One of my good friends, who owns a Mercedes C-Class wagon with nearly 200,000 miles, recently asked what vehicle she should buy next.
She really wants a new C-Class wagon, but alas, they are no longer imported to the U.S. She's not a fan of crossovers, though she could use their soft-road capabilities while keeping track of her family farm. Then it came to me: She'd like the car already in my driveway, the 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country.
Volvo designers did a really good job. A toothy grille with large logo, corner-bending LED headlamps, “Thor's Hammer” driving lights and rear lights that extend into the D-pillar put a brand stamp on this wagon.
Volvos are also known for their strong shoulders, and this car has them, but stylists added crisp bodylines that extend from hood to rump, giving the car a more defined look. A gently sloping roof with twin panels of glass, black plastic cladding around the wheel wells, 19-inch alloys and power hatch enhance this car's suit.
An interior that's well-made without being ostentatious should be no surprise given the V60's adherence to Scandinavian design principles.
Matte wood adorns the console, dash and doors while stitched coverings, metal speaker grilles and satin silver trim elevate ambience. Air vents click in place with precision as diamond-cut switches for starting and driving modes adorn the console. The Bowers & Wilkins audio system with its “Gothenburg Concert Hall” mode is among the best audio systems ever to come factory-fresh in an automobile. For $4,000, it sure ought to be!
But there's more to this modern Volvo cabin. Cushy seats -- Volvo trademarks -- offer firm side bolstering, supportive lumbar and extendable lower front cushions to go along with heated outboard positions front and rear.
Grip the heated steering wheel. A head-up display and flatscreen gauge cluster delight drivers, but both are upstaged by the large infotainment screen. Swipe right to control the safety systems, left to adjust audio and apps. The center screen position shows status for navigation, phone and audio. It was a little confusing at first, but has become intuitive and smartly rendered.
Bolstering Volvo's legendary reputation for protecting passengers is a full suite of safety systems that include adaptive cruise, forward crash avoidance with pedestrian/animal detection, rear cross path alert, lane keep assist and blind spot warning. The car will even parallel-park and -unpark itself. Of course, there are more airbags and whiplash-preventing headrests than I care to count.
Moving this wagon is a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine generating 250 horsepower and 258 foot-pounds of torque -- all routed to the all-wheel-drive system through an eight-speed automatic transmission. It's not over-powered, but more than adequate for a car this size, and the transmission clicks its wares without delay.
The optional turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder adds about 50 horsepower for a serious dose of giddy-up. Throttle lightly, and leave auto stop/start engaged, to see 22/31-MPG city/highway.
I test so many crossovers that I almost forget how much I prefer driving station wagons. Sure, the V60 CC doesn't have the high seating position to see over traffic, but it also doesn't wallow in corners and instills joys that many of today's drivers have forgotten. The car glides over rough pavement and features variable modes that allow drivers to configure the throttle response and steering feel for Eco, Comfort or Sport.
More than 80% of all station wagons sold in the U.S. come from Subaru, but I'm glad to see Volvo taking a piece for itself. Something seems right in the world with a proper Volvo turbo wagon for sale. And this is a really good one.
My friend may miss her 'Benz, but she'll surely enjoy Volvo instead -- if she can afford the price. Base V60 models start at $39,650, but the Cross Country rises from $45,100. Our fully loaded edition came to $56,990. Competitors include the Subaru Outback Touring, Audi A4 Allroad and Buick TourX.
Casey Williams is an Indianapolis automotive journalist. Send comments to Casey at AutoCasey@aol.com; follow him on YouTube @AutoCasey. To see a video of this review, click on this URL -- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0YIIE-mYoLg
2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country
- Five-passenger, all-wheel-drive wagon;
- Powertrain: 2.0-liter T-4, eight-speed automatic transmission;
- Output: 250 horsepower/258 foot-pounds torque;
- Suspension f/r: Ind/Ind;
- Wheels f/r: 19-inch/19-inch alloy;
- Brakes f/r: disc/disc;
- Must-have features: Comfort, convenience;
- Fuel economy: 22/31 mpg city/hwy;
- Assembly: Gothenburg, Sweden;
- Base/As-tested price: $45,100/$56,990