Feature: To the snow and back (and back again) in the 2022 Volvo V60 Cross Country


Tom Fraser


I feel slightly shameful about it, but I’ve never really been to the snow. Not properly, anyway.

Mum and Dad would saddle up our yellow Volvo 240 station wagon for daytrips to a smaller mountain like Mount Donna Buang in Victoria (1250m elevation) to have us play around as kids, but every time someone asks if I’ve ever skied or snowboarded, there’s a pang of guilt before I have to respond with “No”.

Winter after winter, I insist this will be the year where I finally book a proper snow trip with a group of mates, but after a few years spent under lockdown in Melbourne and the rising costs of travelling, it became difficult to organise plans.

I’d have liked to plan a serious snow weekend this year as Victoria finally returned to some semblance of reality, but with quick-filling work and personal travel calendars, I think it’ll slip away once again.

But the next best thing is to step one rung further up the ladder and visit the taller 1433m elevation Lake Mountain at the start of winter, to at least get some snow exposure.

A quick word was exchanged to publisher James Ward to determine which car would be the best to take, but I quickly realised taking a Volvo would be a nice full-circle exercise. The 2022 Volvo V60 Cross Country is a well-suited sled to the task given its all-wheel drivetrain and raised ride height.

Honestly, it would be unlikely that all-wheel drive or a raised ride height would come in handy given the mountain’s small stature (and limited snowfall), but it’s better to have than not, right?

The idea was to head up one week prior to the mountain’s official opening for the year, though record snowfalls saw the snow season begin early. No real problem, but this did mean the necessity of an AWD car – or carrying snow chains for two-wheel-drive ones.

Also unexpected was the puncture our car sustained the week prior, thanks to a mammoth pothole in South Melbourne. This set the trip back, but by the time the car was repaired, Lake Mountain was chock-full of snow – all the better!

Setting off on a Saturday morning with my partner, we packed what little was needed for a daytrip to the snow in the 529L boot and set off in search of coffee and pastries to fuel the journey.

Allow me to talk about the specific Volvo V60 Cross Country, because it’s almost exactly how I’d specify mine. In all honesty, I’d spend my money on a regular V60, but considering you can no longer get that car, the single-spec B5 Mild Hybrid V60 Cross Country is a pretty close match.

The Silver Dawn-painted exterior pairs with a black leather-clad cabin, but by far the standout option is the $5700 Lifestyle Pack that features a high-end Bowers & Wilkins stereo and panoramic sunroof.

That former addition got a proper workout as we whiled away the kilometres on the Eastern Freeway bound for the Yarra Valley. This 15-speaker sound system is something else. The all-encompassing cacophony emanating from the Bowers & Wilkins speakers is seriously impressive. Characterised by a wallop of bass and crisp clarity, listening to any one of your favourite songs is a treat in this car.

While on the freeway, we also engaged the Volvo’s Pilot Assist adaptive cruise-control system with active steering assist. It’s responsive enough to keep itself within a lane, but isn’t the best at staying at the prescribed speed limit.

For instance, I changed the speed limit down to 80km/h to enter the Mullum Mullum tunnel where I know there’s a speed camera. But the downhill gradient meant the car accelerated to 84km/h, which forced me to intervene to ensure I didn’t get pinged.

This freeway schlep also afforded a chance to appreciate the V60’s minimalist cabin. It’s premium materials galore inside, with woodgrain inlays on the dash, metallic inserts to highlight design attributes, and leather all over. The seats themselves are lovely to sit in with a form-fitting figure, and I found more than enough space to get comfy on our journey.

Before too long, we were whizzing by vineyards deep into the Yarra Valley, which unfortunately don’t share the same vibrancy on a grey drizzly day compared to full sunshine. But our goal was further down the road beyond the lush green, ferny forests of Black Spur.

It’s once you get to these twisty, tight sections beyond Healesville that the drive starts to entertain, with the Volvo revelling in the chance to finally turn its front track with purpose.

The V60 Cross Country maintains a steady composure as a lower-slung wagon, as opposed to a high-riding SUV. A minimised sense of body roll, light and accurate steering character, and willingness to shun mid-corner bumps mark the V60’s drive experience. In fact, its ride quality overall is really well judged and eats up all manner of road imperfections.

Power is supplied by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine whose outputs are sent to an all-wheel drivetrain. It’s a single powertrain option for the V60 Cross Country range which, along with a 48-volt mild hybrid system, produces 183kW/350Nm. As well, you’ll only get an eight-speed torque converter automatic.

A hearty engine and gearbox response allows for strong punch out of tight 90-degree corners, while overtakes are performed without a worry.

After stopping off for a quick photo-op at Selover’s Lookout over picturesque Maroondah Reservoir, I ran into an annoying quirk of the Volvo’s controls. It’s a minor distraction, but you can’t simply shift from drive to reverse like other cars. The gear selector must be moved once into neutral, then clicked again into drive. Not so much of a problem on a lazy day out in the country, but this would undoubtedly annoy when around the hustle and bustle of suburbia.

We trundle into Marysville for a quick stretch of the legs and to pick up rental overpants and toboggans, then continue the final stretch up to the Lake Mountain summit.

To drive the Volvo up to the top, we paid a $54 entry fee and we were on our way. Note: you must now pre-purchase your entry pass in order to be allowed in.

I’d driven the stretch of Lake Mountain Road countless times in the dry as part of car evaluation, but I was naively unsure about what to expect in snowy conditions. I say naively, because as it turns out, they plough the road regularly to ensure cars of all types can make it up the pass. Rookie, I know.

With the absence of snow on the road, there was never much worry paid to the car’s traction, but it was fairly wet. The Volvo’s traction-control system kept everything in check without so much of a wheel slip, which was especially reassuring given the chance of black ice on the road.

Driving up the (thankfully) wide roads, we kept a close eye on the temperature gauge within the 9.0-inch infotainment screen as it ticked lower and lower towards the freezing point.

Almost exactly as we reached the top carpark, the number ticked to zero degrees. Go time.

For a small mountain within a few hours’ distance of Melbourne, Lake Mountain is still an impressive destination. There are a multitude of cross-country ski opportunities for those really keen, but it’s most commonly known as a toboggan and snow-shoe exploration mountain to have fun with.

There’s a rudimentary bistro in the village to score a quick lunch and a larger rental/management building, but there are few other places to stay warm inside. We spent time switching between the two main toboggan runs before deciding the Koala Creek Run was the faster – and quieter – of the two.

Unfortunately, it was also the scene of a lost mobile phone, which presumably escaped from an open pocket while tobogganing. After frenetically searching through the snow for half an hour, we gave up and left our details at the lost and found counter, praying that someone would altruistically hand it in.

Overall, there was about 70cm of coverage on the day we visited, which was as much snow as I’d ever seen. Certainly more than enough for me to get my legs stuck in at various points throughout the day.

Getting back in the car at the end of the day, we were slightly dejected about the lost phone, but happy with the eventful day trip up to the snow.

The drive back was as breezy and comfortable as the one in the morning. But after 90 minutes and 90km – once we were almost back in Melbourne – we received a call through the Volvo’s Apple CarPlay system to inform that the lost phone was found. Equal parts good and bad news.

That meant a trip all the way back past the Yarra Valley, past the Black Spur, and once again up to Lake Mountain to retrieve the phone. While the thought of driving back might’ve drained me if I were behind the wheel of other cars, I actually didn’t mind the extended journey in the Volvo.


It gave me a chance to test out the car’s adaptive high beams, and to once again revel in the brilliance of the Volvo’s excellent optional sound system.

Tired and hungry, but happy with long-lost phone in hand, we pulled into Coldstream Brewery for a well-earned parma to cap off an excellent visit to the snow.

Next time, Mt Hotham. Mark my words.

Tom Fraser

Tom started out in the automotive industry by exploiting his photographic skills but quickly learned that journalists got the better end of the deal. He began with CarAdvice in 2014, left in 2017 to join Bauer Media titles including Wheels and WhichCar and subsequently returned to CarAdvice in early 2021 during its transition to Drive. As part of the Drive content team, Tom covers automotive news, car reviews, advice, and holds a special interest in long-form feature stories. He understands that every car buyer is unique and has varying requirements when it comes to buying a new car, but equally, there’s also a loyal subset of Drive audience that loves entertaining enthusiast content. Tom holds a deep respect for all things automotive no matter the model, priding himself on noticing the subtle things that make each car tick. Not a day goes by that he doesn’t learn something new in an everchanging industry, which is then imparted to the Drive reader base.

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