Listen to this article

Verdict

8.7 / 10

Design | Comfort | Technology | Performance | Safety | Fuel Economy | Pricing | FAQ

Playing to the growing demand for more rugged cars, the 2021 Volvo V90 Cross Country is a family wagon ready for some adventure. This svelte Swede is one of the prettiest wagons on sale, with a lovely interior and a serene driving experience to go with it.

With competition from the Audi A6 Allroad and Mercedes E-Class All-Terrain, the Cross Country is not alone. Where the Germans offer sharper tools for sporty driving, the Volvo is incredibly comfortable with the most robust safety offerings in the segment to go with it. Those willing to trade excitement for overall refinement should look no further than the Volvo.

A vehicle's ratings are relative only to its own segment and not the new-vehicle market as a whole. For more on how Motor1.com rates cars, click here.

Quick Stats 2021 Volvo V90 Cross Country
Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-liter I4
Output: 316 Horsepower / 295 Pound-Feet
Efficiency:  20 City / 30 Highway / 24 Combined
Base Price: $54,900 + $995 Destination
As-Tested Price:  $67,740

Gallery: 2021 Volvo V90 Cross Country: Review

Design

8/10
  • Exterior Color: Thunder Gray Metallic
  • Interior Color: Black
  • Wheel Size : 21-Inch

The updated V90 Cross Country looks like a now-discontinued V90 that enjoys a weekend off-the-grid wearing a backpack. Mostly identical to its city-loving sibling, the biggest styling differences with the Cross Country are body cladding and a taller ride height (2.5 inches). If that beefed-up look is your jam, then you should love the Cross Country.

At this point, it feels like all Volvo cars look pretty much the same with their Thor’s Hammer lighting signature and refined, minimalist body lines. There’s good news in that even if Volvos look similar, at least they look good. While this might not be the most exciting car in the parking lot, The V90 has a certain sophistication to it that feels premium and grown-up.

Same goes for the interior, full of subtle yet attractive materials like matte wood trim and soft black leather. There’s no exciting collaboration of shapes like in a Genesis, nor an abundance of ambient lighting like in a Mercedes – the V90’s interior is straightforward, bordering on dull. Even so, this remains one of the highest quality cabins in the segment and will still look good years down the road.

Volvo V90 Cross Country
shop now
 

save over $3,400 on average off MSRP* on a new Volvo V90 Cross Country

 
shop now
 

Comfort

9/10
  • Seating Capacity: 5
  • Seating Configuration: 2/3
  • Cargo Capacity: 25.2 / 53.9 Cubic Feet

They meant it when they called it Cross Country because this wagon can eat up miles with the best of them. It all starts with the seats, which are simply wonderful. Soft Nappa leather covers them from top to bottom, with heating, ventilation, and massage.

Backseat space feels plentiful, too, especially for a car with such a sleek-looking roofline. Even if you miss out on calling shotgun, there is near-identical headroom in back (37.8 inches) which is enough for most to get comfortable. To put that in perspective a little better, the much taller XC90 SUV has roughly 40 inches of headroom. Legroom is comparable to most other cars this size like the Mercedes E-Class All-Terrain at just over 35 inches – not palatial, but enough to keep most people happy for long journeys. The big, upright windows also help ease claustrophobia.

Even better than the Cross Country’s living room-worthy seats is the ride quality, which rivals the best of any car I’ve ever driven – yes, really. This car comes with the $1,200 adaptive air suspension, an option that I would recommend at twice that price. The V90 glided over the absolute worst tarmac that LA had to throw at it, and it kept things composed even over a few gravel roads. Ride quality is the single best thing about the V90 Cross Country’s driving dynamics.

This Volvo is more than happy to attack even your most desperate Costco runs with 25.2 cubic feet of cargo space. That is a substantial amount of space and more than the XC60 crossover by a good measure. Wagons, for the win!

Technology & Connectivity

6/10
  • Center Display: 9.0-inch screen
  • Instrument Cluster Display: 12.3-inch
  • Wireless Apple CarPlay or Android Auto: No

Volvo’s tech suite was among the best in the industry when it debuted on the XC90 back in 2015, but years later it’s ready for a makeover. The company recently improved the processing time with new hardware, but even so, the 9.0-inch touchscreen still takes too long to make moves, and it has way too many menus to navigate.

Overall, the infotainment just makes life a little more difficult than it needs to. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto come standard, but smartphone mirroring occupies only a tiny portion of the vertically oriented touchscreen.

Outside of the central screen, the rest of the V90’s tech is hit or miss. Major kudos to the 19-speaker Bowers and Wilkins sound system, which does cost a hefty $4,000 but delivers the best audio experiences in the segment. The fully digital instrument cluster looks clean and modern, but it isn’t configurable to the extent that we like, aside from some different appearance themes.

Performance & Handling

4/10
  • Engine: Turbocharged/Supercharged 2.0-liter I4
  • Output: 316 Horsepower / 295 Pound-Feet
  • Transmission: Eight-Speed Automatic

As with most Volvos, performance is not the V90 Cross Country’s strong suit. While there is nothing egregious about how this family wagon drives, there’s also nothing terribly exciting about it. Powering the V90 is a turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder putting out 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet. Even with twin forced induction, the engine’s output feels adequate at best. The upshot is that the little four-cylinder is very quiet in most driving situations. Only on a freeway onramp or another full-boot situation does it get noisy. If power is important, maybe consider waiting for the new mild-hybrid 2022 V90 CC.

The Cross Country leans more in the bends than a comparable Audi A6 Allroad or E-Class All-Terrain. It’s decidedly less of a handler than either of those German alternatives but the Volvo keeps its composure when it's not pushed to the limit.

Our biggest issue came with figuring out how much brake pedal to use. The brakes bite harder than expected at first, but then immediately back way off forcing you to constantly adjust your foot to react quickly. There’s plenty of stopping power to slow the car down when needed, but the calibration isn’t ideal.

Safety

9/10
  • Driver Assistance Level: SAE Level II (Hands-On)
  • NHTSA: Not Rated
  • IIHS: Top Safety Pick Plus

Unlike Performance, the Safety category is one where a Volvo should do well, and the V90 Cross Country does indeed. It earns an IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus, thanks to a robust suite of tech to protect you and your passengers. Everything, from full-speed adaptive cruise control to lane-centering tech, is standard and packaged in the excellent Pilot Assist system.

Using the systems is an easy process altogether. Two button-presses on the steering wheel activate Pilot Assist, keeping the car in the lane on the highway while monitoring the distance to the car ahead. Where some cars exhibit bad manners with overactive chimes or warnings, the Volvo happily chugs along without a peep. From a brand that knows safety well, it comes as no surprise that this is the V90’s strongest category.

Fuel Economy

6/10
  • City: 20 MPG
  • Highway: 30 MPG
  • Combined: 24 MPG

That little four-cylinder with its double forced-induction does decently well when it comes to using fuel. The V90 Cross Country is rated at 20 MPG city, 30 highway, and 24 combined. This is enough to outdo the two closest competitors, with the Audi A6 Allroad earning 23 combined and the Mercedes E450 All-Terrain 24 combined.

Our experience for a week matched the EPA’s claim, with the V90 doing 23.8 MPG combined in plenty of LA traffic.

Pricing

9/10
  • Base Price: $54,900
  • Trim Base Price: N/A
  • As-Tested Price: $67,740

The 2021 Volvo V90 Cross Country starts at $54,900 plus $995 destination, which gives it the highest cost of entry for any new car in the Volvo range. Our test car has many options atop that price. We like the $2,600 Lounge Package with its many interior comfort additions, like four-zone climate control and power seat-cushion extensions. Ditto the $4,000 Bowers and Wilkins audio, although that is an easy one to skip if you don’t love blasting music in the car. The only must-have option is the $1,200 air suspension, which makes the ride absolutely joyous.

We’d skip over the $1,700 Advance package and its head-up display and surround-view camera. Neither feature was good enough to warrant the extra money. Same goes for the $800 21-inch wheels, because the standard 19-inchers look just fine.

Adding up all of the options, the car’s as-tested price comes to $67,740 with the $995 destination charge. That’s just a few hundred dollars more than the A6 Allroad’s starting price of $66,000 and actually cheaper than the Mercedes E450 All-Terrain’s starting price of $68,400. Those two alternatives will easily cost more than the V90 by the time you add in options.

V90 Cross Country Competitor Reviews:

FAQs

Volvo V90 Cross Country

Is the Volvo V90 Cross Country Safe?

The Volvo V90 Cross Country earns our highest possible score in the safety category thanks to its impressive suite of features and fantastic crash test ratings.

What is the Cross Country?

Volvo's Cross Country models feature a taller ride height, in addition to some visual cues to give them a more rugged appearance.

Does the Volvo V90 have air suspension?

Yes, the Volvo V90 offers optional air suspension. This is one of our favorite components of the driving experience, and we recommend buying this option to get the best ride quality possible.

2021 Volvo V90 Cross Country

Engine Turbocharged/Supercharged 2.0-liter I4
Output 316 Horsepower / 295 Pound-Feet
Transmission Eight-Speed Automatic
Drive Type All-Wheel Drive
Efficiency 20 City / 30 Highway / 24 Combined
Weight 4,213 Pounds
Seating Capacity 5
Cargo Volume 25.2 / 53.9 Cubic Feet
Base Price $54,900 + $995 Destination
Trim Base Price $55,895
As-Tested Price $67,740
Got a tip for us? Email: tips@motor1.com