The Volvo V90 Cross Country made me love a brown station wagon. / by Zach Sorensen-Nielsen

The amazing team at Fields Volvo in Northfield, Illinois ( www.volvonorthfield.com ) arranged for me to test drive and photograph the new V90 Cross Country on an unusually warm February, Chicago day. Special thanks to Joe Cotteler, Fields Volvo GM, for helping me set up this adventure; Jamie Johnson, Fields Volvo salesperson who walked me through every switch, button and screen of the V90 Cross Country ( in-between deliveries and dealing with her own customers ) ; and Jeremy Atkins for answering my questions after I was finished with the drive. 

The V90 Cross Country in Maple Brown Metallic jumped out as soon as I approached the lot. In a sea of beautiful grey and black Volvos, the color drew me in. Someone might say the car is brown, but that does not do the color justice. I have never felt this drawn to a "brown car" before, let alone a "brown" station wagon, but Maple Brown Metallic is a deep, rich dark brown with gold, red, and silver flakes.  In the right light, the gold flake made it shimmer like dark amber.

In addition to the mesmerizing color, this car has graceful, artistic body lines (see photos). The tail lights descend from the roof line, along the side of the hatch and curve into the area where the handle resides. These narrow taillights give the wagon a slim tall rear profile.  The sweeping shape and size give the rear end of the car a serious presence on the road. The V90 Cross Country bears its chrome teeth on the front grill along with the Volvo badge. Two very simple but incredibly beautiful lines slide along either side of the hood. All together, the V90 Cross Country is an incredibly beautiful station wagon that is a perfect example of modern Scandinavian design. Coming from someone with 2 Scandinavian last names, you know you can trust me!

Eventually I thought, “maybe I should stop staring at this car and go introduce myself.” I was greeted by Jamie in the showroom of the sparkling- white, floor- to- ceiling windowed dealership. We walked back outside and Jamie patiently went over every switch, screen, and speaker in the V90 Cross Country.  After chatting about everything from the sunroof, to how to get my butt at just the right temperature, the wagon was washed and I got behind the wheel.  

Sitting down in the V90 Cross Country was beyond what I expected of a Volvo. This particular V90 is equipped with the Luxury Package which included the seat cushion extensions and sides, leather covering the dash and door panels, as well as the color coordinated bumpers and sills on the exterior. Blonde leather cascades over the surfaces of the seats, armrests, undersides of the dash, doors and inside of the steering wheel. Everything that is not creamy, leathery goodness is inlaid with dark walnut wood and black leather and the front seats were adjustable in places I didn’t know you could adjust. Before setting off, I set the side bolsters to hug me just so, the thigh rests to hold my legs up comfortably, the cooled seats for a comfy butt, and the headrest to cradle my head while I switched the ignition on. The 2.0l twin charged, four cylinder engine quietly turns over and once I closed the driver’s door I was immediately aware of just how quiet the interior is. I could hear nothing of the freeway that roared just 20 yards from where I sat. I connected my phone to the bluetooth system, choose “Concert Hall” on the Bowers and Wilkins stereo system, and Rush’s “Limelight” began to play on SiriusXM.  After cranking it to 11, I felt like Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart were playing in the backseat but really, they were just playing through 19 separate speakers.

 

I cruised out of the parking lot in Volvo’s ‘Comfort Mode’ which does not affect the suspension (unless you have the optional air suspension which this vehicle did not ) but it does change the way the engine and transmission behave. The engine is quiet and calm but as powerful as it ever needs to be. Around town in comfort mode, steering was effortless and the car felt easy to maneuver in traffic. The V90 Cross Country has four different driving modes to choose from; Eco Mode, which shifts the 8 speed transmission as economically as possible; Comfort Mode, which gives you a few more revs than the Eco Mode; Off Road, which I wasn’t able to really test but on the street it felt very similar to Comfort, and Dynamic; and Dynamic Mode, where I spent a majority of my drive.

The roads near the dealership are narrow, 2-lanes with long sweeping curves. Dynamic mode holds the revs higher, gives you a bit more sound from the exhaust and tightens up the steering. The turbo and supercharged engine delivers you immediate torque, and before I knew it, I was above wagon speed. I was reminded of this by the heads up display showing my speed as well as a mini speed limit sign with the appropriate speed. I reached a scenic spot along this curvy road, I pulled off to shoot a few photos of the car. After packing my things back up, I decided to turn around and go back the way that I came. This wagon is a hair over 16 feet long and in Dynamic Mode, I made a 180 degree turn on a narrow two lane road with 2 wheels on the road and the other 2 on the shoulder. Before I left for the drive, Jamie told me to test out the turning radius and wow, am I glad I did. The V90 Cross Country does a fantastic job of shrinking around you to become more than maneuverable in small situations.

Before heading back to the dealership, I decided to take the car to cruise a few exits on the expressway to feel how it would be on a long drive. In Eco Mode, the transmission put me in 8th gear at 65 mph. The engine was barely idling, but when you put your foot down to pass, there is a small but noticeable lag as it downshifts. In Comfort Mode, the lag disappeared and it kicks you down to give you enough grunt to get past whatever substandard car is in front of you. In Dynamic Mode, however, the V90 Cross Country could give a Golf GTI a run for it’s money as it takes off and you and your 3 kids, dog, and groceries are gone before anyone even knew it.


I had serious trouble giving the keys back to Jamie; I did not want to let it go. I knew the V90 Cross Country would be a comfortable, even luxurious car, but I truly was not prepared for how this wagon performed. I did not get to spend a lot of time with the Volvo V90 Cross Country, but the few hours I had and the friendly folks at Fields Volvo made it a wonderful day. Thank you again to everyone at Fields Volvo for letting me come in and do this road test and shoot photos of the brand new V90 Cross Country!  You really should test drive this car at Fields Volvo.  You won’t want to give back the keys either.