The Last Stand Against The SUV Horde

2024 Volvo V90 CC Ultimate

Price: $84,625 CAD

Colour: Platinum Grey

My 3 regular readers will know of my undying love not only for Volvo’s in general, but specifically Volvo Estate cars. I think they’re amazing, beautiful and carry incredible dignity. The unrelenting advance of the SUV has led the auto industry to continuously cut all kinds of cars from production. Sedans, sports cars and particularly wagons are dying a faster death than dial-up in the late 90’s. Volvo announced last year they were discontinuing sales of Estates in the UK. I was stunned at this announcement as the Estate car is a staple of British transport and has been for generations. Volvo Estates have always occupied a special place in the hearts of British families in particular. The endless shift to SUV/CUV’s has even managed to sway the Brits however and Volvo has decided it’s time to pack it in. Much like my neighborhood video store around the year 2000, the writing is clearly on the wall for the Estate car. If Volvo would abandon Estates in one of their most prime of markets, how long will they still be available in North America? We started this whole SUV thing, and I don’t think tastes will shift back to the Estate car before it’s long gone from our shores as well. Join me then as I wax lyrical and revel in the opulence of what could be one of the last examples of the breed – the 2024 V90 Cross Country.

I often hear people, my wife among them, say Estate cars are ugly. While most of the North American efforts would certainly make this a true statement, the European Estate is the opposite. No matter how far you go back, Europe has almost always produced a really nice Estate car. They’re restrained, compact and rather handsome. The Volvo V90 CC is the biggest Estate car the Swedish carmaker currently makes. It runs the risk of being too big and swelling up like Elvis in his latter years. Somehow though, Volvo has kept the fat off this car. If you are one of the 4 remaining people in North America looking for a large 5-seater with lots of storage space that isn’t an SUV, the V90 will work very well indeed. It offers more storage space than it’s more popular big brother the XC90. It also competes well with a variety of other 5-seater SUV’s in the war to haul your luggage to the airport for the coach flight to Japan. The storage space in an Estate car is also much more accessible. The floor of the vehicle is much lower to the ground which makes getting your bits and pieces in and out much easier if the wife has compulsively over-packed your luggage (love you honey).

SUV’s are lauded for their ability to take us anywhere with their improved ground clearance and four-wheel-drive. It’s lovely to think we’re going to take our BMW X5 or the like out to the bush for a weekend of mud slinging but you and I know that this is never going to happen. You’re going to load the kids into it and go the movies, hit the grocery store and come back home. Almost nobody who buys an SUV does anything related to sporty pursuits. As for the utility part of the acronym, the V90 offers just as much of that as any SUV. You get AWD with the V90 and the added benefit of a more car-like driving experience. This may sound like a dirty word in the current culture, but it’s actually a huge advantage. The V90 is so nimble compared to its enormous, knuckle dragging competitors. It fits in parking spots you’d never be able to squeeze an SUV into and does so with ease. That’s what I love about Estates, they offer the ease of driving we like about cars with the utility of an SUV. They’re the best of both worlds.

At around $84,000 CAD the V90 CC Ultimate isn’t cheap. It is however the top trim model and lacks for nothing. Additionally, it just so happens that the X5 starts at $86,000 CAD and goes up from there. The XC90 is more expensive as well and neither of these vehicles has the class and charm of the V90. It should be smoking a pipe and wearing a cardigan.

I don’t go in much for exclusivity. I don’t care about limited edition sneakers or limited production Porsches. It did strike me however just how much attention the V90 generated while I was driving it. People were attracted to this car. This response is driven I suppose by the idea that nobody buys them. I’ve never seen a V90 on the road. This then makes the V90 one of the most exclusive cars you can buy today. Quite the feat for the humble Estate.

Before long the Estate car will be gone, and the world will not mourn its passing. As a culture we just don’t want them anymore. Enthusiasts and lovelorn automotive journalists may take note of its departure, but we will quickly move on to the next homogenous SUV on offer. If, however, you fancy yourself a person of dignity, sophistication and distinction I will challenge you then to keep walking past all the SUV’s and head straight for an Estate car. You’ll be buying something special and singular, and should you feel compelled you can get yourself a matching cardigan.

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