Wagons haven't been cool in awhile in the U.S. market. Many automakers -- Volvo included -- have elevated the ride height of their five-door vehicles into something vaguely resembling an SUV, but without the SUV proportions.
Volvo is attempting to convince Americans to embrace wagons is the SUV-ified V60 Cross Country, essentially a wagon version of the S60 sedan. But it neither satisfies as a wagon nor as an SUV, which makes it a tough sell.
Sized for dual-income-no-kids couples, the V60 CC comes with a snug rear seat and modest cargo area. We usually like the feel and sprawl of Volvo interiors, but the packaging wizards at Gothenburg headquarters must have taken the afternoon off when they got this assignment. For all its exterior size, it just feels small inside.
This wagon scrimps on leg and head room in the backseat; a tall teenager will be squished sitting behind an average-sized adult. Those with families and accouterments should probably pick the XC60 SUV instead. Also, driver visibility isn't good, with small side and rear windows crimping the view.
That said, the Volvo's cabin feels like a luxury car. The fit and finish of the interior materials have the expected upscale feel; the leather feels sourced from coddled cows.
Just one engine is available, Volvo's familiar 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder mated to an eight-speed automatic. The engine delivers a decent punch but isn't the most pleasant sounding. For fashion's sake or the occasional muddy trail in Vermont, the V60 CC boasts an additional 2.6 inches of ride height over its V60 wagon cousin.
Like most Volvos, the V60 CC suffers from a stiff ride, transmitting road imperfections harshly to occupants' kidneys and bladders. That discomfort happens despite Volvo's excellent record of building firm-yet-supple seats -- which in this case suffered from a lack of lumbar support.
For a brand that focuses on safety, we were surprised by the V60 CC's tail-wagging nature in our avoidance maneuver test. Although it ably navigates sudden suburban obstacles -- such as a wayward bouncing ball -- you don't feel confident that the Volvo will cleanly accomplish its task when you have to swerve. On meandering curvy country roads, the Volvo isn't as athletic as its most direct competitor, the Audi A4 Allroad.
Base models are stocked with luxury equipment including navigation, a moonroof, and leather seats and surfaces.
The audio and climate controls have an interface with lots of tightly spaced buttons. The layout is busy and not all functions are obvious, but the confusion ebbs once you live with the car for a while. You navigate the various menus with a not-so-handy control knob that feels out of date.
This wagon doesn't reward with space for people or gear, and the driving experience is unsatisfying. It earned one of the lowest scores in our wagon Ratings. For the same price, you can buy many roomier or better offerings, including Volvo's own XC60 SUV. Sometimes you don't get what you pay for.