The Volvo wagon you really want remains the V60 T6 AWD with the R-Design trim, preferably in Fusion Red or Bursting Blue. Both colors are worth the extra $645. Whicheer shade you choose, your V60 T6 will be a sleek, sexy wagon with 316 twincharged horsepower, the correct footprint, all-wheel drive, and 90 percent of the raised version's flexibility. So what's the point of buying the turbocharged–not twincharged–250-horsepower T5 powertrain instead, in a car lifted by a noticeable 2.9-inches, with additional body cladding and automatic hill descent/hill start assist?
The point is you, America. For the most part.
Volvo has the XC90, the XC60 and the XC40 to satisfy the globe's lust for all-terrain vehicles that rarely leave the paved road. But they also know that for those who can't get past the compromised proportions of a crossover, or the image of an SUV, a slight lift won't spoil the wagons' appeal. And it's not like Volvo is new to this anti-SUV angle. While all hail the AMC Eagle, by the time your interior designer neighbor could get an Audi Allroad Quattro in 1999, Volvo had its raised and cladded V70 Cross Country on the market for two years.
Volvo chose a quintessentially Scandinavian way to present the 2020 V60 Cross Country: a late winter drive that was all about feeling safe and comfortable through a polar vortex scenario. Also known as Lapland.
We jumped into cars and drove from Luleå–a Swedish city know for its IT industry–into the late afternoon winter darkness. This was done very slowly, mostly through strictly speed restricted urban areas, or country roads locked between tall snow banks. All on tires I'm willing to bet you'll never spot on a car in your neck of the woods: Michelin’s X-Ice North 4s and Nokian's Hakkapeliitta 9s. These studded tires are magical on ice and compressed snow, but they also compromise handling on clean tarmac, not to mention how loud they are on any surface.
Then again, the grip you get from them on otherwise hopeless roads is phenomenal. And with only one car ending up in a ditch that afternoon, I'm convinced that Volvo's latest traction control system with the V60's all-wheel drive (now branded BorgWarner instead of Haldex) does a good job of keeping the T5's 250 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque in line. Volvo knows how to tune for safety.
The next day, Volvo let us loose on the ice track that Luleå keeps clean on the frozen northernmost arm of the Baltic Sea. The locals can enjoy an almost endless amount of three foot thick ice there every winter, as the low sodium waters of the Gulf of Bothnia give in to the arctic climate. It's pretty cool, both figuratively and at -16.6ºF at the time, literally.
If you switch the V60 Cross Country's T5 into its sportiest mode, Volvo will now allow for more sliding before taking you back to adulthood with a power cut and plenty of understeer. Again, we tested this thoroughly for hours, with a few moose tests thrown in for good measure. On the frozen sea, with studs carving their lines into the ice as often as the ABS would allow for such aggression, the V60 Cross Country's sensibility prevailed.
In an extremely hot climate, you need good air-conditioning, sufficient engine cooling, and a bottle of water to avoid dehydration. You'll also need your sunglasses, which is equally true about the north. But getting through three to five months of winter wonderland is a bit more demanding task, and the Swedish know more about it than any other car nation. And it all started with the 1955 Saab 93, a two-stroke labeled as a .
Six decades later, Volvo's wagon brings the genre to a whole new level, making you completely forget how punishing nature is on the other side of the glass. The V60 Cross Country has a 2.9-inch lift to glide over hidden obstacles under the snow, and a stiff enough chassis to handle SUV-shaming articulations. Gas engine or not, its peak torque starts at 1800rpm, while torque vectoring finds traction. And like all new Volvos, it's a great car to be in, come rain or shine.
My only concern is that despite Volvo testing its cars to work in temps as low as -22ºF, after a few hours at a touch warmer than that, my V60 Cross Country politely informed me that the camera-based safety features were off, and I'm on my own spotting the loose moose of Lapland. And if my raised all-conquering and action-ready Volvo wagon is no better at large animal detection then a Fusion Red V60 T6 AWD R-Design, why would I choose the Cross Country instead?
I'm guessing you know, America.