feature

Volvo V90 Cross Country long-term review

Our senior photographer wants to mix off-road ability with comfort and space. Will Volvo's jacked-up estate fit the bill? He's got four months to find out...

Volvo V90 Cross Country montage
Author Avatar
What Car? team
8 Nov 2019 10:40

The car Volvo V90 Cross Country D5 PowerPulse AWD Plus Run by Will Williams, senior photographer

Why it’s here Does the desire for space and off-road ability automatically mean you need an SUV, or can a jacked-up estate do the job better? We're finding out

Needs to Be able to pack in my camera gear and still have room for passengers, be comfortable on long journeys, be fuel efficient and function as a mobile office


List price £50,610 Target Price £45,577 Price as tested £59,980 Miles 4998 Official economy 49.6mpg Test economy 36.6mpg


8 November – Mode of travel

The V90 Cross Country has been with me for a while now, and I've had plenty of opportunity to get to know it – on my 120-mile commute, heading to widespread photoshoot locations and visiting family in South Devon. Fortunately, I can report that car and driver are getting along fantastically. Or at least, I think we are; I'm not quite sure how the V90 would respond if it could...

I've previously mentioned how relaxing it is, and that remains its greatest strength. But this time around I want to talk a bit more about what it’s like to actually drive – and in particular its various driving modes.

LT Volvo V90 Cross Country driving modes on touchscreen

Now, I’m not usually a fan of these systems which let you adjust the steering weight, the responsiveness of the pedals and gearbox, and the firmness of the suspension. Instead, I just find myself wishing that the development engineers had done a first-class job of setting the car up with one calibration that works everywhere.

I’ve got to admit, though, that in the V90 each mode does bring its own noticeable gains. Plus, it’s useful that you can save your favourite characteristics from each to create an ‘Individual’ mode.

Most of my preferences actually come from the ‘Comfort’ setting, which (yep, you’ve guessed it) makes the car as comfortable as possible. And it probably helps that I specified the optional rear air suspension.

LT Volvo V90 Cross Country rear drive past

However, the V90 can be a wee bit tardy to respond to accelerator inputs, something that’s a problem on the fast A roads that form part of my commute, but which is cured by having the engine in the ‘Polestar engineered’ setting.

What’s more, it’s great that you can combine Comfort for the suspension with Polestar for the engine, because when everything is in Polestar, it makes the ride too firm for my taste and the car suddenly feels very un-Scandinavian.

There’s also an ‘Eco’ mode, which helps maximise fuel economy by switching the engine off whenever you’re coasting. This is useful during the section of my commute that takes place on the M3 motorway, allowing me to get 40+mpg. However, it does automatically knocks the climate control into Eco as well, so if it’s raining and I'm soaked through from a shoot (it’s November; of course it’s raining), the windows steam up.

LT Volvo V90 Cross Country driving mode control dial

I could almost do with two ‘Individual’ modes, then, but at least it’s easy to cycle between Individual and Eco using the scrolling wheel behind the gear lever.

For all the latest reviews, advice and new car deals, sign up to the What Car? newsletter here

Read more on our long-term Volvo V90 Cross Country >>

See more long-term test reports >>

Related cars