What's it like?
Raising the V90's ride height has made an already good driving position into an excellent one, giving drivers a commanding view over the road ahead. The seats are supportive and comfortable, and there's simply masses of space inside for both people and luggage. Even with a six-footer in the driving seat, taller adults in the rear will find they have plenty of head and leg room, and although middle seat passengers get a worse deal, it's still comfortable enough for short journeys. Certainly, it matches the A6 Allroad for outright comfort, although the E-Class All Terrain has plusher fixtures.
We've said before that the standard V90 walks a fine line between dynamic handling and continent-crossing comfort, but the Cross Country is definitely about the latter. There's more body lean under hard cornering than you'll find in the standard car, but its soft throttle, quiet engine and new dampers provide a cosseting experience, whether on the motorway or smaller B-roads.
The D4 diesel motor in our car is the entry-level option in the Cross Country, and is the only way you can have four-wheel drive with this lower powered engine (the D5 models all have four-wheel drive as standard). While the D4 has enough power for most situations, the 8.8sec taken to go from 0-62mph feels slow. The more powerful D5's PowerPulse technology - which fires compressed air at the turbocharger for near instant acceleration - better suits the V90 Cross Country's butch attitude, and it's the engine we'd go for. There's no petrol option for now, but Volvo says it's evaluating whether to bring petrol options to the UK if the demand is strong enough.
When you do go off-road, the V90 remains composed, and its Off-road mode (which holds first and second gears for longer) will help to give even timid drivers confidence. Hill Descent Control kicks in automatically when you reach the crest of a hill, and even though the Cross Country is designed for muddy tracks and fields rather than the full-blown wilderness, it's likely to easily handle anything an owner would reasonably throw at it.
Should I buy one?
If you're confident that a conventional crossover or SUV wouldn't suit you better, then cars like the V90 Cross Country are certainly worth looking at. Plus, if you're bored of the usual German offerings, then Volvo's high-riding and comfort-oriented estate will likely suit you well. We'd go for the more powerful D5 diesel engine over the D4 tested here, but whichever version you choose you'll be getting a supple and spacious estate that can tackle weekend trekking with ease.
Volvo V90 Cross Country D4
Location Birmingham; On Sale Now; Price £39,785; Engine 4cyl, 1969cc, turbo, diesel; Power 187bhp at 4250rpm; Torque 295lb ft 1750-2500rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1826kg; 0-62mph 8.8sec; Top speed 130mph; Economy 54.3mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 138g/km, 27%; Rivals Audi A6 Allroad, Mercedes E-Class All Terrain