In the 90s, Volvo became the harbinger of jacked-up, soft-roading estate cars when it launched the V70 Cross Country.
Today, the Swedish brand offers the Cross Country configuration on the majority of its hatchbacks and estates, and the V90 is the latest recipient of the treatment.
What is it?
The V90 Cross Country has 65mm more ground clearance than the standard car. Four-wheel drive comes as standard, as does hill descent control and a specialised off-road driving mode.
With these changes, an already capable estate gains even more assets to its impressive portfolio.
What's under the bonnet?
The Cross Country is available with one of two engines. These are identical to the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel units found in the standard V90, which come with both the 187bhp D4 and 232bhp D5 engines.
The only difference is the addition of four-wheel-drive on the entry-level D4 engine.
There's ample power and satisfactory refinement at normal speeds, but that four-cylinder hum has the potential to get on your nerves.
However, the advantage of such small engines is fuel economy. Despite the four-wheel drive and increased drag, the V90 Cross Country is capable of exceeding 50mpg.
The Cross Country costs £39,600, which is £4,600 more than the standard V90. This may seem like a lot of extra cash to hand over, but actually this isn't a bad price for such a well-equipped car.
Satellite navigation, climate control and heated seats all come as standard. There is also a selection of optional extras, such as fully electric seats.
If you like the sound of the Volvo but can't quite manage its price tag, the Skoda Superb 4x4 is a suitable, less-expensive alternative.
On the contrary, if you're after something with an even more premium feel, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain or the Audi A6 Allroad should fit the bill.
What's it like to drive?
Even though there has been a considerable size increase, the Cross Country is fairly similar to drive to the standard V90.
Keen scrutiny may reveal a tad more lean in the corners and the suspension being slightly less malleable on harsh surfaces.
Other than these minor differences, you'll have a hard time finding anything out of the ordinary in everyday conditions.
The only place there's a sizeable change is on more rugged surfaces and bad weather, where you'll notice the car is significantly more steadfast.
AOL Cars Verdict
The V90 was already an accomplished all-rounder, but the additional off-road capability has only served to make it more complete.
It still lacks the refinement of more expensive rivals, but it's a sleek machine with substance to back up the style – a truly competent alternative to the German mainstays of the market.
Power (bhp): 232bhp
Torque (Nm): 480Nm
Max speed (mph): 140mph
0-60mph: 7.5 seconds
Emissions (g/km): 139g/km
Written by James Fossdyke