By Barbara & Bill Schaffer
When we started doing car reviews more than 25 years ago, we developed a fondness for the boxy Swedish cars, and at that time Volvo?s were about a boxy as you could get. Over the years we watched the designs improve dramatically, thanks to some brilliant designers like Peter Horbury, who is currently the Volvo Vice President of Design. We also watched as Volvo went from being an independent company to being a cog in the Ford Premier Auto Group and then finally, in 2010, becoming part of Geely Automobile of China.
During the transitions, the company got tossed and turned, but none of the owners tried to change the character or the company?s obsession for safety. Fortunately, both Ford and Geely have let Volvo be Volvo and the result has looked great on recent new models. The latest models are also safer than ever, stylish, innovative and fun to drive. We think Volvo is a company to watch and a car to own.
Volvo made an interesting addition to the 60 series model lineup for 2016 by adding Cross Country variations to both the S60 sedan and the V60 wagon. This seems like an excellent addition considering the recent popularity of crossovers.
By expanding the capabilities of these two cars, Volvo is able to give new car shoppers the best of both worlds ? notable on-road capabilities along with extensive off road capabilities. And of course both are equipped with the Volvo?s trademark safety attributes. We enjoyed driving the V60 Cross Country wagon again recently.
To increase the off-road capabilities, the ground clearance of Cross Country models was increased by about 2.5 inches. This also gives most drivers a better view of the road and traffic ahead. Then when the route requires going off the beaten track, the eight-inches of clearance can make a big difference in deep ruts and over obstacles on the trails.
To add a more rugged look and to protect the vehicles, there is enhanced underside protection, side scuff plates and fender extensions. For more character and some visual differentiation, the rear skid plate is embossed with the Cross Country emblem.
The interior is of filled with soft leather and real wood trims or an optional Piano Black trim. After numerous road trips in Volvos we think their seats are some of the most comfortable in the business, and the sport seats in the Cross Country models are no exception with the excellent support and side bolsters. Parents will appreciate the available child seats in the V60 that pop up from the rear seat base to provide children over three years of age with a safe ride height for seatbelts without having to mess with booster seats.
The T5 model is powered by 2.5-liter turbocharged five-cylinder engine. Rated at 250 horsepower the V60 makes a 0 to 60 mph run in 7.0 seconds and has a top speed of 130 mph. A six-speed automatic transmission with quick shift mode, steering wheel mounted paddle shifters and all-wheel drive with Instant Traction delivers the power to all four wheels.
The EPA lists fuel economy for the Cross Country at 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined. We averaged 22.8 mpg during our week of combined driving.
The Cross Country also has many of the latest technologies like Advanced Stability Control and improved handling through Cornering Traction Control using Torque Vectoring. It also has a hill decent control system to manage downhill speeds.
The 2016 Volvo V60 has a full complement of infotainment services with navigation, Bluetooth, HD radio, Sirius satellite radio, in-car Wi-Fi Hotspot and smart phone apps including remote start. Sensus Connect uses the center stack mounted Active Thin Film Transistor crystal display screen to connect to a series of cloud-based services that can do things like help the driver find the car in a parking lot, find places to eat or stream music. It also allows the driver to receive or send text messages verbally.
Drivers can also use the Sensus system to connect with Volvo On Call to connect with their car using a smartphone application. The driver can lock, unlock, check fuel levels, check mileage and pre-heat or pre-cool the car before he or she arrives.
As top models of the 60 series lineup, the 2016 V60 Cross Country has a long list of standard power equipment from power seats with memory to electronic ignition with push button stop and start to rain-sensing wipers.
The base price of the 2016 Volvo V60 Cross Country T5 AWD is $41,940 including the destination charge. Our test wagon had three packages: The Platinum package ($3,650) includes Harman Kardon audio, Xenon headlights, active high beams, rear camera, Homelink?, adaptive cruise control, pedestrian/bicycle detection with auto braking, Driver Alert Control, lane departure warning, road sign information plus a half a dozen other driver aids.
The Climate Package ($1,550) adds heated seats, heated windshield, heated steering wheel and heated windshield washer nozzles and Interior Air Quality System. The wagon also has power child locks and dual outboard two-stage child booster seats. The BLIS package ($925) adds blind spot detection, cross traffic alert, front park assists and Lane Change Merge Aid which takes the total price to $49,775.
We think the Volvo Cross Country offer shoppers an excellent alternative to some of the high-priced German competitors. It feels solid and well-built with an excellent fit and finish. It is responsive, agile and extremely comfortable. Unlike some earlier AWD Volvos which required large areas to turn, the latest version is quite agile with relatively tight (for AWD) 37.4 foot turning radiuses. Driving through the curvy mountain roads near our home in southern Washington State, we were pleased by the flat cornering and planted feel. The steering provides good feedback and the brakes stop with a solid pedal.
The only little complaint we had was the sun visors which are short and did not cover the side windows, and did not slide or have extensions. It?s a little thing, but it can make a big difference on bright days.
Volvo is back and they are building their best cars ever, and they have some innovative new products on the way.