2015 Volvo V60 T5 AWD Cross Country road test: Part wagon, part SUV

2015.5 Volvo V60 T5 AWD Cross Country

2015.5 Volvo V60 T5 AWD Cross Country

The good news for legions of long-time Volvo lovers is that the Swedish manufacturer has returned the station wagon to the United States in the form of the handsome 2015 V60 entry-level luxury hatchback.

Available with 4-, 5- and 6-cylinder engines and the option of front-wheel drive or all-wheel drive, depending on model chosen, the mid-size V60 gives prospective buyers lots of choices to ponder.

Volvo V60 instruments

Volvo V60 instruments

But that’s only part of the story. The V60 design, arguably the best looking in the history of Volvo wagons, is also available as the V60 T5 AWD Cross Country.

That’s the vehicle we will be taking a closer look at today, and it adds one more complication to the available choices.

You see, the V60 Cross Country isn’t simply a station wagon. It is more a crossover vehicle, with all-wheel drive and ground clearance raised 2.6 inches (to 7.9) to help it muscle through snowy streets and rutted, muddy back roads.

And if you find that might fill your basic needs, then you should also take the time to cross-check it against the Volvo XC60 and the Volvo XC70.

Choosing the just-right Volvo is not an easy process, but to help with the selection let’s concentrate on the Cross Country, which adds a couple of features that were not on the 2015 V60 at introduction.

Volvo front seats

Volvo front seats

First of all, you can easily separate the Cross Country from its wagon kin by its unique design elements, which include a honeycomb grille, front and rear skid plates, black fender extensions, 18-inch wheels and black window trim.

The V60 Cross Country is powered by Volvo’s veteran workhorse, the
2.5-liter, five-cylinder, turbocharged engine that produces 250 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque.

While it cannot be described as silky or even particularly smooth, the engine provides adequate power. Teamed with a six-speed automatic transmission, it can thrust the 3,622-pound V70 Cross Country from a stop to 60 mph in under 7 seconds. Towing capacity is listed at 3,500 pounds.

The EPA rates fuel mileage at 20 miles per gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in the city and 28 on the highway. In my week with the Volvo, I averaged a shade over 22 mpg.

The weather was clear, dry and mostly spring-like so I did not get to experience the V70’s all-wheel-drive capabilities. Suffice it to say that the Volvo is propelled by its front-wheels in normal driving conditions and when the road surface turns slippery the Volvo instantly transfers power from the wheels that slip to the wheels that have better grip.

Another useful feature that I had no occasion to experience is the standard Hill Descent Control, which allows the Cross Country to crawl along in low gear on steep downhill grades.

Volvo rear seat

Volvo rear seat

Buyers hoping to experience the supreme isolation and quiet ride of, say, a luxury sedan, may be a bit disappointed. However, the somewhat firm ride improves the car’s driving dynamics, so I would say the tradeoff is worthwhile.

One thing I did not particularly like was the transition to a lower gear when it was necessary to accelerate quickly in passing situations. There was a hesitation before the gear change, and when the lower gear engaged the downshift was a bit jolting.

Of course, safety is the No. 1 priority for Volvo buyers and the Swedish automaker is in the forefront of the industry with its active and passive features.

In addition to the full array of airbags and side curtains, standard safety features include traction control, stability control and four-wheel antilock disc brakes with electronic brake-force distribution and emergency brake assist.

Also standard is the City Safety System, which can automatically apply the brakes at speeds up to 31 miles an hour to prevent or minimize a collision with a vehicle or obstruction ahead.

The Volvo digital speedometer is easy to read instantly.

The Volvo digital speedometer is easy to read instantly.

Among optional safety features are a blind-spot monitor, cross-traffic alert, front and rear park assist, rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warning, driver drowsiness warning and Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, which employs Volvo’s radar-and camera-based system to warn the driver of anything in front of, or entering, the car’s path and then automatically activating full braking power if the driver does not respond in time.

The upscale interior features exceptionally comfortable front seats, but the rear seats and luggage area are tighter than other Volvos and some of the competition.

I particularly liked the layout of the instrument panel. It featured a tachometer surrounding a large, digital speedometer that is more immediately readable than a standard speedometer. You could think of it as another safety feature.

Volvo cargo area

Volvo cargo area

Standard features included in the $41,000 base price of the 2015.5 V60 T5 AWD Cross Country include a sunroof, dual-zone climate control, 8-way power front seats, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, satellite and HD radio, USB/Ipod connectivity and power folding rear headrests.

Also included on all V60s is the Volvo Sensus system which manages information from the infotainment system, and displays it on a 7-inch high-definition color monitor. It allows drivers to examine the high-tech features of the vehicle and adjust them to their needs.

Among the optional features are keyless entry and ignition, 12-speaker surround-sound audio system, heated front and rear seats, dual Xenon headlights and probably the world’s most polite navigation system. It actually says “Please” when issuing directions.

Also available on 2015.5 Cross Country models is Volvo on Call. The 6-month complimentary subscription allows an owner to download an app on their smart phones which can lock and unlock doors, remotely start the engine, monitor fuel mileage and other trip data, determine service needs, request roadside assistance, view a map of the vehicle’s location, obtain emergency services with an SOS button, send out an automatic collision alert and learn of theft recovery.

Add everything together, including the $940 delivery charge, and manufacturer’s suggested retail price for the 2015.5 V60 T5 AWD Cross Country comes to $49,350.

If you are thinking of a new Volvo, there is a lot to think about. But, whichever one best suits your needs, you can be sure it comes with the latest in safety features and a whole list of technologically advanced features.

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