New Volvo V90 Cross Country Review

Jacked-up V90 estate with four-wheel drive

7/10
wowscore
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
  • Luxurious interior
  • Rough-road ability
  • Practical
  • Standard car better in corners
  • Ride can be floaty
  • Diesel only

£43,020 - £57,935 Price range

5 Seats

35 - 54 MPG

Review

The Volvo V90 Cross Country is a more rugged version of the Swedish company’s swish estate car. Like its rivals – the Audi A6 Allroad and Mercedes E-Class All-Terrain – its gets a raised ride height and four-wheel drive to help it cope with rough roads and slippery conditions.

Visually, the V90 Cross Country can be spotted by its charcoal plastic cladding for the wheel arches, side mouldings, and bumpers – and its glossy chrome-black grille. Inside, each door gets silver skid plates, and there are unique leather seats and black walnut trim pieces.

Although it’ll never be mistaken for an out-and-out off-roader, the CC’s 65mm increase in ride height, four-wheel drive and underbody-protecting skid plates mean it can cope with seriously rough roads. And the Off-Road Drive Mode makes doing so easy – it calibrates the engine and gearbox for ultimate traction, makes the steering light and automatically engages the hill-descent control, so even those with zero mud-plugging talent can safely glide down steep inclines.

Back on road, the Cross Country feels just like any other V90, which must be some of its appeal to buyers. It suffers from a little more roll in corners than the regular V90 but the tradeoff is a more cosseting ride. The raised suspension and the CC’s larger-than-standard door mirrors mean that visibility is excellent.

The engine lineup is diesel-only, comprising the D4 (Volvo’s predicted bestseller) and the clever (and more powerful) D5 PowerPulse. Both return fuel economy of more than 50mpg and come as standard with an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Based on Momentum trim, Cross Country models come as standard with a nine-inch portrait display for the infotainment screen, heated front seats, two-zone climate control and a power-operated tailgate.

The Volvo V90 has got to have one of the nicest interiors of any car on sale today and the CC simply amplifies this with its bare wood trim and unique leather upholstery. Most of the dashboard is finished in squidgy-soft plastics and touch points such as the air-vent adjusters and inner door handles are made from cold-to-the-touch metal.

Forming the centrepiece of the interior is the V90’s nine-inch portrait infotainment screen. The large display features pretty graphics and operates very much like an Apple iPad – allowing you to scroll through submenus at the flick of a finger and pinch to zoom in on maps. It’s not quite as easy to use as the fixed scroll knobs you get in a BMW of Audi, but it is compatible with Apple CarPlay and comes with free lifetime map updates.

Up front, there’s loads of space for adults and the seats are immensely comfortable during long journeys. Even with tall adults in the front, there’s lots of space for people of a similar size in the back and the Cross Country estate doesn’t suffer from the same sloping roofline as the S90 saloon. There’s even room enough for a fifth passenger, although the transmission tunnel that runs down the centre of the car means they’ll need to share their compatriots’ footwells.

Interior storage is very generous indeed. All the door pockets are big enough for a two-litre bottle of water, and the glovebox will also swallow a two-litre bottle, next to the steering wheel you get a smaller lidded cubby big enough for a can of coke, there’s a larger cubby under the front centre armrest and, in all, you get four cupholders.

Despite having a space-eating four-wheel-drive system – the Cross Country’s boot is as big as any other V90’s, with a 560-litre space that grows to 1,526 litres with the rear seats down. It’s pretty big, then, but not quite as big as the Audi A6 Allroad (565/1,680 litres respectively). There are also plenty of useful features, so the back seats fold down electrically and reveal a completely flat load bay, and the boot lid also opens electrically – it can be operated by simply waggling your foot under the rear bumper.

The V90 Cross Country drives like any other V90 – just one that’s taller. The raised suspension makes it feel larger than the regular model – like an SUV that has been lowered rather than an estate that has been raised. As a result, it can feel a little unwieldy on tight country roads or in multi-storey car parks. That being said, the raised suspension gives you a decent view out and the Cross Country has larger wing mirrors than the rest of the V90 range for improved rearward visibility.

On road, the benefit of the raised suspension is a more comfortable ride that seems to float over road imperfections much like a Skoda Superb estate. It does mean the CC’s a car that prefers to be driven at a leisurely pace because anything quicker can leave the driving experience feeling a little remote as the big estate leans in corners and wallows over crests. It’s is the ultimate comfy cruiser, though, thanks to the quiet interior and extremely comfy seats.

Of course, the raised suspension means the Cross Country can tackle road conditions that a regular V90 cannot. Driven along a rough and muddy country track, the big Volvo soaks up bumps, cambers and deep mud with ease – the underside of the car refusing to bottom out and the four-wheel drive system seemingly having no problem finding traction. Even steep hills are easily tackled because the car’s hill descent control, which comes on automatically in the Off-Road Drive Mode, holds the car at a crawl with no input needed from the driver.

Decide to spec your V90 in Cross Country trim and you’ll be limited to a choice of D4 or D5 diesel engines. Although, as they are the pick of the range – that’s no bad thing.

The D4 is the most conventional of the two – and an engine we have grown fond of because it is one of the best 2.0-litre diesels on sale. With 190hp and maximum torque of 295Ib ft from just 1,750rpm – performance is effortless, the CC gliding from 0-62mph in 8.8 seconds courtesy of its smooth-shifting, standard eight-speed automatic gearbox. Fuel economy sits at 54.3mpg and it produces CO2 emissions of 138g/km.

Opting for the D5 model sees power increase to 235hp and torque swell to 354Ib ft at the same low engine speed. It also benefits from Power Pulse – Volvo-speak for a system that bursts compressed air into the turbocharger to cut lag at low speeds (when there isn’t enough exhaust gas to spin the turbo). The result is a 0-62mph of 7.2 seconds and responsive acceleration that makes overtakes quick and hassle free. Running costs are almost exactly the same as the D4.

Refinement from both engines is excellent – even under hard acceleration, diesel clatter is almost completely absent. Still, in this class of car, some buyers will lament the lack of a smooth, six-cylinder motor like that in the A6 Allroad.

Conclusion

For some the Cross Country’s chunky looks will be its biggest selling point – there can be no denying it’s a very handsome car. But there’s more to it than that – the raised suspension means it’s also more comfortable than a regular V90 and surprisingly capable off-road, too. If that sounds like a worthy trade off for handling finesse, then the Cross Country could be the V90 for you and Volvo expects one in four buyers to pay the £3,000 premium over the regular model.

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