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2017 Volvo S90

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2017 Volvo S90 Expert Review

By

The midsize luxury sedan segment is one of the most demanding in the world, chock-full of favorites that include the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and the Audi A6 among a swarm of significant others. So with its all-new 2017 Volvo S90 sedan, the company has chosen to wade into a very deep area of the pool, but in true Scandinavian fashion the Swedish automaker has decided to approach the segment in a non-traditional manner. The new S90 goes heavy on quality-of-life aspects like interior aesthetics, infotainment and, of course, safety. What has emerged is a strikingly good-looking sedan that might well be the most complete semi-autonomous car now available.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you crave serenity, seek comfort without excess, and strive to be at one with the world, we think the Volvo S90 will offer you special appeal.

You May Not Like This Car If...

Should your idea of luxury revolve around an ultra-prestigious nameplate that carries with it an aggressive statement of superiority over the masses, the Volvo S90 might not be your cup of aquavit.

How It Ranks

#5

out of 19

Fuel Economy

#16

out of 20

Horsepower
View all rankings
2017 Volvo S90 Low/wide front photo What's New for 2017

The Volvo S90 is an all-new sedan for 2017, and it takes many of the successful themes found in the XC90 SUV to a new level of quiet competence.

Driving the S90
2017 Volvo S90 Front angle view photo
Driving Impressions

Sitting as we are on the cusp of the autonomous driving revolution in one of the most sophisticated semi-autonomous vehicles in the world, driving impressions of the new S90 become...

... inevitably caught up in appraisals of the new sedan’s driver-assist systems. But if you turn off most of the electronic driving aids, you will find the S90 is a terrific car to drive yourself. While it might not be the equal of rear-drive, German-designed competitors in full-on performance driving -- something most luxury sedan drivers never undertake, by the way -- we found the all-wheel-drive T6 version of the S90 to be a satisfying sports sedan with laudable levels of road-holding, acceleration and steering. Powered by a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine, the magic of direct-injection, supercharging and turbocharging enables the T6 to ladle out 316 largely bog-free horsepower and a stunningly flat torque curve. Further, we expect the T6 and the T5 with its 250-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter engine to deliver excellent fuel economy, and for those who want to take fuel consumption to the next level, a plug-in hybrid “Twin-Engine” T8 version of the S90 will come later.

GEN2 PILOT ASSIST
Volvo’s Pilot Assist is, Volvo admits, a stepping-stone technology on the way to fully autonomous cars, but it doesn’t pretend to be an autopilot. Volvo is adamant about the driver’s responsibility for the safety of the car. The technology keeps the S90 in its lane as long as it is engaged and the driver has her or his hands on the steering wheel, and it functions not only in low-speed bumper-to-bumper traffic situations, but also in general over-the-road highway driving.

SCANDINAVIAN SANCTUARY
We don’t mean to get all “rocks-and-trees” on you, but the designers’ goal of creating a “Scandinavian Sanctuary” within the 2017 Volvo S90 is realized in the car. In addition to its lovingly crafted interior it offers a state-of-the-art infotainment system that features advanced Apple CarPlay integration and the availability of a 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins system that sounds like the Gothenburg concert hall.

2017 Volvo S90 Details
2017 Volvo S90 Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

Some luxury carmakers telegraph their models’ luxury credentials with heavy-handed boldness, but Volvo’s designers took a different path with the S90 sedan. For instance, a single piece of shaped walnut adorns the passenger side of the dash. The instruments and controls are gathered in easy-to-understand pods that offer a simple grace. The functional design of the Sensus control interface adds to the driver’s ease, and the new-gen seats prove yet again that Volvo is a world leader in vehicle seat comfort and function. After hours at the wheels of various S90s over the course of our testing we emerged fresh and ready for more driving. Volvo designers haven’t forgotten about rear seat comfort either, delivering ample legroom and commodious width.

Exterior
2017 Volvo S90 photo

If up to now we haven’t mentioned that the S90 is a handsome car, in person there is no doubt of it. Because the S90 was newly designed from the ground up, designers and engineers were able to build in an attractive axle-to-cowl ratio with wheels at the four corners and the accompanying short overhangs. The body is a highly intelligent patchwork of different grades of steel, engineered to protect the occupants while at the same time pleasing their eyes. Special features include the front grille that is scalloped in homage to the Volvo P1800 sports car, the “Thor’s hammer” motif in the LED headlights and a sweeping line that extends from bow to stern inspired by the sailboats of Sweden’s incomparable West Coast.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

Driver assist and safety systems lead the discussion of the Volvo S90’s most notable standard items. In addition to the previously mentioned Gen2 Pilot Assist system, the new S90 offers “Run-off Road Mitigation” that is designed to prevent one of the most common types of fatal accidents. Between speeds of 40-85 mph the system can sense a potential run-off-the-road situation, and in response it can both steer and brake automatically to keep the S90 on the road. Although potentially intrusive, the system can be overridden by overt driver action. It is designed to function in times of driver inattention and/or impairment that could send the car careening off the road. Other standard niceties include Volvo’s justifiably famous City Safety collision-avoidance system and LED headlights.

Optional Equipment

As one climbs the trim level ladder the new S90 goes from very good to even better. The “Momentum” features Apple CarPlay and USB, the vision package adds cross-traffic alert, a 360-degree camera system, park-assist pilot, front-park assist, and a power-operated trunk lid. The “Inscription” trim brings with it road-following lights that turn in response to your steering inputs, a matte silver grille, additional chrome adornments, perforated leather seats, a leather-covered instrument panel, plus walnut inlays. All-wheel drive is available in both trim levels, and the rear air suspension system is available as a standalone option.

Under the Hood
2017 Volvo S90 Engine photo

Using a clean-sheet-of-paper approach to powertrains, Volvo has committed to an inline 4-cylinder engine as its basic building block. From there, it adds increasingly high levels of sophistication on the continuum from the 250-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter engine in the T5 version, to the 316-horsepower direct-injected, supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter engine in the T6. Both engines use an 8-speed automatic transmission to send power to the front (T5) or all four (T6) wheels. The upcoming “Twin-Engine” T8 doesn’t precisely add a second engine but instead an electric motor in a plug-in hybrid configuration similar to that of the XC90 plugin.

2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
250 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 23/34 mpg (front-wheel drive)

2.0-liter supercharged & turbocharged inline-4
316 horsepower @ 5,700 rpm
295 lb-ft of torque @ 2,200 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 22/31 mpg (all-wheel drive)

As one of the globe’s smallest car companies, Volvo is trying to change the world. Its Vision 2020 goal is to ensure that no one be killed or injured in a new Volvo in the year 2020 and beyond. While it is hard to put a price tag on such a goal, it is not hard to applaud. For the 2017 Volvo S90 T5 Momentum sedan, the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price starts just under $48,000, with an optioned-up T6 Inscription reaching over $67,000. Since the S90 is so new to the market as this is being written figures are not in on a 5-year cost-to-own calculation, but we expect the car to fall mid-pack in this prestige-driven segment. For a glimpse at real-world transaction prices, we suggest you look at the KBB Fair Purchase Price for the S90 when it becomes available. We think it is a luxury sedan that could surprise you.

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