Wagons such as the Volvo V60 Cross Country might make the perfect parenting car for scouting potential colleges, but Volvo’s compact wagon hit just right in a Labor Day getaway to the Missouri Ozarks, where the most pressing demands were boat and beer.
I would’ve enjoyed the 2023 Volvo V60 Cross Country Ultimate on more responsible adult adventures as well. But over 800 country miles, I appreciated its timeless design more with each approach, and the contoured bucket seats were so comfy that an eight-hour trip could be had without fuss if not for fuel stops. It’s an excellent touring car, but Volvo’s enhancements for the 2023 model year fall short of the top grades on most other new cars, wagon or otherwise.
On the brand’s march to make all battery-electric vehicles by 2030, and to electrify the lineup before then, the V60 is the last of Volvo’s models to get a mild-hybrid system to supplement the 2.0-liter turbo-4. It features Google built-in running the infotainment system, but the tester lacked wireless Apple CarPlay connectivity as well as a wireless phone charger. Minor quibbles, but for $63,585 as tested, the quibbles are earned.
Pro: Handsome Volvo
Over the years Volvo design has swung between the spartan and the Swedish to the professorial and parochial. Wagons tend to split the difference, but the V60 Cross Country stands out as the best-looking design in Volvo’s handsome lineup.
The Cross Country models stand taller, ride higher, and stretch a bit longer than their sedan counterparts: The V60 Cross Country is 59.2 inches tall (2.6 inches taller than the related Volvo S60); has a ground clearance of 7.8 inches (5.4 inches in S60); and it’s about an inch longer. The stretched proportions of the wagon complement the long nose, and except for German wagons, it’s unlike anything else on roads. It’s such visual relief to not be smacked with rugged adjectives for the soft-roader set, or to be split and diffused as a sedan marketed as sport.
Pro: $3,200 wheel package
It’s a lot, but it upgrades the 19-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels to 20s flexing a seven-spoke design and wrapped in 245/40 Pirelli P Zero all-season tires with great grip on the Ozark’s hilly twisties. And you won’t need to swap them out when winter hits.
Pro: Good handling and ride quality
The double wishbone front and multilink rear suspension aid the tires in providing a spirited ride when pushed, but it also acts as peroxide against road acne as well as wind-blown twigs, armadillo shells, and deer parts. It’s a sturdy blend of sport and comfort, yet the cabin remains quiet while cruising.
Pro: Classic Volvo interior
Inside, the mix of grained wood, chrome trim, perforated nappa leather, and metallic speaker grilles (the $3,200 Bose package seems much more expensive than the wheel package) harmonizes fine luxury materials with spare Swedish design. It’s a calming place to be. Except for the quibbles.
Con: No wireless phone charger
Con: No cordless Apple CarPlay
Con: USB-C only
The V60 was discontinued here and in other markets, but the Cross Country models remain for now, and I’d expect both of these shortcomings to be addressed for the 2024 model year. I can’t think of many other new cars mid-grade or higher without a wireless phone charger.
Wireless CarPlay compatibility might be a Google built-in shortcoming, for now, and the lack of old USB-A ports is my problem. Get an adapter, guy.
Pro: Great seats
Aside from Lincoln, no one makes seats as comfy for road-tripping as Volvo. They’re a lot less plush than Lincoln, but provide superlative support and feel less like you’re getting out of a La-Z-Boy. Power lumbar support with power side bolsters and a power thigh extender means that bodies of completely different shapes, sizes, and complaints of back pain can find the right amount of comfort.
Con: Visors don’t extend
With the visors swung to the doors, there’s at least a four-inch gap for direct sunlight to do its damage. need at least four more inches to block out the sun. If the V60 Cross Country continues, can we get a sliding visor extender?
It should continue, and not just for wagon’s sake. The Volvo V60 Cross Country drives like a grand touring car, but hauls with the flexible cargo space of a crossover SUV. And it’s a real swell looker.
2023 Volvo V60 Cross Country Ultimate B5 AWD
Base price: $55,195, including $1,095 destination
Price as tested: $63,585
Drivetrain: mild-hybrid 2.0-liter turbo-4, 247 hp and 258 lb-ft; 8-speed automatic; all-wheel drive
EPA fuel economy: 23 mpg city, 30 highway, 26 combined
Pros: Great seats, good looks, good ride, good wheels
Cons: Needs tech upgrades at this price, longer visors