2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD: A Proper Off-Road Wagon

Experienced by Kimatni D. Rawlins

I had a great time exploring the superior off-road and grand on-road capabilities of the new 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD in Arizona last week. The luxury wagon is properly designed and thoroughly engineered. Its physicality is defined by rugged hardware, outstanding go-anywhere capabilities and advanced technology systems for both safety adherence and driver assistance obligations.

Let’s face it, Volvo’s reputation for road safety, human interest and simply making a solid vehicle for the people is beyond reproach. And now that the company has a stable of fresh, innovative vehicles to tout — such as the new S90, XC90 and V90 — there is little room left for strong, silent opinions that fail to compare Volvo to German or Japanese automakers. Since the wagon market in the US has diminished you can aptly say the V90 Cross Country is currently the best in the business with no formidable opponents. Of course you have the BMW 3 Series Sport Wagon and Audi’s Allroad, which is based on the smaller A4, but neither are hardcore when you venture away from paved roads. The 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon is right there in size and luxury but has no competitive Cross Country trim and retails for $62,300. A 2018 Buick Regal TourX is on the way but again is shorter and not rugged whatsoever. Subaru’s Outback is a road warrior yet far from fancy and is akin to LaVar Ball comparing his college freshman son Lonzo Ball to Michael Jordan.

For $55,300 your Swedish go-anywhere transporter is enhanced with 8.3″ of ground clearance, all-wheel drive traction, Active Control System, Hill Descent Control, Electric Stability Control, Continuously Controlled Damping, a supercharged/turbocharged 316-horsepower T6 engine and a Pilot AssistSemi Autonomous Drive System w/Adaptive Cruise Control. Additional equipment offers the 9” Sensus Navigation and infotainment system, Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, a Panoramic Sunroof, heated front seats, heated steering wheel and much more. Add $3,200 for the amazing 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound System (the metal grilles are a nice touch) with three sound experiences including Studio and Gothenburg Concert Hall. So of course the serene ride in heated weather was much more enjoyable with the aforementioned amenities.

If you are going to forgo a sport utility vehicle then the next best thing is a sports wagon with the dynamics of a sedan. Aesthetically the V90 Cross Country is tall and gorgeous with an ideal 194.4” length for escorting five passengers and their things comfortably. Volvo says it needed to be capable in off-road situations but still handle public roads with finesse. For example, the chassis was raised by 2.3” to provide greater suspension adjustment to go along with the vehicle’s wider track. Volvo also developed the tires alongside the manufacturer to ascertain drive expectations were met such as better grip for trekking. Pirelli supplies the 19s and 20s. My model was outfitted with stylish 20” alloy rims wrapped in Pirelli Scorpion Zero 245/45 R20 all-seasons that were compliant on the rough terrain. Volvo guided us on a gravel, muddy, rocky and wet Arizona backroad trail for about an hour so we could definitively experience the V90s resources at work. Using the Drive Mode dial I set the vehicle in Off road mode which automatically activates the Hill Decent Control mechanism. Eco, Comfort, Dynamic and Individual mode are you other choices depending on weather conditions. If ultimate adventure is a calling then you may want to add the optional ($1,200) rear Premium Air Suspension & Active Chassis (Four-C). Due to the vehicle’s architecture a front air suspension was not possible.

“Volvo cars are well known for what we call ‘framkomlighet’ in Swedish – the ability to get you wherever you want to go – regardless of the weather conditions. This is an important part of our heritage and a clear reflection of who we are and where we come from. With the recent addition of electric All-Wheel Drive to our top-of-the-line products we have further refined our performance in this important area,” said Henrik Green, Senior Vice President, Research & Development at Volvo Cars.

For performance Volvo has gotten away from bigger, heavier engines for smaller, but diligent packages such as their 8-speed Geartronic automatic transmission and in-line 4-cylinder combination (supercharged and turbocharged). Its power allowed for spirited acceleration from any gear since the turbocharger and supercharger combined give you consistent power. Specifically, the supercharger runs off the engine at all times and provides low end torque while the turbocharger is ignited from exhaust gasses and works better at higher RPMs. Expect 22 city and 30 hwy MPGs. Though, I would have preferred if paddle shifter were available.

The Black Walnut interior is elegant and makes one wonder why you would put the vehicle through hell to get to campgrounds or tow boats. Well, that’s the ingenuity of Volvo’s strategy. The 9” Sensus touchscreen (takes time adjusting to) is the brains of the vehicle and controls and displays everything — using swipe movements — from the audio, to the vehicle systems to the apps to the 360º Surround View Camera. Moreover, its vivid and graphical 12.3” Driver Display (Digital Instrument Cluster) shows pertinent driver information such as navigation and telephone. A $4,500 Luxury Package and $1,950 Convenience Package ups the ante on your Cross Country. However, the steering wheel needs thickening because this set-up is too thin.

Volvo has nailed it with the introduction of the 2017 V90 Cross Country T6 AWD. The driving dynamics of a sedan intermixed with the utility of an SUV is a pleasing scenario for exploratory and thrilling weekend getaways. Since their most affluent customers have a keen sense of adventure, prefer active hobbies and require top gear needed for the journey, the wagon is a perfect companion for the tasks at hand.