2022 Volvo V90 Cross Country Review: The Almost-Luxury Anti-SUV

 
 

The verdict: The 2022 Volvo V90 Cross Country stands out in the sea of luxury SUVs as a sleek, sophisticated alternative, but some aspects of its driving experience and touchscreen system aren’t up to luxury standards.

Versus the competition: Luxury wagons have been in retreat, but the ones that remain, like the Audi A6 Allroad and Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain, follow a similar formula as the V90 Cross Country: off-road-inspired styling, extra ground clearance and standard all-wheel drive.

The V90 and V90 Cross Country are Volvo’s largest wagons, measuring as long as the automaker’s three-row SUV, the XC90. The wagons, however, have just two rows of seats with seating for five. The V90 Cross Country starts at $57,295, including a $1,095 destination charge. Optional features brought our test car’s price to $61,990 — less than the starting prices for the A6 Allroad and E-Class All-Terrain, but both those wagons come standard with more powerful six-cylinder engines and air suspensions (see these wagons’ specs compared). 

How It Drives

All V90 Cross Country wagons are powered by a new mild-hybrid drivetrain featuring a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with a turbocharger and an electric supercharger. It’s rated at 295 horsepower and 310 pounds-feet of torque — just about the opposite of the previous turbocharged and supercharged engine’s 316 hp and 295 pounds-feet of torque. The new drivetrain gets only slightly better EPA-estimated gas mileage, with the 2022 V90 Cross Country rated 25 mpg combined versus 24 mpg last year.

The new drivetrain has no trouble getting the V90 Cross Country up to highway speeds, but it doesn’t have much reserve power for high-speed passing. The engine works with an eight-speed automatic that’s mostly unobtrusive, but at the beginning of my testing it stuttered a bit when kicking down to lower gears, like when passing. The more time I spent driving the car, however, the smoother the transmission felt.

The wagon rides well on smooth highways, but ride quality deteriorates on rougher roads; the car was unsettled on a stretch of pavement with multiple frost heaves. Road noise also disturbs the cabin at highway speeds. Our test car had the V90’s standard fixed suspension and optional 20-inch wheels with low-profile tires (19-inch wheels are standard). An adaptive air suspension is available for $1,200.

The Interior

Our test car’s interior had a premium look thanks in part to its light-gray leather upholstery and oak wood trim. The dashboard has relatively few buttons, with many controls routed through the vertically oriented 9-inch touchscreen. This screen layout first appeared in the 2016 XC90, and compared with the 12- and 15.5-inch portrait-oriented screens available today, it seems small.

The touchscreen system now runs Android Automotive OS instead of Volvo’s Sensus Connect. The Android interface is similar to Sensus Connect, if not exactly the same, but some of its onscreen fonts and menus aren’t as polished as those in typical in-car multimedia systems. The Google Maps view on the standard 12.3-inch instrument screen in front of the driver, however, looks great.

In addition to built-in Google Maps, the new OS includes the Google Assistant and Google Play store for downloading apps, provided you’re logged in with a Google account. A four-year data trial of Google Automotive Services is included, but post-trial subscription pricing hadn’t been announced as of publication. Our test car didn’t have Apple CarPlay smartphone connectivity, but Volvo said it will be added as a no-cost over-the-air software update in mid-2022. Stand-alone Android Auto is not offered, which precludes simply mirroring Android phone apps on the touchscreen.

The V90 Cross Country’s rear-seat cushion is on the shorter side, and it’s set low, so taller passengers’ legs will be a bit elevated. Legroom back there is adequate, but there’s a substantial center floor hump that limits foot space for the middle passenger. Rear passengers can enjoy the full effect of the panoramic moonroof, which lets a lot of light into the cabin.

The rear backrest folds flat with the cargo floor, and when it’s down, the extended cargo floor is quite long. Even with the seats up, there’s a good amount of cargo space — 18.9 cubic feet, according to Cars.com’s cargo measurements — though the E-Class All-Terrain’s cargo area measures a bit bigger, at 21.1 cubic feet. The V90 Cross Country’s 8.3 inches of ground clearance is about 2 inches more than the V90 wagon’s, but the Cross Country’s cargo liftover height manages to remain reasonable.

Safety and Driver-Assist Features

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the V90 Cross Country earned the highest possible score in all crashworthiness tests. Its LED headlights, however, were deemed just acceptable, the second-highest rating.

Standard active safety features include automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, blind spot warning with rear cross-traffic alert, reverse automatic braking, adaptive cruise control and Pilot Assist. Pilot Assist is a hands-on driver-assist system that can manage vehicle speed and lane positioning from 0-80 mph.

In the V90 Cross Country, Pilot Assist favors the right side of the lane, which is a bit unnerving when there’s another lane of traffic to your right. It’s a characteristic we’ve experienced in other Volvos with this technology.

Should You Buy the V90 Cross Country?

The V90 Cross Country has qualities people like about SUVs — like extra ground clearance and AWD — but without the traditional SUV appearance. If you want that look — or a third row of seats — the XC90 may be a better fit.

The V90 wagon offers good value in its small competitive segment, but its sometimes-unrefined ride, limited power reserves and unremarkable touchscreen experience hurt its luxury aspirations. The available air suspension, however, may take some of the edge off the ride, so consider this feature if that concerns you.

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