Like children in a family, the car in the middle of the range can sometimes be at risk of not getting the recognition it deserves.

While it might not be the first on the scene, or the fresh-faced baby, the Volvo V60 is a serious upmarket offering from a maker famed for its estate cars.

The V60 uses the same running gear as other Volvos such as the XC90, XC60 and the V90 estate while also having the biggest boot of any model in the compact executive estate class.

Classy, practical and versatile, the V60 squares up nicely against the likes of the Audi A4 Avant, BMW 3 Series Touring and Mercedes C-Class Estate.

Where it differs from its German rivals is in taking a more comfort-focused approach with large comfortable seats, loads of space for passengers and luggage and a stylish interior dominated by a large central touchscreen.

The car driven here came in chunky Cross Country guise with a raised ride height, some extra plastic cladding and four-wheel-drive – perfect for followers of outdoor pursuits who need to carry plenty of equipment and who might venture down rough tracks.

The higher ride height and good visibility also make driving around town easier.

Despite riding on larger 19-inch wheels the ride remains impressively calm and relaxed.

Prices start from about £32,000, or £38,000 if you want the Cross Country version, rising to almost £41,000. The line-up is made up of Momentum, R-Design and Inscription trims, which mirrors those of other Volvo models.

The power unit on the car driven here was the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder D4 diesel, whose 190 horsepower delivers strong acceleration, relaxed cruising and an all-round quiet drive that adds to the feeling of peace in the car.

The suspension is tuned to deliver excellent ride comfort, although you can play with Volvo's various electronically-operated drive modes to stiffen up the adaptive dampers to improve handling. I wouldn’t bother – the comfort setting really does what it says on the tin.

Even the entry-level Momentum cars are very well equipped, with everything from sophisticated satellite navigation, twin-zone climate control and a voice-activated control system, to emergency braking system and power-operated tailgate.

R-Design adds a sporty edge to the car's looks, while Inscription adds even more layers of luxury. All cars can be upgraded with a variety of options that add more equipment and technology.

The test car’s options included two packs, one costing £1,625 which added a pilot assist system that keeps a set distance from the vehicle in front once you’ve set the speed you want to travel at and will also keep you in lane and steer around gentle corners. You have to keep your hands on the wheel at all times though, otherwise you will get told off by the safety systems. But it adds a little extra relaxation on long motorway journeys and it works well.

Also included in that pack is a blind spot warning system, cross traffic alert that makes reversing safer and auto-dimming interior and exterior mirrors.

Another pack, priced at £525, is designed to make winter driving easier, combining heated front seats, headlight cleaners, heated wiper blades and heated windscreen.

A £500 option gives both keyless entry and start with the neat ability to open the tailgate merely be waving your foot underneath the rear of the car – brilliant if you have both hands full of bags.

The test car in fact came with something in the region of £8,000 of options ranging from £950 for ‘premium metallic’ paint and a £375 rear parking camera to a £100 CD player.

So a pricey option list, but one that can add to the stress-free experience that is the V60’s crowning glory.

Auto facts

Model: Volvo V60 D4 AWD Cross Country

Price: £46,365 as tested

Insurance group: 31 (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 47.9mpg

Top speed: 130mph

Length: 478.4cm/187.9in

Width: 189.3cm/74.4in

Luggage capacity: 529 litres/18.7 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 13.2 gallons/60 litres

CO2 emissions: 143 g/km

Warranty: Three years/60,000 miles