Saturday Road Test – A sedan with SUV genes

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Volvo S60 Cross Country T5 AWD

When Everybody has a Sport Ute

By Ron Amadon

HARPER’S FERRY, WVA. – Let’s face it. Drive through any residential area, or even the parking lot in this historic Civil War town, and there are more sport utes and crossovers than autumn leaves.

In my native New Hampshire these days there are more crossovers and utes than presidential candidates, but just barely.

For all you non-conformists, there is the Volvo S60 Cross Country T5 AWD, a sedan with a name almost as big as it is.

Volvo decided to take the S60 sedan and give it some ute genes. If it looks taller than the S60 sedan, it is – two and one half inches taller riding on 19 inch wheels on the test vehicle. There are some protection plates underneath for those who might venture off road, but my guess is that few Cross Country owners will do so even with 7.9 inches of ground clearance.

As we look toward winter, you should know the All Wheel Drive System will deliver power to the wheels with the best grip. When a tire loses traction, power is reduced to that wheel and instantly transferred to the more sure footed wheels. Hill descent control is standard.

With this mix of sedan and crossover, Volvo admitted it is heading into “unexplored territory.”

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Two items that do not set the Cross Country apart from the S60 sedan are the engine and transmission. The engine is a turbocharged 2.5 liter five, (yes, five,) cylinder rated at 250 horsepower @ 5,400 rpm with 266 lb-ft of torque from 1,800 – 4,200 rpm tied to a responsive six speed automatic.

No alternative drive modes are offered but one can manually select gears via the hefty center console mounted shifter.

There is plenty of power to meet the needs of most owners. Even with a touch of turbo lag, 0-60 is estimated at 6.7 seconds and Volvo also said the turbo runs on regular unleaded.

EPA economy figures are 20 in the city, 28 highway, for a combined 23 mpg. I came in at 25.9 mpg.

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Move inside and let yourself discover just about the most comfortable seats I have experienced in any car in more than a decade of testing. You could put in some serious mileage in this car with little or no objection from various body parts. If there was a bridge, Hawaii would be within reason.

The situation is different to the rear with limited knee and leg room if the front buckets are occupied by those 6’ tall or more. Older citizens might find entrance/exit a bit difficult.

Truck space is limited at 12 cubic feet and disappointing for a car this size but the 60/40 split rear sets do fold down with a release lever in the trunk.

The main bugaboo here is the exterior design and the space taken up by the spare tire. An unexpected and very nice touch, was a pair of gloves in a plastic bag next to the spare to keep your hands clean if you are a do it yourself flat tire changer. I don’t believe I have seen that nice touch in any car.

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Fit and finish inside was top notch. There were a lot of buttons and knobs that control audio, ventilation and other functions but most are easy to reach and figure out. The silver rendition of the human body makes it easy to send the heat on a cold morning to just the right spot.

The Cross Country was quiet with just a hint of wind and tire noise on the interstate. Passing maneuvers were quick and easy, handling was below that of a sport sedan from Germany, but the Volvo never wallowed on back country roads despite its enhanced ground clearance. After all, safety is the name of the game here especially when in its native land there is the desire to avoid any and all elk.

Nice touches included contrasting stitching and nice “Urbane Wood” inserts. Piano Black inlays are an option.

The Volvo Sensus system handles connectivity rather nicely and there is a unique cloud based service developed with Ericson. The 650 watt five-channel Harmon Kardon Premium Sound System produced some great sounds with a minimum of fuss.

Safety? Well yes, that’s what Volvo does.

On the test vehicle was “City Safety” that will either pre-charge the brakes or automatically brake the S60 to help avoid a collision at speeds up to 31 mph. The idea is to avoid a rear end collision or lessen its impact.

Advanced Stability Control uses a sensor to detect and react to oversteer and understeer at an early stage and improve handling in evasive maneuvers.

Another system is designed to avoid striking a bicyclist or pedestrian and can activate full braking power if the driver does not. There also is Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Warning with full automatic brake, Distance Alert, Driver Alert control, (it’s time for coffee dude), Lane Departure Warning, and Road Sign Information with dual constant speed limit reminders in the speedometer.

I thought the rear traffic alert was a bit weak, in some cases notifying me rather later in the process that there was a vehicle behind me.

The test car came with a very different Driver’s Manual. Instead of outlining such mundane things such as how to lock the doors, and what octane the turbo desires, it is focused mainly on safety features, not unexpected given Volvo’s safety mantra. The mundane stuff is available via the center dash mounted 7 inch screen.

Now for the bottom line.

A $1,550 Climate Package heats up the front and rear seats, steering wheel, windshield, and even the washer fluid nozzles. Handy in Montana and northern Sweden, ya know?

With a bunch of other options the MSRP came to $48,390 including transportation from a base price of $43,500.

If, like many others, the last thing you want in your driveway is an SUV and winter is fast approaching, the S60 Cross Country makes a lot of sense. Sexy yet rugged styling outside, and all in all, a niche vehicle that you will not see parked in the driveway across the street.

The incredibly comfortable front seats and Volvo’s relentless pursuit of a super safe vehicle also should not be overlooked.

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