If the updated 2016 Volvo XC90 was the starter pistol, the Volvo S90 is here to usher in the full change of Volvo as a brand. The Volvo S90 is completely different direction and moves the brand completely into the luxury market. With a stylish Swedish interior and a twin-charged motor, this new Volvo sedan means business. Some may have been hesitant after Geely had taken over the company, but Volvo is proving that it knows its direction and is ready to change the brand perception in the market. We spent some time with this new 2017 Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription model to see how the brand has progressed. Does this new Volvo have enough features and luxury to warrant the $66,000 price tag?
On the inside, this S90 Inscription model will be very familiar to anyone who has spent time in the 2016 Volvo XC90. With a pale-white leather and walnut wood trim, this S90 interior looks like modern luxurious furniture. The same digital and the iPad-like center media display can be troublesome at times. We found it best to use the steering wheel controls and to avoid using the touchscreen while driving altogether. The interface can be learned over time but is very difficult to navigate at first. Our Inscription model was equipped with the newest Bowers & Wilkins stereo, which is absolutely fantastic and must be experienced in person.
Under the S90 T6 hood is the same twin-charged 4-cylinder motor that can be found in the newest XC90, producing 316 horsepower. This motor can be refined and quiet in Eco or Comfort mode but also quite savage and fun when turning things up to Dynamic mode. The power delivery is quite surprising for such a refined sedan and competitors should be worried. And while a ton of power is greatly appreciated at times, it can be a bit drastic in some driving situations. There are peaks and troughs in the torque delivery and often the power kicks in somewhat unexpectedly. A larger motor would have had a more progressive power curve, but would also be less efficient. On the long drive out to the Palm Desert area, we were able to achieve 30 miles to the gallon. Not bad as the official EPA rating is 22MPG city and 31MPG highway. Therefore, this new S90 powertrain balances well between power and efficiency.
The outside of this new 2017 Volvo S90 is refined and handsome. The gaping grille juts forward to highlight the new pronounced Volvo fascia. The “Thor’s Hammer” headlights are also still present to help give the Volvo its signature look at night. The rear end of the Volvo is something you grow to love, despite the initial awkward shapes at certain angles. The rear seems to be better suited for the wagon variation of the S90, the all-new Volvo V90. Tucked inside this handsome exterior is a ton of technology to keep the drivers safe on the road. The legendary Volvo collision avoidance technology is ready to keep you and your family safe by applying the brakes if it senses you’re about to collide with an object. Volvo also shows us early signs of what it may be like to have a self-driving vehicle. We activated adaptive cruise control on our drive out to the desert and were able to follow the Fiat 124 Spider Abarth in front of us at a safe distance. When the car ahead would break, the Volvo would react and break the slow the car down. When the car ahead accelerated, the Volvo reacted to increase speed and match the pace of the vehicle ahead. Similar systems have become standard in most modern cars but Volvo is still at the forefront of the technology and you certainly feel the advancements in real life situations. Other systems have had us wincing in traffic or overriding with our own input, not so with the Volvo S90.
Overall, the Volvo S90 offers a very attractive, and very Swedish, alternative to the standard luxury offerings. While the twin charged powertrain in this Volvo may take some luxury buyers a moment to adjust to, there’s enough write right this car to make some buyers absolutely fall in love.