V90 D5 PowerPulse AWD Cross Country
anybody to name a large
comfortable estate car and its odds-
on that the first brand out of their
mouth will be Volvo. But the Swedish
carmaker doesnt just do brilliant
estate cars it also does even better
Cross Country versions...
SO WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE? For a start the V90 Cross Country is everything
the handsome V90 is but on top of that it's got an extra 65mm of ground clearance
along with silver front and rear 'skid' plates, neat charcoal-coloured wheelarch
extensions and matching lower sill and door mouldings. And although it's higher-riding,
it somehow manages to look even sleeker.
And, as you might have guessed from the name, Cross Country V90 models also
come with all-wheel drive. But before you start thinking that this is just another
trendy 'jack-up' from an opportunistic marketing department, take note: the
Cross Country is a seriously well-fettled step-up model that not only endows
the V90 with excellent all-weather traction but enables it to take you places
usually off-limits to any normal estate car, such as rough-and-tumble off-road
tracks and challenging field conditions; all of which are firmly on the Cross
Country models offer a choice of three powerplants, each harnessed to a smooth-shifting
8-speed automatic gearbox: a T6 315bhp petrol engine along with a pair of 2.0-litre
turbodiesels; a 187bhp D4 or a 231bhp D5 that uniquely benefits from Volvo's
newest power-boosting technology PowerPulse.
drive traction, the
Cross Country will take
you places usually
off-limits to any normal
such as rough-and-
tumble off-road tracks
and challenging field
PowerPulse has been developed to minimise turbo-lag during acceleration and
works by forcing compressed air into the exhaust manifold to spin-up the turbo
extra quickly, therefore minimising lag whenever you accelerate hard, either
pulling away or at low speeds.
The result and hence the name is a near-instant hit, or pulse,
of power. Naturally the air in the reservoir is automatically topped-up to ensure
that the PowerPulse is always ready to deliver extra clout whenever it's called
The really good news is that this system doesn't turn the refined-running D5
into some hard-drinking Santa Pod escapee the extra PowerPulse-generated
oomph is smoothly linear and more than enough to noticeably up the turbodiesel's
game, keeping it willing whenever you need to press on or overtake with maximum
Not that the D5 is short in the torque department with 354lb ft from
1,750rpm there's more than enough and, working alongside the PowerPulse engine,
it makes for a very responsive, very smooth turbodiesel. One that will take
you to a top speed that's exactly double the UK's legal motorway limit; for
more everyday driving, it can see off the benchmark zero to 62mph in a very
sharp 7.5 seconds.
And while PowerPulse increases the Cross Country's 'waftability', it's not at
the expense of economy. Officially the D5 Cross Country's Combined Cycle economy
figure is 53.3mpg. A week in the hands of MotorBar's merciless test team saw
an impressive 44.7mpg recorded commendable for a substantial all-wheel
drive automatic estate car.
While you may not sit quite as high as in one of Volvo's XC90 SUVs, in a Cross
Country you still sit high enough to enjoy that 'in command and in control'
feeling; and the excellent visibility that's an integral part of it.
The cabin is defined by its minimalist Swedish style; elegant, luxurious and
welcoming. Liberal personal space, shapely seats, plush leather upholstery,
classy detailing, understated black walnut trim and subtle brushed alloy finishing
all combine to create what is without doubt one of the most inviting
interiors of any car.
make no apologies for regularly praising the über-comfy seats found in Volvos
because they really are so damned good. And the Cross Country's are more of
the same which is why whenever you have a long-distance journey pencilled
in your diary you'll be positively looking forward to it.
really good news
is that PowerPulse
doesnt turn the refined-
running 231bhp D5 into
Santa Pod escapee
the extra oomph is
smoothly linear and more
than enough to
noticeably up the
Particularly if you're taking a D5 model; because this is a mile-munching machine
that feels as though it's been crafted specifically with cross-continent expeditions
in mind. Plus, with on-demand all-wheel drive, it's ready for all climate extremes.
Both front seats have power height adjustment along with three-stage heating
and multi-directional lumbar support. A three-stage heated steering wheel is
optional and comes as part of the add-on Winter pack a box always worth
ticking in chilly GB. The multifunction wheel is a modish three-spoker, and
its matt black leather rim feels 'the biz' in your hands.
Also a big hit with owners is Volvo's Internet-friendly Sensus connectivity
and entertainment interface. The centrepiece of the sweeping fascia, the portrait-orientated
9-inch tablet-style touchscreen uses clear-cut menus and with pinch and zoom
and swipe functionality it's a breeze to use if you can work a smartphone
or tablet then you're already an expert.
Many of the car's main functions are operated via the touchscreen but those
drivers who prefer hands-on control of the heating and ventilation can, alternatively,
use their voice to operate the climate (as well as other key functions)
the sophisticated voice-control system understands more than 300 naturally spoken
instructions and popular phrases.
As we've mentioned the climate control we should point out that the 2Zone system
comes with Volvo's Cleanzone air-quality control that cleans the cabin air of
contaminants such as particles, hydrocarbons, nitrous oxides and ground-level
ozone. Great news if you have to drive in London's polluted atmosphere.
The driver and front passenger enjoy extremely supportive chairs (they're far
too indulgent to be called seats; a seat is what you get flying Ryanair). Four
XXXL-size adults can travel harmoniously in the light-rich cabin thanks
to a panoramic sunroof the interior is bathed in light (unless you choose to
close the opaque powered sunblind with a one-shot tap of your fingertip).
driving position is first-rate and the five-metre-long Cross Country is easy
to place and manoeuvre, even when you're doing the parking yourself instead
of leaving it to the Park Assist Pilot.
driver and front
chairs (theyre far too
indulgent to be called
seats; a seat is what you
get flying Ryanair).
Four XXXL-size adults
can travel harmoniously
in the Cross Countrys
Other useful driver 'assists' include a head-up display that projects your actual
road speed alongside the legal posted limit (both also shown in the speedometer)
alongside graphic navigational prompts, and an electric parking brake that engages
automatically when you switch off the engine.
Also much appreciated is the digitised instrument display which offers plenty
of customisation choices; for instance, the driver can choose to show the navigation
map as an active background with smaller dials either side.
In-cabin storage has also been thoughtfully considered and there's a place for
everything courtesy of big, long door bins as well as a multi-use tray ahead
of the armrest between the front seats (beneath which you'll find a DVD slot
and a cubby with USB and Aux ports), a good-sized compartment in the right-hand
fascia, a large netted pouch on the central tunnel close to the front passenger's
knee, and a large chillable, two-tier glovebox.
As you'd hope when shelling out £45K, the Cross Country's list of standard-fit
kit is as lengthy as it is comprehensive. But that's not to say there aren't
a lot of tempting options our test car came with £11K's worth of 'I'll-take-that-too'
items including the Xenium Pack (£2,000) which adds Park Assist Pilot for automatic
parking, a parking camera with a bird's-eye 360-degree surround view, and a
powered tilt-and-slide panoramic glass sunroof; Winter Pack (£525) with heated
front windscreen, heated steering wheel, heated washer nozzles, plus headlight
cleaning system; and Intellisafe Surround Pack (£600) that adds blind spot monitoring
with Steer Assist, Cross Traffic Alert and Rear Collision Mitigation as well
as auto-dimming door mirrors.
Other very popular additions include the Sensus Connect with Premium Sound (£3,000)
which includes a pretty awesome Bowers and Wilkins sound system with 18 speakers,
subwoofer and 1,400W output, and the £400 upgrade from the standard 8-inch Active
TFT Crystal Driver's Information Display to 12.3 inches.
It's a Volvo, so there's a host of kit to keep you and yours safe, the most
important of which is probably City Safety this senses and warns of potential
collisions with other vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and even large animals;
ignore the warnings and the system will instigate emergency braking on your
you're already a cruisin' fan you'll like the standard-fit Pilot Assist
using radar and a camera and combining Active Cruise Control with Lane Keeping
Assist, Volvo's high-tech system provides active assistance on motorways enabling
it to 'ghost-drive' for you at speeds of up to 80mph.
a host of kit to
keep you and yours safe,
the most important of
which is City Safety
this senses and warns
of potential collisions
with other vehicles,
cyclists, pedestrians and
even large animals;
ignore the warnings and
the system will instigate
emergency braking on
It's not a full-blown autopilot so you still need to keep your hands on the
steering wheel but even so it takes a load off the driver in heavy traffic.
Also standard are Road Sign Information, Run-off Road Protection (automatically
preps for the worst should the car unintentionally leave the road), Road Edge
Detection, Driver Alert Control, a full array of airbags including one for the
driver's knee, and Stability and Traction Control.
Setting off in the Cross Country, it's satisfying to find that Volvo haven't
harmed the underlying ride and handling characteristics of the 'ordinary' V90,
which comes with four drive settings: Comfort, Dynamic, Eco and Individual.
The Cross Country adds another: Off Road. Selection is via a very tactile scroll
bar in the centre tunnel just behind the equally tactile twist-action engine
Start/Stop knob; both are sited immediately aft of the selector lever.
Dynamic mode markedly spices up the driving experience by keeping the D5 powerplant
in its sweet spot. However, while it's nice to have the choice, we suspect that
most drivers will be more than satisfied leaving the Comfort setting more or
less permanently engaged.
On the move the Cross Country is agreeably composed, with a level-riding attitude,
and corners with precision helped by the on-demand AWD system redistributing
grip to the wheels that need it most to maintain maximum stability. The brakes,
too, are no-nonsense strong. Despite its off-road ability and sitting higher
above the blacktop, the Cross Country seems to ride better than the standard
version and from the helm it's a rewarding blend of the standard V90 and Volvo's
widely-praised, take-no-prisoners SUV, the XC90.
Selecting the Off Road mode modifies the all-wheel-drive behaviour (including
more fit-for-purpose off-road autobox and throttle mapping) for tackling all
kinds of tarmac-free terrain; Hill Descent Control is also activated and automatically
maintains a fixed, safe descent speed for you down tricky slopes. Combined with
a practical 210mm of ground clearance, the Cross Country is reassuring off-road
and well-suited for drivers pursuing an 'active lifestyle'.
road, the AWD system is set up to deliver the most torque to its front wheels
but it's constantly on the watch for any changes underfoot and can instantly
shunt 50% of the engine's torque back to the rear wheels whenever necessary.
Interestingly, full four-wheel drive is always the default at standstill to
ensure maximum traction when pulling away.
grown-ups can travel in genuine limo-like luxury in the V90's rear cabin; even
a third in the middle will feel very much at home. For a start, 90-degree opening
doors make for easy entry and exit, and once seated there's loads of room for
feet and knees, and space for passengers to fully stretch out their legs.
be pleased to hear that,
unlike extra-tall SUVs,
the Cross Countrys
is reachable without
a soapbox so carrying
mountain bikes on the
roof or a 500-litre luggage
box for extra capacity
is easily managed...
The seats themselves are notably supportive and particularly well padded, and
there's a fist of headroom. Making it the place to be on our test car were three-stage
heated outer seats (£300) along with a dedicated rear cabin climate control
set-up (£550). Adding to the comfort is a wide drop-down central armrest with
that absolutely indispensable 21st century provision twin cupholders.
Not only is the V90 extremely roomy in the cabin, but its boot is pretty accommodating
too at 560 litres, it should be more than enough for most people; those
prepared to load it to the roof can fit in 723 litres. Need more? The 60:40-split
rear seatbacks powerfold down flat to create a seamless, totally flat-floored
loadbay that will take 1,526 litres of cargo.
Loading and unloading couldn't be much easier; with the power-operated tailgate
raised, access is though a large frame with a low loading lip. Refreshing, too,
to find that the boot can be opened and closed any of three ways: using
the key fob, the fascia switch or the buttons on the tailgate itself.
Speeding things up is a load cover that retracts automatically as the tailgate
rises. Inside there are sturdy bag hooks and lashing eyelets along with a stretchy
luggage net. Another nice touch is the gas strut-assisted floor should
you ever need to remove the spare wheel you won't need to find another set of
hands to help getting it out.
Very large things that even the Cross Country's accommodating cargo-bay will
be unable to swallow such as a horsebox, boat or caravan can be
towed; no problem for the D5 which can haul a braked 2,500kg.
Weekend warriors will be pleased to hear that, unlike extra-tall SUVs, the Cross
Country's roof is reachable without a soapbox so carrying mountain bikes on
the roof or a 500-litre luggage box for extra capacity is easily managed.
While the V90 is unquestionably a premium class estate, this classy-looking,
more potent and more versatile Cross Country version with a liking for a bit
of the rough, trumps it in fact, we'd say it's the cream of the V90 crop.
And Yes, as desirable as top-gun wagons from Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz ~ MotorBar
Volvo V90 D5 PowerPulse AWD Cross Country
Maximum speed: 140mph | 0-62mph: 7.5 seconds | Test Average: 44.7mpg
Power: 231bhp | Torque: 354lb ft | CO2:139g/km