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Volvo V90 Cross Country D4 2017 Road Test

Given the success of the latest Volvo XC90, you might think that the era of rugged, Swedish-built 4x4 estates is over. However, 20 years on from the introduction of the first Cross Country badged V70, Volvo has renewed its outdoorsy credentials with the launch of the V90 Cross Country.

V90 owners will need little reminding of how good Volvo’s big estate is. In fact, in our book, it's one of the best large family cars you can get, with its upmarket interior and large boot complemented by a rewarding drive and high levels of standard equipment. But, with the Cross Country treatment, the V90 also becomes a formidable all-roader.

Like the old XC70, the V90 Cross Country sits higher – up 65mm on the standard car – and features plastic bodywork cladding, skid plates and permanent four-wheel drive. The result is a bigger and meaner looking V90. It also causes a stir on paper too, with its starting price of £39,785 undercutting both the Audi A6 Allroad (£47,425) and Mercedes-Benz E-Class All Terrain (£55,000) by a considerable distance.

The V90 Cross Country is available with the choice of two diesel engines - a 190PS D4 or 235PS D5, with both linked to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Owing to its slightly better official fuel economy (54.3mpg) and lower price, Volvo expects the D4 to be more popular, although the D5 will return a respectable 53.3mpg. There are no plans to introduce a petrol engine.

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Like the standard V90, the Cross County is a large car. In fact, it stretches close to five metres in length, which puts it almost on par with family SUVs. However, while its size makes it a cumbersome thing to park, it does drive extremely well on the open road.

The 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel is extremely refined, running with a smooth and quiet thrum. It produces 400Nm of torque from 1750rpm to 2500rpm, which results in punchy performance through the eight-speed automatic gearbox. It also equates to impressive towing ability, with the four-wheel drive system allowing the Cross Country to tow up to 2.4 tonnes, when hooked up to a braked trailer, which is 800kg more than the standard V90 D4.

Sitting higher up, the Cross Country provides a better view of the road, although the ride is on the firm side, with the toughened suspension and 18-inch alloy wheels making the V90 susceptible to the occasional jolt as it crosses potholes. It's not as harsh as some of its rivals, but there is a notable difference in the ride quality between this and the standard V90.

The four-wheel drive system is good and makes the V90 a competent all-roader, although it is no match for a Land Rover. That said, with its raised suspension, the Volvo should provide enough all-terrain ability to navigate rutted farm tracks and muddy B roads. It also features an off-road drive mode, which will automatically control the vehicle's speed when going down steep slopes. There are no low ratio gears, but the off-road mode will optimise the engine and auto 'box to provide high revs.

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As well as its all-road ability, the V90 Cross Country gets plastic cladding for the wheel arches, bumpers and door sills. These plastic extras are intended to protect the bodywork, but in all likelihood they will provide owners protection from shopping trolleys in supermarket cars parks rather than uprooted tree trunks and boulders. But they do give the V90 a rugged appearance that will certainly win favour with the welly boot and Barbour jacket set.

Like the standard V90, the interior is wonderfully crafted, with lots of premium plastics and soft touch materials. The Nappa leather seats are extremely comfortable and supporting, with powered adjustment in the front which makes them easy to get settled in. Standard equipment levels are also extremely high, with dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, navigation and a bright 12.3-inch colour touchscreen among the basic specification.

The V90's 560-litre boot isn't as big as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate at 670 litres, but the large boot opening and low loading floor make it easy to access the load space. Flatten the rear seats and there's a maximum of 1525 litres, which should prove enough to carry mountain bikes or a kayak. Safety equipment is high across the range, with automatic city brake and adaptive cruise control. Volvo's pilot assist is also included, which effectively allows the car to drive itself, in a semi-autonomous way, by controlling the speed and distance to the vehicle in front, along with steering adjustments.

Volvo expects the Cross Country to make up about two out of every 10 V90 models on the road and we think it's one of the most accomplished 4x4 estates to carry the Cross Country name. Aided by the outright brilliance of the V90, the Cross Country adds a dose of rural practicality to Volvo's estate, making it an appealing choice to those who want an all-roader with genuine towing ability.

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