Volvo V90 D4 AWD Cross Country Auto
IN A NUTSHELL Prioritises style over space, but a fine workhorse
Tested by Alastair Clements Price £42,520 Kerbweight 1860kg Towing/towball limits 2400kg/130kg
WHEN MY FAMILY decided on a weekend of wild camping in place of a tourer, I reckoned a Volvo estate was just the thing to fit in our two dogs, two kids, tent and seemingly endless pile of kit. It soon became clear that although this is a massive car, especially in the limo-like rear, it isn’t the utility wagon of Volvo estates of old. With the dogs and our clothes and food on board – we were grateful for the rigid plastic boot liner – the main luggage area was just about used up, so we moved on to stuffing the rear footwells with sleeping bags and pillows. Which just left the not inconsiderable problem of the eight-person tent and camping chairs. ‘Our’ Volvo is not fitted with roofbars, so I was initially stumped, until I remembered that I had a Thule bike rack in the shed. I deployed the folding towbar (a £995 option), fitted the rack and was delighted to discover it made the perfect platform for the tent and a couple of chairs – carefully secured in place, of course. It didn’t do a lot for the Volvo’s (I think) sensational looks, but was just what we needed, and we were soon on the road, grateful for the V90 Cross Country’s comfortable ride, which didn’t jiggle around our cargo too much.
Even driving solo, it’s easy to see why the Volvo is such a fine tow car. Although fairly soft, it has excellent body control, and its consciously unsporty nature results in a calm, stable long-distance touring car. Without a van behind, the steering feels a little slow, with a reluctance to self-centre, but when towing, this is actually a real help as it avoids sudden movements that can upset the van. The 190PS engine, albeit just 2.0 litres, is muscular, torquey – with a whopping 295lb ft – and refined. The massive 12.3in ipad-style central display is pretty nifty once you’ve worked your way around the various menus, but I did have one complaint. Our car has the optional 360º parking camera (£700), which works well except for the fact that the ‘overhead’ image of the car on the screen is not to scale – it’s too small, which means you need to be a bit sharp to avoid nudging any obstacles when manoeuvring. Oh, and the camping? It was quite wonderful to get back to nature, but I must confess that after a night in near-freezing temperatures, with wet dogs and shivering kids invading our corner of the tent, I was really looking forward to getting back into a caravan.
CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN The stylish Volvo V90 had enough boot space for almost everything, but the tent and chairs had to go on a bike rack at the back