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Volvo’s jacked up family estate is a comfortable cruiser, with a go-anywhere attitude. A credible SUV alternative?

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The days of the trusty estate are, sadly, numbered. The growing surge of SUVs that give a higher vantage-point but similar boot space and seating for just as many is seeing to that.

Over the past four years, Volvo sold just 22800 wagons (and only 2700 last year) compared to 149,200 SUVs. Granted, the Swedish firm offers more powertrain variety via its SUVs (the XC40 and C40 are currently the only EVs it sells), but it is a desperately bleak trend for the estate.

You do wonder how this can be so, when cars like the Volvo V60 Cross Country exist. The high-riding wagon is, in my opinion, the prettiest estate on sale today, and to echo the words of another tester, the best looking car in Volvo's current stable.

Targeting those looking for SUV capabilities and the go-anywhere lifestyle to match, but with a lower – and therefore more engaging – driving position, the Cross Country definitely still has a role to play.

Volvo v60 cross country side

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In simple terms it’s a V60 raised 60mm. Fundamentally this is the same car as its lower-riding sibling, so fitted with double-wishbone suspension but now gets all-wheel-drive as standard. Volvo clearly has a certain buyer in mind, with some rough and ready protective black cladding added to show off the car’s mild off-road capabilities. 

These new rugged design cues cloak a re-tuned suspension that on UK roads gives a pothole-absorbing and conspicuously comfortable ride. This encourages trips to faraway destinations, and with a 519-litre boot (36 litres more than the larger XC60 SUV, note), there is enough space for a family getaway, or a pair of bikes if the rear seats are folded down. 

Rear legroom is also ample. Two six-footers can sit behind one another with ease, and those in the back also have access to heated seats and touchpad-operated climate controls. Leather-clad seats are another plus point, and come as standard in top-wrung Ultimate trim. They provide both great cushioning and good adjustability. The same high-quality leather is stitched throughout the interior and textured metal touchpoints only add to the premium feel. The new Google-led infotainment system is also both easy to use and provides fine mapping capability that Volvo claims to be best-in-class.

Volvo v60 cross country interior

The driving experience isn’t without reward, either. The V60 Cross Country proves a welcome change to the onslaught on high-riding SUVs with its low-slung and relaxed driving position. You can sometimes even forget you’re driving a 4784mm long, 1893mm wide estate, though tight urban routes serve as an abrupt reminder. This isn’t a small car, being longer than an XC60, if not quite as wide. 

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Equally, Volvo’s aloof, electrically assisted steering and suspension setup – coil springs at the front and an integral link arrangement with transverse composite leaf springs at the rear – doesn’t yield much in the way of feel or communication. It’s fine for cruising but means the car doesn’t lay a glove on, say, BMW’s 5 Series when you find a good B-road.

Of course, that’s not really what this car is about. Comfort, versatility and big distances at the heart of its appeal. A 247bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine (the only powertrain offered) paired with the eight-speed automatic ’box isn’t the most romantic powertrain but it provides buttery-smooth drive on motorways, where gearchanges are barely noticeable. The car is equally adept on local routes, with good out-of-junctions pulling power – the mild-hybrid engine’s 258lb ft at just 1800rpm helps pull this 1.8-tonne wagon to 62mph in 6.9sec. However, one criticism is that the gearbox can be too willing to kick down. 

Volvo v60 cross country front

So this is not a car you dream of driving, but one that can take you where you dream to go, and in comfort and style. It makes you want to pack it full of kit and travel up to the nearest mountain-biking range, or a weekend of Lake District hiking. And when the family are aboard, a raft of top end safety systems make the £48,440 on-the-road price more palatable, though note that our Ultimate-grade test car came in at £53,960, aligning it with premium SUVs such as the Mercedes GLC and the Audi Q5. Most buyers will opt for those higher-riding cars, but those that do try the Volvo will find plenty, and perhaps more still, to recommend it. 

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Will Rimell

Will Rimell
Title: Deputy news editor

Will is a journalist with more than eight years experience in roles that range from news reporter to editor. He joined Autocar in 2022 as deputy news editor, moving from a local news background.

In his current role as deputy news editor, Will’s focus is with Autocar and Autocar Business; he also manages Haymarket's aftermarket publication CAT.

Writing is, of course, a big part of his role too. Stories come in many forms, from interviewing top executives, reporting from car launches, and unearthing exclusives.

Volvo V60 Cross Country First drives