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2015 Volvo V60 Cross Country First Test

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 4/9/2015 Julia LaPalme, Kelly Pleskot
2015 Volvo V60 Cross Country First Test

Suppose you're in the market for a luxury station wagon. (I know, not many people are, but bear with me.) Now that a couple entries have dropped out of the race (namely the Acura TSX and Cadillac CTS), only a few options are left, including the Mercedes E-Class, BMW 3 Series, and Audi Allroad. And then there is Volvo, which has mastered the off-road station wagon with the XC70 and smaller V60 Cross Country. Volvo's most modern and perhaps most satisfying offering is the V60 Cross Country, which offers a higher ground clearance than competitors and plenty of advanced safety features. Could the V60 CC be a quiet standout in a quiet segment?

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When we took stock of our tester, the first thing we noticed was the comfortable interior with authentic leather. The Volvo's sport seats are decadently comfortable, and side bolsters provide support without being stiff. Rear space felt tight as we shuffled around the car, but there is plenty of space in back for cargo that isn't too tall. Fortunately, drivers will also find plenty of room outside the cargo hold because folding down the seats is easy. By pulling a switch, you can release the headrests and lower the seats at the same time so everything folds neatly out of your way, although the switch can be prone to hand-pinching. Power liftgate capability, which is standard on the Allroad, would have been extremely useful for loading and unloading in our V60.

Related Link: Volvo V60 Buying Specs

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Soon, it was time to take our brown bird to the track for routine testing. Our model hit 60 mph in 6.8 seconds, not far off the Allroad Quattro, which did the deed in 6.4 seconds. On actual roads, we didn't notice any slowness in the Volvo, as it felt zippy off the line with its 250-hp, 2.5-liter, turbocharged five-cylinder engine. But to really test this car's capabilities, we took it on a trip through Angeles Crest Highway north of Los Angeles, at 7,000-foot elevation.

My day trip with the mountain-bred Swede gave me some strong clues to its personality. Playing with the manual shifting mode on the gear lever is a lot of fun, and Sport mode feels very responsive. Overall, the CC's planted stance and performance inspire confidence, but vague steering really inhibits the drive on those curvy mountain roads. To get rid of that sensation, I immediately switched from Medium to Hard in the steering settings accessed through the car's infotainment system. But even when I did this, the steering still didn't feel quite right, as slower turns felt excessively heavy.

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Many people don't associate Volvo with rugged performance, but this station wagon performs well in light off-roading situations. I put it to the test, and the wagon warrior didn't flinch for a second. It traversed across narrow, uneven roads with sharp rocks and steep climbs, all without disturbing me. Thanks to its high ground clearance, I never even came close to scuffing up the car. Standard all-wheel drive, all-season tires, and hill descent control all make the V60 ready for most climates and most driving situations.

After escaping the mountains, I was really able to appreciate how quiet the cabin is even on busy streets. A little bit of tire noise permeates the cabin, but wind and road noise are no match for the Volvo. But despite the quiet cabin and quick acceleration, our staff noticed a few quirks during our time with the Volvo. Torque steer off the line occurs during normal acceleration, MT testing director Kim Reynolds pointed out, also saying the brakes can feel mushy, "both on initial application at the very end when you're trying to judge precisely where the car is going to stop." That became apparent more and more as we continued driving the car. Volvo gains a point in our book with full auto braking capabilities to prevent accidents with cars or pedestrians, but more on that later.

On the fuel economy front, the EPA rates the Volvo at 20/28 mpg city/highway. This is slightly lower than the Allroad Quattro but higher than the V-6-equipped Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic. But our tests found real-world mpg for the V60 was lower than its EPA rating; we logged 18.3/25.8 mpg city/highway.

Related Link: See MSN Autos' Collection of Car Reviews

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The V60 Cross Country is also priced similarly to the Allroad in terms of what you get for your money. Standard features include a rather prickly, menu-heavy infotainment system with a 7-inch color display, leather driver’s seat with lumbar and memory, and even low-speed collision avoidance. Our model tacked on a Platinum package with a Harman Kardon premium sound system, full auto brake, pedestrian and bicyclist detection and auto braking, distance alert, lane departure warning, and a display showing road sign information on the current path. With all the extras, our loaded model rang in at $49,350.

To be honest, it took a little time for the V60 CC to grow on me. I was most impressed by how stable and planted it felt on roads off the beaten path, and because of this, I see why many buyers would prefer this model to some luxury crossovers. I became more impressed when I realized I had been on the road one day for 12 hours and never felt the slightest tinge of discomfort from the seats. With its high price, limited rear passenger space, and mediocre fuel economy, the V60 CC doesn’t precisely fit the station wagon formula for practicality, but it does offer quite a few unexpected joys that make it a worthwhile drive.

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2015 Volvo V60 Cross Country T5 AWD
BASE PRICE$41,940
PRICE AS TESTED$49,350
VEHICLE LAYOUTFront-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door SUV
ENGINE2.5L/250-hp/266-lb-ft turbocharged DOHC 20-valve I-5
TRANSMISSION6-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)3,897 lb (59/41%)
WHEELBASE109.3 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT182.5 x 73.4 x 58.4 in
0-60 MPH6.8 sec
QUARTER MILE15.2 sec @ 90.1 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH122 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION0.84 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT27.1 sec @ 0.73 g (avg)
REAL MPG, CITY/HWY/COMB18.3/25.8/21.1 mpg
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON20/28/23 mpg
ENERGY CONS, CITY/HWY169/120 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB0.85 lb/mile

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