2020 Volvo S90

2020 Volvo S90
2020 Volvo S90 Three Quarter Rear Right Dynamic
2020 Volvo S90 Interior Front Area

2020 Volvo S90 Review: Understated Luxury

They say all that glitters ain't gold, but by that same logic, not all that's gold actually glitters. The Volvo S90 proves the latter with much more value hidden under its less-than-blingy appearance. With one powertrain less for 2020, the S90 features a 316-horsepower four-cylinder engine that works in relative harmony with an eight-speed automatic; it doesn't blow you out of the water, but it's more than sufficient for what the sedan is meant to do, which is provide comfort, capable handling, and a spacious, luxurious cabin to travel in. Volvo tries to tick as many of the boxes as possible by providing a magnificent interior with all the bells and whistles one could ask for, but in throwing the net out so wide, has the automaker missed the mark when it comes to identifying any outstanding aspects of the luxury sedan? With a starting price in the lower $50k region, we have high expectations.

Read in this review:

  • Exterior Design 8 /10
  • Performance 7 /10
  • Fuel Economy 8 /10
  • Interior & Cargo 9 /10
  • Infotainment & Features 10 /10
  • Reliability 7 /10
  • Safety 10 /10
  • Value For Money 8 /10
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2020 Volvo S90 Changes: What’s The Difference vs The 2019 S90?

Numerous changes were made to the Volvo Cars lineup for 2020, affecting the S90 by adding standard steering support as part of the City Safety suite, autobrake, haptic feedback, and a 12.3-inch digital driver display. The new year also brings with it a polished exterior for the S90 sedan, with some attention given to new fog lights, a lower front bumper, and a fresh concave grille design. Additionally, there's an even-better-than-before sound system from the audio masters at Bowers and Wilkins available to the two top trims. The S90 also gets an advanced air cleaner, double USB ports for charging, and an available wireless charging setup. Tailored wool blend upholstery is also carried over from the XC90 range to the S90 sedan, and an all-new leather-free interior is made available for the entire range of Volvo cars, too.

However, possibly the biggest news is the deletion of the T5 powertrain that was previously available to the S90 - we don't think this is a bad thing, as the large sedan fares much better with a bit more power under the hood from the remaining T6 mill - this also removes front-wheel-drive from the equation, though, as the T6 engine is paired to AWD exclusively. The R-Design trim has also been added to flesh out the lineup for 2020, and the base Momentum models now come standard with leather upholstery, front-seat heating, front park assist, and newly-styled 18-inch wheels. Lastly, Magic Blue Metallic exterior paint is no longer available, but Bursting Blue on the R-Design and Pine Grey on the remaining trims, can now be opted for.

Pros and Cons

  • Sophisticated styling
  • Spacious cabin
  • Plush, driver-centric interior
  • Long consignment of standard features
  • T6 engine isn't as refined as some competitors
  • Sensus system not universally loved
  • Fun-factor is sacrificed for comfort
  • Less than ideal fuel economy figures
  • Trunk space is on the small side

What's the Price of the 2020 Volvo S90?

As the flagship sedan in the Volvo family, the S90s price may seem high, but compares favorably with the likes of the BMW 5 Series and Audi A6, both of which are more expensive at entry level. The base Momentum has an MSRP of $50,550, while the sporty R-Design and luxurious Inscription share the same top-end price of $53,650. Quoted excluding a destination fee of $995, this also does not account for taxes and other miscellaneous fees.

Best Deals on 2020 Volvo S90

2020 Volvo S90 Trims

See trim levels and configurations:

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
T6 Momentum
2.0L Twincharged Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
T6 R-Design
2.0L Twincharged Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
T6 Inscription
2.0L Twincharged Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
See All 2020 Volvo S90 Trims and Specs

Handling and Driving Impressions

When it comes to handling, the S90 offers a bit of both good and bad. The good being a capable, composed ride that takes corners without a hiccup, and the bad touching on a slightly jittery standard suspension that struggles to keep abrasions from filtering through to the cabin (which is further exacerbated by the larger 20-inch wheels). Going for the optional air suspension is recommended to help smooth this over, and for the much softer overall feel which we've come to expect from the sleek Scandivanian. Steering is weighted and responsive, and while there isn't much feedback or engagement, it's no-frills-no-fuss temperament means pleasant predictability, despite the fact that there is minimal wow-factor.

Verdict: Is the 2020 Volvo S90 A Good car?

There's quite a bit of serious competition in the segment where the S90 comes to play, with the likes of Audi's A6 and the BMW 5 Series both bringing more fun and more power to the table. Still, that isn't to say the S90 isn't worth a look - it remains a beautiful, well-put-together vehicle with an interior that is worth every penny paid for it. Even the infotainment setup, which may require a few trial runs to learn, wins us over. The S90 doesn't stand out for being agile, sporty, or particularly fuel-efficient, however, but it does offer superior safety, a long list of standard features, a comfortable drive (especially with the adaptive air suspension box checked), and a spacious, plush cabin. If these are on your list of priorities when looking for a luxury sedan, the S90 will serve you well. If you're hoping to get your adrenaline pumping, you may be slightly disappointed.

What Volvo S90 Model Should I Buy?

We don't want to sound like stuck records when it comes to Volvo trim levels, but we do have a bead on how the Swedish manufacturer presents their cars through the trim levels and we usually recommend the Inscription trim for its all-round luxuries and comfort. When it comes to the S90, you won't be sorry opting for the base-spec model either, with the Momentum offering leather seats, heated perches for the driver and passenger, the same infotainment system with a slightly less premium sound system, and all the basics covered in terms of safety - a good value-for-money package overall. The only trim we'd advise skipping in this range is the R-Design, purely for its rougher-than-necessary ride on the standard suspension setup. We much prefer the comfort inherent to the Inscription with the added adaptive suspension - this guise seems to best personify what the designers were trying to achieve with the S90 all along.

Check out other Volvo S90 Styles

2020 Volvo S90 Comparisons

Audi A6
BMW 5 Series Sedan BMW

2020 Volvo S90 vs Audi A6

Audi and Volvo have something in common when it comes to large, luxury sedans - both share styling cues much more in line with suave sophistication and elegance, rather than gaudy in-your-face looks. The A6 offers very much what the S90 does - a beautiful interior, top-notch build quality, good standard features list, and a comfortable space for passengers. The Audi does have two powertrain options, however, and the larger V6 provides slightly more exciting outputs than the Volvo, at 355 hp and 369 lb-ft. Not only does this improve acceleration and result in a quicker 0-60 dash, but there's a much more refined quality to the German's engine, overall. Add to this the fact that the Audi's more aggressive engine doesn't affect gas mileage rates quite as much (22/29/24 mpg as opposed to the S90's 21/31/25 mpg), and you may find it hard to choose between the sedans. We're big fans of how the Audi handles and feels on the road, but we're inclined to give the Volvo the benefit of the doubt.

See Audi A6 Review

2020 Volvo S90 vs BMW 5 Series Sedan

Unlike the aforementioned German rival, the BMW 5 Series comes in a little hotter for this matchup - at least, it's supposed to. Accustomed to leading the charge, most BMWs have the advantage of superior handling and engaging driving that easily tops other cars - but, for the 5 Series, the traditional Bimmer sporty feeling has been toned down, too. It still ships with three powertrain choices, with the most powerful being a turbocharged V8 offering monstrous outputs of 523 hp and 553 lb-ft - something the S90 just can't compare to with its 2.0-liter mill. Comparing apples to apples, however, the base engine in both cars is a four-cylinder, and the S90 does a little better with this motor equipped in terms of power output. Still, the BMW has a little more to offer overall, with a much more spacious trunk, better fuel economy stats from the 2.0-liter engine, and an arguably better infotainment setup - it does cost around $2,700 more at the entry point of the range, though. We'd be hard-pressed to pick between these two, with the S90 offering a much fresher take on the segment, while BMW has had it locked down for some time.

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