Mercedes-Benz E-Class E220 All-Terrain 2017 review
Will the off-road flavoured Mercedes wagon endear loyal E-Class Estate fans? We've put it through its paces on road and off.
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The V90 Cross Country is no shrinking violet. With the new Volvo family grille, sleek lines, sculpted behind, and clever 'Thor's Hammer' LED headlights, this is a high-riding wagon with pizzazz.
With its beautiful beaches, laid back atmosphere, and picturesque hinterland, Byron Bay makes for a delightful destination, even in the middle of winter.
True, the Sunshine Coast, home to this writer, has a few charms of its own. But a Hollywood action hero is not among them.
And when you have a car with 'Thor's Hammer' LED headlights, surely they have to be driven at a steady 10km/h, past the grand house of Thor himself, while you look around surreptitiously from the driver's seat, pretending not to be indulging in a spot of celebrity spotting?
Sadly, it helps if said Thor is actually in the country. Bubble burst?
Not when you have the kids' picks – the Macadamia Castle zoo, the Rainbow Shop and The Farm – to really remind you of the joys of being a parent.
At least the V90 Cross Country allowed us to travel in comfort. Discovering Byron’s craft beer culture didn't hurt either.
|Volvo V90 2017: D5 INSCRIPTION CROSS COUNTRY|
|Engine Type||2.0L turbo|
Hands up anyone who thinks wagon, and immediately thinks cool? Anyone?
How about a jacked up wagon, just a few centimetres lower than its popular SUV stablemate? No one?
Well, look again people, because the V90 Cross Country is no shrinking violet. With the new Volvo family grille, sleek lines, sculpted behind, and clever headlights, this is a high-riding wagon with pizzazz.
The V90 Cross Country is happy to be different.
It sits proudly on its 20-inch alloys, its stance more cheeky than aggressive, the extra height giving it real presence.
The latter is complemented by the all-around body cladding that hints at a willingness to test the road less travelled. Real-world approach and departure angles may temper the enthusiasm for challenging off-road travails, but do little to detract from the all-wheel drive's picture of confidence.
While the exterior may be all about rugged capability, the interior concerns itself more with the business of sumptuous luxury. The Cross Country mirrors the S90, V90 and XC90 for style and design, using dark-stained walnut wood and high-gloss trim to add a touch of warmth to modern fixtures and fittings.
A 9.0-inch vertical tablet-like colour touchscreen serves as the nerve centre for multimedia and navigation, allowing the cabin to retain a minimalist feel with hardly a button in sight.
The seats are moulded for comfort, offering support in all the right places, with the electric adjustment making it easy to find that optimum fit.
As with the XC90 and S90 I found it difficult to get the car to store my mirror and seat settings, although I am happy to concede this is more a failing on my part than the error of the Swedish manufacturer.
The V90 Cross Country is built on practicality, offering the ideal option for people who don't need an SUV but would like space and proficiency on secondary roads, too.
Interestingly, in Scandinavian countries where its appeal is at its greatest, the Cross Country is the choice for more adventurous forays.
Its lower height makes it easier to unload gear from the roof racks, while its rugged nature is a better fit for grittier terrain, while we'd suggest the XC90 is purchased more as a status enhancer than an off-road specialist.
Accommodation forward of the boot is spacious and comfortable with the back seat easily able to accommodate three largish adults.
Just as interesting is the fact that when Volvo conducted a global census to find out what was most valued by its customers in the brand's most important markets, the consensus was for a more stylish luxurious wagon with a Swedish heartbeat. The Scandinavians, though, had just one request – enough space to carry a fridge or a washing machine.
On that score, they may be slightly disappointed because although the Cross Country is long and sleek, the newly shaped, angled back compromises cargo space a tad. Enough perhaps to prevent you carrying bulky white goods.
A sad day I know, but not enough to stop my littlies from fitting in every item of clothing they own, 76 stuffed toys, a gazillion pieces of Lego, the shell and rock collection, scooters, body boards, wetsuits and flippers, and 12 bottles of wine (okay, so that wasn't theirs) for 10 days in Byron.
So, the boot is plenty big enough, and can get bigger still if you drop the 40/20/40 seats with the handily located buttons in the cargo hold. There are hooks for bags, a flip-up elastic-held panel that will prevent groceries and gear from sliding around, and a roll-up net to stop unrestrained items flying into the cabin in an emergency stop or impact.
There is a 12-volt plug, a well-stocked first aid kit and a temporary space saver spare under the floor.
Accommodation forward of the boot is spacious and comfortable with the back seat easily able to accommodate three largish adults. The transmission tunnel will make life slightly difficult for the passenger in the middle, but it is easy enough to rest a leg on either side.
Backseat passengers also get 12-volt plugs, two cupholders, coat hooks, climate controls, usable door bins and net map pockets to carry their odds and ends.
There are ISOFOX points on the outboard seats, three top tether fastenings, and of course Volvo’s two-stage integrated booster seats to keep the precious cargo safe. No side window blinds, though, which my little people missed.
That comfort is replicated in extravagant fashion for those ensconced in the heated front pews. Aside from generous head and legroom, there are well-placed cupholders that adjust to the size of your takeaway cup, deepish door bins, and a practical centre storage bin and cubby.
The V90 Cross Country is offered here in the Inscription trim only, and starts from a healthy $99,990. For that splash of cash you can expect, among other features, super soft nappa leather upholstery, four-zone climate control, power-adjustable front seats with lumbar support, 12.3-inch 'Digital Driver' display, satellite navigation system with voice control and road sign information, keyless entry with hands-free tailgate opening, Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, and a comprehensive safety package.
Our test car also featured the 'Technology Pack' ($3000) which included a head-up display, 360 degree camera, digital radio and smartphone integration, as well as the 'Lifestyle Pack' ($2000) which adds heated front seats, sunroof and tinted rear glass. Our 20-inch, 10-spoke diamond cut alloys will set you back an additional $2850.
I know luxury offerings are all about optional extras, but perhaps, for $100,000, the Technology Pack (at the very least) could be included as standard.
It is paired with a smooth eight-speed automatic transmission, a heady combination that takes little time to impress.
Now, the Cross Country is also equipped with 'PowerPulse' technology, which is a canister of compressed air mounted near the turbocharger and fed by a small electric pump.
When you press down hard on the accelerator at low revs, the canister injects a burst of air into the turbocharger to give it an added boost before it is spooled up to speed. This keeps turbo lag at a minuscule minimum, giving you power as soon as you ask.
Fuel consumption is a claimed 5.3L/100km for the combined (urban/extra urban) cycle; a little more than the V90, mainly because of its permanent all-wheel drive. We managed 6.3L/100km over more than 1500km, which is pretty handy given its size and weight.
Balanced and self-assured, the V90 Cross Country is an uncomplicated, undemanding drive, one that even makes a school holiday road-trip highly enjoyable.
Traction is almost faultless, braking around New South Wales speed traps rather efficient, while a softer suspension system allows the Cross Country to float easily over bumps and ruts cushioning all but the most persistent inconsistencies.
There is smidgen of body roll and the steering feedback is not all that communicative, but as a family cruiser – especially on the open road – it is delightful.
It is pretty easy to navigate despite its length and the stop/start ignition system is pleasingly intuitive.
Thanks to the PowerPulse system, reaction speed is super quick, the car not leaving you hanging at take-off or those crucial moments when an extra burst is needed.
We found the Cross Country equally impressive on coastal roads and through winding hinterland passes, on newly-built roads and dusty secondary tracks, while its ability also gave reassurance in the darkness of night. The LED active bending headlights may not be unique to Volvo but they are a cool feature and really effective.
And should you find yourself alone in the car and happen upon a delicious set of twisties, the Cross Country will not disappoint. No sudden transformation into a sports car mind, but enough sportiness to give the motorbike day trippers a run for their money.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
ANCAP Safety Rating
Safety is Volvo's party trick, and few can match the Swedish manufacturer's foresight, expertise and execution.
Standard fare on the Cross Country is reassuringly extensive with highlights including side impact protection with airbags in the front seats, inflatable curtain airbags, whiplash protection system, blind spot assist with cross-traffic alert and rear collision warning, hill start assist, hill descent control, front and rear parking sensors and emergency brake assist.
'Pilot Assist', which is Volvo's semi-autonomous driving system, includes adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, driver alert and park assist, with drivers warned if they take their hands off the wheel for more than 10 seconds.
But wait, there's more. The Cross Country also boasts intersection collision mitigation and brake support, and is equipped with systems to detect pedestrians, cyclists and large animals, and stop the car if it starts to run off the road.
Volvos tend to hold their value, although most buyers are likely to keep theirs into a second decade. Warranty is three years/unlimited kilometres with free roadside assist for that period.
A 'SmartCare' service program gives you fixed-price servicing for up to five years/75,000km.
|D5 CROSS COUNTRY||2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$68,200 – 78,430||2017 VOLVO V90 2017 D5 CROSS COUNTRY Pricing and Specs|
|D5 INSCRIPTION CROSS COUNTRY||2.0L, Diesel, 8 SP AUTO||$67,320 – 77,330||2017 VOLVO V90 2017 D5 INSCRIPTION CROSS COUNTRY Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||7|
|Engine & trans||8|
“I'm happy to confess I didn't expect to like the Cross Country as much as I did. But with its cushioning ride, great technology, safety and excellent versatility, it is an easy offering to get used to. It also makes for a great alternative for those buyers who don't want to join the SUV revolution; buyers who want something distinctive. And you don't have to be a Hollywood action hero to spot its appeal.”
Could a charismatic wagon like the V90 XC change your mind about that next family SUV purchase? Tell us what you think in the comments below.
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