2015 Volvo V60 T5 AWD Cross Country fills specific niche

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The newly released Volvo V60 T5 AWD Cross Country - to give the new model its full name - fits between the Volvo V60 Sportswagon (reviewed in the Feb. 3 issue of The Bluffton Sun) and the XC60, Volvo's smallest crossover/SUV.

If you like the utility, high ground clearance and high seating of a crossover vehicle, but don't want the rugged, utilitarian SUV looks that many crossovers have, this Volvo Cross Country might just meet your specific needs.

The test vehicle came with a 250hp, turbocharged 2.5L, 5-cylinder motor, putting power down through a 6-speed automatic to all four wheels.

This is Volvo's full time AWD (All Wheel Drive) system that in this model includes hill descent control for when those minor off-road excursions turn a little trickier than expected.

Hill Descent Control, when engaged in slippery and steep off-road situations, helps the driver limit the speed of the descent and helps keep the Cross Country pointing in the right direction.

Both those tasks are a challenge even for seasoned off-roaders, or those snowbirds unlucky enough to have to travel in icy road conditions.

As can be seen in the photograph, the overall shape is very much that of the V60 Sportswagon. The wheel well cladding and raised ride height lend the shape a degree of ruggedness, but not nearly as much as the square-rigged XC60.

With the attractive 18-inch Alloy wheels unique to the Cross Country, the vehicle takes on a look that differentiates it quite markedly from the V60 Sportswagon that gives it its basic genes.

The Cross Country seats five, has 15.2 cubic feet of luggage space, which is expandable up to 43.8 cubic feet by folding some or the entire 40/20/40 split rear seat.

Fuel economy for the Cross Country is quoted as 20-mpg City and 28-mpg Hwy.

Although the ride height is not as great as the XC60, driving the Cross Country around Bluffton and Hilton Head Island showed the often-cited crossover-SUV advantage of being able to see more of what other vehicles are doing in traffic. This does tend to lend a greater degree of confidence in all situations.

The pricing on the Volvo V60 T5 AWD Cross Country starts at $41,000, with optional packages and accessories available to build one just the way you want it.

So which one to choose to best meet your needs, the XC60, the V60 Sportswagon or the "best of both worlds" Cross Country? Thank you for the choices, Volvo.

Basil Massey is a local car enthusiast also known as The Car Fanatic on 93.5 FM and 1130 AM.

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