Good news, college professors: Volvo’s rugged Cross Country wagon is back

Back in 1997, Volvo decided to cash in on the SUV craze by jacking up one of its signature station wagons and adding plastic body cladding. Basically Volvo’s answer to the Audi Allroad and Subaru Outback, the resulting Cross Country became a fixture of suburbia and Northeastern college campuses.

The Cross Country departed with the last V70 wagon, but now it’s back. Based on the recently-launched V60, this SUV-wagon hybrid will debut at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show.

The recipe is still pretty much the same. The Cross Country has 2.5 inches of extra ground clearance compared to the V60, plus fender flares and other jewelry meant to give it a more rugged look.

Volvo also gave the Cross Country its own 18- and 19-inch wheels with high-profile tires that add traction and provide some protection against damage from scraping against rocks or the curb at Starbucks.

Naturally, the Cross Country will launch in the U.S. with all-wheel drive. While it’s not exactly equipped to handle the Rubicon Trail, front and rear skid plates should keep things from getting damaged on the occasional dirt-road drive.

At launch, the Cross Country will be offered exclusively with Volvo’s 2.5-liter inline-five and a six-speed automatic transmission. It develops 250 horsepower in this application, and Volvo expects it to return 23 mpg combined.

One of the newer Drive-E turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engines will be offered at a later date, as well as a diesel option, although that’s probably for Europe only.

The Cross Country will go on sale before the end of the year, meaning it could be sold as a 2015 model. Pricing will be announced closer to the on-sale date.