2021 Volvo V90 Cross Country review: Who needs an SUV?

How good does this thing look with a roof box?

Kyle Hyatt / Roadshow

The 2021 Volvo V90 Cross Country is a painfully graceful wagon, with a sophisticated all-wheel drive system, plenty of ground clearance and cargo space for days. It also offers decent fuel economy and one of the best interiors in the luxury space. Why buy another SUV when you might have this one instead?

Like it

  • Gorgeous interior
  • Nice outside
  • Ultra comfortable

I do not like

  • Infotainment aging
  • Boring thruster

The V90 Cross Country is powered by the T6 version of Volvo’s ubiquitous four-cylinder engine, bolted to an eight-speed automatic transmission. In this case, the 2.0-liter I4 has both a supercharger and a turbocharger and produces a healthy output of 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. It’s not the sweetest or smoothest engine out there, but it runs well and returns an estimated 20 miles per gallon in the city, 30mpg on the highway, and 24mpg combined – numbers I found easy to achieve, even with the added drag of a roof box.

Acceleration in Cross Country is lively, thanks to the low-rev torque offered by the twin-engine engine, although it tends to run out at higher revs. As with most Volvos, the engine lacks drama for better or for worse, designed to get you where you need to go. The eight-speed automatic transmission never stops for the gears and shifts in the appropriate places, so it also largely fades into the background.

The V90 Cross Country is essentially a luxury car and the way you drive reflects that. The optional Four-C Adaptive Air Suspension ($ 1,200) is excellent, isolating passengers from all road imperfections, but not so much that the V90 feels disconnected from the road. The steering is direct but not overly communicative and the brakes are excellent, exhibiting no noticeable fades even on long, fast descents on mountain roads. Overall, the V90 Cross Country is not what I would call exciting to drive, but it doesn’t have to be. It’s damn comfortable and super easy to live with, just like any good luxury car should be.

The V90 is a bit old, but still offers top-notch safety technology. The Volvo City Safety suite of systems is standard on every V90 Cross Country, which includes automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assistance, adaptive cruise control, a 360-degree camera and more. These, combined with Volvo’s sturdy chassis design, are enough to win the brand’s nine IIHS safety awards.

The interior of the V90 is comfortable and well designed.

Kyle Hyatt / Roadshow

Volvo certainly knows how to make a beautiful interior and the cabin of the V90 Cross Country is stellar. Volvo seats have historically been among the best in the industry, delivering excellent comfort even after hours of travel, and that’s absolutely true with the V90. These chairs are extremely sustainable and adjustable and upholstered in soft perforated leather. My tester seats are heated and cooled, and they also offer massage capabilities. In short, I’m an ace.

The rest of the interior is neatly laid out, with all controls close at hand and easy to use. Volvo also deserves bonus points here for the unique finish on the various knobs and wheels, which is not only attractive to look at, but feels good under your fingers. The rest of the interior continues on this line, with great attention to detail and small pieces of style, making it feel like something truly special compared to the often quiet cabins of German luxury carmakers.

Volvo’s Sensus infotainment technology is acceptable and attractive, but this system that seemed so forward-thinking just a few years ago now looks a little dated. The 9-inch touchscreen offers faster response times than before and both Apple CarPlay is Android Auto they are standard, but I’m looking forward to Volvo integrating its new Android Automotive technology into its full range. This is the system you will find in the new Polestar 2, and it’s great.

This Sensus system is starting to show its age.

Kyle Hyatt / Roadshow

One of the highlights of the V90 is the Bowers & Wilkins premium stereo system. Normally, I am quite indifferent to black and white systems, but here you have the option to digitally change the listening environment. It might sound like a gimmick, but the Gothenburg concert hall setting is really great and adds a lot to the listening experience. For audiophiles like me, this is a big win.

Being a luxury car, the V90 Cross Country is not cheap. But compared to many similarly equipped luxury SUVs, including Volvo’s XC90, it’s a little less expensive. The V90 Cross Country starts at $ 56,690 including $ 1,095 for the destination, and my well-equipped test vehicle has a sticker price of $ 67,740. Given the way the Cross Country looks, feels and drives, that price is reasonable.

This or an SUV? Definitely this.

Kyle Hyatt / Roadshow

This Volvo’s closest competitors are the Audi A6 Allroad and Mercedes-Benz E450 All-Terrainand while the V90 holds its own, the Germans outdo it in a few key ways. The V90 has a maximum payload capacity of 53.9 cubic feet, while the Audi A6 Allroad and Mercedes-Benz E450 All-Terrain offer around 64. The Volvo is also down in horsepower compared to the two Germans, who use light hybrid setups; Audi offers 335 hp and 369 lb-ft, while Mercedes carries 362 hp and 369 lb-ft. Audi and Mercedes also offer much better interior technology.

Even so, the Volvo is just as good to drive, just as comfortable and arguably better to look at. These competitors may be newer, but I would still have the V90 on both. This wagon offers everything you’d ask in a two-row SUV, save for an elevated driving position and perhaps some towing capability (the Cross Country can still pull 3,500 pounds, however). It is comfortable, spacious, beautiful and easy to live in. SUV drivers don’t know what they’re missing out on.

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