It used to be that many Volvos you saw were boxy station wagons, so no wonder Volvo is proud of the fact that it's still heavily associated with station wagons such as its 2017 V90.
Most automakers shun the words "station wagon" because they feel such a vehicle is dated. The prefer to say they build "crossovers" and "SUVs." Truth be told, many of those vehicles are just thinly disguised wagons.
There's nothing thinly disguised about Volvo's $55,300 (without the $995 destination charge) 2017 V90 wagon, which I tested in Cross Country T6 AWD form. It's a big, handsome, upscale, roomy wagon with a smooth turbocharged and supercharged 2-liter direct-injection four-cylinder that kicks out 316 horsepower and 295 pound/feet of torque.
The engine shoots power through an efficient eight-speed automatic transmission with a fuel-saving stop/start feature that's especially appreciated if, say, you're stuck waiting for a freight train to pass.
The engine calls for premium gas for the best performance but provides swift acceleration off the line and during 65-75 m.p.h. passing, although this wagon isn't light at about 4,200 pounds. This V90 can has several driving modes activated by a console control: one for fuel-saving, another for regular daily driving, still another for high-performance driving and an "Off Road" mode for rough-road use.
I mostly used the 'Eco" fuel-saving and regular "Comfort" modes for conventional driving. But the "Dynamic" mode for performance driving definitely proved effective-although it made the V90 a little too aggressive for daily use. I had no opportunity to use the "Off Road" mode, although I can't picture many V90 drivers taking such an upscale wagon on serious off-road treks.
Indeed, my test V90 Cross Country T6 AWD test wagon looked upscale and a little racy, with an aggressive front end, slick lines and a subtle rear roof spoiler. The long, heavy front doors open wide to reveal a nicely designed interior with high-quality materials, including lush leather and dark walnut wood inlays.
Standard features include a panoramic sunroof, heated power front seats and steering wheel, 2-zone electronic climate control, tilt-telescopic wheel and a high-performance audio system with 10 speakers.
Costly options include the roof spoiler, hill-descent control, 360-degree surround view camera, premium rear air suspension and a Bowers and Wilkins premium sound system. The bottom-line price of my test vehicle was $64,640, including the $995 destination.
What's a Volvo without lots of safety features? My test V90 Cross Country had plenty. They included electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes with hill-start assist, City Safety low speed collision avoidance system, lane-departure warning and a rear-park assist camera.
There's a good amount of occupant space in the quiet cabin, with enough rear-seat room for tall rear passengers to stretch. The easily loaded cargo area is roomy, and rear seat backs flip forward and sit flat to allow enough more cargo room. A unique touch is a small shallow cargo area in the trunk floor that's held up by a small strut.
The cabin has a good number of storage areas, but the large front console consumes a lot of space. The back-seat area has a decent-size center armrest that contains a handy covered storage area but rather cheap-looking plastic pop-out cupholders.
The supportive front seats should be comfortable on long trips, and gauges can be quickly read in bright sunlight. But the iPad-like 9-inch touch screen isn't very easy to use. And the large, folding outside mirrors are mounted on the doors and block too much vision when a driver is, for instance, making a turn around a street corner. That's an odd fault for such a nicely designed car.
The V90 Cross Country T6 AWD provided a rather firm but comfortable ride that, surprisingly, got a little "floaty" on some moderately bumpy roads at low speeds when not in Dynamic mode.The steering was quick and accurate, although it needs more road feel, and handling was decent in all drive modes. The firm brake pedal had a short throw but progressive action.
I comfortably drove the V90 Cross Country T6 AWD moderately hard and fast. Still, this is no sports wagon-not that one should expect it to be. Rather, it does everything it's supposed to do with high style.