Even with its lower-than-SUV roofline, the V60 Cross Country has reasonably useful cargo volume, but rear legroom is tight. (Volvo)

What we’re driving: 2020 Volvo V60 T5 Cross Country

Volvo’s slinky wagon is an SUV by another name – with a lot more style, too.

Volvo appears to be slicing out a distinctive (if miniscule) niche by continuing to offer not only what most others have abandoned – genuine station wagons – but, in the case of the V60 Cross Country, making the strategy more viable by adapting it with SUV styling cues. Seems like a Volvo dealer’s biggest problem with the V60 Cross Country might be in explaining to a customer why they’d consider it instead of the XC60 SUV – particularly when the Cross Country’s 75 mm (2.95 in) of increased ground clearance gives it a similar stance.

The V60 Cross Country’s creased and assertive design is so utterly serious and legit, you need never be concerned about showing up in a station wagon. Volvo may be majority-owned by China’s Geely, but this is a European design statement at its best.

The Cross Country’s standard all-wheel drive and the jacked ride height mean it ought to be as effective a winter-weather tool as any SUV, while adding an easier-going suspension tune to that equation means this car glides much more agreeably over crummy pavement than either conventional cars or many SUVs.

The “T5” designation means there’s Volvo’s corporate 2L turbocharged 4-cyl., here making a fairly standard 250 hp and 258 lb-ft (350 Nm). It gets the job done, if not always with the refinement you might expect of a $57,000 model and with the comparatively mediocre efficiency of many high-boosted 4-cylinder engines that are asked to move a fair amount of weight. And although Volvo carries over the avant-garde design to the pleasing cabin shapes, there’s something about many of the textures and the operation of some controls that leaves the hollow impression of things that look better than they feel.

But with the 2020 V60 Cross Country, Volvo’s assembled the pieces for a compelling premium-wagon package. Volvos have never been for everybody, anyway, making this wagon all the more a unique and smartly styled riposte to the SUV swarm.

2020 Volvo V60 T5 Cross Country

Base price:    $45,100
As tested:      $56,990
Highs:             Statement-making sheetmetal; assertive powertrain; clever interior design
Lows:              Wonky touchscreen HMI; disappointing efficiency; some bush-league interior trim
Takeaway:     Stunning and individualistic package, though hardly perfect

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