2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country Review

It is easy to see why crossovers are dominating the North American auto market. They offer more space, increased ride height, and some off-road capabilities. On the other hand, sedans and wagons are generally more fun to drive. They provide better acceleration, handling and fuel efficiency.

Is it possible to find a balance between the two? Enters Volvo V60 Cross Country (CC). Volvo engineers take a roomy V60 wagon and give it more ground clearance, standard AWD, and extra body cladding to make it more off-road worthy. Does it find the balance that we are looking for?

Thanks to Volvo Canada, I had the chance to test drive the 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country during the first snowstorm of Vancouver in 2020 (with snow tires, of course). It gave me a perfect opportunity to test the car's winter capabilities. Below is my unbiased review.

The Volvo V60 CC has an increased ride height of 2.5” compare to a regular V60. The ground clearance is now 8.3”. It uses Volvo’s new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform that underpins all of Volvo’s current 90 and 60 series. The new platform proves to adapt well to different tasks. It allows Volvo to scale production up from a sedan, to a wagon, to a SUV quickly.

In the front, the concave rectangular center grille is decorated with reflective pins and the signature Volvo Iron Mark. The iconic "Thor's Hammer" LED headlight design is unique and striking. The V60 CC is 1.2” wider compared to a regular V60. As a result, the front profile looks wide and planted.

From the side, the long body length of the V60 CC (4784mm) keeps the car looking well proportioned despite the higher ground clearance. The large 19” alloy wheels look great with the added plastic cladding around the wheel wells. A sharp character line runs through the beltline to emphasize the muscular body panels of the V60 CC. This gives the side profile an elegant, yet rugged look.

I particularly enjoy the rear profile of the car. The signature LED tail lights wrap around the rear power liftgate and rises through the D pillars to meet the integrated roof spoiler. The Volvo letter emblem spans across the upper panel of the liftgate. The lower bumper houses two parallelogram shaped chrome exhaust tips and a large rocker panel. The rising bumper gives the V60 CC a greater departure angle.

This is not your grandfather’s station wagon. The V60 CC looks sharp and stylish. It finds that perfect balance between on road elegance and off-road ruggedness. I love it.

The interior of the V60 CC is the same clean, Scandinavian design that features a portrait style display screen and large vertical air vents. A thick metal trim separates the two-toned upper and lower dash for a layered look. The lower deck is made of premium plastic that is fingerprint resistant and soft to touch.

The climate control gets its dedicated group of buttons, but the front seat warmers and the steering wheel heater are controlled by the touchscreen. One of the most eye catching elements of the interior is the Blonde City Weave Textile Upholstery on the seating surfaces and door inserts. It reminds us of Sweden’s contemporary home-furnishing heritage, and is a breath of fresh air among the typical Nappa leather interior in the luxury vehicle segment. The textile surface is not as cold to touch in the winter, and the seats get nice and toasty quickly with the seat warmers. The seats themselves are both comfortable and supportive. They are located to offer commanding ride heights and plenty of head and legroom.

The rear cabin is equally comfortable. Despite the slightly sloped roofline, there is plenty of headroom even for taller passengers. The large panoramic sunroof provides an expansive view from the back. The rear middle seat is the only one without the textile upholstery. It is also the least comfortable to sit in due to the raised floor in the middle. Rear passengers enjoy a dedicated digital climate system that controls two vents in the middle, and two vents on the B pillars. Other thoughtful features include coat hanger sockets and side maplights.

The Volvo V60 CC boasts the all new infotainment system called "Sensus". The iPad style 9.3” portrait screen completely dominates the dashboard. Swiping left and right reveals additional menus, and swiping down from the top brings up settings and the owner’s manual. There is a dedicated home button at the bottom of the screen, just like an iPad. The home menu provides five basic options: Navigation, media, connectivity, sound settings, and climate settings. Alternatively, passengers can swipe left to access built-in applications such as Spotify, Pandora, Baidu or TuneIn. Swiping right on the other hand, allows access for numerous car functions such as lane-keeping assist, park assist, and the start-stop system. Android Auto and Apple Carplay are available through the provided USB ports. The portrait style screen leaves some real estate for the car functions while Android Auto, or Apple Carplay are projected to the lower part of the screen.

The digital instrument cluster is large and easy to read. Two analog looking dials display vehicle speed and engine rpm. The middle portion is reserved for either media information or the navigational map. Only a small portion of the display can be controlled via the buttons on the steering wheel. It is not the most intuitive design and lacks many of the custom options we are used to seeing in other luxury vehicles.

The Harman Kardon audio system that comes with our tester sounds amazing. The rear passengers can also access the 180W, 120VAC plug located behind the center console. It is the first time I have seen such a feature in a sedan or a wagon.

Safety and Driver Assistance
Volvo’s leadership in the field of automotive safety is once again confirmed in the V60 CC. The SPA platform has resulted in the strongest Volvo cars to date because of extensive use of boron steel. Boron steel can have a yield point four times stronger than average high-strength steel. It is of course, much harder to work with. But engineers at Volvo must have concluded that the trade-off is worth it.

On the technology front, Volvo’s City Safety technology is standard on all Volvo models. It combines automatic braking functionality and collision avoidance systems to cover a range of
potential accident scenarios.

The Pilot Assist driver assistance system, optional on the V60 CC, works up to 130 km/h on clearly marked roads. It is not as advanced as the ones I have experienced in the latest Mercedes-Benz vehicles. The V60 CC doesn’t recognize some of the lines, and tends to wander inside the lane.

The Volvo V60 CC is not yet rated by either the NHTSA or IIHS at the time of writing. Its Sedan sibling, the S60 does earn Top Safety Pick+ from IIHS.

Unlike a regular V60 that comes with an array of powertrain options, the V60 CC only comes with the T5 Turbocharged 2.0L 4-cylinder engine that produces 250hp of power and 258 lb.ft. of torque. The car uses an 8 speed automatic transmission with all-wheel drive standard on all Cross Country models. Although the V60 CC isn’t equipped with the most powerful engine, it is not a slow car. 0-100km/hr happens in only 6.8 seconds. While there are no steering wheel mounted shift paddles, the automatic transmission is smooth and responsive enough at most speeds. The available peak torque stretches from 1800 to 4800 rpm, exactly where you need it.

Driving the V60 CC in the snow actually feels very relaxing. The ride is smooth and comfortable. It is a car designed in one of the coldest countries in the world, and the V60 CC handles the mild Vancouver snowstorm with ease. The AWD system does a good job of reducing tire spins on inclines and at takeoffs. For people who believe that an AWD system is all you need in the snow, please know that an AWD system (even an advanced one with torque vectoring) isn’t enough to save your car from going sideways if you take a corner too fast, or more importantly, neglect to change your tires to winter ones.

The V60 CC behaves similarity on pavements. The steering is precise, and with good feedback. The suspension system does a good job of controlling body rolls of the car in corners, and soaking up road disturbances on rougher surfaces. It is not the most engaging car to drive, but handles much better than most of the SUVs on the road.

The turbocharged 2.0L engine is quite fuel efficient. The V60 CC is rated for 10.8L/100km city, 7.7L/100km highway, and  9.4L/100km combined. Our one week test drive returns a fuel economy rating of 10.6L/100km. Very respectable given the winter driving conditions.

Cargo Space & Storage
The V60 CC is a very practical car. There is 658L of cargo space behind the rear seats. That is actually more than what the XC60 offers. With the rear seats folded, the cargo volume is increased to 1441L, less than the XC60. There is a ski pass-through in the middle rear seat and a cargo net in the trunk to hold smaller items in place. The power liftgate can be foot activated, and there are more than one lights to illuminate the trunk area.

There are plenty of storage options for smaller items in the cabin. The front door pockets are above average in size. There is a small tray at the front of the center console to store smaller items. The storage bin under the armrest is shaped irregularly and somewhat limited in size. There are two mesh pockets behind the front seat backs and two cup holders in the rear folding armrest.

The 2020 V60 Cross Country is one of the rare cars that provide an excellent balance between comfort, performance, off-road capability, fuel efficiency, and practicality in one handsome package. It combines nearly all benefits of a SUV and a wagon without most of their drawbacks. For an outdoor enthusiast who also enjoys driving, the V60 CC is definitely on the top of my list.

Test Vehicle
2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country
$49,9000 CAD base. $59,050 CAD as tested
Black Solid Stone


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