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2022 Volvo V90 Cross Country first drive review: Android on board

Front three quarter view of the 2022 Volvo V90 Cross Country.
Stephen Edelstein/Digital Trends

Volvo is known for two things: An obsession with safety and station wagons. Safe and sensible Volvo wagons have dotted suburbia for decades, but the 2022 Volvo V90 Cross Country puts a modern spin on this classic Swedish conveyance.

Volvo’s biggest wagon debuted as a 2017 model and gets some notable updates for 2022. It’s now running the Android Automotive OS infotainment system, with Google features baked right in, even when your phone isn’t connected. It also gets a new mild-hybrid powertrain for added fuel efficiency. Finally, the standard V90 has been discontinued, leaving only the more rugged Cross Country version.

We spent a day putting the Cross Country’s new powertrain and infotainment tech to the test on a drive through New York and New Jersey. For 2022, the wagon is available only in the B6 trim with standard all-wheel drive. Pricing starts at $56,295 (including a mandatory $1,095 destination charge), but our test vehicle had options like a head-up display, a 360-degree camera system, and heated rear seats, bringing the as-tested price to $68,440.

Design and interior

Interior of the 2022 Volvo V90 Cross Country.

Volvo’s current styling creates a distinctive appearance while maintaining the brand’s identity. It’s something many other luxury automakers have tried — and failed — to pull off. The V90 Cross Country has the flat sides and upright profile of classic Volvo wagons. But where those hunks of Swedish iron looked like they were designed using only a ruler, the 2022 Cross Country is remarkably sleek for a station wagon.

The Cross Country treatment adds plastic body cladding and a raised ride height, two SUV-type additions that seem to be the only way to sell a wagon in the United States. The Audi A6 Allroad, Mercedes-Benz E450 4Matic All-Terrain, and Subaru Outback follow a similar formula, aiming to draw buyers away from uber-popular SUVs by copying some of those vehicles’ styling features.

The V90 also shares Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform with the XC90 and XC60 SUVs, as well as the smaller V60 Cross Country wagon and the S90 and S60 sedans. Using the same platform for so many vehicles helps cut costs, but also risks amplifying engineering issues across more models. That’s not a problem with SPA, however. It imbues each Volvo model with an impressive feeling of solidity and refinement.

Volvo’s current styling creates a distinctive appearance while maintaining the brand’s identity.

Interior design is another Volvo strength. As expected for a car in this price range, you get nice materials. Our test car featured (optional) Nappa leather upholstery, matte wood trim that actually looked like it came from a tree, and intricate speaker grilles for the Bowers & Wilkins audio system. Everything was arranged nicely as well. The minimalist design looked appropriately upscale, and put controls where they need to be.

The Cross Country has less rear headroom than the two other similarly sized luxury wagons, the Audi A6 Allroad and Mercedes-Benz E450 All-Terrain. The Volvo does have more front headroom than the Mercedes, however, and more front legroom than both.

Volvo quotes 19.5 cubic feet of cargo space with the rear seats in place, and 31.9 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. Audi and Mercedes don’t list cargo space with the rear seats up, but Mercedes claims its wagon will swallow 35.0 cubic feet of stuff with the rear seats folded. The SUV equivalent of the V90, the Volvo XC90, can also be configured to offer more cargo space, but only if you fold its third-row seats.

Tech, infotainment, and driver assist

The 2022 Volvo V90 Cross Country's touchscreen.

The V90 Cross Country comes standard with a 9.0-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto connectivity (CarPlay will be added after delivery via software update), a built-in Wi-Fi hot spot, and a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. Options include a head-up display and either a 13-speaker (600-watt) Harman Kardon audio system or the aforementioned Bowers & Wilkins system, with 19 speakers and 1,400 watts of power.

For 2022, the infotainment system switches to the Android Automotive OS also used in the all-electric Volvo XC40 Recharge. Instead of relying on apps developed in-house, Volvo outsourced key infotainment functions to Google, so rather than a generic navigation system, you get Google Maps. Google Assistant provides voice control, and the system can connect to the Play Store for third-party apps like Spotify. Android users can also sync their personal profiles to the car. Over-the-air (OTA) software updates are part of the package as well.

Volvo says the system is fully iPhone-compatible (again, CarPlay is included), but everything defaults to Google when no phone is plugged in. That’s not a bad thing, as Volvo did a good job of integrating Google’s design with its own. The Android remake also brought a redesign of the main touchscreen menu, which now includes large horizontal tiles that you swipe to open menus. That streamlined arrangement makes up for the relatively small screen size.

Volvo did a good job of integrating Google’s design with its own.

The instrument cluster can also display maps in impressive detail, or you can switch to Volvo’s “Calm” mode and get rid of most things to minimize distraction.

Standard driver-assist tech includes forward-collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keep assist, run-off-road mitigation, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert, oncoming lane mitigation, and Pilot Assist, which combines adaptive cruise control with automated lane centering.

Pilot Assist worked well for the most part, although there were some hilly sections of New Jersey parkway where it faltered. While these weren’t exactly steep hills, the car still had trouble maintaining a consistent speed. It’s also worth noting that Pilot Assist doesn’t offer any more capability than tech in competitor vehicles, and is behind the likes of General Motors’ Super Cruise and Ford’s upcoming BlueCruise.

Driving experience

Detail view of the 2022 Volvo V90 Cross Country.

The new-for-2022 mild-hybrid powertrain consists of a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline engine with both a turbocharger and an electric supercharger, an eight-speed automatic transmission, and a small electric motor. Dubbed B6, it’s rated at 295 horsepower and 310 pound-feet of torque. That’s 21 hp less than 2021’s gasoline-only T6 powertrain, but torque increases by 15 lb-ft. You also get standard all-wheel drive.

While it does have some electric assist, the V90 Cross Country B6 is no Toyota Prius. The motor can only provide 13 hp in short bursts, so it can’t propel the car by itself. Instead, it replaces the conventional starter motor, allowing for a more aggressive engine start-stop system. It also provides a dab of torque when pulling away from stops, making acceleration smoother. The goal was improved fuel economy, without disrupting the driving experience.

The Volvo’s greatest assets were its ride quality and overall refinement.

With a claimed 6.1-second zero-to-60 mph time, the V90 Cross Country B6 is 1.0 second slower than the rival Audi and Mercedes wagons, based on those manufacturers’ specifications. That doesn’t matter much in real-world driving, however. In our experience, the big wagon had no trouble accelerating away from a stop or overtaking on highways. We were also impressed by the blending of electric and gasoline power. Acceleration actually felt more linear than with the old T6 powertrain.

The Cross Country wasn’t meant to be a performance car, either. While it handled corners with composure, the Volvo’s greatest assets were its ride quality and overall refinement. With its comfortable ride (thanks to optional air suspension) and quiet cabin, we think the Cross Country would be an excellent road trip car. Like other recent Volvos, it’s a reminder that luxury cars don’t need to be sporty to be enjoyable.

Gas mileage and safety

Rear three quarter view of the 2022 Volvo V90 Cross Country.

The 2022 V90 Cross Country is rated at 25 mpg combined (22 mpg city, 29 mpg highway). For reference, the comparable 2021 V90 Cross Country T6 model was rated at 24 mpg combined (20 mpg city, 30 mpg highway), so the 2022 B6 mild-hybrid’s improvements are really only in lower-speed city driving.

Crash-test ratings for the 2022 model aren’t available yet, but the similar 2021 model received the highest “Top Safety Pick+” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). No recent safety ratings from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) were available at the time of publication.

Volvo offers a four-year, 50,000-mile new vehicle warranty and 12 years of corrosion protection with unlimited mileage.

How DT would configure this car

For 2022, Volvo is only offering the V90 Cross Country with the B6 powertrain, all-wheel drive, and a single trim level. That keeps things simple, but there are some optional extras to consider.

To get the most tech, we’d add the Advanced Package, which includes a head-up display and 360-degree camera system, as well as an air quality sensor and upgraded ambient lighting, for $1,700. Audiophiles will also want to check the box for the high-end Bowers & Wilkins system, despite its $4,000 price.

To add a bit more luxury, we’d also equip our ideal Cross Country with the optional air suspension ($1,200) and the Lounge Package ($2,800), which adds Nappa leather upholstery, massaging front seats, and four-zone automatic climate control.

Our take

The V90 Cross Country is an excellent blend of luxury and utility, combining the refinement and indulgent features of a luxury car with the utility of a wagon. With standard all-wheel drive and plenty of cargo space, it’s also a good alternative to luxury SUVs. You’ll certainly stand out more in this than in a garden-variety BMW X5.

The Cross Country doesn’t offer a clear advantage over the Audi A6 Allroad and Mercedes-Benz E450 4Matic All-Terrain on interior space, but its cabin is a much nicer place to be than the somewhat overwrought interiors of the German wagons. The Subaru Outback provides a lot of the functionality of this Volvo for a much lower price, but it’s definitely not a luxury vehicle.

Volvo also now has a standout tech feature in the form of Android Automotive OS. It’s a big plus for Android users, who get a familiar setup and added functionality over basic Android Auto. Even non-Android users will find the infotainment system easy to work with.

Should you get one?

Yes. The classic Volvo wagon is as relevant today as ever.

Editors' Recommendations

Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
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