Behind The Wheel: Volvo stylish, but lacking in space

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Volvo's 2016 V60 Cross Country is a sleekly styled, compact wagon with strong turbocharged power and an interior that embodies the understated modernism of Scandinavian design.

There are a generous amount of standard features, including leather-covered seats, leather-trimmed steering wheel, a navigation system, power-adjustable front seats, dual-zone climate control and a moonroof.

It has one engine — a 250-horsepower, turbocharged five cylinder mated to a six-speed automatic — that does a good job with the stout wagon's hefty 3,925 pounds. Torque peaks at 266 foot-pounds starting at a low 1,800 rpm for quick acceleration and continues to 2,400 rpm.

With a starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, of $41,940, it's the most expensive non-hybrid wagon from Volvo of Sweden.

Fuel economy isn't the best: The 15.5-foot-long wagon is rated at only 20 miles per gallon in city driving and 28 mpg on the highway. The test vehicle with all-wheel drive averaged only 21 mpg in combined city/highway travel, allowing for a 373-mile range on a single 17.8-gallon tank. However, the turbo engine can run on regular gasoline.

Hybrid style

The five-door, five-passenger V60 Cross Country attempts to straddle the line between a wagon and sport utility vehicle, with its body raised some 2.5 inches higher from the pavement than Volvo's plain V60 wagon.

Volvo is well known for its dedication to safety, yet the V60 Cross Country does not have a standard rearview camera. Rear park assist comes standard on the base V60 Cross Country, but it alerts a driver to the proximity of an obstacle primarily by audible sounds; there is no camera view. To add a rearview camera, one must purchase the $3,650 Platinum package, which also has lane departure warning, forward collision warning with automatic brake and pedestrian and bicyclist detection.

Another worthwhile item for buyers who transport children is the optional built-in child booster seats in the rear seat, which help properly position youngsters for the seat belts.

Buyers who shell out for any of the V60 Cross Country vehicles won't get the kind of interior and cargo room found in SUVs or even some other wagons. The federal government classifies the V60 Cross Country as a small station wagon, and its rear-seat legroom of 33.5 inches is surprisingly small — even the shorter-length Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen has more.

That said, cargo capacity of the V60 Cross Country is 43.8 cubic feet, and towing capacity is a noteworthy 3,500 pounds. Also, the seats are supportive for long trips and the leather is supple.

Drivers may feel a bit closed in in the V60 Cross County, because of the smallish side-door and rear windows and sizable metal pillars around the front and rear windows.

Front-seat head restraints are Volvo's typically large ones, positioned close to the backs of passenger heads to give maximum protection against whiplash in rear-end crashes. These head restraints and Volvo's complicated set of buttons and knobs can take time to get used to for new Volvo owners.

V60 Cross Country's reliability is rated worse than average by Consumer Reports magazine, and the 2016 model was recalled last month because a fuse for the starter motor could become overloaded and blow, leaving the car turned off in traffic and raising the possibility of a crash.


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