The raised-up-and-ruggedised, full-sized family estate car is at risk of becoming another casualty of the tempestuous past few years for the motor industry. At one stage, not so many years ago, every manufacturer seemed to have one: right down to the enigmatically named Vauxhall Insignia Country Tourer and the Skoda Superb Outdoor (the indoor-use version was good, but a poor substitute for a coffee table).
Neither of those cars exists any longer. One of the originators of the niche - the Audi A6 Allroad - was quietly removed from UK showrooms in 2022, and the year before the Mercedes-Benz E-Class All Terrain went the same way. A few lower-rise, new-groove ‘crossover shooting brakes’ are beginning to come through to take up the vacated space, but the older-guard ‘allroad’ with the greatest staying power of all may yet prove, predictably enough, to be the pleasingly classically flavoured Volvo V90 Cross Country.
At a very simple level, this is a Volvo V90 estate with four-wheel drive, 60mm of extra ground clearance, electronic hill descent control and all-season tyres - all intended to enable it to deal with muddy fields, moderately rutted tracks, and the kind of light off-roading that an active lifestyle might put its way. Only when you get into Volvo’s brochure in detail do you realise that the Cross Country has become the only way into a V90 that doesn’t have ‘dynamic’ sports suspension; the only way into any V90 with a diesel engine; and also the only way into a four-wheel-drive mild-hybrid petrol.