Long distance rental review - 2020 Volvo V90 Cross Country

Messages
333
Location
Atlanta, GA
So just returned from a long distance one way rental which was picked up at Minneapolis airport, driven to Duluth area for the evening then 2 days driving back to Atlanta with a stop in Indianapolis as a mid-way overnight break. Rented from Sixt as they had the absolute best pricing, if not for the one way fee and the additional driver it would have been ~$180 for the 3 days. This was booking their "Mercedes Benz C Class or similar" - its an 18 hour haul back to Atlanta from my parents house so was more than happy to pay for a few car classes better for comfort factor - that drive can be brutal if you are in a car with horrible seats.

The car:
2020 Volvo V90 Cross Country - T6 AWD.
Twin charged 2.0T - 316 HP and 295 ft/lb torque.
8 speed Aisin automatic.

Options based on building a V90 on Volvo website.
- Advance package which included the 360 birds eye view camera system, heads up display and some ambient lighting upgrades on the interior.
- Child booster seats in outboard rear seats
- Advanced air filtration system (this actually works).
- 20" wheels (this was a downside).

The good:

- The build quality, interior appointments, seats, etc. are all superb. For being ever so slightly more budget oriented versus a Mercedes, BMW, Jag, etc. you would never know it. This truly is a luxury car. It was missing a power adjustable tilt/telescoping steering wheel which seems to be odd considering this is playing in the $60k price point, I didn't really compare to the other luxo wagons so I may be incorrect in assuming it should have power adjustable wheel.

- Seat comfort. I know Volvo has been known for their amazing seats and they lived up to their reputation, even after 18 hours behind the wheel over the course of two days I cannot even report any kind of soreness or aching.

- Powertrain. I ended up with a love/hate relationship with the T6 version, it has been out awhile but feels like it still needs some refinement in power delivery. For a 2.0T it is frighteningly powerful off the line, reviews I read state 0-60 in ~5.9 seconds. It is still lugging around a Volvo that weighs ~4200 lbs empty so add a full tank of gas, 375-400 lbs of passengers and 100 lbs of cargo - higher speed passing maneuvers (figure 60-80) it felt a bit more lazy than its power figures would suggest. WOT passing it does not sound like a 4 banger, lower speed acceleration it does sound more like a 4 banger.

The hate part comes in I think in how the twin charging is balanced between the supercharger and turbocharger and no matter what mode I drove in (eco, comfort, dynamic) it just didn't feel like you could accurately control the acceleration level. Unrefined surges in torque after upshifts during easy and normal acceleration from a stop. Cruising at freeway speeds and you need a slight increase in speed (lets say 70-75 MPH) another surge in power that does not coincide with when you push the accelerator. It works great if you are going 100% - in between it feels like they have tried to force this high strung 2.0 to be an economy and performance engine at the same time.

- Ride, braking, handling. I don't want to make this sound bad because it is not, everything is entirely competent. It is definitely geared more on the comfort end so not something you are going to go toss around the corners. Braking was an interesting learning curve as I am more used to braking down a 3000 lb hatchback versus a 4200 lb Volvo wagon, I came into some clover leaf ramps pretty dang hot because I was not really factoring in all the additional weight and what it took to slow that down. Ride was firm, controlled and comfortable - only bad is they put 20" wheels on the car (comes with 19" standard) which caused some jarring rides over harsher sections of road. Outside of the ride from the 20" wheels I cannot say anything bad about the car.

- Autonomous driving. This needed its own section outside of driving. The main driver centric items are the pro-pilot and adaptive cruise control. Once you set the adaptive cruise you can then activate pro-pilot which will keep you "centered" in your lane while the adaptive cruise keeps you safe distance from cars in front. It is semi-autonomous, if you try to just go off and do something else it will call on you to put some pressure on the steering wheel every 20-30 seconds and if you don't it will shut the system off 5-10 seconds later. I did not trust it for the first 15-20 minutes as it was entirely new for me, after seeing what it could do I determined I want a system like this on my next car. It is not perfect by any means and I found a few situations it did not work as anticipated, it does not work if road markings are worn down or missing, it seemed to hug some of the lines on the side of traffic (vs the shoulder) so there were a number of times I was steering it closer to middle when cars were passing me, one situation that confused it was on a state road that had turn lanes where the solid right line would veer to the right for the turn lane - yeah the Volvo would try to veer over.

Adaptive cruise with active following. It works great at speed, the instrument cluster has 3 different markings. Red line showing what it thinks the speed limit is based on scanning the speed limit signs, the solid white bar showing what you have the adaptive cruise set at, then another thin white line showing what it thinks the speed of the slower car you are approaching is driving at. The line showing the car in front of you estimated speed was the most beneficial as if I had room to pass I could slide over before the cruise started slowing automatically. Even at the shortest following distance the Volvo would start slowing you up about 9-10 car lengths behind to match their speed. There were probably a half dozen times or so we just got distracted and ended up just cruising behind slower folks for miles on end because we were just monitoring the controls not realizing we were going 10 MPH slower than we were planning.

Of the combined trip I think we let the Volvo do most of the steering, acceleration and braking on probably half the trip, you do have to intervene to change lanes so if I could have just done a 1 lane trip the whole way the Volvo would have done most of the work. It was such a workload relief, really you just have to still manage traffic (slower and faster cars), I would let the faster folks pass, slide over to the fast lane, adaptive cruise would push me back to my 80 preset and then I would just slide back over to the right and let the Volvo steer me along until the next slower car.

The bad:

Fuel economy:
1,343 miles, average speed 67 MPH, 19 hours 59 minutes - average MPG 27.9. This was strictly highway cruising with a small little 6-7 mile city detour in Indianapolis. Reading reviews online it seems the 30 MPG hwy number is magical and not achievable. For a small 2.0T (ST?) - I was expecting better. The T6 requires premium only so the expense pretty much matched my Mercedes E350 on the same trip that we ended at 27.6 MPG.

User interfaces: Once I figured out the complex system it made sense, it took us a solid hour to figure out where to go for what in the main screen. The factory nav system (not Apple Carplay or Android Auto) is complete garbage. Apple Carplay and Android Auto interface is rubbish. I don't think I found any positive redeeming quality on that center stack, either that or menu options to make it better were so deep somewhere else I did not find them in 18 hours. Same thing for the instrument cluster that is a LCD display but Volvo gives you like 3 options for the center portion (nav, radio or nothing), then gives you 4 different styles of dials.

Center console: ZERO padding in center console armrest, also somehow Volvo has forgotten to put recesses for cords to pass under the cover when closed. My elbow was not happy towards the end because center console cover seems to be leather slapped on top of plastic.

Overall:

The V90 Cross Country is an amazing experience. The powertrain can be an adaptation because of its awkward power delivery. Everything else about this car has been made in a way to make it a luxury experience. Despite the powertrain oddities and middling fuel economy I would not hesitate to request one of these again if I was doing a long road trip again.
 

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CKN

Messages
6,570
Location
Utah
If you can come up with the cash for one of these-I don't know why gas mpg would be a concern. I just went on Volvo's site and built one-not fully loaded but very nice-
$57,000.00. griping about gas mpg by owners.......................really?
 
Messages
2,920
Location
utah
What a bargain to rent such a nice vehicle. Buying one? Pass. Its a little nicer than a TourX at nearly 2x the price.
 

pezzy84

Thread starter
Messages
333
Location
Atlanta, GA
If you can come up with the cash for one of these-I don't know why gas mpg would be a concern. I just went on Volvo's site and built one-not fully loaded but very nice-
$57,000.00. griping about gas mpg by owners.......................really?

My thing was more I would think a 2.0T would do slightly better on the highway, it barely did better than the early 2000's era 3.5 V6 in my MB E350 but had a lot of drawbacks versus that engine.
 
Messages
4,970
If you can come up with the cash for one of these-I don't know why gas mpg would be a concern. I just went on Volvo's site and built one-not fully loaded but very nice-
$57,000.00. griping about gas mpg by owners.......................really?

We live in an era where the average vehicle purchase now is close to $40k, there are contractors rolling around in $120K F350s, and top tier cruising motorcycles run $32k.

The days of a $25k sensible car are going away....
 
Messages
1,113
Location
Minneapolis
I didn't realize Sixt operated here. Ever since they charged me $130 for 3 gallons of unleaded in Zurich last year I've had a grudge.

The Volvo sounds interesting. I might hold on to my pre-technology 3-series for another couple of years :)
 

CKN

Messages
6,570
Location
Utah
We live in an era where the average vehicle purchase now is close to $40k, there are contractors rolling around in $120K F350s, and top tier cruising motorcycles run $32k.

The days of a $25k sensible car are going away....

If I short trip my Silverado-it gets 16.5 mpg. It's a $54,000.00 (MSRP) truck. I knew going in it wasn't an economy vehicle. It would seem gas mileage info of potential vehicles out there one whats to buy-is readily available. If you want good mpg-there are Jettas, Elantras and the like out there that are less than half price of the Volvo.
 

Ws6

Messages
3,905
Location
South Central US
That engine just seems far too complicated for the lackluster output and mpg it returns. It's almost as if they said "Who asked if it was a good idea? We just wanted to see if we could do it!"
 

pezzy84

Thread starter
Messages
333
Location
Atlanta, GA
I didn't realize Sixt operated here. Ever since they charged me $130 for 3 gallons of unleaded in Zurich last year I've had a grudge.

The Volvo sounds interesting. I might hold on to my pre-technology 3-series for another couple of years :)

Yeah they have been around at least 6 years that I know of, mostly in larger metro areas. You wont find them in secondary markets like Cedar Rapids, Boise, etc. I had some horrific service at one of their Atlanta neighborhood locations but the airport service was pretty dang good at both MSP and ATL. Lots and lots of Volvo's (S60, S90, XC90, V60, V90) at MSP and ATL.

That prepaid fuel is a trap, they are not up front that you are paying for a full tank whether you return it empty or a ¾ full. They just say something along the lines of 'would you like to buy prepaid fuel at $X.XX/gallon?' They will tell you if you ask but don't volunteer that you are paying for a full tank if it was bone dry. The pricing per gallon is competitive compared to filling yourself but then you need to be sputtering into the return lane on fumes to make it worthwhile.
 
Messages
4,970
Yeah they have been around at least 6 years that I know of, mostly in larger metro areas. You wont find them in secondary markets like Cedar Rapids, Boise, etc. I had some horrific service at one of their Atlanta neighborhood locations but the airport service was pretty dang good at both MSP and ATL. Lots and lots of Volvo's (S60, S90, XC90, V60, V90) at MSP and ATL.

That prepaid fuel is a trap, they are not up front that you are paying for a full tank whether you return it empty or a ¾ full. They just say something along the lines of 'would you like to buy prepaid fuel at $X.XX/gallon?' They will tell you if you ask but don't volunteer that you are paying for a full tank if it was bone dry. The pricing per gallon is competitive compared to filling yourself but then you need to be sputtering into the return lane on fumes to make it worthwhile.

Literally every upsale at a car rental place is a scam and is how those franchises make money. Then again, if you intend to deliberately mess up a rental car then the $30/day collision waiver is fairly cheap if that's how you get your kicks.
 
Messages
1,113
Location
Minneapolis
When I was heading back to the airport in Zurich - after a round trip down to Rome and back in a Giulia Ti, a whole awesome story in its own right - I knew that I'd end up returning the car at 3/4 of a tank. Gas stations simply don't exist near airports in Europe like they do in the US. But when I got the bill, holy smokes. I complained at they knocked it down to $120. I did not buy the prepay fuel because I assumed I'd bring it back full. I don't buy the insurance either. Car rental for that trip, Swiss camera tickets included, was into four digits.
 

Nick1994

$50 Site Donor
Messages
13,411
Location
Phoenix, AZ
Just curious, why rent a car from an airport and drive across the country instead of flying?

If you can come up with the cash for one of these-I don't know why gas mpg would be a concern. I just went on Volvo's site and built one-not fully loaded but very nice-
$57,000.00. griping about gas mpg by owners.......................really?
The complaint is that one might expect all that money for a car, that their engineering should be able to make a 4 cylinder that gets better mpg, that doesn't border on V8 mpg.
 

pezzy84

Thread starter
Messages
333
Location
Atlanta, GA
That's a beautiful wagon. I could do without the plastic cladding. Thank you for your comprehensive review.

The V60 and V90 are both beautiful cars, if you don't go for the Cross Country the suspension is normal height and it doesn't have all the cladding. The Cross Country is for "off roading" - the drive mode selector even had an off road setting. I'm sure the most offroad a V60 or V90 Cross Country will see is a snow covered gravel driveway. :ROFLMAO:

Just curious, why rent a car from an airport and drive across the country instead of flying?

My parents are selling the family home and I had some personal childhood items to gather or else it was going into storage, the most important thing being an RC Cessna 172 with about a 5' wing span and about a 4' long body, did not really want to attempt to ship that as it is nothing but balsa wood with shrink wrap plastic skin (think of window tint material). On top of that wanted to spend one last night in the house with my folks before it sold - their area houses don't stay on market long and most of the buyers are cash buyers so have a feeling they will be out sooner than they even anticipate. It was very last minute - told me house was going on market Wednesday, bought my plane ticket Friday night to get there Saturday morning and was back home in Atlanta on Monday. It was a whirlwind trip but I couldn't live with myself if I didn't go one last time as my folks have been there 30+ years.
 
Messages
1,945
I’m interested in a V90 NON cross country review if anybody has one. I LOVE the classic look of the V90 wagon.
 
Messages
115
And people wonder why I keep my 97 960. I can't believe that all that S90 got with a 2.0 liter 4 banger is 28 mpg. My old 87 740 Turbo wagon 2.3 liter inline four with a four speed automatic transmission before I modified it for fuel mileage got, 26.5 on the highway. That was with the cruise control set at 65 mph. The car had a .39 Cd and weighed around 3200 lbs

Two weeks ago I had my 960 out and I got 28.2 mpg with the cruise control set at 65 mph and the trip was a little over 500 miles. The car has a 2.9 liter, 24V, dual over head cam, inline six cylinder with a four speed automatic. This is a 3550 lb car with a .36 Cd.

Every Volvo I've ever owned got better than EPA on the highway from the 1981 242 Turbo-to my 1997 960. I looked at getting another Volvo in 2009 but opted for a Prius because the fuel mileage at the time was abysmal in the new Volvo's.

I will say the new S90's are really nice looking but check out how bad the depreciation is on those cars. I just priced one a 2018 S90 T6 Inscription AWD, 13K miles, $32K. MSRP on that car in 2018 was $58,600, that's a 45% hit on depriciation over three years? The techs I know at the dealer have told me to lease, never buy the new Volvo's because they are rolling nightmares in maintenance costs as they get older. I saw that with my own eyes or should I say heard when a service writer was quoting prices for work on a XC90 that was in for service two weeks ago. It needed brakes, a secondary battery that resided under the dash, plus a couple minor things like an oil change, updated software and the bill was close to $2,000. I was like WTF who would keep a car that it cost $1000 to do a brake job on all four wheels?
 
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