Volvo was not the first automaker in the world to build station wagons but they are arguably some of the best of their kind.
Volvo has built its reputation on a number of positive points. The first, and most obvious, is safety. After this, comes longevity, reliability and finally, station wagons. The Volvo long-roof began in the early 1950s with the now highly-coveted and extremely cool Duett. It eventually morphed into the Amazon and then into the 140 Series. By then, the love-affair with the Volvo station wagon was well underway.
As the years and generations evolved, nearly every Volvo model could be ordered as a wagon variant. The 200 Series estate truly cemented Volvo’s position as both the provider of the safest cars in the world but also as the builder of some of the most robust and capable.
Safety and wagons
It is important to note here that the most significant contribution Volvo brought to the world of automotive safety is the three-point seatbelt. So significant was it in 1959, exactly 60 years ago now, that it continues to be considered one of the most important safety innovations of all-time, and obviously remains in use today with few changes. But this brief exposé is dedicated to the station wagon…
Truth be told, this story is also about mourning the North American passing of the Volvo V90 and V90 Cross Country as they will be no more in only a few short months. The real fear is that the last of the of the Volvo wagons, the V60 and V60 Cross Country may not survive on their own for very long in our SUV-obsessed automotive climate.
The Volvo wagon has always signified, to me at the very least, the friendliest and most sensible combination of styling, convenience, family and everything that the latter element involves. I myself grew up in station wagons however, for a lack of funds and we being a family of five, we were carted around in American-made wagons. It wasn’t long nonetheless before a few landed in the family fleet. One remains to this day, a lovely 2007 Volvo V70 2.5T AWD, purchased new and as reliable as Old Faithful.
The rise of the Volvo station wagon
Volvo capitalized on the popularity of their wagons by offering one in nearly all series, from the 140s, the 200s, the 700s and the 900s. The 800 Series generated massive volume for the Swedish carmaker and its popularity went so far as to prompt them into entering an 850 Estate in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) in 1994. Although the car did not garner the hoped-for accomplishments and rules changes for 1995 making the Estate “illegal”, Volvo’s entry certainly left a mark – 25 years later, many auto writers still refer to the Swedes’ daring foray into BTCC today.
After the 800 Series’ success, Volvo switched its three-digit nomenclature to an alpha-numeric one. The first V70 was an evolution of the 850 estate but it spawned one of Volvo’s most important modern nameplates: XC or Cross Country. By 2000, the V70 was all-new and more Volvos found new homes. The compact S40 and V40 were also available but gained only minor traction with the luxury car buyer. Volvo evolved the S40 and V50 into a new generation but it too failed to glow. I fondly recall test-driving a V50 T5 AWD with a 6-speed manual! It was fantastic but its $50,000+ price tag was unsettling back in 2006. The V50 passed on a few years later but the Volvo wagon also had a new challenge to tackle with.
The beginning of the end
This era also birthed the XC90 SUV which could be credited with keeping the luxury car company afloat through the difficult years under Ford in the first decade of this century. This did not stop Volvo from introducing follow-ups to the now fabled high-performance 850 R as the S60 R and more importantly, V70 R but time was running out for the estates.
By 2008, of the many station wagons offered in the 80s and 90s, there remained only the V70 and XC70. When 2009 rolled in, the V70 was gone. The XC70 soldiered on as the last true Volvo wagon in North America until 2016. Meanwhile, under Geely, the V60 wagon was born and although it was a superb car, it failed as a utilitarian Volvo station wagon. Subsequent updates could not address this but by 2017, the Volvo V90 arrived and all was set right. The following year, the all-new Volvo V60 landed.
The Volvo station was back, is back, and it’s now the only one left… I’ve not wasted much time in getting behind the wheel of what is arguably the most elegant station wagon money can currently buy. The new Mercedes-Benz C-Class wagon matches it but Volvo has an ace up its sleeve: The Cross Country.
The 2019 Volvo V60 Cross Country
My tested 2019 Volvo V60 Cross Country wagon is sublime, handsome and terribly desirable. With a starting price of $48,900, as tested $61,300 with all the options, the new V60 Cross Country is the perfect stop-gap between the SUV and car and retains the best of both worlds. Among its numerous highlights, the V60’s boot is once more wide, deep and tall enough for three to four golf bags, camping or hickey equipment – it will fit your life.
The raised ride height, tasteful fender flares, unique grille and other visual accents set this estate apart from all others. The optional 20-inch wheels on my test unit merge the car’s increased ground clearance with a sporty stance in a very unique fashion.
The cabin is also roomy, gorgeously appointed with what are still some of the best automotive seats in the world. The drive is wonderfully balanced between comfort and handling while the T5’s 250-horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque are plenty for all driving situations.
The insertion and evolution of technology occurred at an incredibly accelerated rate into Volvo products. This may in part explain why the lovely touchscreen continues to respond and load erratically, or slowly. The only other gripe I can think of is Volvo should introduce a T6 alternative for the Cross Country like its V60 twin.
Now that North America must deal with a sole Volvo station option, I fear that the end is nearing. Please Volvo, do not remove the V60 from our dismal increasingly wagon-free automotive landscape. If you’re like me (I currently own two VW wagons) and love station wagons, please go out and buy one from Volvo or any brand!
Let’s band together and keep the long roof alive and well!