For some, it doesn’t seem that long ago when station wagons ruled the hearts, garages and driveways of suburbia. Decorated in fake wood trim — on the outside — and wearing names of mock-English splendor, such as Kingswood Estate, they succumbed to the onslaught of minivans, only to be finished off by SUVs — at least in the United States. In Europe, they never disappeared because they weren’t any bulkier than your typical four-door and could be tuned to handle like a sports sedan while still hauling acres of stuff.
Nevertheless, while every crevice of today’s suburbia seems to be occupied by an SUV of one type or another, there are those who want utility but also seek to stand out in a sea of sameness.
May I interest you in a station wagon? Perhaps one with all-wheel drive, not unlike an SUV?
This explains the 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country.
It rests atop Volvo’s new Scalable Product Architecture that underpins the dazzlingly beautiful 90 Series, with which the CC shares its fetching looks. The Cross Country does, however, wear some unique trim to set it apart, such as lower-body and wheel-arch moldings in your choice of black or body color. Most chrome has been exchanged for blackened trim.
Inside, you’ll find the same elegant interior that’s used elsewhere in the 90 Series, with a spare Scandinavian aesthetic purity that makes this cabin among the finest made at any price, especially when equipped with the luxury package. Its large infotainment screen performs with a sublime simplicity. The seats are extraordinarily comfortable and supportive, and the cabin is quiet. The panoramic sunroof is enormous, lending the cabin a spacious feel. Equally spacious is the rear cargo area, featuring a cover that raises and lowers with the tailgate.
However, the main attraction remains its running gear. Unlike the rest of the V90 line, the Cross Country rides 2.6 inches higher and boasts standard all-wheel drive and hill-descent control as well as larger wheels. It comes solely in the T6 trim, meaning its power comes from a turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that produces 315 horsepower through an eight-speed automatic transmission.
The result is a grand touring car, one that scoffs at weather and can adjust its temperament to be more aggressive or more cossetting. The engine provides the necessary power and, when spooled up, proves instantaneously lively and responsive, although passing maneuvers call for care.
But this car also makes for a faithful off-road companion thanks to its off-road driving mode, which can be selected when the comfort, dynamic, and eco modes aren’t appropriate. Unlike with many crossovers, including the Volvo XC90, this mode doesn’t affect the ride height, which remains an already impressive 8.3 inches. Instead, it remaps the electronics throughout the driveline to accommodate the conditions, which it does effortlessly.
But effortless describes everything about this car. From its exquisite styling to its agility off-road to its magnificent Bowers and Wilkins audio system, the 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country is the knowing answer to a world blinded by SUVs.
Just resist the urge to give it a mock Tudor name.
Base price: $55,300
Engine: Turbocharged, supercharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder (T6)
Torque: 295 pound-feet
Fuel type: Premium unleaded
EPA fuel economy (city/highway): 22/30
Wheelbase: 115.8 inches
Length: 194.4 inches
Cargo capacity: 22-54 cubic feet
Ground clearance: 8.3 inches
Curb weight: 4,221 pounds
NHTSA rating: Not rated