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2018 Volvo S90

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2018 Volvo S90 Expert Review

By Scott Oldham -- Contributing Editor

KBB Expert Rating: 8.2

A sophisticated midsize-luxury sedan with semi-autonomous capability, the 2018 Volvo S90 gets a radical increase in wheelbase this year. With its newfound 4.5 inches of additional rear-seat legroom it’s now more spacious than the popular BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class as well as the Audi A6 and Cadillac CTS. Two trim levels are offered, Momentum and Inscription. Momentum models start with the T5 and an adequate 250-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine and front-wheel drive (FWD), but all-wheel drive (AWD) is available. Buyers can also move up to a more desirable T6 and its turbocharged and supercharged 4-cylinder engine that makes 316 horsepower. In this model AWD is standard. Volvo also offers the new Volvo S90 as the T8 Plug-In Hybrid with 400 horsepower. Inscription models are limited to the T6 and the hybrid. Prices start around $49,000, which undercuts the BMW and the Mercedes by a few grand.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you’re looking for a luxurious and quiet midsize-premium sedan with state-of-the-art safety features, semi-autonomous capability and class-leading rear-seat legroom, you’ll like the 2018 Volvo S90. Its 13.5-cubic-foot trunk is also sizable for the class, and with 400 horsepower, the S90 Plug-in Hybrid is significantly more powerful than BMW 530e iPerformance.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If you consider a 4-cylinder premium sedan to be an oxymoron like soft rock or jumbo shrimp, then the Volvo S90 probably isn’t for you. The BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class, Jaguar XF, Cadillac CTS and Audi A6 are all available with more cylinders and a few offer very powerful V8s.

KBB Expert Ratings

  • 8.2
  • 8.1
  • 8.6
  • 8.1
  • 7.8
  • N/A
How It Ranks
2018 Volvo S90 Low/wide front photo What's New for 2018

The Volvo S90 was all-new just last year, yet for 2018 Volvo has significantly increased the sedan’s wheelbase by 4.7 inches. The move dramatically increases its rear-seat legroom by 4.5 inches, making it the most spacious in its class. Other changes include an increase in standard equipment on the T5 and T6 AWD models.

Driving the S90
2018 Volvo S90 Front angle view photo
Driving Impressions

The 2018 Volvo S90 is a terrific car to drive, smooth, responsive and powerful. 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 to be a satisfying sports sedan with laudable levels of road-holding, acceleration and steering. The magic of supercharging and turbocharging enables the T6’s little 2.0-liter engine to ladle out 316 largely bog-free horsepower and a stunningly flat torque curve. Slow it is not, and its 8-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. But the most interesting aspect about driving the 2018 Volvo S90 is letting it drive itself. With its standard semi-autonomous drive system, called Pilot Assist, the Volvo can basically drive itself, both in stop-and-go traffic and at highway speeds. It goes, stops and steers all on its own. It just asks you to touch the steering wheel every once in a while to prove you’re still paying attention.

DRIVE-MODE SETTINGS
With a controller on the console behind the Volvo’s shifter, drivers can select from four drive modes, customizing the sedan’s dynamic characteristics to the mood as well as the road and traffic conditions. Comfort, Eco, Dynamic and Individual modes are offered. Each adjusts the S90’s engine, transmission and the optional air suspension. Unfortunately, the Volvo defaults back to Comfort every time you start the engine.

VOLVO ON CALL
Standard on every 2018 S90, Volvo On Call is free for four years. The app lets you lock and unlock the sedan’s doors, start your engine to warm or cool the interior and check the fuel level. If you require roadside assistance you can speak to an operator who will dispatch assistance to your GPS location. And if a collision is detected, the S90 alerts an operator to send emergency response.

2018 Volvo S90 Details
2018 Volvo S90 Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

With this year’s 4.5 inches of additional rear-seat legroom, the Volvo S90’s back seat has gone from spacious to cavernous. It’s wide too. This is a true 5-seater. Front-seat accommodations are also worth a few gold stars. Volvo is a world leader in vehicle seat comfort and function, and the S90’s seats are well shaped and its seat heaters can beat back Old Man Winter. Volvo has managed to combine high-tech features in an understated overall design combined with old-world craftsmanship. A single piece of shaped walnut adorns the passenger side of the dash, while most controls are within the large touch screen, which looks and functions like an iPad. It’s a simple, elegant and intuitive design.

Exterior
2018 Volvo S90 photo

Adding 4.7 inches to the wheelbase of a car, any car, could be a recipe for design disaster. Chances are you’ll end up with awkward proportions and a cartoonish profile. Not this time. Volvo has pulled it off. If possible, the new longer 2018 Volvo S90 looks even better. Not just longer, but leaner. This is a handsome sedan. 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 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 ladder the new Volvo S90 goes from very good to even better. Packages on the T5 Momentum can add heated front seats and steering wheel, a 360-degree camera system, front and rear park assist, a 4-zone climate-control system, high-pressure headlight cleaners and a power-operated trunklid. The Inscription trim brings an available Luxury Package with heated and ventilated rear seats, massaging front seats and a rear console. All-wheel drive is available in both trim levels, and the rear air-suspension system, Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system and a Head-Up Display are available as stand-alone options.

Under the Hood
2018 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 T8 Plug-In Hybrid adds an electric motor in a plug-in hybrid configuration similar to that of the XC90 plug-in.

2.0-liter turbocharged inline-4
250 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
258 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 24/34 mpg (FWD)

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 (AWD)

2.0-liter supercharged and turbocharged inline-4 + 87-horsepower electric motor
400 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm
472 lb-ft of torque @ 5,400 rpm
Combined EPA city/highway fuel economy: 29 mpg

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 2018 Volvo S90 T5 Momentum sedan, the Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starts at about $49,000, including a $995 destination fee. An optioned-up T6 Inscription reaches over $67,000, but you can get a very well equipped T6 with all-wheel drive for less than $60,000. The most expensive model is the T8 Inscription Plug-In Hybrid. Prices start at about $69,000. For a glimpse at real-world transaction prices, we suggest you look at the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price for the S90 when it becomes available. Over time, we expect the Volvo S90 to perform mid-pack as a resale value compared to other luxury cars.

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