2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country: Jacked-up Luxury

Published on March 3, 2016 in Test Drives by Danny Geraghty

When one thinks of the midsize luxury segment, the first brands that usually come to mind are BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi or Cadillac. Yet an often overlooked competitor to these manufacturers is Volvo. It produces the S60 sedan and just spruced things up a little by offering a jacked-up version called the S60 Cross Country.

You don’t see to many sedans with raised suspensions these days. Subaru had a raised Legacy over a decade ago which they called a “Sport Utility Sedan,” but to be honest, no others are popping into my head right now. What we usually see are crossover-type vehicles that are essentially raised hatchbacks such as the new Infiniti QX30 or Mercedes-Benz GLA. Volvo seems to have re-created this niche and has it all to itself.

One engine choice

Under the hood, you’ll find a turbocharged, 2.5-litre inline five-cylinder engine mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, producing 250 horsepower and 266 lb.-ft. of torque. It’s the only powertrain available in the S60 Cross Country, but if you were to opt for the base S60 with front-wheel drive, you’d find a more modern turbo 2.0-litre four-cylinder with 240 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque.

The inline-five’s 250 horses were more than enough to satisfy my (often) lead foot and the transmission was also very smooth and precise. Handling doesn’t seem to have suffered as a result of the raised stance, as this vehicle still drove like a car. One of the more interesting finds was its fuel economy. I averaged just 7.5 L/100 km in my week with the 2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country, besting even the manufacturer’s highway rating of 8.4 L/100 km. 

Fits like a glove

I was impressed at the remarkable level of comfort provided by the S60’s seats. Some cars (even some noted luxury manufacturers) are really just not up to par in this department. Not so for Volvo. This was one of the most comfortable vehicles I can remember driving with seats that hug the body perfectly, a shifter that is fun to use and a big fat cushy leather steering wheel.

Being a model nearing the end of its current cycle, I expected some interfaces that were perhaps outdated. The only thing that might be is the overall look of the dash, but I didn’t mind it at all. The essentials are still easy to find and operate, and the brushed aluminum is really quite beautiful. I enjoyed every minute behind the wheel, which is high praise considering that the S60 has likely only one more year left before a refresh.

The conservatively styled exterior still wins me over, even when comparing it to newer designs such as those of the Acura TLX and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. Volvo has always managed a certain uniqueness in their designs that I find separates the Swedish brand from all the others. That trend is continuing with the release of the New XC90 SUV and S90 sedan, and I cannot wait to see what they have in store for the next-generation S60. 

Does it work?

Whether the 2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country works or not depends on what you mean by “work.” It has 2.6 inches more ground clearance than a standard S60, fender flares and comes with standard all-wheel drive.

I suppose you could successfully drive on unplowed roads containing a few more centimetres of snow compared to the standard S60. You could tackle some muddier roads or deeper puddles with no worries, but for the most part, I think the standard S60 with all-wheel drive would do just fine. I think the look and the image of the car plays into the buyer’s perception as much as any incremental increase in off-road ability – and I’m fine with that. 

The 2016 Volvo S60 Cross Country starts at $49,950, which is only $2,000 less than the top-of-the-line S60 T6 AWD R-Design. Volvo says only about 500 units are destined to be sold in North America, so that makes this rare car a potential collector’s item. If you’re into off-road-y things and like rare cars, then the S60 Cross Country is certainly an interesting choice not to be overlooked. 

Test drive report
Test model 2016 Volvo S60
Trim level Cross Country
Price range $49,950 – $56,550
Price as tested 55 800 $
Warranty (basic) 4 years/80,000 km
Warranty (powertrain) 4 years/80,000 km
Fuel economy (city/highway/observed) 11,7 / 8,4 / 7,5 L/100km
Options Climate Package, Technology Package, Blind Spot Information System Package
Competitive models Acura TLX, Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Cadillac ATS, Hyundai Genesis, Infiniti Q50, Lexus IS, Lincoln MKZ, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Kia Cadenza
Strong points
  • Very comfortable
  • Styling still relevant
  • Fuel efficiency
Weak points
  • Dashboard a bit dated
  • Concept of a raised sedan is a bit odd
  • Is there really a need for this car?
Editor's rating
Fuel economy 4.5/5 Much better than expected
Comfort 4.5/5 One of the most comfortable vehicles in its class
Performance 4.0/5 Raised stance had little effect on handling
Infotainment 3.0/5 Doesn't have Volvo's new system yet
Driving 4.0/5 I looked forward to driving it every time
Overall 4.0/5 Overall, a very enjoyable experience
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