Volvo V60 Cross Country really is best of both worlds

The 2017 Volvo V60 Cross Country certainly isn’t a sports car, but for a crossover/wagon, it can be a lot of fun to drive.

2017 Volvo V60 T5 AWD Cross Country: Same number, different letters, much better. 

Price: $50,130 as tested. The model starts at $41,700 and includes an array of options discussed throughout. The metallic paint was a $560 line item, but in the beautiful brown that’s become popular.

Conventional wisdom: Car and Driver liked the “seductive exterior, relatively low volume ensures exclusivity, solid construction” but not that “everything but the styling seems dated, tight second-row seating.”

Marketer’s pitch: “The best of both worlds.”

Reality: Hard to believe it’s from the same family as the XC60.

Regrets: Dear Volvo, suddenly I feel bad for how harsh I was on the XC60. I’m not even sure why. So I can say with abandon — the V60 crossover/station wagon model is my favorite Volvo so far.

Underneath: It’s the same basic 2.0-liter turbocharged engine, but in this vehicle it makes for a mere 240 horsepower compared with big brother XC60, which squeezed 305 horsepower out of the power plant with supercharging in addition to the turbo. And yet, the svelte V60 sprints around the highways and byways while the XC60 felt like a big lumbering fullback.

On the curves: Here, the V60 truly shines. Its shorter overall height and lower profile make “Cross Country” a worthy name. The V60 is no BMW or Mazda sports car, the wheels can start to come unglued from the road surface, although it takes a lot of power to do it, and with so many butterflies aflutter it helps to make the journey along the razor’s edge a lot of fun.

Inside: Mr. Driver’s Seat, however, has a not-fun family. While the Lovely Mrs. Passenger Seat complained about the “boring” look (Spartan would be the Scandinavian term, I believe), Sturgis Kid 4.0 whined that his stilt-like legs and size 13 feet would not adapt comfortably to the rear seat. Stay in your Soul, family. You’re ruining my column.

Driver’s Seat: Drivers are treated to a comfortable ride, at least when they’re not listening to whiners. The leather seats combine comfort and support in just the right amounts, and are not too tight for everyday riding or too loose for handling maneuvers.

Shifty: The 8-speed GearTronic transmission functions admirably. It can be shifted in Sport mode, and shifting is only somewhat awkward. Paddle shifters would be a nice choice, but they weren’t on the test vehicle. While the XC60 exhibited some occasional shuddering, the V60 was a smooth and fun companion at all times.

Friends and stuff: With only 43.8 cubic feet, it’s not winning any awards for hauling mounds of stuff, either. This is about the size of a Honda HR-V. 

Clear line of sight: Being bred in the cold parts of the world, Volvo cars have brought us some unusual cold-weather technology. The most noticeable is an in-windshield defroster for the front. It’s much like the stripes that cover many rear windows these days, although smaller and closer together. The heated windshield is part of the Climate Package with Child Booster Seats, which for $1,650 also added heated windshield washer nozzles, heated steering wheel, heated front seats, and power child locks. It’s unnoticeable for the most part, but occasionally it captures your line of sight and becomes impossible to unsee for a few moments.

Odd controls: In the XC60 review, I mentioned the strange controls in the XC60 for the trip computer and infotainment system, but at least they’re consistent from Volvo to Volvo.

Play some tunes: Like the XC60, the 7-inch LCD monitor is quite small for the price range. A volume knob-button system on the left and multifunction knob-button on the right are easy enough to learn, and the right button functions much like a control knob on a BMW or Mazda system. Sound is brilliant from the Harmon Kardon premium system. It includes equalizer and is part of a $3,650 Platinum Package, which also offers safety technology aplenty.​

Fuel economy: I averaged about 21 mpg in the usual Mr. Driver’s Seat array of country and suburban roads. Feed the V60 premium.

Where it’s built: Gothenburg, Sweden

How it’s built: Consumer Reports predicts the V60’s reliability will be average.

In the end: For people who don’t need all the space of a full crossover and still like to have some fun, the V60 makes a worthy companion.