SUV-Wagons: Mercedes E-Class All Terrain vs. Volvo V90 Cross Country

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20 years after the first Volvo Cross Country, the Germans now also enter the all-new Mercedes E-Class All-Terrain in the niche of the SUV-Wagons. FIRST COMPARISON TEST via

Hardly can a concept be more practical and versatile than a combination between an executive wagon, an SUV and an economical diesel engine. Because this is an all-rounder: huge space for first-class travel convenience, high driving position for safety and, of course, economy. Wagons are suitable as business or family vehicles. The all-wheel drive pioneer Subaru already showed this in 1996: The Legacy Outback was the first to combine the practical features of a wagon with the rustic look and the versatility of a SUV. A year later, Volvo followed suit with the first V70 Cross Country. Another 20 years later, Mercedes is now joining the segment with the E-Class T-Model All-Terrain at the intersection of upper-class estate cars and SUVs.

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Compared to the conventional V90 D4 and E 220 d T, both models here follow the same recipe. The technical concept is as simple as it is effective in both cases. The V90 has a 65-millimeter extra ground clearance, an off-road driving program (drive mode, 110 euros extra for the basic model) which allows at more than 40 km / h more slip on the four driven wheels, an underrun protection and plastic protection ornaments covering the wheel arches. Starting at 56.350 euros for the smallest two-liter diesel with 190 hp, this model is followed by the Mercedes, which relies on very similar ingredients. To prevent the new SUV combination from getting stuck off the streets, Daimler has raised the all-terrain (starting at € 58,102) by 29 mm against the standard T-Model.

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The standard Air Body Control air suspension system on the Mercedes can be used to increase ground clearance to a maximum of 156 mm. Conversely, the adaptive chassis automatically lowers the body at speeds above 35 km / h. In addition there is a permanent all-wheel drive with the driving program All-Terrain for loose ground, which distributes the power of the engine variably on all wheels. The air suspension system, however, gives the Benz, above all, a comfort advantage on the road. It filters out waves such as unevenness in the road. The simpler Volvo chassis with steel springs at the front and rear transverse leaf springs also offers good comfort. In the case of short, successive holes, the front axle begins to bounce, but in the case of severe unevenness, a slight trembling of the steering is also seen. The Benz remains unimpressed, and its precise steering offers more direct road contact than the more gentle Volvo steering.

Both wagons are equipped with the smallest diesels. The 190 hp four-cylinder in the Volvo runs slightly more rough than the Mercedes with 194 hp. In principle, the E 220 d responds more spontaneously to accelerator commands than the more hesitant Volvo, whose eight-speed automatic jerks when changing from the second to the third speed. The Mercedes’s new 9-speed automatic, on the other hand, is fast and unaffected. From 160 km / h, the beautiful Swede also looks tough, but the Benz is the more lively. The test consumption of 6.6 liters compared to the Volvo is also lower for the Mercedes.

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Inside, both are at the top level. Clean and high-tech, the luxurious V90 interior looks elegant and high-quality. The Mercedes conveys a more massive and opulent impression, also here everything is to the best for the best. The operation of the nine-inch Volvo touchscreen in the center console was hotly discussed. Fans of the system say: The operation is intuitive and easy to learn as with a smartphone. Critical voices say: During the trip, the small simulated buttons are hard to touch. In addition, fingerprints and dazzling through the sun make reading more difficult. But also the operation of the Mercedes system Comand (3273 euros) via controller and touchpad is not optimal because of the complex menu management. It is quite simple with the trunk and the load: 1820 liters and 646 kg for the Benz, only 1526 liters and 463 kg for the Volvo. Thus, the Mercedes All Terrain gains a victory.

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20 years after Volvo, Mercedes comes with its first SUV-Wagon – and conquers the segment. It is more comfortable, consumes less, brakes better and has a much larger luggage compartment. The fine Volvo is a stylish alternative for esthetes.

Technical specs Mercedes Volvo
Model E 220 d 4Matic T All-Terrain V90 Cross Country D4 AWD
Engine Four-cylinder, Turbo Four-cylinder, Biturbo
Hubraum 1950 cm³ 1969 cm³
kW (PS) /rpm 143 (194)/3800 140 (190)/4250
Nm / rpm 400/1600 400/1750
Vmax 231 km/h 210 km/h
Gearbox 9-speed automatic 8-speed automatic
Traction All-wheel drive All-wheel drive
Emissions CO2 137 g/km 138 g/km
Consumption mixed 5,2 l 5,2 l
Weight 2100 kg 2400 kg
Trunk volume 640–1820 l 560–1526 l
Lenght/width/Height 4947/1861–2065/1497 mm 4939/1879–2052/1543 mm
Price (Germany) 63.256 Euro 62.270 Euro