2019 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD Review - Plush Wagon, Plus a Little Extra

Chris Tonn
by Chris Tonn
Fast Facts

2019 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD

2.0-liter supercharged and turbocharged inline four, DOHC (316 hp @ 5,700 rpm, 295 lb-ft @ 2,200 rpm)
Eight-speed automatic transmission, all-wheel drive
20 city / 30 highway / 24 combined (EPA Rating, MPG)
11.6 city / 8.1 highway / 10.0 combined (NRCan Rating, L/100km)
25.2 (observed mileage, MPG)
Base Price: $57,345 US / $64,647 CAD
As Tested: $62,190 US/ $71,797 CAD
Prices include $995 destination charge in the United States and $2147 for freight, PDI, and A/C tax in Canada and, because of cross-border equipment differences, can't be directly compared.
2019 volvo v90 cross country t6 awd review plush wagon plus a little extra

Ever since Volvo showed the V90 wagon in Detroit in 2017 – in journo-bait brown, no less! – I’ve been keeping an eye out for this stunningly styled family hauler. I never see them, especially not in that lovely Maple Brown hue. Are wagons dead?

I rather hope not.

So, while the V90 is still nominally available, the very similar Volvo V90 Cross Country is a more frequent sight on our roads. With a few tweaks to appeal to those who want to cosplay as an uncouth mountain dweller, the low-slung wagon is transformed into something resembling a crossover.

I like a lower ride height than a typical crossover gives. So, while Volvo indeed calls this V90 Cross Country a crossover, I choose to believe it’s a proper wagon. I don’t see the black cladding lining the lower edges, protecting the paintwork from the rugged terrain at the playground. I don’t notice the Pirelli Scorpion Verde tires that sound vaguely off-roady. The slightly raised ride height is not worth mentioning. I ignore the “Cross Country” boldly embossed on the rear bumper.

This is a wagon, dammit. I had a brief dalliance with a thoroughly knackered $300 Volvo wagon half a dozen years ago and have mostly fond memories of it – especially how marvelously it drove. Like that old 740 that my wife unceremoniously exploded, this V90 CC is most decidedly not a sports car – it simply does exactly what the driver wants with absolutely no drama.

A big advantage that wagons hold over similarly sized crossovers is fuel economy. The EPA rates this V90 CC (with the T6 twin-charged, 316 hp four) at 24 mpg combined, and up to 30 mpg on the highway. Volvo’s own SUVs using the same powertrain, both the XC60 T6 and XC90 T6, are rated at 22 mpg combined. It isn’t a significant difference, and the SUVs perform admirably for their class, but every little bit adds up. My usual driving, skewed much more to city and slow-speed backroad driving than most, yielded 25.2 mpg.

The ride is controlled, yet perfectly plush. Expansion joints and potholes are dispatched with the slightest of bumps. The steering is direct but gives very little feedback as to what the front wheels are up to. Still, the reason for this wagon’s existence is as an alternative to high-riding crossovers – not as a sports sedan alternative. I’m okay with the trade-off.

Plus, in this Volvo wagon, you won’t mistake it for anything else in the parking lot. Beyond looking lower and sleeker than the competition, it just looks good. The lines are simple and clean, and as ever the Thor’s Hammer LED running lights are a fun detail.

Interestingly, that dark plastic cladding seen here that signals to the world that you bought a crossover? It can be deleted by choosing the lovely Crystal White Pearl metallic paint. The paint is a $900 option, and the color-matching cladding is another grand on top of that.

The interior is beautifully laid out, with a massive center touchscreen dominating the dash. I don’t love how the screen attracts fingerprints, which are only highlighted by some seriously awful photography by yours truly. I’ll blame it on inexperience in shooting in bright sunlight – I live in Ohio, after all, where the sun is a rare visitor. Still, other than some slight recalcitrance from the screen upon start-up that disappears within a minute or so, it works quite well.

Since nearly every other car on the market uses some sort of push button to start and stop the car, I’m occasionally flummoxed by the use of a twist knob on the console in this Volvo. It’s merely a muscle memory thing, I’m certain that within a few weeks of ownership it’d be second nature. I’m tempted to assume the console-mounted start switch is a nod to car’s dearly-departed Saab countrymate, which famously used a key switch located near the shifter in most of its models for decades.

The seats, front and rear, are exactly what one expects from Volvo – near perfection. I’d love to see a lower seat cushion that extends, as many competitors feature, but I didn’t have any comfort issues. We squeezed three across in the second row for about an hour, including my wife after grandma claimed the front seat – and all were happy with both leg and shoulder room in the cheap seats.

Well, maybe not cheap. At just over $62k as tested, this isn’t cheap. There is little traditional competition, however, but certainly the V90 Cross Country will be cross-shopped with two-row luxury crossovers. I’m thinking the RDX, RX, and possibly the X5 would be the primary targets – and against the Japanese competition this Volvo is priced a bit high. Against the X5, it’s a bargain.

For me, it’s not a matter of virtue-signaling against the scourge of crossovers. This Volvo is legitimately better to drive, with better efficiency to boot. I’d drive across country in this Volvo V90 Cross Country, but on paved roads like a civilized person, not on unmarked unimproved trails like some hardcore Bear Grylls-type.

[Images: © 2019 Chris Tonn/TTAC]

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2 of 26 comments
  • Stumpaster Stumpaster on Jun 12, 2019

    Has anyone done a long term test of a V90? For $62K you can buy something Made in Alabama, with a Mercedes star on it and a lifetime of achievements.

  • Bortlicenseplate Bortlicenseplate on Jun 13, 2019

    There are a lot of very fancy cars here in posh & outdoorsy Vancouver, yet few of them have me do a consistent double-take like the rare V90 CC I see on the road. I'd even go as far as saying it's a poor man's Ferrari FF or Panamera ST....alright, maybe that's a bridge too far, but it just speaks to our dearth of slinky sports wagons, haha. A used one is high on my list to replace my aging Legacy GT wagon. One nitpick I have: the back seats don't fold 40/20/40 as in the old XC 70. This is a boon for skiers with 3 passengers, wherein you can throw 4 pairs of skis in the middle and avoid using a pricey and cumbersome roof rack/box combo. Moreover, every other luxury wagon (the few on the market) has this setup. It's a bizarre omission.

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  • Tassos screw the fat cat incompetents. Let them rot. No deal.
  • MaintenanceCosts I think if there's one thing we can be sure of given Toyota's recent decisions it's that the strongest version of the next Camry will be a hybrid. Sadly, the buttery V6 is toast.A Camry with the Highlander/Sienna PSD powertrain would be basically competitive in the sedan market, with the slow death of V6 and big-turbo options. But for whatever reason it seems like that powertrain is capacity challenged. Not sure why, as there's nothing exotic in it.A Camry with the Hybrid Max powertrain would be bonkers, easily the fastest thing in segment. It would likewise be easy to build; again, there's nothing exotic in the Hybrid Max powertrain. (And Hybrid Max products don't seem to be all that constrained, so far.)
  • Analoggrotto The readers of TTAC deserve better than a bunch of Kia shills posing as journalists.
  • Lou_BC How do they work covered in snow, ice, mud, dust and water? Vibration?