The S90 is Volvo’s new midsize luxury sedan, replacing the S80. It’s the first car in the U.S. to come standard with semi-autonomous driving technology.
Volvo’s Pilot Assist steers the vehicle at speeds up to 80 mph, keeping the vehicle in its lane. It also works with adaptive cruise control in keeping enough space from the car in front of you. Don’t take your hands off the wheel for longer than 15 seconds, though, or the system gives you a warning.
The S90 is available in four trims: T5 FWD Momentum, $47,945; T5 FWD Inscription, $51,445; T6 AWD Momentum, $53,945; and my tester, the T6 AWD Inscription, $57,245. The T5 models have front-wheel-drive and the T6 models are all-wheel-drive.
The S90 is aimed at the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Other competitors include the Acura TLX, Audi A6, Cadillac CTS, Hyundai Genesis, Jaguar XF, Lexus GS, Infiniti Q70.
No doubt the S90 is a beauty with its clean, elegant lines. It’s a bit wider and lower than most competitors. Size-wise, it’s in the middle of the pack.
Two engines are available. Both are 2.0-liter four-cylinder engines. The base engine is a turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-four that makes 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The other is a supercharged, turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 16-valve inline-four that makes 316 hp and 295 lb.-ft. of torque. Both engines are paired with a super smooth eight speed automatic transmission with manual shifting mode.
I enjoyed experimenting with Pilot Assist. It combines adaptive cruise control and lane keep assist functions to drive the car on its own for short periods of time at speeds up to 80 mph. I was driving between Portland and Salem on I-5 in moderate traffic, and the system did a good job of steering and adjusting speed when necessary to leave enough space between the S90 and the vehicle ahead. My top speed was around 70 mph. You can only take your hands off the wheel for 15 seconds before the system warns you to get back to the task of driving.
The supercharger on my tester helps eliminate any turbo lag. It’s pretty quick off the line for a four-banger. The transmission shifts quickly and always seems to be in the correct gear for optimum performance. Use the drive-mode selector to choose between Comfort, Eco and Sport modes.
Many competitors offer more powerful V6 and even V8 engines and more sporty performance. Still the S90 has enough power and athleticism for most driving situations. It’s especially good as a comfortable cruiser that soaks up bumps in the road.
EPA mileage estimates are 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway with a combined rating of 25 mpg. I got 23 mpg during my week with a bit more city than highway driving.
The interior is a great example of fine Swedish design with clean and simple lines and everything where you expect it to be. Real wood and chrome accents add upscale touches. The seats are super comfy and supportive. Leg- and headroom is good for taller passengers in both rows of seating.
The nine-inch touchscreen takes center stage. It’s similar to a tablet with its portrait/vertical orientation. It takes some time to figure out how to operate the touchscreen and to find all of the controls. There are a few buttons for audio functions, but everything else is controlled through the touchscreen. Once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty user friendly. You tap, pinch and swipe to make commands. Maps look great this way!
The S90 has 17.7 cubic feet of cargo space in the trunk which is large for the class. The back seat folds nearly flat to carry bulky and/or longer items.
My tester starts at $52,950. Inscription features are $3,300 and include active bending lights, headlight high-pressure cleaning, illuminated Volvo Aluminum sill plates, linear walnut wood inlays, Apple CarPlay and USB hub, ventilated front seats, leather dash board and upper door panel, power side support for front seats, power cushion extension for front seats, sun curtain, four-zone climate control, cooled glovebox, Nappa soft leather upholstery, 19-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels, color coordinated Nappa leather key fob, and the “Inscription” badge on the trunk lid. The Vision Package is $1,950 and adds 360-degree surround view camera, retractable rear view mirrors, automatically dimmed inner and exterior mirrors, Blind Sot Information System and Cross Traffic Alert. The Climate Package with HUD is $1,950 and adds heated washer nozzles, graphical head-up display, heated rear seat, and heated steering wheel. The Convenience Package is $1,000 and adds a power operated trunk lid, HomeLink, 12V power outlet, compass, Park Assist Pilot and Park Assist Front. The Bowers and Wilkins premium sound system is $2,650. Metallic paint is $650. 20-inch Inscription Alloy wheels are $750. Destination charge is $995 bringing the grand total to $66,105.
Thanks to the S90, Volvo is now a player in the mid-size luxury sedan segment. The S90 is attractive, stylish, comfortable and also practical. Plus, you can tell your neighbors about the Pilot Assist technology and how the S90 can kind of drive itself.