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Volvo’s V60 Cross Country B5 AWD – A GREAT WAGON…WITH A HITCH

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Volvo’s V60 Cross Country B5 AWD – A GREAT WAGON…WITH A HITCH

Volvo’s V60 Cross Country B5 AWD


In my seven decades of living – and 55 years of driving – I’ve been closely connected to three station wagons. My parents owned a ’63 Dodge 440, my wife and I purchased a ’78 Plymouth Volare (purchased when we had a toddler – and all the stuff that goes with having a toddler), and for an all-too-brief period we owned a 2000 BMW 3 Series. Of those three I’d like to have the Dodge and BMW back. Although in lieu of those options I’d enjoy owning our test Volvo, a V60 Cross Country. With its combination of style, efficiency and utility, it’s a viable package for almost anyone able to come up with the $50K to $60K (or so) to buy one. But first, a word about its ‘Cross Country’ tag…

Volvo has been known for building attractive, functional wagons for almost as long as it’s been ‘known’. With the launch of the 140-Series in the late ‘60s the buff books went almost mental in their praise for the then-unique combo of real utility with a somewhat nimble platform and smallish footprint. Almost six decades later that recipe really hasn’t changed. But the marketplace has; apparently if you want to sell a wagon in these United States you need to lift the ride height, install some suggestion of cladding and give it a more rugged descriptive. Subaru, of course, has absolutely nailed this recipe with its Outback and increasingly popular Crosstrek. More recently, Volvo has done the same with its V60, now readily available as a V60 Cross Country.

But don’t, for a minute, think this is the vehicle for the Oregon Trail. Better, I think, to stick to Portland, Oregon. The small lift given to the standard V60 – now only available as a plug-in hybrid, for a base of $70K – delivers 8.1 inches of ground clearance, which is the accepted minimum for a crossover/SUV. But the tire/wheel combo on our B5 AWD Ultimate is no more appropriate to offroad environs – even fire roads or logging trails – than that pair of Florsheim Oxfords you have hiding in your closet. If you must go off our beaten paths budget some money for real rubber – and the mileage penalty that goes with it. 

If you can work past the moniker, know that the V60 Cross Country provides a lot to like, beginning with the sheetmetal, which is passively Euro and appropriately planted. The adult theme continues inside, with a great pair of buckets in front, and a folding rear bench with plenty of room for two and occasional space for three. With the second seat up the rear cargo hold provides ample room for the road trip, and when folded you’ve room for the road bike. And all of this fits in a parking spot just over 15 feet long…step it off in your garage! 

Under the Cross Country’s hood is a turbocharged four mild hybrid displacing two liters and delivering 247 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The mild hybrid employs a small electric motor to assist the turbocharged four in its acceleration, and when you minimize the work done by the gas you’ve reduced the gas consumption. On a highway drive in Southern California we saw 29 miles per gallon on the highway, while our stop-and-go driving in town delivered a solid mid-20s. Neither of these numbers is great if coming from a Prius, but wonderful when compared to that Volare wagon. And acceleration from the turbo four, driving all four wheels through an 8-speed automatic, is respectable; Car and Driver magazine arrived at 60 in just over seven seconds, and as I often say, if you want to get there sooner just leave earlier.

Beyond the numbers is the genuine comfort delivered by Volvo’s engineering team. This isn’t, of course, a track weapon (which is available if purchasing Volvo’s V60 Recharge plug-in), but it’s nimble enough, in combination with an almost sublime ride. Thankfully, this isn’t Buick’s old Dyna-Ride, but could easily compare with what you might find in BMW’s 5 Series. 

In the showroom our hard-loaded B5 AWD Ultimate stickered for just over $62K. And here’s the hitch: A concealed trailer hitch, excluding the ball and ball holder, was a $1650 option, over $1000 above what Subaru wanted for a Crosstrek hitch. Now, that hitch was fitted a decade ago, but I get a real headache when confronting almost $2,000 to tow just 2,000 pounds. Better, I think, to make the hitch standard, or forget about towing with your V60. 

When in the Volvo showroom I’ll probably skip the Ultimate trim, and grab the more basic Cross Country at $50K. That leaves money to, as you’d hope, see the country.

Boldt, a contributor to outlets such as, Kelley Blue Book and Autoblog, brings to his laptop some forty years of experience in automotive retail, journalism and public relations. He is a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, The Washington Automotive Press Association and L.A.'s Motor Press Guild. David is the Managing Editor of txGarage, a regular panelist on the AutoNetwork Reports webcast/podcast, and the automotive contributor to Dallas' Katy Trail Weekly.

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