Car review: Volvo V90 Cross Country

The perfect alternative to an SUV

My alarm sounds, it’s 7am…on a Saturday! What am I thinking? Why would I want to get up at this time, in the middle of winter, on the weekend? And then I remember, ROAD TRIP BABY! In an instant I go from wanting to pull the covers back over my head to ripping them right off and jumping out of bed. What is it about a road trip? About the early morning, packing the car, setting your playlist to shuffle and hitting the open the road? It is possibly one of my favourite things to do! Especially when it entails heading up the West Coast in a car made for road tripping. The Volvo V90 Cross Country is such a car!

Many launches take us away from home and away from our loved ones, it’s the nature of the beast. So when Volvo offered me the car for a weekend, to head out of the city with my husband and experience the car in what I would deem my usual routine, I jumped at the opportunity.

Volvo V90 Cross Country

As I mentioned, we woke up early, and after a quick shower we grabbed our stuff and threw it in to the back of the car, because when you have a car like the V90 Cross Country you really don’t have to worry about space. There was no strategy needed. We took everything we needed AND wanted! And here is where I must address the issue of this SUV-mad country. I get it, people see an SUV and assume space-for-days! But I am here to tell you that an SUV is not the only answer. This V90 Cross Country is an estate, which is a word many a South African has forgotten about, it’s now a niche offering, can you believe it? The space offered on such a car is as good, if not better, than what you will find in most SUVs. It has a boot capacity of 913-litres. Let me repeat that for emphasis, it has a boot capacity of 913-litres! And if you need to fit, oh I don’t know, a boat in the back, put the rear seats down and you get an enormous 1 526-litres.

I hear you thinking, “Space isn’t the only reason I opt for an SUV, I also need AWD and a good ground clearance.” Again, I am here to tell you that this car ticks these boxes as well. The V90 Cross Country has a ground clearance of 210 mm. Switch the driving mode to Off-Road and hill descent control will be activated while the throttle and gearbox will be mapped differently which means you will have no problem hitting uneven terrain. On our trip up the West Coast we hit Tietiesbaai and the V90 Cross Country was sure footed and confidence-inspiring over sand, gravel and even rocky roads. We also went in to the West Coast National Park and it was just breathtaking. No need to worry about where we were headed, we knew the V90 Cross Country was more than capable.

Volvo V90 Cross Country

After a three-hour drive, which in the V90 Cross Country felt like an hour, we arrived at the picturesque Strandloper Boutique Hotel and the relaxation really began. We had a massage, followed by an afternoon nap, then a walk along Paternoster beach, wine on our private stoep, and ended with a feast fit for kings at Leeto restaurant. It was an unforgettable experience in one of South Africa’s most prized locations.

Volvo V90 Cross Country

Volvo V90 Cross Country

The next morning after breakfast we headed back home but not before visiting one of my favourite places on earth, Churchhaven. The thing about a car like the V90 Cross Country is that it makes for effortless driving. And when you are in one of the most beautiful places in the world, the last thing you want to be concerned about is your car. Not only from a safety point of view (this list is endless) but from a totally care-free point of view as everything you need is taken care of.

Volvo V90 Cross Country

I realise that in this review I have mainly focused on the experience and not the nitty gritty, but isn’t that what driving is all about? The experience! But because I don’t want you walking away from this review feeling like you have been short changed, here are some facts for you.

You can choose between two turbodiesel and two turbopetrol engines. I was in the T6 AWD Inscription which has a 2,0-litre turbocharged petrol engine producing 235 kW and 400 N.m of torque. It has a claimed fuel consumption of 7,7l/100 km.

Being Volvo, all V90 Cross Country derivatives are jam-packed with tech and safety features. Sat nav is standard, as is Pilot Assist for semi-autonomous driving up to 130 km/h…which believe me is just pure bliss after a long drive arriving back in to town and hitting the slew of Sunday afternoon lazy road-hoggers.

Standard safety features include ABS, EBD, EBA, stability and traction control, hill start assistance and six airbags, and Volvo’s Side Impact Protection System (SIPS) and Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS). Volvo’s patented safety cage is also employed in the V90 Cross Country’s body construction, with high-tensile Boron steel (35%) and a mix of other metals ensuring that the passenger compartment remains intact and that other parts of the car can absorb energy effectively, in the event of a collision. The V90 Cross Country was also recently named one of the three safest cars ever tested by industry safety benchmark testers Euro NCAP.  In case this was not enough for you, you can also expect City Safety which is an autonomous braking system which includes Pedestrian detection, Cyclist detection, Large animal detection and Autobrake at intersections, as well as Rear collision warning, Driver alert control, Lane keeping aid and Lane departure warning, and Road sign information. Do you see why you will experience such peace-of-mind when driving this car?

If this review does one thing for you, I hope it encourages you to consider an estate over an SUV. Not because I have anything against SUVs, but more because I feel that South Africans are being deprived of some incredible products because they just don’t know what’s on offer. The Volvo V90 Cross Country is a car I would happily own, if I could afford one of course!

Watch my video review of the Volvo V90 Cross Country


The new Volvo V90 Cross Country range begins at R770 900 for the T5 Geartronic AWD Momentum, and ends with the T6 Geartronic AWD Inscription at R921 300.

Follow Volvo on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and check out videos on Volvo’s YouTube channel.