The Volvo V60 sport wagon made its return to our shores for the 2015 model year, getting back into the game with a wide range of models. And for a mid-year surprise, they introduced the all-weather and all-road Cross Country we have here.

Like its XC-70 big brother, the V60 Cross Country gets 2.6-inches of additional ground clearance to make off-pavement treks and snow crawling that much more palatable. In such, it gets its fair share of off-roady trims front and rear to offer both protection and adventuresome style.

The look is a bit sleeker than the XC-70, more artful in its forms and subtle in its hiking boot persona. While the body style isn’t entirely new, it remains fresh here in our market, especially since it received a significant redesign up front in 2014.

For the Cross Country there’s a unique honeycomb grille which better hides the radar sensors for its driver assistance systems, framed nicely by its Xenon headlamps. The front fascia is unique here too with a skid-plate like wrap under.

The interior is classic Volvo, with decidedly architectural forms. Our Platinum grade came with virtually everything offered here including leather chairs power adjustable up front and heated both front and rear. The driver gets memory settings for their seat and mirrors.

Genuine wood trim was optioned here which warms the otherwise dark cabin which is assembled with excellent fit and finish, solid structure, and switchgear that pleases the fingers with a feel of quality. The style is distinctive and not far from a Copenhagen furniture gallery in genre.

Rear seat space is more than adequate in this class offering enough leg and head room for most adults. But it’s the rear cargo area which is the main attraction with a sport wagon isn’t it? Here you can fold the rear seats down with a 60/40 split for a near flat floor

The steering wheel has controls for audio and cruise control and is comfortable in the hands, but missing paddle shifters. Controls for the customizable instrument cluster buck the trend and are found on the left stalk.

One of the first to offer the floating center stack, now popular in many cars, there’s a handy stowage area in the forward part of the center console. Its age shows however with a not so intuitive bank of buttons all lumped together which don’t have defined zones for purpose.

Using the small infotainment screen further adds difficulty as it can be hard to see with its small fonts. And most tasks like storing station presets or programming the NAV system are done through a less than straightforward set of knobs and buttons.

Outside of this, the optioned HarmanKardon audio system is top notch and made our trek into the back roads quite a joy. And with its satellite radio and connectivity options for our devices we didn’t have to go without tunes out here where the radio stations go away.

And that really is what the Volvo V60 Cross Country is all about, so we got on Arizona’s Highway 88 east of Phoenix which treks deep into the Superstition Wilderness and Tonto National Forest. Here we get high in elevation on both paved and dirt roads.

Motivating us is the sole engine, the venerable 2.5 liter turbocharged 5-cylinder which has been a staple of the brand for some time. It offers up 250 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque delivered through a six-speed automatic transmission.

The Volvo V60 Cross Country as equipped is rated by the EPA at 20 mpg city, 28 mpg highway and 23 mpg combined. We achieved 22 mpg combined in our real world testing.

While the engine is more than adequate, we await the day Volvo will offer their new-generation of turbocharged four-cylinder Drive-E engines which offer better efficiency with increased power potential.

Suspension here is reworked to allow for its additional 2.6-inches of ground clearance but retains its native MacPherson strut front and multi-link rear suspension which has long offered sharp and precise handling here.

It’s where the pavement ends that I think the V60 Cross Country really need to be pushed. Not only is that what this car is about, but it’s where we’ll see what we came here for, the color and grandeur of the spring bloom.

The trek takes us tight into the deeply cut narrow path of Fish Creek Canyon, which takes you down a steep descent with cliffs overhead on one side and thousands of feet of vertical drop on the other. While we didn’t need the Cross Country’s hill descent control here today, it would be handy if it were muddy.

The ride here on the rough was just as composed as on the washboard surfaces, offering up a sense of confidence and solidness that conveys not only the quality of its build, but a sense it might just wear well out here in this stuff over the miles.

Whether crawling along on more challenging terrain or blasting along on the more manicured soft roads, the Cross Country proved it has what it takes to get off the beaten path in more ways than one. And most importantly, it has what it takes to get your back home safe.

The 2015.5 Volvo V60 Cross Country has not itself been tested by the IIHS, but the very similar 2015 V60 wagon achieves their Top Satefy Pick+ crash rating with good results across their battery of tests. While results could vary, the V60 Cross Country should offer similar results.

Overall we were impressed with the overall package offered here at its price of $49,350, awarding it 4 of 5 stars in our test.