Ahead of the 2015 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, today Volvo announced the availability of the Volvo S60 Cross Country, a sedan with the ground clearance and cladding of a crossover SUV. It’s the latest in a line of off-roady-looking sedans that nobody really cared for.
“The S60 Cross Country is the sole contender in the crossover sedan segment,” said Volvo sales and marketing chief Alain Visser. “We have identified a clear niche in the market for a more capable sedan with rugged styling cues and a higher stance.”
Since the early 1980s, several manufacturers have thought fitting a sedan with a taller suspension and some underbody protection was a good idea, and it’s never really caught on.
In 1998, the Subaru Outback was completely realigning the differences between station wagons and SUVs. What was good for the formerly unloved wagon must be good for sedans, too, right?
A dealer in Massachusetts had been doctoring up his own Outback-esque Legacy Sedans to limited success. Subaru took the idea and ran with it. It lasted one year and quickly disappeared when the second generation Legacy/Outback came on the scene.
AMC Eagle 4×4 Sedan
Based on the rear-drive AMC Concord, the AMC Eagle 4×4 Sedan was available beginning in 1980, along with the vastly more popular 4×4 wagon (seeing a pattern here?) As much as Subaru likes to suggest that it was the first company with the Outback-style concept, you can see here that the Eagle was about 15 years ahead of its time.
The drivetrain utilized Jeep’s 258-cu.in. inline six with a three-speed automatic transmission based on the Chrysler A998, with a Dana 30 front and Dana 35 rear differential. The Eagle sedan was standard with a New Process 119 transfer case with a viscous coupling, allowing for full-time four wheel drive, regardless of the traction conditions.
Almost 10,000 people bought the Eagle 4×4 Sedan in 1980. A year later, that number dropped to fewer than 1,800. AMC never managed to sell more than about 4,000 of the sedans in a year, and by 1987, the number dropped to fewer than 500.
Volvo’s announced S60 Cross Country features an additional 2.6 inches of ground clearance over the S60, along with underbody production and an all-wheel drive system with torque vectoring technology. It’s powered by a turbocharged 2.5-liter five-cylinder engine, rated at 250 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque, mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.