20 years on – here comes Volvo’s XC90 SUV

  • Generation 4 from the S90 sedan
  • 20-year history of global success
  • Now badged V90 Cross Country
Volvo XC 70 Image: Newspress/Volvo
Volvo XC 70 Image: Newspress/Volvo

GOTHENBURG, Sweden – The fourth generation of Swedish automaker Volvo’s rugged Cross Country all-wheel drive wagons is about to be launched globally, based on the just-launched 2016 Volvo S90 sedan.

Volvo Cars’ instrumental role in defining the adventurous Cross Country segment is widely acknowledged. With the imminent reveal of the new V90 Cross Country the Swedish automaker is set to cement its leading role as the most capable and comfortable premium all-roader on offer and complete its 90 series line-up.

We’re waiting to here from Volvo SA about if/when the model can be expected.

Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo Car Group’s president and CEO, told The Corner in a media release: “The Cross Country has become the true expression of a Volvo car in many people’s eyes. It was a winning concept from the start, perfect for the tough climate and road conditions in Sweden.”

Volvo XC 70 Image: Newspress/Volvo
Volvo XC 70 Image: Newspress/Volvo

The first Cross Country estate back in 1996 combined functional flexibility and rugged capability, the automaker says. “Today, 20 years later, the Cross Country segment is a familiar sight across the premium car market.”

WATCH THE VIDEO: The 2017 Volvo XC90 in action

Volvo claims the Cross Country models can perform on all sorts of surfaces from muddy tracks and knee-deep snow to long-distance open-road driving. They are also said to be popular with horse- and boat-owners thanks to their high ground-clearance, pulling power and responsive all-wheel drive.

“Our Cross Country has cemented its position as a premium mainstay and a true all-weather alternative to an SUV.”

Volvo XC 70 Image: Newspress/Volvo
Volvo XC 70 Image: Newspress/Volvo

Peter Mertens from Volvo’s research and development section told The Corner: “We were very careful from the very beginning to ensure that the Cross Country concept was not just an exercise in rugged styling.

READ MORE Volvo features on Carman’s Corner

“We demanded real-world capability then, as we developed the segment, we added the comfort and convenience elements that Volvo drivers had come to expect.”

The V90 Cross Country will be launched globally in mid-September 2016.


Volvo XC 70 Image: Newspress/Volvo
Volvo XC 70 Image: Newspress/Volvo

First generation – 1997-2000

Volvo Cars’ first Cross Country, the V70 XC, was developed as a capable alternative to a sport utility vehicle and its front-wheel drive cars – AWD being pretty much a no-argument purchase for the snowy roads of winter Europe.

That was 20 years ago and I well-remember the South African launch when a contingent of senior guys from Head Office came over from Sweden to see how their cars performed.


A couple of them rode with me through the bush during my launch/test vehicle, rocky roads an’ all. Certain worries were expressed quietly about what was expected of the car in Africa but all pulled through.

Anyway, globally, the design and drive grew in popularity as old-school SUV’s began to morph into city jeeps. The first Cross Country offered a new and adventurous take on motoring that delivered a competent mix of capability, functionality and comfort.

The V70 XC, Volvo says, was “an instant success, especially in the North American market”.

Second generation – 2000-2007

This V70 XC model, Volvo recalls, came with much bolder styling and higher ground clearance (African lesson, presumably, learned!).

When Volvo’s XC90 arrived in 2002 the V70 XC also received the more modern all-wheel drive system and its badging was changed to just XC70 to align to its bigger brother.

Third generation – 2007-2016

This version added elegance and luxury and the XC70 continued to be a North American love affair, accounting for almost half of the total volume produced.

In 2014 the XC70 gained global recognition as soccer player Zlatan Ibrahimović’s car, thanks to a Volvo Cars commercial featuring the Swedish footballer. Such was the impact that sales grew markedly during its last years of production.

All of which brings us up to date…

For more information contact your nearest Volvo dealer.


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