Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: January 15, 2022
For the 2022 model year, Volvo have subtley tweaked the nomenclature that denotes the powertrain underpinning their vehicles. What was once a T5 is now a B5, and the same goes for the T6 into a B6. Who cares about what Alpina thinks, right? Well, the new B alludes to a brand new 48-volt mild hybrid system that works in the same way as in Audi and BMW models. It’s an integrated start-generator that supplements the engine with extra horsepower and torque when needed, powers the auxiliaries and electronics, and essentially smoothens and polishes out the power delivery and gear transitions. It also aims to save fuel by shutting off the engine when coasting or when idling, and using battery power instead.
This powertrain is rooted inside our test subject, the new 2022 Volvo V90 Cross Country B6 AWD. And a fun fact: it seems the take rate for the lifted, more off-road oriented Cross Country variant was so much higher than the standard wagon that Volvo doesn’t even offer the latter anymore. That’s not a bad thing, as we love the elevated seating position, butch wheel arches, and black plastic cladding around. But we do miss the sportier, bagged down ride height, and the sportier looks of a V90 loaded up with the R-Design body kit, but I guess that’s a void that the E 63 Wagon and RS 6 Avant can fill up.
The V90 design is nothing new, with its T-shaped headlights, elongated roof, and tall rear lights, elements of which have held up incredibly well for what is essentially a six-year old design. The same could also be said for the interior.
Minimalistic Scandinavian design is the name of the game and all the touchpoints, switchgear, and the cabin layout will be familiar to those who have been driving modern Volvos since 2016. The glossy materials layered over the center console feel better than the drabby black plastics found in Volkswagens and Audis, and though they got rid of that spinning dial that controls the driving mode, the twist knob for the ignition remains, as does the D-shaped gear shifter.
The massaging seats are a bonus on our fully loaded V90, which rings in just under $80,000 as-tested. The massage is strong and actually feels like someone is pressing into your back, unlike the softer and more delicate examples from BMW. Furthermore, the seats coddle you into a cozy and snug position with its adjustable lumbar and side bolster support, and though it’s not as tight and wrapping as the last-generation Volvo seats, they are still plush and supportive enough for long journeys across town.
What is new however is the infotainment system, which now uses an Android interface. So those who are familiar with interacting with an Android smartphone will immediately feel at home. We first toyed around with this system in the Polestar 2, and it is genuinely easy to use once you get the hang of how the menus work. The familiar integration of Google Maps, dedicated home button, and the multitude of shortcut bars adds to its low learning curve, and every feature is pieced together amazingly well, and demonstrates intelligent engineering. It never lags either, even when starting up in frigid temperatures.
The B6 engine in question delivers a healthy 295 hp and 310 lb-ft of torque, and it’s sent to all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic. As with all Cross Country models, all-wheel drive comes standard, and it does an excellent job routing power around and ensuring optimal grip at all times, even when the road is layered with ice. The engine is smooth throughout its powerband but can be loud and somewhat cumbersome at times, especially when the V90 is disengaging its automatic brake hold. The transitions between turbo- and supercharger support are gentle and polished, tagging in and out as they see fit to suit each other’s strengths, and the mild hybrid system conducts it all in a strict choreography.
The V90 Cross Country drives exactly like a luxury wagon should: calm, refined, and unobtrusive to occupants. It provides a grounded ride that hovers over bumps better than a BMW 5 Series, but with a softer and loftier feel than an Audi A6. However, we never quite warmed up to the steering feel provided by any modern Volvo, save for their Polestar Engineered variants. The steering feel in the V90 is simply too light, too inorganic, and is downright synthetic feeling, almost like wrestling around with a Logitech or Fanatec wheelbase that hasn’t even been plugged in. Volvo gives you an option in the settings menu to ‘firm up the steering feel’ but all it does is add weight to the steering, and not actual feel of what the front wheels are doing or how much grip is available.
Wagons are few and far in between in Canada, as most are forbidden fruit catered towards overseas markets. The V90 Cross Country is the exception, and is one of the more stylish, off-road oriented wagons available here that clearly favours ergonomics and functionality over performance, but it effectively splits the difference between a car and an SUV. Furthermore, it’s dripping in road appeal, and with such an expansive bandwidth of abilities and an age-proof design, it may not hold a candle to the sales of the XC90, but in our eyes, it’s the one to have.
Model: 2022 Volvo V90 Cross Country B6 AWD
Paint Type: Thunder Grey
Base Price: $65,950
Price as Tested: $77,450
Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,939 / 2,052 / 1,543
Engine: 2.0-litre supercharged and turbocharged inline-four with mild hybrid system
Horsepower: 295 hp @ 5,400 rpm + 13 hp (integrated starter generator)
Torque: 310 lb-ft @ 2,100 - 4,800 rpm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 10.6 / 8.1 / 9.5
Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 11.3