For years, Volvo’s much-deserved claim to fame was their peerless safety features rolling, essentially, in boxes with wheels. They didn’t provide the most alluring silhouettes, but at least you had a great chance of arriving in one piece. Thankfully, Volvo designers have heard and delivered on the shouts of customers demanding their safety in beautiful sedan and SUV packages. Good on them.
The all-new 2018 S90 T6 AWD sedan checks all the boxes for those desiring luxury, safety, limo-esque room and cutting-edge tech–all in a beatific package. The tester’s Inscription AWD option attracted constant compliments throughout the testing period.
Let us count the ways.
The S90 makes a strong leap in attractiveness. Its form is long, statuesque, crisp and decidedly upscale offering some serious good-looking chops to compete in the highly competitive luxury sports sedan market. The exterior exudes a clean, elegant appearance with a hint of drama. The S90s grew 4.5 inches (all for back seat room) but doesn’t look like a stretched physique—rather that it was originally designed that way. Outrageously sexy “Thor’s Hammer” headlights (auto high beams!) illuminate the road and rotate when turning. Sightlines offer a fresh appearance from any angle and a blunt front allows Volvo to satisfy European pedestrian impact regulations. The rear includes dramatic “handshake” LED brake lights and dual chrome exhausts.
Bright 20-inch rims are welcome accessories. Thus, the overall shape and trim definitely delivers some sexy panache. Suffice to say, the overall appearance drew many admiring comments.
The powertrain is a delight as well. An eight-speed transmission is coupled with an optional four-cylinder twin-charged (Super & Turbo-charged) 2.0 liter 316 HP/295 lb.-ft. torque (the T5 standard is 250HP/258 lb-ft torque). You may think that wouldn’t provide enough oomph moving some 3,781 pounds, but the dual-charged power delivers admirable smoothness and pep for the targeted audience. In fact, the Sport mode is plenty peppy. That said, I would recommend a V6 option in future models for those wanting more—especially when slogging up steep mountain roads. However, the optional AWD is a joy when confronted with inclement weather. And, you can add a Polestar Optimization Chip at $1,475 for added oomph (+14 HP and +30lb-ft. torque). It feels faster than those numbers and is a perfect marriage with AWD.
The usual driving modes (ECO, Comfort, Sport) mostly alter the throttle rather than steering and suspension. I normally only embrace Sport modes, but the Comfort was just right, thank you.
You’ll notice the engine bay is far larger than the engine. As usual, Volvo used safety-first thinking to allow a good distance buffer between engine, bumper and cabin for reducing collision calamities. Genius.
The Auto Stop mode, normally annoying, is one of the smoothest experienced and for the first time I left it alone when testing a vehicle. Bravo.
Everything about the interior is superb—especially for its limo length rear seating. Think of it as upscale IKEA—modern, clean and uncluttered. Creature comforts abound in the spacious cocoon and the lovely scented cowhide leather appointments improve even further in the upgraded packages. Soft-touch materials, attractive trim and a perfectly formed steering wheel (heated!) will delight the inhabitants.
The Inscription package is noticeably more opulent with upgraded leather and unique wood trim than the S90 T5 Momentum, yet the less glamorous package hardly feels like bare bones settling. There are plenty of welcome attributes on the Momentum if pricing is an issue.
The TFT Instrumentation is clear and attractive. Several ambient lighting choices will accentuate your every mood. An excellent Head’s Up Display shows speed and applicable speed limit signs on the windshield. The wiper fluid is dispensed through the wipers themselves, thus no more annoying over spray when cleaning the windshield.
The large vertical air vents are superb. They seriously warm or cool the cabin in record time and for my money are the best around.
Volvo spent seven years redesigning the heated and vented seats with renowned chiropractors resulting in near perfection with zero pressure points to endure. You can seriously drive forever without feeling the need to stop. The headrests are some of the best in the biz. In fact, the S90 automatically braces the passengers if the car goes airborne or detects an imminent crash from behind. Safety plus!
A large double-panoramic moon roof provides oodles of headroom and looms above abundant rear seating. That rear legroom is superb and the right rear passenger can control several features (including moving up the front passenger seat).
Cargo is decent for this class at 13.5 cu.ft.—more with the rear seats folded down. Golf bags fit perfectly when positioned diagonally.
The S90 now uses the tablet-themed Sensus Technology for its infotainment system. The 9.3-inch vertical touchscreen is sublime and so intuitively easy to swipe and scroll. In fact with Apple Car Play, most of your iPhone apps are displayed so there’s little to learn. I already miss it.
Given it’s a Volvo, there is a plethora (nearly an entire column) of worthy safety features. The Lane Departure firmly brings you back when weaving when ignoring the lane signal. For grins, I drove over three miles hands free on the Tollway with nary a concern but plenty of admiration.
Plus, there’s the handy Volvo on Call app that remotely controls your car including remote start, locking doors, sending for roadside assistance, emergency SOS and heats/cools your cocoon before entering.
Audio availability is either a capable base 10-speaker surround sound system or the optional blowtorch 1,440-watt 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins for an additional $3,200.
The 2018 Volvo S90 T6 AWD sedan is an extraordinary ensemble embodying luxury, driving chops and cutting edge technology. Thus, it’s the epitome of what a customer desires to arrive safely while coddled in luxurious appointments inside a striking figure. You’d be wise to give it a go when looking at your next upscale sports sedan.
Test-drive the 2018 Volvo S90 T6 AWD at Park Place Volvo in Dallas and Crest Cars in Plano.
Golf bags: More than two
Curb appeal: That’s a Volvo!?
0-60: 5.7 sec
Mileage: 22/31. Observed 25.5 overall
Must-haves: Inscription, Climate & Convenience packages
Warranty: 4yr/50K miles + complimentary maintenance 3yr/36K
Base price: $53,950
Price as tested: $69,190
Who buys it? Families desiring unparalleled safety and upscale comfort
Finish line: A terrific looking vehicle that checks just about the entire wish list