2023 Volvo V60 Cross Country: Will It Dog?
The station wagon is still one of the best kinds of car to get if you’ve got a family—whether that means human children or fur babies.
The 2023 Volvo V60 Cross Country B5 AWD is so smooth and soft that it doesn’t really feel like a car for people who love driving. But by the time my test was over, I have to admit I really came to appreciate the car’s calming energy. Our dogs were sad to see it go, too. This wagon’s take on a robust-luxury aesthetic is unique and sophisticated. And its capacity to carry animals is excellent.
Welcome to Will It Dog, The Drive's car review series for canine owners. Here we'll look at what a Volvo V60 Cross Country is like to live with if you have dogs and point out any specific aspects that help or hurt its case as a dog taxi. We're going to pretty much gloss over the tech specs and engineering since that info is already all over the internet, and focus on the car's physical attributes when it comes to carrying animals.
Our main test dogs Bramble, Indi, and Silas are littermates; half Golden Retriever (dad) and half Australian Shepherd (mom). Bramble's the smallest at 40-odd pounds while her brothers are about 60 pounds apiece. They're energetic animals but comfortable with car rides, harnesses, and travel.
Volvo V60 B5 AWD Cross Country for Dog Owners
- Base price (as tested): $49,895 ($59,690)
- Seating capacity (people): 5
- Seating capacity (dogs): 6 medium-size breed, if you’re ambitious
- EPA fuel economy: 23 mpg city | 30 highway | 26 combined
- Observed fuel economy: 27.9 mpg over 326.7 miles
- Cargo volume: 22.5 cu. ft. (behind rear seats)
- Rear seat to ceiling height: 36 inches
- Front seatback to rear seat: 23 inches
- Door sill to ground height: 19 inches
- Trunk opening to ground height: 28 inches
- Cargo area interior height: 25 inches
- Rear cargo width (main usable area): 41 inches
- Quick take: Clean, comfortable, calm, and highly canine-compatible.
- Will It Dog Score: 9/10
Interior Materials and Layout
Everyone’s seen a station wagon and the concept here is exactly what you think: Like a sedan, but with a long roof. A center console divides the front seats, and the rears can fold down to create cavernous cargo space.
The cockpit feels simultaneously minimalistic and indulgent. This is a look Volvo started leaning into years ago and the Swedish automaker has now pretty much perfected it. It’s as simple as this: A relatively plain design is crafted with spectacularly nice materials and just a few choice accessories that pop like jewelry.
More specifically, the shifter is an illuminated crystal (literal jewelry), and the door handles are gorgeous things that are almost shaped organically, like symmetrical pieces of tree, but chrome. The seat bolsters are shaped a little like cartoon clouds and just the absolute perfect tautness—sliding into them hit me with the joy of cool, freshly-washed bed sheets but they feel so thick you might think they’re knife-proof. They certainly seemed dog-claw proof, though I did run a cover between our animals’ paws and the seats just to be safe.
I also really liked the center console material—it’s different from what you find elsewhere in the car’s cockpit. Talk about robust, that thing feels as tough as a cowboy’s saddle without being coarse. I bet it’d be a very long time before you saw any fatigue from elbows or paws.
Climbing In and Out
One major advantage of a wagon over a truck-style SUV is ease of ingress. Our pups hopped in and out, and all around, this car with ease. It’s a long jump into the tailgate, too much for small dogs, but most healthy petite pups could vault themselves onto the rear floor and then up onto the back seat.
It’s very easy for medium-sized dogs to climb into the front. Bramble will assume the driver’s seat if she’s left alone in a car even for a couple of minutes, and the center console is the perfect step-stool size for her. In other words, if you buy one of these, get a dog divider like this for sure.
Driving With the Dog
Bramble settled into the back seat of the V60 CC quickly. The rear footwell, where she likes to go in some cars, was too small to interest her but the back windows roll down enough for her to get her snoot out and take in smells at low speed.
She made no attempt to climb into the front while the car was rolling, which I take as a good sign that she was comfortable. She also couldn’t climb into the cargo area, which can be a problem in some tall SUVs. The roofline here is plenty high, but not so high that an animal will be inclined to try and pass themselves between the seats and rear hatch.
Bramble did fit quite handily into the cargo bay when I let her enter through the tailgate, though I wouldn’t want to drive her back there for long without a kennel since there are no seat belts.
Driving in General
This car is remarkably soft in your hands. It’s about as far from a driver’s car as I can remember being behind the wheel of. In fact, it’s so cushy that on a late-night airport run, I was conflicted—”is this car safer than my old junkers because it’s bristling with driver assistance, or more dangerous because it’s putting me to sleep?”
Kidding, of course, it’s far safer than my ancient 4x4s and it feels it—another brand-vibe Volvo’s done a great job cultivating is one of safety. But it’s not just because of ads, the V60 CC really did feel like a tank. A tank in the friendliest, most people-friendly military ever. So, like, Starfleet from ‘90s-era Star Trek.
There’s no sport mode, but there is a “firmer steering feel” switch. I have to admit, I had a really hard time telling the difference between having it on and off. And when I could detect it, the slight bump in steering wheel resistance seemed pointless.
The V60 isn’t slow, and it actually makes some pretty good noises if you jump on the gas pedal. This isn’t a car I would make up excuses to go out and drive in, but it’s absolutely one I’d be grateful for on a long drive or after a long day.
Our three Aus-Shep/Retriever mutts fit comfortably across the back seat, and one or two more small-medium dogs could squeeze in there too if you could keep them all calm and buckle them together. One medium dog fits in the way back, too. In other words, you can pretty much clown-car this thing with pooches if you’re not worried about allergies. Because so many of the interior surfaces are smooth, it was pretty easy to clean animal hair up when it was time to give the car back and almost none got stuck in the headliner.
In fact, even if you are allergic, this is a great car to be in because the infotainment screen has a whole mode dedicated to monitoring internal and external air quality. That’s a neat feature now that smog and wildfire smoke seems inescapable no matter which U.S. coast you live on.
The V60 CC is long, but it’s not all that tall. The biggest portable kennels would not fit. But with the seats down, you should be able to fit two medium kennels for animals in the 50-pound neighborhood. In fact, you could probably do two that size plus a third smaller one.
The rear tailgate lifts well clear out of the way, but the very back of the roof is slightly lower than the rest of the interior. As a result, you may be able to fit big two-piece kennels by breaking them down, sliding them in, and then re-assembling inside the car. Yeah, it’d be a pain, but if you’re going on a long trip it could be worth it.
Volvo V60 Cross Country Dog-Friendliness Verdict
Sitting in this car is kind of like ordering an expensive cut of steak at a super high-tier restaurant. Your plate comes to the table and there’s nothing on it but this tiny little morsel. You’re like, “Aw man, that’s it?” Then you take a bite, and hot damn, it’s the best thing you’ve eaten in ages.
I was initially put off by the blandness of both the interior design and driving experience. But as I spent more time with the V60 CC, I came to really appreciate its comfort, intuitiveness, and build quality. As far as dog accommodations, it’s an excellent setup for 40 to 60-pound dogs. The largest breeds will mean you’ll have to fold a rear seat down a lot, which could be tough if you also have humans to carry around. But our three test dogs seemed very happy swaddled in thick leather and bathed in sunlight from the expansive panoramic roof.
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