Back in the early 1980s, my dad, who was shopping for a new car at the time, took me to the local AMC and Jeep dealership.  It was there I first saw the Eagle, a bold machine that dared to be each a fashionable sedan (or coupe, or wagon) and an off-road truck sort of thing.

At the time, nobody else made four-wheel-drive vehicles that offered full-time traction in a car body.  Subaru’s 4WD still only worked part time back then.  This was revolutionary stuff here, folks.  It was an early pioneer to so many crossovers that clog our motoring arteries today.  And despite its vinyl wood paneling, I thought it was pretty cool.

Of course, at that time I also thought the zippered red velour shirt my mom dressed me in was pretty cool too.

Mercifully, as life goes on our tastes change.  We have experiences from which we hopefully learn and improve ourselves and, with luck, we develop more sophisticated sensibilities for design and aesthetics.

The purchase of AMC by Chrysler led to the demise of the Eagle and nobody decided to tackle the peculiarity of a jacked-up, four-wheel-drive sedan until Subaru – looking to squeeze even more cash out of consumers feverishly snatching up Outback wagons – thought an Outback Sedan was a good idea in the late 1990s.

In reality, it’s a rather silly idea.  Take a perfectly good and stylish sedan with an already capable all-wheel drive system that serves nearly every buyer’s needs, raise it up, throw on some body cladding and aggressive, sport-utility vehicle tires.  AMC proclaimed the Eagle was for sophisticated folks that needed to get places, no matter the weather; people like doctors and emergency service workers.

That was before every manufacturer from Kia to Bentley was offering a crossover sport utility vehicle of some sort.  There’s no longer the stigma of needing to drive some gauche truck-based vehicle to get all-weather traction, so why Volvo thought it imperative to offer a Cross Country version of their lovely S60 sedan is beyond me, but that’s just what they’ve done for 2016.

If you ask Volvo, they’ll suggest the S60 Cross Country will appeal to the sort of folks who don’t necessarily need the space of a wagon (and prefer the styling of a luxury sedan), but want to be able to get from their condo downtown to the chalet by the slopes.  That extra 65 mm of ground clearance will presumably enable access even before the snow ploughs come by. And of course, the slight lift in elevation would also allow for easier entry and exit for folks whose backs ache and might find the drop into a normal sedan too hard.

Not convinced this is justification for a sedan in boots?  Me neither.

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