The S90 is Volvo’s luxury flagship sedan. It was introduced for the 2017 model year and returns for 2018. Higher trims are available with Volvo’s Pilot Assist technology, which basically drives the car for you.
The five-passenger S90 is a midsize luxury sedan that’s sleek and handsome. It still has the clean Swedish lines and design Volvos are known for, even though it’s built in China. It’s worth a look if you don’t care about having a BMW or Mercedes badge.
It’s available in T5 FWD Momentum, T5 AWD Momentum, T6 AWD Momentum, and T6 AWD Inscription trims. There’s also a plug-in hybrid, the T8 eAWD Momentum. Starting prices range from $48,100 to $64,061.
The T5 models are powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The T6 models get a 2.0-liter super- and turbo-charged direct injection four-cylinder engine that cranks out 316 hp and 295 pound-feet. Yep, all that supercharging and turbocharging make the S90 super quick off the line. Volvo says it can jet from zero to 60 in just 5.7 seconds. Not bad for a large sedan that tips the scales at more than 4,100 pounds. The eight speed automatic transmission shifts quickly and smoothly, and always seems to find the correct gear. Visibility is good all the way around.
Volvo’s Pilot Assist makes the S90 semi-autonomous. This technology keeps the S90 in its lane with cameras that detect the striping, and uses radar to maintain the distance to the vehicle in front of you. I used Pilot Assist on a round trip between Portland and Bend. It performed very well, slowing down when necessary if the S90 was getting close to the vehicle in front. Pilot Assist kept the S90 in its lane, even on twisty sections of the Santiam Pass and performed well in dry and wet weather. Volvo points out that Pilot Assist is designed to work best on dry roadways. My drive to Bend was in dry weather; while rain moved in during the return trip.
Pilot Assist still requires you, the driver, to pay attention. The system needs to have your hands gently on the wheel and is designed to have some driver input to steer; for example, if you’re traveling in a lane and then reach a section of highway where a second or third lane is added, the system will want you to steer to the lane you want.
The system worked great for me and was nice to have on a long drive.
The S90 gets decent mileage for the class. EPA ratings for my tester are 22 mpg city and 31 mpg highway with a combined rating of 25 mpg. I got 25 during my week, which included the round trip between Portland and Bend.
The cabin is upscale and very comfortable as you’d expect in a Volvo. The design is clean and uncluttered; materials are top notch. There’s lots of leg- and headroom for passengers in both rows. Although the backseat can easily hold three passengers comfortably, two adults will enjoy plenty of room with the large center armrest pulled down between the two rear seats.
The Sensus touchscreen looks like a large tablet in the center stack. It takes a few minutes to figure out, and then it’s pretty intuitive to operate. You pinch and swipe, just as you would on your smartphone or tablet. In bright sunlight, though, it can be hard to see at times.
All models come standard with keyless entry, pushbutton start; leather seating, heated 10-way power front seats with driver’s side memory, tilt and telescopic steering wheel, a huge panoramic moonroof, four-zone automatic climate control, blind-spot warning, rear-cross traffic alert, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and Volvo’s City Safety System which automatically stops the vehicle if it detects it’s about to hit someone or something in front of it.
The S90 has 13.5 cubic feet of trunk space which is a bit small for the class.
Good value for the money among luxury sedans
Comfortable highway cruiser
Spacious back seat
Lots of available driver assistance features including Pilot Assist
Touchscreen can be hard to see in bright sunlight
Not as much trunk space as many rivals
My tester starts at $54,100. Inscription Package is $4,500 and includes active bending lights, auto high beam, high-level interior illumination, linear Walnut wood inlays, heated front seats, ventilated front seats, tailored dashboard and upper door panels, power side support front seats, power cushion extension front seats, power operated sun curtains, rear window and rear side doors, cooled glovebox, laminated side windows, Nappa soft leather upholstery, 19-inch 10-spoke Alloy wheels in Silver Diamond Cut, Nappa leather key fob, and Inscription badge. Convenience Package is $2,500 and adds heated washer nozzles, power operated trunk lid, 360-degree surround view camera, HomeLink, 12V power outlet, compass on rear view mirror, and Park Assist Pilot and Front Park Assist. Metallic paint is $595. Graphical head up display is $900. Bowers and Wilkins premium audio system is $3,200. Heated steering wheel is $300. Premium air suspension in rear is $1,200. Destination charge is $995 bringing the grand total to $69,140.
The 2018 S90 isn’t the most luxurious or sportiest midsize sedan. And it doesn’t have a German badge with which you can impress your neighbors. But it’s sleek and comfortable, and offers a ton of tech, including the ability to practically drive itself. To top it off, the S90 is an excellent value for the money, whether you take the base or top-of-the-line model. If you’re thinking about a BMW 5-Series or a Mercedes-Benz E-Class, also take the S90 for a test drive.