2023 Volvo V60 Cross Country Review: Preaching to the choir
We like wagons here at Hagerty. Volvo wagons, it seems, in particular. Grace Houghton, Stefan Lombard, Eddy Eckart, and I all own longroof Volvos. However, we represent a devoted niche; true “estates” aren’t popular among mainstream U.S. buyers, who have instead flocked to crossovers and SUVs. The few longroofs that manufacturers do sell tend to be lifted up a bit and slapped with black cladding. Case in point: this 2023 Volvo V60 Cross Country.
Lest you confuse it with the XC60 crossover, the V60 is lower to the ground, wears a more traditional wagon design, and competes most directly with the Audi A4 Allroad. It was introduced for the 2020 model year as a variant of the second-generation Volvo S60 sedan, which means it shares that vehicle’s SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) platform and four-cylinder engine.
Grace reviewed this car in 2020, and she appreciated the combination of traditional form and high-end freshness. Volvo revised the V60 Cross Country for 2023, adding a new grille, new rear bumper trim, and standard Android software with Google Maps for the infotainment system.
Volvo simplified the trim choices and options across its 2023 lineup, leaving the V60 Cross Country with the Plus trim as standard and the Ultimate trim for $5300 more. For $55,395, this trim includes a Nappa leather interior with digital head-up display, ventilated front seats, adaptive cruise control, parking sensors, and a 360-degree camera.
The most significant change to the 2023 V60 Cross Country is a 48-volt hybrid system for its powertrain, represented by the “B5” nomenclature. Unlike Volvo’s Recharge models, there is no plug-in function here; a small electric motor functions as an integrated starter-generator, powered by kinetic energy recovered from braking. The gas powertrain remains a 2.0-liter, turbocharged four-cylinder mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Horsepower is down three ponies to 247 compared with the non-hybrid predecessor, but torque remains steady at 258 lb-ft.
Specs: 2023 Volvo V60 Cross Country B5 AWD
- Price: $55,395 / $63,585 (base / as-tested)
- Powertrain: 2.0-liter turbo-four; eight-speed automatic; 48-volt hybrid system with integrated starter generator motor
- Output: 247 hp @ 5400–5700 rpm, 258 lb-ft @ 1800–4800 rpm; 13-hp ISG electric motor
- Layout: Four-door, five-passenger, unibody wagon
- Weight: 4122 pounds
- EPA fuel economy: 23 mpg city /30 mpg highway, 26 mpg combined
- 0 to 60 mph: 6.6 seconds
- Rivals: Audi A4 Allroad, BMW X3, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Lexus NX, Infiniti QX55
Volvo calls the B5 a mild hybrid system, which is actually an understatement. In ordinary driving, we never once noticed the battery at work. The gas engine only deactivates as part of the stop-start system, leaving the 48-volt electric system to handle climate and accessory controls.
In one sense, that’s a victory. This is an easy car to drive, and it never reacts unexpectedly despite the technological advancement inside. The brakes are responsive, reassuring. Steering is light and artificial-feeling but precise. Ride is downright plush, even on the optional 20-inch wheels ($3200). Acceleration is not thrilling but brisk enough for easy highway merging, and the transmission programming does a great job keeping the engine primed for mid-range torque around town. The powertrain is also exceedingly quiet, such that it’s very possible to unintentionally double suburban speed limits without intending to.
On paper, however, it’s difficult to see how this hybrid powertrain really moves the needle at all. EPA ratings for city and combined mileage improve barely, by 1 mpg each, to 23 and 26 mpg. Highway mileage, however, drops 1 mpg, to 30 mpg. Performance from 0-to-60 mph suffers as well, dropping from 6.4 seconds with the outgoing T5 system to 6.6 seconds for this B5. Testers at Car and Driver, meanwhile, could only hit 60 mph in 7.1 seconds. The A4 Allroad does the deed in just 5.5 seconds.
In fairness, performance is not the intended focus of this V60 Cross Country. The wagon’s essential appeal is its combination of Scandinavian design and everyday practicality. In that respect, it’s a winner. So many individual elements add warmth and elegance to this cabin: plush blonde leather, light-colored wood accents, handsome brushed metal, and Volvo’s signature Orrefors crystal gear selector. A BMW X3 tells your neighbors you have money, but the inside of a V60 says you have taste.
These details are as endearing now as they were when we last reviewed the V60 Cross Country three years ago, but the infotainment technology is definitely behind the times. The gauge cluster is all-digital yet almost entirely fixed in its configuration. The infotainment screen is vertically oriented (a holdover from this car’s original Sensus system) but the software seems like it would be far more legible and navigable with a horizontal display. Other annoyances include a rattle from the top dashboard-mounted speaker (part of the $3200 Bowers & Wilkins upgrade) and a heated steering wheel (part of the $750 climate pack) that only heats portions of the rim.
None of these missteps are fundamental dealbreakers, especially because the V60 is such a niche item. If you want a reasonably sized luxury wagon (the V90 is considerably taller, longer, and wider), choices are limited. Perhaps in acknowledgment of this, Volvo doesn’t offer a front-drive or base trim (Core) variant of the Cross Country, as it does on the larger XC60 SUV. Still, even Volvo wagon cognoscenti like us can’t help but remark that the revisions for 2023 don’t seem to make the Cross Country any more compelling than it already is.
2023 Volvo V60 Cross Country B5 AWD
Highs: Gorgeous design inside and out. Hushed cabin. Smooth powertrain.
Lows: Unimpressive mileage for a hybrid. Fussy infotainment system. Stereo system sounds better in higher-end models, like the V90.
Takeaway: A niche player whose fans will love it, perhaps rightfully, in spite of its flaws.