The Volvo S90 represents the new sedan flagship of the Swedish brand’s lineup with an all-new design, new mechanical engineering, and a healthy dose of all the safety goodness they’ve been known for. In a world where virtually all the other brands have caught up on the safety front, does the new S90 still stand out?
Where is stands starts with its size at 195-inches of length with a 115-inch wheelbase. This puts it squarely in the size class of the BMW 5-Series, Mercedes E-Class, Lexus GS and the like. Pricing that starts at $46,950 and ranges up to the $66,105 of our T6 AWD Inscription puts it right in their game as well.
Setting it apart is a truly unique combination of design inside and out that cannot be said derivative of anything else. Styling is original and decidedly “Volvo” in every sense of the word with cues from past works woven into an artful push forward into modernity.
The exterior proportions present a look of a long and sizable silhouette bolstered by an extended front section uncommon for a front-wheel drive based car. The fact that it’s not as tall of some of its competitors also contributes to its swagger.
Inside you will find vast swaths of genuine walnut open pore wood trips sculpted and formed beautifully alongside aluminum accents and speaker grilles. The look is much akin to the themes found at your local Copenhagen furniture store.
Leather lines the dash panel, soft trim is stitched on the doors and on the seats you will find small Swedish flags sewn in the seams. Most of the materials are of a high quality but some cheap hard plastics still lurk where you least expect them.
The look however is uncommonly uncluttered in spit of all the technology here, much afforded by the vertical format touchscreen of the center stack that replaces many buttons and knobs.
The infotainment system called Sensus has excellent graphics and menus that make sense though there is a steep learning curve. The unfortunate characteristic is that it can be slow to respond to your touch when using it, the backup camera also slow to activate at times. Audio from the Bowers & Wilkins sound system is phenomenal and well worth the $2600 cost of entry.
Seating surfaces here are leather, heated and ventilated up front. The first row chairs are power operated and infinitely adjustable. The steering column is also adjustable but not powered and thus its settings not savable in the memory.
It’s comfortable for the drive and passengers alike with just the right level of support and firmness in the seats. The rear seat sits high enough off the floor to offer good positioning for adults and their compartment features HVAC vents, a charging port and on our Inscription model, sunshades.
Powering the S90 T6 is Volvo’s now venerable Drive-E 2.0 liter turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder engine. With two forms of boost it offers up 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque that’s delivered through an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.
It can push you into the seat well but lacks the smooth silky feel and sound of competitor’s six-cylinder engines. The good news is that torque steer is non-existent and the transmission works well to deliver a smooth and quick shift when needed.
Fuel economy is rated by the EPA at 22 mpg city, 31 mpg highway and 25 mpg combined. In our week with the S90 we however struggled to achieve 21 mpg combined city and highway.
Handling and ride exhibited a sportier side of the luxury class, much akin to the feel of the BMW 5-Series in its chassis tuning. On the highway its quiet and stable, on curves sure and sharp in its responses. Ours was optioned with the larger 20-inch wheels when increased the level of road feel, though possibly to a fault with potholes and larger bumps crashing pretty harsh at times.
Safety comes out where you would expect it with an IIHS Top Safety Pick as it performed well on all of their physical crash tests and features a superior level of crash prevention systems. It’s headlights however didn’t do all that well on their ratings with only a Moderate score, preventing the S90 from being a Top Safety Pick+.
In the end we find the Volvo S90 presents a finely built and unique option in the luxury sedan field that marches to its own drummer in style, in its form, and in its mechanical set up. It’s handsome and surefooted and is well worth a look if you’re tired of settling for one of the two major brands of cola on the market.