David Motton
Tow Car Editor

See other tow car reviews written by David Motton

Does this halfway-house between an estate and an SUV make sense for caravanners?

Overview

The Cross Country is the pseudo-off-roader version of the V60 estate, with a higher ride height and four-wheel drive. It's available with the T5 petrol engine or the D4 diesel. We think the diesel - the version tested here - is the more likely tow car. Prices start at just over £40,000.

Towing

Volvo quotes both a minimum kerbweight and a running order weight for its cars. The latter includes 75kg for the driver and all fluids necessary for the car to run, so that's the weight we'd use for matching purposes.

At 1854kg, the V60 Cross Country is a heavy car; not quite as hefty as a big SUV, but heavier than most estate cars. The 85% match figure is 1576kg.

We matched it to a Swift Fairway 635 with a MiRO of 1485kg, and set off on a varied journey that included country roads, A-roads and long stints on the motorway.

The D4 engine coped easily with a tourer of this size and weight. With 295lb ft of torque, it confidently and quickly pulled the Swift up to the legal limit.

The Cross Country is only available with an auto gearbox. It could be a little quicker to change down at times, but with so much pulling power, this doesn't hold the car back much.

All that muscle combines with four-wheel drive for hassle-free hill starts. The electronic parking brake holds car and caravan still on a 1-in-10 slope, and releases without allowing the car to roll back. Even on damp Tarmac, there was no problem.

On country roads, the Cross Country maintains a secure and planted feel. The big Volvo continues to inspire confidence on the motorway, with little movement, even in crosswinds.

Being an auto, the V60 Cross Country is predictably easy to manoeuvre on site. The towbar folds down from under the bumper, with the electrics on the side of the socket. The socket is clear of the car, with nothing in your way when hooking up the 13-pin plug.

The rear-view camera gives a clear view of the towball while reversing. However, it is offset slightly to one side - it would be even more useful if it sat dead centre, above the ball.

Overall, we're impressed with the Volvo's towing prowess: it's quick, secure and stable.

Everyday driving

Leave the caravan behind and the Volvo continues to perform well, apart from one or two minor criticisms.

There really is no shortage of punch from the D4 engine, but it can be grumbly when accelerating hard, although it settles into the background once cruising. Road noise over rough surfaces can disturb the peace in the cabin at times.

It's not as engaging or lively on a country road as a BMW 5 Series Touring, but the V60 is satisfying to drive.

It corners neatly and body lean isn't excessive, despite the 60mm increase in ride height over the standard car.

Long-distance travel is its forte, with impressive comfort at speed. Around town, the ride can be a little fidgety.

We suspect the optional 19-inch alloys on our test car don't help, and we would be interested to try the Volvo on the standard 18-inch wheels.

Space

Volvos of old were renowned for their practicality, and in more recent years, the brand has become a byword for understated Scandinavian style.

The V60 Cross Country largely succeeds in combining both attributes.

There is ample legroom for drivers over 6ft tall and the driver's seat is comfortable, but the panoramic sunroof does steal some headroom from both rows of seats.

An uncluttered dashboard is achieved by including many controls within the Sensus touchscreen infotainment system. It looks great, but we'd rather the air-con controls were kept separate.

In the back, passengers have lots of room to relax. Vents between the front seats and in the door pillars mean nobody should be too hot or too cold.

With 529 litres to fill, the V60 has less luggage space than some estates. However, the square shape and lipless load entrance make the most of the space.

Running costs

It's well equipped, with hill descent control, 10-speaker stereo, sat nav, DAB radio and two-zone climate control. But Apple CarPlay and Android Auto Smartphone integration isn't standard. There's a long list of safety kit, although some driver aids are bundled into the £1625 Intellisafe Pro pack.

According to official figures, the Cross Country achieves 41.8-47.9mpg on the combined cycle. We saw an acceptable 26.5mpg while towing.

Technical specs

Engine size1969 cc
Kerbweight1854 kg
85% KW1576 kg
Towball limit100 kg
Maximum towing limit2000 kg
Power187.0 bhp
Torque295.0 lb ft
Official MPG42.8 mpg
Towing MPG26.5 mpg
CO2164 g/km

Verdict

The V60 Cross Country makes a stable tow car and a fine all-weather estate.

Conclusion

Pros

  • Plenty of pulling power
  • Hassle-free hill starts
  • Impressive comfort

Cons

  • Road noise over rough surfaces
  • Air-con controls not separate