When we tested the first all-wheel-drive Volvo V70 Cross Country back in 1998, we called it the most do-anything Volvo ever built. Its combination of all-weather and all-road capability, square-back practicality, and upscale luxury really impressed us. Well now it’s 2001, and Volvo has put the V70 Cross Country in for a complete makeover. But is this new XC as good as the original? Or, is it even better? Well, when an automaker schedules an existing model for a complete makeover, the intention is to certainly try and improve on the original. And for the most part, with the 2001 Volvo V70 Cross Country, those intentions are met with flying colors. And that’s evident at first glance. As the Cross Country now sports the broad-shouldered look first seen on the S80 sedan. It also shares the S80’s platform. A too generous use of rugged, blacked-out body cladding, and a taller ride height that gives the Cross country a substantial 8.2 inches of ground clearance, distinguish the all-road Cross Country from its V70 wagon counterpart. But under the hood, the same light pressure turbocharged 2.4 liter, DOHC, 20 valve I-5 that powers the standard V70, also motivates the Cross Country. It’s good for 197 horsepower and 210 pound-feet of torque. To get the heavy horses supplied by Volvo’s high pressure turbocharged I-5, however, you’ll have to forgo the all-wheel drive and opt for the V70 T5 wagon. And that’s a pity. Because at 3,699 pounds, the Cross Country would benefit nicely from the additional 50 ponies and 33 pound-feet of torque. But despite its bulk, the Cross Country’s performance numbers are respectable. At the track 60 was met in 8.5 seconds, with the quarter mile passing in 16.5 seconds at 84 MPH. Power comes on slowly, making the Cross Country feel rather sluggish off the line. But once the turbo spins up, the delivery is consistent and forays into the passing lane are handled with ease. Shifts from the new 5-speed Geartronic automatic transmission are smooth but somewhat hesitant and power-robbing. The manual mode works great for tackling grades and curves, but does little to improve performance numbers. To curb further weight gain, Volvo engineers trimmed 12 pounds from the Cross Country’s all-wheel drive system. Which uses a viscous clutch to transfer torque from the front to the rear wheels when needed. Under normal driving conditions some 95 percent of the torque is delivered to the front wheels. But with no limit on distribution, up to 100 percent of power can be sent to either axle. The Cross Country’s all-wheel drive system is also backed up by Volvo’s TRACS traction control program which uses braking to slow spinning wheels while torque is sent to those that aren’t. Of course the main components in keeping the Cross Country planted on the terra firma are those found in the suspension. The spring-strut lower link front, and multi-link rear set ups with anti-roll bars at both ends, are nearly identical to those found on the V70 and S80. But the Cross Country’s has been revised to accommodate the all-wheel drive system and the additional ground clearance. It’s a proven design that works well. Although in runs through our low speed slalom, the Cross Country displayed plenty of front end plow, and during our emergency lane change test, while it did exhibit a tendency to side step a bit, it never felt out of control. But our biggest concern is revealed out on the road and navigating traffic in town. As this new Cross Country, while it hasn’t grown that much, feels much heavier and less agile than the previous generation. It’s especially noticeable at lower speeds when the steering feel is heaviest. We had no concerns when it came to braking however. The four-wheel, ABS controlled discs brought us down from 60 in a stable 120 feet. And its cabin is second to none in the wagon segment when it comes to comfort and safety. The comfortable and supportive leather power adjustable seats are some of the best in the business. The myriad of safety devices that Volvo has received so many accolades for are all here. From side impact airbags to side curtain airbags. And the V-is-for-versatility attitude is amply displayed with a trick 40/20/40 split rear seat, and a rear compartment that can be configured nine ways to Sunday for either cargo or kids. Volvo wagons have always been known for their practicality, and the Cross Country takes that theme to a new level. And it takes the price along with it. Base price on the 2001 Volvo V70 Cross Country is $35,475. But with a lengthy list of options, that price quickly escalates to $42,995. While that’s not out of reason with comparable all-wheel drive wagons in its class, it’s still a little steep for a still practical family hauler. Once the only serious player in European all-wheel drive wagons, Volvo now sees hungry competitors like Mercedes, BMW, and Audi in its rear view mirror. But years of wagon know-how and a stellar safety reputation keep the V7O Cross Country ahead, and pulling away.
Engine: 2.4 Liter, Dohc, 20 Valve, Turbocharged, I-5
Torque: 210 Lb Feet
0-60 MPH: 8.5 Seconds
1/4 Mile: 16.5 Seconds @ 84 MPH
60-0 MPH: 120 Feet
EPA Mileage: 18 MPG City 22 MPG Highway