As popular as crossover SUVs are with your typical car buyer these days, there's no denying we're simultaneously in the middle of an era where speed is incredibly inexpensive.
Despite how affordable power and speed has gotten, we aren't seeing a whole lot of cars that are truly unique. Everything feels like it's been carefully planned in a strategy meeting, focus-grouped, run past analysts and accountants, and carefully designed to compete against cars that are all in the same class. Risks are few and far between.
And then there's the Volvo S60 Cross Country.
The regular Volvo S60 is a car that makes sense. It's a comfortable compact sports sedan that appeals to buyers who value its safety equipment and styling more than the sporty driving dynamics of the BMW 3 Series or the luxurious interior of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class. It's a car that makes sense.
For whatever reason, Volvo decided the S60 could also use a version that's been lifted 2.5 inches. No, not the XC60 or the V60 Cross Country. Volvo was so convinced there would be a market for a lifted sedan, it actually put the S60 Cross Country into production.
When it was first announced, Zach Bowman called it perfect, and you know what? He was right. It's definitely different, and I have no idea who exactly is going to buy one, but I loved every second of driving this weird, weird car.
And, y'know what? It got attention. Lots of attention. But people didn't shout at me. They just stared, confused why the hell the car I was getting into looked so funny.
Sorry, but if you have to ask why, it's obviously not the car for you.
I get it, or at least I think I do. It's a Volvo Vermont special. Sure, it could be used in Maine or upstate New York, but you get the point. It's a car for people who want a sedan but who also live in areas where the snow piles up to the point that the S60's stock ground clearance isn't enough.
It could probably be driven in mud—sadly, I couldn't find enough mud in Massachusetts to truly test out its mudding capabilities— or sand, but it's really a vehicle meant for the kind of extremely snowy places that Volvos are already incredibly popular, the kind of places where accumulated snow is a problem on the roads and not just on the sidewalks.
As far as driving impressions go, there isn't much to say that hasn't already been said about the regular S60 or the V60 Cross Country.
The added ride height gives you a commanding driving position but also results in less-sporty handling than you get from the S60. The 250-horsepower inline five, meanwhile, is punchy and sounds great. It isn't truly fast, but around town, it's torquey enough to feel quick.
Inside, the materials feel high quality, and both the seats and the ride are incredibly comfortable. But good luck figuring out the center stack—it's just a sea of buttons.
In the vast majority of the country, even areas where it snows pretty regularly, a normal Volvo S60 is going to be entirely adequate, but who wants to just be adequate? Why not be awesome instead? Sure, your current family sedan spends 100 percent of its time driving on pavement, but if you had a Volvo S60 Cross Country, who's to say you wouldn't get a little more adventurous?
What I have to admire most about the Volvo S60 Cross Country is the fact that Volvo dared to do something that no other company is doing. It had to know the market for a lifted sedan would be tiny, especially in the U.S., but Volvo brought it here anyway.
In fact, have been so low, the over the four months it was on sale in 2015. Half those sales have probably been in Colorado, and the other half have probably been in Vermont, but there are still 183 people who looked at the regular S60 and said, "Nope, I need one that's taller." Those people are heroes.
Volvo should also be considered a hero for daring to do something that's actually different. The Volvo S60 Cross Country is an incredibly niche vehicle that will likely only last for a few years before the business case for keeping it around dries up. Until then, the Volvo S60 Cross Country is one of the few cars on the market that's legitimately different.