First Drive – 2018 Volvo V90 Cross Country

by Tony West and Sommer Thornton

The new Volvo V90, redesigned with athletic prowess and Cross Country swag is not like any other wagon on the road. With the station wagon falling in popularity over the last few decades, the segment is easy to dominate. Yet Volvo designers didn’t produce a mundane station wagon.

Instead, designers reinvented the V90 Cross Country giving it fresh luxury and an impressive athletic powertrain. The inline 4-cylinder engine is present in all four V90 models with various refinements. The Volvo V90 D5 has a twin-turbo diesel 4-cylinder with 235 horsepower. We reviewed the 2017/18 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD with a 310-horsepower super and turbocharged engine.

The V90 effortlessly combines affordable efficient luxury. So a ‘cool’ dad can drop the kids at school then mash the throttle to work. We took the V90 Cross Country across Chicago shooting the whip in amazing landscapes behind the city’s lesser known landmarks. The V90 is an ideal whip for congested cities and long distance driving with eco mode enhancing the whips 30 mpg highway EPA.

 

Fresh Functional Design with Swagged-Out Interior

The 2018 Volvo V90 is a carryover model from the 2017/18 V90. The new V90 Cross Country is a truly unique station wagon. We called it the cool dad-mobile because it appeals to sports car enthusiasts with a powerful efficient engine and cool stylish leather-clad interior. But the sleek design attracts husbands and wives.

Volvo V90 Cross Country
Volvo V90 Cross Country

The new Volvo V90 boasts a low-slung profile and long nose. With a slender coupe-like configuration, the V90 can swerve and dip at high and low speeds and cut through the wind with gentle precision.

As drivers approach the V90 Cross Country, the door handles and fog lights will illuminate. Thor’s Hammer LED headlights and LED daytime running lights have a cool snake eye design distinctive at night. A laminated panoramic moon roof and high gloss black and chrome grille add style.

Volvo V90 Cross Country
Volvo V90 Cross Country

From first sight, the Volvo V90 isn’t a typical station wagon. The V90 looks like a SUV until one gets a gander at the side and takes it all in. It’s more like a stretched out XC60 limousine. Muscle lines in the hood, strakes in the fascia and a chromed out lower front spoiler give the whip the look of a sporty SUV from the front. Nineteen inch alloy wheels are standard. Twenty and twenty-one inch wheel are available with huge haunches with black accent.

Inside the Volvo V90 is a plush sporty fastback-like sedan with abundant storage. Cross Country upholstery is standard with a 2-tone styling and Dark Walnut inlays. I love how chrome styles the interior doors, steering wheel and center stack adding subtle luxury. Ten-way front seats are heated as is the leather and chromed steering wheel. The leather and wood trim go together well with the stitching.

Volvo V90 Cross Country
Volvo V90 Cross Country Volvo Ocean Race

The V90 Cross Country’s cabin follows the familiar Volvo minimalist dash design scheme that emphasizes quiet luxury and less plastic and buttons. A 12.3 inch digital instrument cluster and 9 inch center touch tablet are standard across the model line.

The dash has digital gauges along with a multi info display (MID) with a few useful stats. Most of the other information in the MID is redundant. The steering wheel has controls for audio, cruise and the instrument cluster. For $900 owners can cop a Heads up Display that projects driving stats on the windshield like speed limit, speed zones and the lane departure alert. Multimedia is great in the V90 with complimentary Wi-Fi, Sensus navigation, and Sensus Connect.

Volvo V90 Cross Country Volvo Ocean Race

While the layout of the V90 Cross Country is awesome, cool and fresh. Functionality and versatility is where the interior design falls short. The center touch screen is dope, big with controls for everything from climate to audio and navigation. But the climate should have more buttons for controls aside from the touchscreen.

The climate control system as a whole can be a big distraction. The system seems to default to a high temperature when I turn on defrost. So on a humid day, I have to turn down the defrost every time I get in the car. There’s also no button to adjust the temperature, fan speed or fan direction, only touch screen controls.  Heated seats turn off automatically after a while, and the climate temp seems to also auto adjust. The moon roof needs a hard top to keep the whip cool on sunny days. Leaving it open will make the whip as hot as an oven.

While 42 inches of legroom in the front and 35 inches in the is decent, the floor is raised in the center rear. So it’s hard for a person over 4-foot tall to sit in the center. The truck is huge.

 
 

Balanced Turbo Performance with Robust Drivetrain

The Volvo V90’s best feature is its well-balanced performance anchored by its super/turbocharged 4-cylinder. All four models have all-wheel drive as well as a turbo inline 4-cylinder and 8-speed transmission available. The V90 Cross Country AWD offers a 6-speed manual transmission. The DOHC 4-cylinder in the V90 Cross Country T6 has direct injection and a max torque output at 295 lb-ft.

Volvo V90 Cross Country
Volvo V90 Cross Country

The V90 Cross Country accelerates, handles and turns with exceptional stability and smoothness. Turbo character keeps torque at my feet. It’s clean and sturdy, ideal as a young family car or a whip for chauffeuring teens. The balanced aggressive sporty transmission means the whip can overtake cars easily on the highway with precision unmatched by another wagon. I easily left everyone in my rear view.

Volvo V90 Cross Country
Volvo V90 Cross Country

Electric power assisted rack and pinion steering is fluid in Eco and Comfort mode and responsive and tight in sport mode. Double wishbone front and rear integral axle suspension gives the whip added resilience at high speeds and in rugged road conditions. Optional air suspension ($1,200) puts the V90 on a luxury sports car level, adding another layer of safety to its steel cage.

With a drive mode selector offering Sport, Eco, and Comfort drive modes and a Start/Stop mode, the Volvo V90 can save a ton of gas. Its combined fuel economy piques at 25 mpg (22 mpg city / 30 mpg highway.)

There’s no doubt that the Volvo V90 Cross Country is one of the most efficient station wagon on the road. But I can’t tell when the gas is really being saved because the range drops dramatically on short trips. Sometimes on long highway trips I noticed the range would increase or stay steady, consistent with Start/Stop tech. But sometimes on short trips, the range would drop 20-40 miles. I couldn’t tell when I was making the most efficient moves. And why is premium gas required for the efficient turbo 4-cylinder?

Safety features in the Volvo V90 Cross Country include a standard City Safety Low Speed Collision Avoidance System that can stop the wagon if a collision is impending. The system includes Pedestrian/ Cyclist/ Large Animal Detection. Standard Pilot Assist is part of Volvo’s semi-autonomous drive system. And Run-off Road Protection and Run-on Road Mitigation are also standard. Lane Departure Alert and Drive Alert are now standard in the V90.

Lane Departure Alert is conservative, warning drivers before they breach the lane divider. Sometimes I was just swerving slightly to avoid potholes and craters. In Chicago, The Windy City the Lane Keeping Aid was so strong it would push me out of the lane.

Volvo V90 Cross Country
Volvo V90 Cross Country

For $1,950 the Convenience Package adds a 360-degree surround view camera, Homelink, compass and Park Assist.

The 2018 Volvo V90 Cross Country is on sale now with an MSRP of $55,300. The whips is worth the sticker price, but it’s still a tough pill to swallow for a station wagon. Fully-loaded the whip nearly costs $65k. Buyers can opt for a luxury truck from Lexus, Acura or even Volvo for that price. This is probably why we see more Volvo SUVs on the road in Chicago than the V90.