Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
There are two turbocharged petrol engines available for the Volvo V90 Cross Country, and both have mild hybrid assistance to help their performance and efficiency.
Quite frankly, the least powerful B5 (P) with 247bhp is all you really need. It's got enough shove to enable you to gather speed gracefully, or you can put your foot down, rev it hard and it'll hit 0-62mph in 7.4sec. That's plenty of haste in our book.
If you need something more powerful, the B6 (P) has 296bhp and knocks a second off that 0-62mph time. The only thing is, it's about the same price as the BMW 540i xDrive Touring and that's much faster if speed is your thing.
Or there's the B5 (D) diesel with 232bhp. We’ll be trying that out very soon and will update our review accordingly but, on paper, it has more low-down punch than the petrols (as is often the case with diesels). That means it's likely to be your best bet for towing caravans, although no version of the V90 Cross Country will tow more than 2400kg.
What about ride comfort? Well, the V90 Cross Country's high ride height and soft standard suspension (it's softer and 65mm higher than the standard V90) make it more gracious over bumps than, say, a BMW 5 Series M Sport Touring.
Around town there are occasions when it thumps a little, but only if the road surface is grievously bad. Mostly it's impressively comfortable and at its best on faster A-roads and motorways, where it’s as calm as a cruise liner in dry dock. That said, we'd still place the Audi A6 Allroad just ahead if you’re seeking the ultimate estate car cruiser.
There's an adaptive suspension option but it's quite expensive and we don't see it as necessary. It could be worth adding if you tow, though, because it also adds air suspension at the rear that can automatically raise the back of the car to compensate for a heavy load.
The V90 Cross Country's standard four-wheel drive plus its extra ground clearance and off-road aids, such as hill descent control, certainly help you to get across unlaid roads. It's no Land Rover Defender, though, if you're dead set on tackling the bush.
Its on-road handling isn't brilliant. That's not to say it's a challenging car to drive at normal speeds, because it's dead easy to direct down country lanes and really stable on motorways. But compared with the BMW 5 Series Touring or Jaguar XF Sportbrake, or even a proper SUV such as the Audi Q5, it's not very agile. It leans a bit if you corner quickly and the steering, while accurate enough, doesn’t key you viscerally into the road’s surface beneath.
The V90 Cross Country may be geared to byways but it’s great on bypasses too. Its plush high-speed ride combines with a level of peace and quiet to make it a fine long-distance machine. At speed, there's just a modicum of road noise from its big 19in wheels and tyres and there’s some wind noise but it’s hardly dramatic. That said, an A6 Allroad is still even quieter.
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