Test Drive: 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD

Courtesy Volvo

A wagon with the ride height of a SUV tackles a hostile Arizona desert.

The first thing I notice about the new 2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country T6 AWD is its height. The vehicle bills itself as a wagon, but it feels more like I’m driving an SUV as I traverse the hilly terrain of the Arizona desert. The car’s ground clearance backs me up: Its 8.3 inches, putting it in the same league, give an inch or so, as an SUV. And I’m grateful for the extra elevation: It means I can forget the rocky conditions of the dirt road and focus on not taking a wrong turn. I’ve been warned that the few locals in these parts don’t care for strangers. I’m wearing a white hat against the sun and I wave it out the window in surrender before exiting my ride to take a few photos of the landscape.

If I have to scoot, though, I can do it quickly. Getting from 0 to 60 miles per hour only takes six seconds thanks to a super-charged and turbo-charged 4-cylinder engine with 316 horsepower. I’m already confident the all-wheel drive can traverse the rough terrain—though the hill descent control inspires further confidence—and the on- and off-road handling is much better than a typical SUV for any dodge-and-weave maneuvers that may arise.

The V90 CC I’m driving is dark brown from the outside, though its camouflaged with a thin layer of desert dust. The distinctive Thor’s Hammer headlights hint at a Viking pedigree but the V90 CC seems right at home in the desert. Inside, the interior cabin is straight-out-of-a-Scandinavian-spa gorgeous with massaging white leather seats, a dash of dark walnut trim, and a panoramic sun roof. The start knob on the center console feels like a fancy cuff link and the vertical display makes swiping through entertainment and navigation options easy. As you might expect from Volvo, there is an impressive array of safety features, including a collision avoidance system designed to detect pedestrians, cyclists, and large animals. The sweet-sounding Bowers & Wilkins sound system beckons me to throw on the satellite radio system and search for some cowboy tunes. Throw in some more of that desert dirt, and the Volvo V90 Cross Country blend right in.

$69,440 as driven; volvocars.com.