The lines between automotive classes get blurred sometimes, and the latest vehicle to smudge those boundaries is the 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country, which gets a full redesign for the new model year. It might have the body of a wagon, but it’s been jacked up to the ground clearance of an SUV for added off-road capability.
Unlike some vehicles that look weird when you raise them up, the V60 Cross Country still has proper proportions rather than looking like a car on stilts. This is in part due to the plastic lower body cladding that’s become ubiquitous with these raised vehicles, much like you’ll see on the Volkswagen Golf AllTrack and the Subaru Outback. In this case, it wraps high up around the fenders rather than hanging out just at the bottom of the car, and the effect is that it makes the V60 Cross Country look more grounded.
Differences between the V60 Cross Country and the V60 wagon on which it’s based start with the suspension, which gives the Cross Country an added 2.5 inches of ground clearance for 8.3 inches total, and softer tuning than that of the V60 for better off-road handling and absorption of bumps and jostles. It also features standard all-wheel drive.
I took a brief drive in the new V60 Cross Country while in Banff, Alberta, to evaluate the updated XC90 and XC60 T8. (Per our ethics policy, Cars.com pays for its own airfare and lodging at such automaker-sponsored events.) Though my time behind the wheel was short, what I did — and where — made it instructive: I drove the V60 Cross Country up a mountain.
How It Drives (Off-Road, At Least)
The 2020 V60 Cross Country is being offered with only one powertrain, at least initially. It wears Volvo’s T5 designation, meaning a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 250 horsepower and 258 pounds-feet of torque, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission and standard all-wheel drive.
The Cross Country also adds an extra drive mode over the wagon, appropriately named Off-Road. It is designed to be used at low speeds, and can be activated only below 12 mph — if you exceed 25 mph it will shut off automatically. Turning it on changes the throttle mapping and transmission shift points, automatically activates hill descent control for downhills and changes the traction control as well.
I drove the Cross Country exclusively in this mode because we were taking an unpaved, rocky mountain road from the base of a ski resort up a few thousand feet to the top of the mountain where lunch and majestic views awaited. How the wagon will do on the road is still a bit of mystery, but from what I was able to glean from this environment, it’s very promising.
One of our complaints about the current V60 (and S60 sedan, for that matter) is the way it rides, especially with larger wheels. Our review of the 2019 V60 said that “the chassis feels busy over all but the smoothest roads, with noticeable reverberation as the suspension resettles after rapid elevation changes.” Conversely, the V60 Cross Country provided impressive cabin isolation over rocky roads while pitching from side to side. We’ve seen off-road-oriented suspensions pay dividends for on-road ride quality before, and I have a sneaking suspicion that V60 Cross Country will join those ranks.
The powertrain also seemed to suit the vehicle well; it was very easy to modulate the throttle properly to maintain a consistent speed over obstacles — whether that was a bit faster on the gravelly sections, or slower on the parts that were studded with rocks.
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The V60 Cross Country’s added equipment and standard all-wheel drive give it a sizable premium over the V60. It starts at $46,095 (prices include a $995 destination charge), which is $5,450 over the V60’s base Momentum trim level. My test vehicle added a fancy Bowers & Wilkins sound system along with a few other options to bump its sticker price up to $56,990, but you can get one closer to the base price without sacrificing any capability.
Currently the 2020 V60 Cross Country’s report card is incomplete, pending a chance to put it through its paces on pavement, but the early returns are positive. Raising this wagon up might have put a few of its other issues to rest, giving it wider appeal in multiple environments.
The new 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country is on sale now.
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