The current craze for huge SUVs is all well and good but what if you want a spacious family vehicle with a bit of soft-road ability and none of the brashness of a large 4×4?
Volvo V90 Cross Country
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, diesel
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Top speed: 130mph
0-60mph : 8.5 seconds
CO2 emissions: 138g/km
Thankfully, a number of manufacturers still cater for you with the likes of Audiâ€™s Allroad range, Mercedesâ€™ All-Terrain E-Class and this â€“ the Volvo V90 Cross Country.
Iâ€™ve driven the Cross Country before, in the company of other journalists on the launch, but this time around I had the chance to put it through the rigours of a week with the Allan brood to see how it stacks up as a family vehicle.
Spoiler alert â€“ itâ€™s really very good.
Iâ€™ve a soft spot for big Volvos going back to my parentsâ€™ old 740 and as with that old bus, the V90 Cross Country fills the brief of being a spacious and comfortable wagon capable of swallowing up a family and all their day-to-day detritus.
The cabin is big, comfortable and effortlessly cool. Thereâ€™s space and adjustability aplenty for everyone and top quality materials all around. The Cross Country-specific dark leather and plastics arenâ€™t as nice as other modelsâ€™ lighter varieties but from a family point of view theyâ€™ll hide a multitude of sins and last a lot longer.
Away from the passengers, Volvos have long had a reputation as the go-to car if you have a lot of stuff to haul around. The V90 proudly carries on that tradition. The boot is a generous 560 litres with the rear seats in place â€“ plenty for a familyâ€™s worth of luggage. If youâ€™ve something bigger to shift then folding the seats down expands that to 1,526 litres. What adds to the practicality is a deep, wide opening, hands-free tailgate operation as standard and the ability to fold the rear seats at a touch of a button on the D pillar.
The Swedes have also long held a reputation as leaders in car safety and with their vision that nobody will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020 the Cross Country is packed with safety technology.
Every V90 comes with the IntelliSafe suite, including the city safety pack with pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection, front collision warning and automatic emergency braking. Run-off road protection is also standard, as are lane keeping aid, traffic sign information and oncoming lane mitigation.
Our test carâ€™s integrated booster seats are a great idea, especially for families who regularly use more than one car. We spend a lot of time swapping the kidsâ€™ car seats between vehicles and being able to simply pop up the rear seat cushion saves a lot of hassle. It also means anyone sitting in the middle seat has more shoulder room. The only drawback is that our eldest missed the extra side support of his regular high-backed booster seat.
The Cross Country has all the space and safety in common with other version of the V90, where it offers an added layer of convenience is in its soft-roading ability. The raised, specially tuned suspension, four-wheel-drive and some light body cladding mean itâ€™s able to venture a good bit further off the beaten track than standard estates without adopting the full Rambo approach of similarly sized SUVs.
The raised suspension also adds a touch more comfort to the ride. You sacrifice a bit of body control in order to smooth bad surfaces brilliantly but Iâ€™d rather my family estate did that than corner like a McLaren.
Our test car had been kitted out to the max with all manner of goodies â€“ all of them nice, not all of them necessary â€“ but even without a single box ticked the V90 Cross Country features most of what any family will need. The excellent Sensus system with navigation, web services and voice control is standard as are dual-zone climate control, heated seats, LED headlights and, vitally in a family vehicle, the full suite of safety technology.
You could spend thousands on options but avoid that temptation and for Â£40,000 youâ€™ll have sensible, comfortable and capable family transportation that epitomises what Volvo have been so good at for so long.