Car Reviews First Drives

2017 Volvo V60 Cross Country T5 AWD First Drive Review: Wagon Trail

Volvo still big on wagons—V60 Cross Country checks boxes for adventurers on and off the beaten path

Volvo still big on wagons—V60 Cross Country checks boxes for adventurers on and off the beaten path

Think of it as a bit of a hidden gem but one its target audience knows exactly where to find.

Volvo has been offering Cross Country versions of some of its vehicles since the original V70 XC in 1997, and the recently unveiled V90 Cross Country joins the fourth generation of the idea of taking a car or wagon and raising it high enough to let the adventurer wander farther upstream.

With the V90 Cross Country coming in early 2017, it was time to revisit the lineup and the wagon that started it all.

Today, the wagon is known as the V60, and Vail, Colorado, with its thin air and high peaks, seemed the perfect place to drive the 2017 V60 T5 AWD Cross Country with its smaller but more powerful engine.

Like everything in the Volvo lineup for the 2017 model year, the V60 we drove has the global Drive-E 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine—the last of the 2.5-liter five-cylinders were phased out with the 2016 model year. An eight-speed automatic transmission replaces the old six-speed gearbox we are not sad to see retire.

It means we all have to learn new definitions for Volvo nomenclature. T4 refers to the 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines generating 200–240 horsepower. None of these are offered in North America but could come in the future (think future 40 series).

T5 refers to a 240-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder under the hood. T6 means the engine is both supercharged and turbocharged with 300 horsepower. And T8 means 400 horsepower from a hybrid that includes a supercharged and turbocharged four as well as an electric motor.

Thus our $48,645 USD T5 had a 2.0-liter turbo-four delivering 240 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 258 lb-ft of torque at 1,500 rpm. And it did so with very little huffing and puffing, even when we had to crest a mountain as part of a detour when an accident closed down the tunnel.

We switched to Sport mode for a richer exhaust note and to hold gears longer. We also noticed more engine braking on descent down some of the hills, dropping gears quickly.

The steering has good weight and is responsive, and the heated steering wheel is pleasant to look at and touch.

The front MacPherson strut and rear multilink suspension did yeoman service on a dirt pass to another peak. The Cross County has a ride height 2.6 inches higher than a regular V60, enough to provide additional clearance but not so much as to make it harder to get in and out of.

The V60 is sized about right, small enough to be nimble but offering a surprising amount of cargo space for the wanderer.

The interior of our tester had comfortable and well-supported heated two-tone black and chocolate leather seats and a nice fold-down armrest with cupholders in the second row. Up front the flow-through storage behind the center console includes a tray to store and hide a cellphone and other items. And we appreciate the slot under the start/stop engine button to store the key, which no longer has an ignition to hold it. This prevents shoving the key into a cupholder.

Our V60 had a glossy wood trim, but Volvo has moved to more open-pore, less-finished wood trims in newer vehicles.

Opening and closing the back hatch is a manual labor. The rubber matting in the cargo hold makes sense given that Cross Country wagon buyers tend to go off-road more than XC60 crossover buyers do.

We can see a number of features that will go away when the next-generation V60, expected in a few years, moves on from the dated EUCD platform (from the days when Volvo was still owned by Ford) to Volvo’s SPA (scalable platform architecture). The climate controls activated by touching buttons on the outline of a seated person in the center console will be replaced by commands in a larger Sensus touchscreen like the one in the current XC90.

The V60 might not be the newest vehicle in the Volvo arsenal, but as a founding father of the Cross Country lineup, it retains a loyal following and a rightful place for a brand that prides itself on mastering the harsh Swedish landscape and offering to do that for customers wherever they live.