Volvo's V90 Cross Country is a full-size, high-riding 4-door wagon. It comes standard with a mild-hybrid gas engine and all-wheel drive. For '22, Volvo dropped the standard wagon version of the V90, updated the powertrain, added Google Automotive Services as the operating system for the infotainment system and brushed up interior and exterior styling. There aren't many competitors in this segment, but they include the Audi A6 allroad quattro and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. You might also consider some midsize crossovers from luxury brands like the BMW X4 and Infiniti QX50.
The Cross Country switches to the new B6 powertrain for 2022. This adds a 48-volt hybrid system to the familiar turbocharged-and-supercharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. Horsepower is down 21 from last year to 295 but torque climbs by 15 lb-ft to 310. All models come with Volvo's all-wheel drive system and sole transmission is an 8-speed automatic.
The only trim offered is the B6 at $56,295. Standard safety features include forward-collision warning with automated emergency braking and pedestrian detection, lane-departure warning with lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control with a semi-autonomous driving mode. Replacing Volvo's Senus infotainment system is Google Automotive. Based on Android, the new system is designed to allow owners to customize the infotainment controls similar to the way you can customize an Android phone.
Options include Bowers & Wilkens premium sound and Four-C adaptative air suspension. Volvo also offers several optional packages, include the Lounge package (4-way lumbar support, 4-zone climate control, front-seat power cushion extensions, rear sunshades, tailored dash and door panels, adjustable front side bolsters, front massaging seats) and Advanced package (head-up display, surround-view camera).
Volvo has hardly promoted its engines over the last few years, as they were the first luxury brand to migrate from large-displacement engines to small turbocharged 4-cylinders. In fact, Volvo goes one better by adding a supercharger to the mix in an effort to provide better low-speed throttle response and high-speed passing punch. In addition, there's a mild-hybrid system that's designed more to provide improved fuel efficiency. Long story short, Volvo mostly succeeds in providing a powerful engine that's extremely fuel efficient. When pressed the powertrain will pull the V90 from 0 to 60 MPH in about 6.5 seconds. That's a tick or two slower than competitive Audi and Mercedes-Benz models, but certainly appropriate for the class. The engine is buttery smooth and works well with the slick shifting 8-speed automatic.
Volvo touts the V90 Cross Country as off-road capable. Perhaps that's a bit of an overstatement given its performance-tuned tires. Still, the all-wheel drive system efficiently pushes power to the wheels with the most traction to improve grip in slippery situations and the slightly higher ride height helps overcome small obstacles.
The V90 Cross Country is EPA rated at 22 MPG city, 29 MPG highway and 26 MPG overall. Those numbers are slightly better than competitors at Audi and Mercedes-Benz. Fuel capacity is 15.9 gallons providing a driving range of roughly 400 miles. Like all vehicles in this segment, the V90 Cross Country requires premium-grade gasoline. In routine suburban commuting it is easy to exceed the EPA's combined rating of 25 MPG. However, with all forced-induction engines, fuel-economy numbers drop quickly if you have a heavy throttle foot.
If you are asking why purchase a wagon in a world dominated by crossovers, look no further than the V90 Cross Country (or the A6 allroad). Simply put, dynamically a wagon can deliver a better ride/handling balance and provide increase fuel effective with little loss in cargo capacity. While the allroad and Mercedes-Benz E-Class lean more toward luxury, the V90 Cross Country is more athletic overall -- especially when the road grows twisty. That's when the rigid chassis and Four-C air suspension really comes into their own. The tires say firmly planted on the road, the suspension minimizes body roll, and all-wheel-drive system shuffles power appropriately to all four tires to enhance handling. Throw in precise and firmly weighted steering and arresting brakes and you have all the makings of a sleeper sport wagon.
Conversely, the V90 Cross Country rides more firmly that you might expect. Though the ride is never harsh, occupants will feel every bump and road imperfection. The ride might seem out of place in a $60,000 luxury wagon, but in the Volvo it comes together with the impressive roadholding to provide a package that is very European in nature, but also forgiving enough to suit American tastes.
Noise levels are appropriate for the class, with highway cruising being impressively hushed. Tires can kick up a ruckus on grooved concrete surfaces, and that should be noted if your commute includes a lot of time on those kinds of roads.
All bias aside, no company is doing luxury interiors better than Volvo. The brand's blend of warm and comforting cabin materials with technology and modern design is unparalleled. High-quality trimmings are the icing on the cake. Things like two-tone leather on the steering wheel, textured knobs, open-pore wood, artful speaker covers, vertically oriented tablet-style infotainment screen -- they all help separate the V90 from the pack.
Front seats are thickly padded and extremely comfortable. With a multitude of adjustments, it's easy to find a comfortable driving position. Back seats are comfortable as well, but they are flat and not as nicely contoured. Both front- and rear-seat occupants are treated to ample head and leg room. Compared to typical crossovers, it's much easier to get in and out of the V90 thanks to large door openings and a low step in. Outward visibility is excellent.
A 12.3-inch digital gauge display sits in front of the driver. It's not as configurable as some but is crisp and clear and easy to read day or night. The center stack is dominated by a vertically oriented 9.0-inch touchscreen that includes Apple CarPlay and Android Auto capability. Navigation, USB and Bluetooth connectivity, and in-car Wi-Fi are also standard. The new Google-based infotainment interface lacks polish and seems like a work in progress. It is more responsive than the previous Sensus system, but small on-screen icons are more difficult to hit accurately while driving. Also, apparently Volvo doesn't believe in AM radio as you can't select that band.
From a hauling perspective, V90 can't quite compete with crossovers, but it's no slouch. With more than 20 cubic feet behind the rear seats and almost 70 cubic feet overall, there's ample room for most needs. Small item storage up front is good, but there's not much room for anything else and the V90 Cross Country doesn't have any cleaver hidden storage bins.
Bottom Line -- Simple and elegant, the V90 Cross Country harkens back to a time before crossovers, when wagons were king. It deftly blends sport with suave and is charming enough to be a joy to drive. The Google-driven infotainment system is clearly a work in progress and hopefully Volvo will quickly and constantly update bring updates. That said, the Volvo is considerably more affordable than its competitors and chock full with standard safety features. No, aren't likely to every see another on the road, but that's part of the allure.