There was a time when “wagon” conjured up images of mom jeans, wood paneling, and mesh bags filled with more size 3 soccer balls than a Chuck E Cheese’s ball pit. Those days are gone, and to prove it, Volvo sent us out with the new V60 Cross Country for an all-road adventure that, while stopping short of being an actual trip across the country, included hours on all different terrains over two days. (One leg of the excursion is shown below.)
The trip started with a Napa Valley wine hangover only the likes of Miles Raymond could understand. (As a side note, this is not an optimal way to start a road trip, but a midway stop at In-N-Out Burger makes it a lot more bearable.) When you first hop in the V60 Cross Country, the first thing you notice are the seats. They’re comfortable. Ridiculously comfortable. And while you notice this when you first sit down, you really notice it after six hours of having your ass planted on one. This has always been something we’ve liked about Volvo, even in their boxy and awkward years, the car seats were always well-designed. If you plan on taking a lot of road trips, and have $41,000 to spend, get yourself a V60 Cross Country and load the glove box with jerky. Your backside will thank you.
Okay, so you’re not going to spend over $40k for some mobile La-Z-Boys, but there’s a lot more to like about the V60 Cross Country. As we took it off the paved path, the increased ground clearance was actually noticeable. At 7.9″—2.6″ more than the standard V60—a little off-roading won’t necessarily carve up the underside of your car. We wouldn’t go as far as to say the V60 Cross Country is the perfect car for mud, stones, and hills, but it can handle more situations than you might think by looking at it. We put it through a lot on our drive around California and Nevada, and it proved plenty rugged.
As we traversed the winding roads of the West Coast, it was clear we weren’t driving a sports car. That said, we were driving something more fun than most other wagons we had before, including many Subaru models. The 2.5-liter turbocharged, five-cylinder engine helps the V60 Cross Country boast 250 horsepower and 266 lb-ft of torque, and the handling—which we later put to the test in an empty airfield slalom—is mighty impressive for a so-called wagon. Of course the engine isn’t going to growl like the king of the jungle because this ride is ultimately about comfort, and when you aren’t cranking the Harman Kardon system, it’s calm, quiet and serene. It’s got enough get-up-and-go to make it enjoyable, even if it stops short of being a super sports wagon (which is an odd thing, anyway).
And then there’s safety. It is a Volvo, after all. With Vision 2020 in mind—Volvo’s insanely ambitious goal of not having anyone killed or critically injured in a new Volvo by the year 2020—the V60 Cross Country has built on the Swedish brand’s illustrious history of building mobile fortresses. Along with all the crash test stuff, the V60 Cross Country has Distance Alert which tosses a little light on the windshield if you’re following a car too closely (we this shut off, because we were apparently always driving too close), CitySafe breaking which looks ahead and can bring the car to a full stop autonomously, blind-spot monitoring, and a feature that alerts you if you’re driving inattentively. Basically, it’s a Volvo.
So what does this all mean to you? Well, not much if you don’t live in Vermont or the Northwest—two of the main areas Volvo thrives in, in the States. But if you’re looking for a wagon that’s more fun SUV than 80’s family ride, the Volvo V60 Cross Country is a real winner. Just rugged enough, just sporty enough, and plenty safe enough for most of your journeys.