THE third model in Volvo’s rather exclusive – and large - ‘90’ range occupies the middle ground.

For those who like the idea of an imposing and luxurious SUV, the XC90 has few rivals.

Customers seeking an estate version can opt for the V90.

And those who want something between the two will no doubt be attracted to the V90 Cross Country, which offers all the attractions of space and the ability to tackle adverse weather conditions in the shape of an estate rather than an SUV.

Handsome it most certainly is, without being nothing more than a little rugged-looking. Flash Harry should look elsewhere.

There are three main features that mark out the Cross Country version from the other members of the 90 family: protective cladding and wheel arch extensions, a 65mm raise in the ride height when compared with the V90 and a standard four-wheel drive system with an off-road setting for more challenging environments.

Matched with the D5 PowerPulse engine and the most gorgeous of interiors, you have a carriage that that not only will transport you and a massive load in sublime comfort but also take you through difficult conditions with a minimum of fuss.

The D5 PowerPulse pumps out a mighty 232hp and will shoot from 0 to 62mph in 7.5 seconds, yet it still returns an average fuel economy figure of almost 50mpg.

Those who find themselves often in rural environs and do not want to board the SUV bandwagon should find the Cross Country fits the bill.

Practical, elegant and classy in equal measure, this has little appeal as a dynamic drive. But it has bucketloads of refinement and offers a wonderfully relaxing steer.

Taking its cue from the V90, the interior is refreshingly uncluttered. As organised as an accountant's desk, all the audio and climate controls are integrated into the stylish Sensus touch screen infotainment system. The portrait touchscreen system dominates but it’s a cinch to use and it only takes a few minutes to get familiar with its layout.

Sure-footed handling gives the impression it would remain perfectly composed right up to the limit. The ride is ideal for all road surfaces, and while it may feel more at home in the back of beyond or on a motorway run, the lightness of the steering makes for a relaxed city experience.

The Cross Country would not be a Volvo without a list of safety features as long as a Bank Holiday queue to Ikea, and as usual the model has all bases covered. A multitude of airbags, intelligent emergency braking, collision warning, even large animal detection.... they all come as standard.

It is not a car that will mark you out as safe, sensible and boring. Inside it’s simply vast; up front you can relax in acres of space, while the rear row is extremely generous.

The driving mode selector allows you to choose an eco setting for softer throttle response, while dynamic mode sharpens the steering, engine and gearbox and the comfort mode does just what it says on the screen.

This focus on advanced technology extends to every part of the car. The D5 diesel engine benefits from PowerPulse, an ingenious Volvo-designed system that uses compressed air to boost responsiveness at low revs. There’s also the standard-fit Pilot Assist, the semi-autonomous drive technology that takes care of the steering, acceleration and braking at up to 80 mph, helping to make long motorway journeys less stressful and tiring.

The Cross Country comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and the same range of engines as the standard car. This means two diesels and one petrol for now, all with four cylinders.

The range kicks off with the occasionally raucous D4, using a 2.0 litre diesel engine with an output of 187bhp.

The D5 uses the same engine but with an extra 45bhp. For those regularly carrying heavy loads or towing, it’s the one to go for - not least because the max towing weight increases from 1,800kg in the D4 to 2,500kg.

The third offering is a 315bhp 2.0-litre supercharged petrol T6, which is unlikely to gain too many sales in the UK.

Hill descent control and an off-road mode alter the car’s dynamics for tackling tricky terrain or slippery conditions, while the suspension settings differ from the regular V90 for maximum comfort and control.

Like every V90, the Cross Country version is full of high-tech equipment designed to make your life easier and more enjoyable. The intuitive Sensus touch screen system, for example, allows you to control the car’s entertainment, convenience and safety functions from a single interface – even when you’re wearing gloves. You can also turn the car into a WiFi hotspot.

Volvo’s pioneering Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive technology is also fitted to every V90. This alleviates the strain on long motorway journeys by helping with the steering and taking control of the accelerator and brakes to keep the car within its lane and at a set speed or distance from any vehicle in front.

From secret testing facilities in the frozen north of Sweden to the searing desert heat of Arizona, where Volvo Cars performs its high-temperature testing programme, the V90 Cross Country has been built to last. And it has the looks and features to match that sturdiness and capability.


Volvo V90 D5 PowerPulse Cross Country Pro

Price: £50,035 (£42,520 for D4)

Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel producing 235hp

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic driving all wheels

Performance: 0 to 60mph in 7.2 seconds; top speed 140mph

Economy: 49.6mpg combined

CO2 emissions: 151g/km


Performance: ****

Economy: ***

Ride/Handling: ****

Space/Practicality: *****

Equipment: *****

Security/Safety: *****

Value For Money: ****