We’ve seen it before. A company on what looks to be its last legs, deprived of all development cash, just seems to give up. In the absence of a brand-new model, they just do, well, nothing. We’ve seen it happen with Mitsubishi, Scion, Isuzu, and a few others, and it leads to inevitable death. We almost saw it happen with Volvo, but with the V60 Cross Country, the company just refuses to die.
(Full Disclosure: Volvo wanted me to drive the V60 Cross Country so bad that when I asked to borrow one, they said “okay,” and dropped it off with a full tank of gas.)
Volvo’s resurrection has been going on for some time now, ever since it met its Chinese savior in the form of Geely Automotive. Geely threw a bunch of money at Volvo to completely revamp its product line, starting with the XC90, continuing to the new S90 and V90 sedan and wagon, and soon enough, a new S60 and a new S40.
Which is neat! New cars are generally (but not always) an improvement. But in the meantime, we’re stuck with the current V60. The old V60. The one that we’ve had ever since the end of the Ford days in 2010.
It’s aging, and while from the outside it looks good, it’s definitely suffering a bit. For most of the past few years, Volvo didn’t have much money to speak of. So the interior is terribly old, with an itty-bitty infotainment screen with menus upon submenus designed in the deepest pit of Hades, and a little keypad placed nice and big upfront in the middle of the center stack, which is useful for dialing with your carphone circa 2003.
But we now live in a world of iPhones and Androids and Bluetooths, where you just tell Siri or whatever to call Abraham Lincoln or whoever the fuck, and it dials the numbers for you. If you want to send a text message, you don’t spend time dialing it out using a T9 system like some old school jamoke, you just tell your Apple CarPlay you want to send a text message, and then it does it. Job done.
Volvo knows that, which is why in the new XC90 and S90 you basically have an iPad in the middle of the dashboard, and you’ve got all sorts of Apples and Androids you could integrate with your Swede, and that’s all well and good.
You can’t do that with the current S60 and V60 setup, however. It’s too old. It comes from a time before all that, when it still looked like David Bowie would live forever and the Islanders would always be a bad hockey team. Volvo couldn’t just shove it in there, either, as none of that whiz-bang fancy stuff works with the decrepit software still lurking in the old Volvos.
So what would you do? No money to update much of anything. An interior that looks like your parents designed it. Nothing in the pipeline for another for years. All that would be left to do, seemingly, is to let the S60 and V60 wither and die, hoping enough people would forget about it by the time the new car rolled around.
But that’s not what Volvo did. Volvo had another idea: big shoes.
The V60 Cross Country isn’t an entirely new car, obviously. It’s not even in an entirely groundbreaking category, either – Subaru’s owned the category for a while, with its Legacy Outback sedan/wagon variants, and Audi’s getting into the game, too, with the new Audi A4 Allroad quattro. But it is the first time Volvo’s applied its Cross Country (or XC treatment, if you’re feeling very fancy and of the 1990s, when applying an X to anything automatically makes it XTREME) to the S60/V60 range.
And it looks good. It’s one of the few cars that seems to be aging gracefully, at least from the outside, instead of just quickly devolving into an amorphous blob like a BMW 3 Series always tends to do.
The V60 CC actually looks even better, however, than the regular old wagon. It’s got a two and a half inch lift over the regular car, which really isn’t much, but it gives the whole thing a much more imposing stance. A lot of cars look better lowered, and very few look better when they’re lifted. This, though, is basically a factory-made start at a proper Battlewagon.
But it’s the inside that counts, as your mother always told you. Which was a lie, but it doesn’t matter, because as we’ve already said the interior on this is damn near eight years old already and it’s starting to show. It’s almost an antique at this point. The two-tone leather is nice, but again, there’s not much Volvo could do otherwise.
The real inside though, the driving experience, isn’t so bad. The steering wheel is big and meaty, and the all-wheel-drive system will try its damndest to make sure you never, ever lose grip.
And I mean ever. Go to turn hit the “ESC OFF” button, which is supposed to turn all the electronic nannies off because that’s what the word “OFF” means, and all you’re met with is lies. The systems never quite turn off, and if anything, they’re just lessened somewhat.
Trying to do a snownut? Too bad, not going to happen. All you’re going to get is a weird, juddery circle, as the whole system goes into conniption fits trying to figure out just what the loon behind the wheel is exactly trying to do.
“Fun?!” it asks. “Sir would like ‘fun?’ But I don’t even know what that word means!” the computer gibbers to itself, before stutter-stepping straight over an understeer-y cliff.
You can get the back to break loose eventually, but you have to work way too hard to get it to happen, and completely overwhelm the system before you’ve got the rear wheels coming around. All that said, most people who get a Volvo wagon aren’t entering it into Formula Drift. They’re not trying to win over Vin Diesel. They’re just trying to get to where they’re going safely without any drama.
And in that regard, the car does alright. It doesn’t wallow like you might expect, and you get a remarkably large amount of feel from the front tires. The wagon part of the wagon gives you lots of room, and there’s even a little hill-descent mode to stop you from rolling end-over-end down your nearest Alp.
The five-cylinder, 250-horse, 266 pound-foot engine does an adequate job of getting to you where you need to be, even if the sound of it is a bit lame. Plus it’s ridiculously hard to actually get stuck.
It’s also got some technical goodies, like radar-guided cruise control, and a blind-spot system, which work.
It’s not the most exciting car under the sun, not for its MSRP of $49,775, fully loaded. Definitely not. But it’s a valiant attempt at doing something, when you can’t do anything else.
Photo Credits: Raphael Orlove