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
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What Car? team
16 Dec 2019 16:30

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 6100 Official economy 49.6mpg Test economy 36.6mpg


16 December – It's a hard life

Every time I get back behind the wheel of my Volvo V90 Cross Country, I’m reminded of how much I like it. There really is very little I'd rather be driving instead, especially if I've got an early start and 200 miles to cover with a boot full of kit.

Nothing relaxes you quite like the V90 Cross Country, and when I get to a photoshoot, that rear air suspension gives me a very stable, smooth platform to get low for car-to-car shots.  At Goodwood motor circuit recently, when we had a miserly ten minutes to shoot a Pre-War Alfa Romeo Grand Prix car – valued at a cool £8m, incidentally – on the circuit and get the tracking shots in the bag for sister magazine, Classic & Sports Car, the Volvo helped me get everything I needed in one run around the track.  

The weather wasn't especially kind to us that day either, but with the V90’s boot lid open it acted as a shelter from the elements while I changed lenses without my camera kit getting drenched. On days like this, the heated seats and steering wheel are very swift to get up to temperature too. They also remember which setting you last used the next time you switch the car on – very thoughtful.

Volvo V90 Cross Country with Will on the back of it

On another recent shoot, I got the chance to spend a few minutes inside a £125,000 Mercedes S560 Cabriolet, and yes - it was a lovely cruiser.  It was fitted with Mercedes’ Burmester surround sound system, but even at this price point, the sound experience wasn't a patch on the Volvo's optional Bowers and Wilkins system. 

In fact, I'm still to hear anything that makes music sound quite so good whilst in a car.  As a music lover, the Bowers and Wilkins system might not be cheap but is well worth it if you like your music to sound as it was intended to be heard.  

Bowers and Wilkins stereo in the Volvo V90 Cross Country

It just sounds so natural, yet rich and detailed with a true 3D experience.  You can even adjust the "intensity and envelopment" of the sound. You can choose to give your music the acoustic qualities of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra Hall if you like.  However, for a lot of the music I listen to, "Individual Stage" seems to suit my larger than average, stick-out ears.

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