But Built With a Soul That’s Designed to Soar.
Confidence is the ultimate luxury, right? To perform beyond expectation every time and to look great doing it.
That’s the modern mission of Volvo since it was bought a few years ago by Chinese automaker Geely: to provide the ultimate luxury in the safest and most stylish car on the road. The re-birth of the brand has resulted in beautiful cars with impeccable safety stats and cutting edge technology; the 2017 Volvo S90 carries this mission forward in a sublimely appointed sedan.
Who this Car is For:
- Singles, couples or small families
- Drivers who may regularly have back seat passengers
- Buyers for whom looks and aesthetics are very important
- Buyers who want a luxury sedan
- Drivers who want top safety ratings and features
- Buyers seeking top tech features, including semi-autonomous driving capabilities
- Buyers who need all wheel drive
What this Car Costs:
- Volvo S90 T6 “Inscription” starting price: $49,650
- All wheel drive: $5,800
- Vision package including surround view camera and blind spot monitors: $1,950
- Climate package, including heated rear seats, heated steering wheel and heated windshield washer nozzles $1,050
- Convenience package, including park assist, park pilot and power trunk $1,000
- Premium Bowers & Wilkins sound system $3,200
- Head up display $900
- Leather dash and door panels $1,000
- Price of the model we drove: $66,105, including destination fee
Volvo Earned Kudos With the XC90 and Keeps That Momentum Going
Volvo rocked the auto world a few years ago with the introduction of the completely remade XC90 SUV. Critics and families alike fell in love with the chic, sublime design of this capable SUV and its position at the top of safety ratings list.
But could Volvo’s sedans rate against world-class cars from soul sisters BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi? Or against customer-loyal brands like Lexus and Infiniti or luxury-emergent models from Hyundai and Kia? This may be the real test for Volvo: turning luxury buyers heads away from the tried and true.
We took the Volvo S90 T6 for a test drive and were pleasantly surprised. The S90 sedan speaks the same design language that won hearts in the XC90 while giving drivers a little more thrill behind the wheel.
Yes, Looks Matter and No, it’s not Shallow to Think so
Getting into the S90 sedan, you are immediately wrapped in the Volvo vision of luxury. The leather is rich, gorgeous and soft to the touch. You feel refined and privileged by the experience. But beyond this expected luxury—who doesn’t expect beautiful leather in a luxury car—are delightful and surprising touches. Real wood inlays and additional leather on the door panels and dashboard give the interior an even more refined feel. The large touch screen feels like the screens in Tesla: they are elegant and easy to read and use.
The back seat is luxury-filled too, and won’t disappoint anyone who sits there. There is ample leg room and the seats are just as comfortable as those up front. The model we test drove featured white leather (which we love) but other choices include black and a buttery cream color. Rear seats in the Inscription model we drove were also heated, a welcome feature in cold months.
Another nice feature in the back seat is the instrument panel: it’s set into the center arm rest and faces upward so it’s easy for passengers to see the controls and find the two 12 V charge ports. That means there’s no need to blindly dig around on the backside of the arm rest near the floor to find the seat heater, fan control or charge port.
A Fun, Even Thrilling, Drive Experience (For Safety, of Course!)
Volvo is a brand known for safety. And accelerating with confidence onto the highway or passing a truck on a country road count just as much as seat belts and air bags. So Volvo added drive modes that let you choose the drive experience you want: Sport for a little more fun and power, Eco for less challenging times and the default mode, comfort, which we found completely capable for any road condition.
Though you might be tempted to constantly shift between modes; the drive mode selector is a cool, glowing gem of shiny chrome set into the center console and it begs to be touched. Roll it forward and back to toggle between drive modes, or just rest your fingers on it; its soft waves of polished chrome are hard to stay away from.
Where I Put My Important Stuff—Phone and Handbag— in the Volvo S90
This was the biggest challenge: finding the right place for my phone and handbag. My handbag will turn over just turning the corner, and I don’t love putting it on the passenger seat. In the Volvo I put it on the rear seat and it did OK. However, the back seat is roomy, so it was a bit hard to reach from the front seat. I most often put it on the floor behind the passenger’s seat and it only fell over a few times (dear Volvo peeps, if you find my Buxom lip gloss, please send it back!).
As for that other all important bit of cargo, my phone: that was a challenge too. I’m inclined to think that Volvo’s designers want you to keep your phone in your handbag or plugged into the USB port in the center arm rest, which is what I did. This gave me Apple Car Play, so I had most of the function of my car on that gorgeous center screen.
For those who refuse to use the arm rest for your phone, the other option is to use the cup holders. My phone fit fine in the cup holders, but not in the tiny spot next to them, which is about the size of the Volvo key fob (and a perfect place for it so you never have to dig around in your handbag or scour under the seats looking for it when you leave the car).
This Small(ish) Engine Shows Up Big on the Road
Part of the confidence in the drive experience comes from the Volvo S90 T6’s 316 horsepower engine, a surprising lot of power considering it’s a 4-cylinder engine; the extra power is thanks to the twin turbo supercharged engine. The move to 4-cylinder turbos is a huge trend and one we like for improved fuel efficiency: the S90 is rated to get 22 MPG city/31 MPG highway, which was about what we experienced and respectable for a 300 HP mid-sized four door sedan.
The T6 engine is the larger of the two available in the S90 and the only one available with all wheel drive. The front wheel drive T5 has 250 horsepower and carries a price tag that is about $8,500 lower (starting price $46,950). However, it’s worth noting that both models carry the full complement of Volvo safety technology.
Volvo’s Other Luxury: Top Safety Technology
So here’s a fact that we just love: If you’re using Volvo’s self driving technology and have an accident, Volvo will take responsibility; they’re insured.
That little fact gave me the confidence to try out Pilot Assist and self parking. Punch a button and let the car do the work.
I LOVED this. Pilot Assist does the driving—regulating its speed while following other traffic—while you do the steering. Pilot Assist is adaptive cruise control for low speeds and even comes to a full stop and starts up again if traffic ahead of you stops. It’s simply a dream in crawling, stop-and-go traffic. If you want to merge into another lane, just pop on your turn signal and the car adjusts its speed so you can make a safe merge.
We also loved using Volvo’s self parking feature. This makes parking in a tight spot, parallel parking or simply, saving your bumpers, super easy. Just push the button on the touch screen and let the Volvo do the work. Here’s how it works, pays our walk through the Volvo S90.
If you’re in the market for a luxury sedan should take the Volvo S90 T6 for a spin or consider it’s lower-powered sibling, the T5. You’ll love the luxuries and technology, and the thoughtful and intuitive way the car has been designed. Like any true luxury product, it’s all there, arranged and evolved to perfectly fit your life and style.
What We Loved
- The gorgeous, refined interior
- Head up display
- Drive mode selector (that it’s so pretty doesn’t hurt, either)
- The gorgeous, easy to read center screen
- Pilot Assist
- Self parking
- Flexible seating/cargo space
- Plenty of leg room in the back seat
- Apple Car Play
- Adaptive head lights with automatic high beams
- Heated and cooled front seats
- Heated rear seats
- Plenty of leg room in the back seat
- Power push button everything (trunk, folding rear seats)
- Smart keyless entry and push button start
What You Need to Know
- 2 USB ports
- Limited ‘stuff’ storage
- Seating for 5 but more comfortable for 4
- 48 month/50,000 mile warranty
- Volvo road side assistance included
- 3 years complimentary scheduled maintenance
- 22MPG city/31 MPG highway (about what we experienced)
- Premium fuel recommended
What We Listened to in the Volvo S90 T6 Sedan
This sedan, and its excellent sound system, demanded a little elegance, a little adrenaline. This is what we were inspired to listen to.
Disclosure: The Volvo S90 was provided for our test drive; all opinions are my own.