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2019 Volvo V90

$51,450 - $59,450
Price Range (MSRP)
Volvo V90

2019 Volvo V90 Test Drive Review: Perfect Blend Of Classic And Modern

by Ian Wright

The Volvo wagon has an enduring stereotype of being safe, solid, reliable, and boring for decades. Since the Swedish brand's rebirth, there has been given a hefty push towards a new reputation. This time its towards one of being safe, solid, reliable, and distinctly stylish.

Volvo has always stressed build quality and safety, but style and performance have never been a strong point until now. The move into an elegant design language has pushed the brand into the premium bracket but, with the V90 and V60 wagons in particular, its clear Volvo's designers haven't forgotten the brand's roots. The new wagons blend the classic recipe with modern style and technology to bake something distinctive. The V90 also comes loaded with the comfort level and features you expect from a safety conscious premium brand.

Read in this review:

2019 Volvo V90 Changes: What’s the difference vs 2018 V90?

For its third year on the market, Volvo has shuffled the standard equipment found on the V90, adding to some trims and taking away from others. Now standard on all models are heated washer nozzles, a HomeLink integrated rearview mirror, stitched dashboard and door panels, and a Harman/Kardon audio system. The Inscription model now gets a rear cargo cover as standard. Items that were standard in 2018 - adaptive full LED headlights with automatic high-beams - are now part of the optional Advanced package, which also adds self-parking functionality, a 360-degree camera, and a driver's head-up display.

Pros and Cons

  • Pros:
  • Stylish, inside and out
  • Luxurious interior design and finishes
  • Loads of high-tech safety and assistance features
  • Lots of practicality
  • More athletic than an SUV
  • Great fuel economy
  • Cons:
  • All-wheel drive not available on lower trims
  • Predicted reliability below average
  • Four-cylinder engines lack refinement
  • Erratic ride quality

V90 Exterior

The Volvo V90 integrates Volvo's latest design language into a slender, appealing wagon form. 19-inch alloy wheels are standard on all models but can be upgraded to the 20-inch alloys, as featured on our T6 AWD Inscription test model, with designs specific to the trim line. All models feature LED headlights with the Hammer of Thor LED DRL insignia, as well as a panoramic sunroof and dual integrated tailpipes. The two main trim lines, R-Design and Inscription, do differ in some styling elements, however, with the R-Design featuring more sporty elements, a blacked out grille, satin finish mirror housings and window surrounds, and a bespoke front bumper. The Inscription features chrome vertical slats in the grille, body colored mirrors, and unique wheel designs.

2019 Volvo V90 Front Angle View
2019 Volvo V90 Side View
2019 Volvo V90 Rear View
See All 2019 Volvo V90 Exterior Photos

Dimensions

All V90's measure 194.3-inches in length and ride on a 115.8-inch wheelbase, courtesy of the SPA product architecture, making the V90 the shortest of the '90' cluster of vehicles in both aspects. The V90 measures 79.5-inches in width and in its tallest non-Cross Country guise, it measures 58.1-inches tall. The R-Design measures shorter though, as thanks to a Sport chassis with stiffer suspension, it tides 0.8-inches lower than the Inscription model does. In T5 guise, the V90 weighs a hefty 3,913 lbs, but in T6 guise with the addition of a supercharger and all-wheel-drive, the V90's curb weight increases to 4,189 lbs.

Exterior Colors

The Volvo V90's color palette boasts a choice of sixteen available hues, with limitations based on the chosen trim. Ice White is a no-cost option on both trims, while each trim also receives one trim-specific no-cost hue in Passion Red (R-Design) and Black Stone (Inscription). Metallic paints cost $645, with six colors available on both trims including Electric Silver, Crystal White, and Onyx Black. The R-Design has the availability of Bursting Blue, while the Inscription gets six trim-specific metallic paints including Mussel Blue, Luminous Sand, and the Maple Brown our test vehicle is wearing in the photographs.

  • Magic Blue Metallic
  • Electric Silver Metallic
  • Savile Grey Metallic
  • Crystal White Pearl Metallic
  • Bright Silver Metallic
  • Osmium Grey Metallic
  • Onyx Black Metallic
  • Luminous Sand Metallic
  • Mussel Blue Metallic
  • Maple Brown Metallic
  • Denim Blue Metallic
  • Pine Grey Metallic
  • Bursting Blue Metallic
  • Black Stone
  • Ice White
See all 16 colors

V90 Performance

Volvo offers the V90 with two available engines, each paired with their own drivetrain. While front-wheel drive is standard on the T5 model, the more potent T6 is available exclusively with all-wheel-drive, which is not an option on the T5. No model is available with rear-wheel-drive like some rivals. The T6 is the more performance orientated model, too. It offsets the additional weight of AWD with increased power and torque, the 2.0-liter four-cylinder Drive-E engine equipped with both a turbocharger and a supercharger to develop 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. It sends this to all four corners through an Aisin-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission, enabling a 0-60 mph sprint of just under six seconds, making it quicker than comparably powered SUVs, but slower than segment rivals like the Mercedes-Benz E450 wagon. Fortunately, those looking for more performance can get a special Polestar tune, which ups outputs to 330 hp/325 lb-ft, dropping the 0-60 time to the low five range.

2019 Volvo V90 Open Hood
2019 Volvo V90 Engine
2019 Volvo V90 Engine

Engine and Transmission

Volvo has equipped the V90 with a choice of two of its Drive-E range of gasoline engines. On the base T5, the 2.0-liter four-cylinder gasoline architecture boasts a single turbocharger, delivering outputs of 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Stepping up to the T6, however, adds a supercharger in addition to the turbo, cranking the outputs up to 316 hp and 295 lb-ft in the process. Both engines utilize the same eight-speed automatic transmission.

  • Engines
    2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas, 2.0-liter Twincharged Inline-4 Gas
  • Transmission
    8-Speed Automatic
  • Drivetrains
    AWD, FWD

Handling and Driving Impressions

The interior of the V90 doesn't inspire vigorous driving habits but that doesn't stop the wagon from being engaging to drive, particularly when stacked up against the higher riding Cross Country model and most crossovers. The ride isn't as refined as you would expect from a premium wagon when cruising on well-worn roads, even with the optional rear air-suspension setup, but enjoyable on well-paved roads and freeways. However, the tradeoff to the unrefined ride on the sportier T6 model is plenty of grip to inspire confidence when cornering and braking.

There's a dynamic mode for sporty driving, and despite the weight of the V90 it hunkers down and can hold its own on a back road. However, between the hard ride and unrefined engine note, comfort mode is absolutely the place to be.

V90 Gas Mileage

One of the hallmarks of the Drive-E range of engines is its eco-friendliness and fuel efficiency compared to bigger V6 and V8-engined rivals. Naturally, though, the T5 is the most economical with lower outputs, with the EPA rating mileage estimates at 23/35/27 mpg on the city/highway/combined cycles. The more powerful, AWD-equipped T6 gets reduced claims of 21/31/25 mpg. However, it's the less frugal engine that gets the bigger gas tank, receiving a 15.9-gallon tank compared to the 14.5-gallon tank on the T5 derivative. This balances out the expected range with up to 398-miles range in mixed driving conditions on T6-equipped V90s, while T5-equipped models should achieve a 392-mile range in the same conditions.

Our T6 AWD test vehicle was hovering between 25 and 26 mpg after a week of driving and with only a few freeway cruises in the mix. While we did find the engine unrefined, there's no arguing that benefit using the two forced induction systems on the 4-cylinder engine to make more than enough power and maintain solid fuel economy.

  • Fuel Tank Capacity
    14.5 Gallons
  • Fuel Economy
    City/Hwy: 23/35 mpg
* 2019 Volvo V90 T5 R-Design FWD

V90 Interior

The V90 feels special, and it's primarily due to the stylish interior that looks as much 'modern art' as it does leading automotive interior. High-quality materials like genuine wood inserts and aluminum inlays are paired with a unique design that feels airy and open, while Volvo's large portrait-orientated infotainment setup dominates the center console and shows Volvo is more than happy to keep up with modern technophiles. A range of power adjustment on the comfortably molded seats is matched with heating, ventilation, and massage functions to create a lounge-like experience, while rear seat passengers are kept comfortable with generous amounts of space for six-foot-tall occupants to stretch out in comfortable accommodation. Of course, no wagon would be complete without practicality to rival an SUV, with the V90 rounding off a complete interior with a large, versatile cargo bay.

2019 Volvo V90 Steering Wheel
2019 Volvo V90 Gear Shifter
2019 Volvo V90 Rear Passenger Seats
See All 2019 Volvo V90 Interior Photos

Seating and Interior Space

We're not using the word special lightly here. There's more than an adequate amount of room for the whole family packing for a weekend trip, but there's also something distinct and ethereal to settling in for a journey as either the driver or as a passenger. The blend of modern convenience and technology with an airy interior stocked with nicely finished wood, metal, and soft materials is remarkably satisfying. The large panoramic sunroof helps bring even more of a sense of airiness to the already spacious interior.

  • Seating capacity
    5-seater

Interior Colors and Materials

The contemporary dashboard with genuine wood and metal trim as well as soft-touch padding in all the right places brings a clear elegance to a well thought out interior. Nothing feels cheap or ill-considered at all, although the styling of the dual-tone steering wheel in our tester is going to come down to personal taste. As is going for the R-Design trim with the sport seats. They are good looking and also of premium quality but detract from the overall feeling of elegance when climbing into a V90.

V90 Trunk and Cargo Space

One of the most alluring aspects of a large wagon is the cargo volume and practicality comparable to an SUV, with none of the compromises. So the 19.8 cubic feet behind the second row of seats in the V90 might come as a surprise, as it's less than that of a Volvo XC60, although still enough for a family weekend getaway. However, the space is practical and easy to use, and a low load sill combines with a standard hands-free tailgate to allow for easy loading. The rear seats fold in a 60/40 split with trunk-located release buttons to increase the storage space to 54 cubic feet, which although less than an E Class wagon, is still highly practical. There's an available flip-up grocery bag holder to help organize your shopping, and the cargo cover is linked to the tailgate to ensure it doesn't get in the way of loading.

Interior storage is more than ample for the segment, with large door pockets, a large center console storage bin, and cupholders that cater to most large cups. The rear passengers get less, with a small rear cubby and flip-out cupholders in the center armrest, but storage options are still decent.

2019 Volvo V90 Trunk Space
2019 Volvo V90 Trunk Space
2019 Volvo V90 Maximum Cargo Space

V90 Infotainment and Features

As with the rest of Volvo's 90-badged cluster of vehicles, the V90 comes jam-packed with features. The standard offering includes a hands-free liftgate, keyless entry, push-button start, four-zone climate control, power adjustable front seats, a panoramic sunroof, a fully configurable digital instrument cluster, and an arsenal of driver aids including blind spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, and lane keeping assist. Additionally, buyers can upgrade the specification further, equipping heating and ventilation to the seats, a driver's heads-up display, surround-view camera system, adaptive rear air suspension, and automated parking. The rear seats can be heated, as can the steering wheel, and you can even equip a dog harness to keep your furry friend safely secured.

Features

The series of drivers aids are well implemented and don't get in the way to the point of distraction, although the GPS based speed limit warnings can be on the fussy side. If you find yourself in 45 limit that Volvo's system thinks is a 45, it takes its time to accept that you're deliberately "speeding." The heads up display is also discrete and not distracting.

Out on the freeway, Pilot Assist showed itself to be a well-developed system that doesn't jump about between lane markers although we would like it to be a bit quicker on the uptake when it comes to automatic braking. It doesn't feel unsafe, but that extra refinement there would smooth it out nicely.

Infotainment

Volvo's Sensus connect infotainment system isn't the fastest on the market, however, it is simple and intuitive. The 9.0-inch display big enough to make the vertical orientation work. Rounding everything off there, the system can also stream apps like Spotify as well as access local weather reports and Yelp! reviews. The digital dashboard display is also simple and intuitive, as well as being configurable to show anything you need, including navigation.

Bolstering the infotainment as an option is the Bowers & Wilkins sound system. It's expensive, but it's also top-notch and will satisfy true audiophiles and casual listeners alike. The setting for Concert Hall is a CarBuzz favorite for music, but for the driver on a commute or long road trip, then the personal setting that directs the sound only to the driver is close to exquisite.

V90 Problems and Reliability

While owner-reported problems have been few, there has been one recall for the V90. The recall pertains to 2017-2019 models regarding an error in the telematics system that may not report GPS data to emergency services in the event of a crash. However, more pressing is that the V90 receives below average predicted reliability ratings of 2.5 out of five from J.D. Power, which when paired with a basic four-year/50,000-mile warranty doesn't inspire confidence. Rivals offer better warranties and have greater predicted reliability scores.

V90 Safety

Despite the wealth of safety features, neither the NHTSA or the IIHS has crash-tested the low-volume selling V90. However, the IIHS has tested the S90 upon which the V90 is based, giving it the best available score of Good in most tests.

Key Safety Features

Despite the lack of safety ratings, the V90 isn't lacking in safety features with six airbags including full-length side curtain airbags. However, where the V90 scores highest is the array of standard collision avoidance measures, including active blind spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, forward collision warning with automatic braking, lane keeping assist, distance alert, driver attention assist, lane keeping assist, road sign identification, and adaptive cruise control. Additional safety features available include a surround-view camera system, automated parking functionality, and full LED headlights with dynamic bending functionality and automatic high beams.

Verdict: Is the 2019 Volvo V90 a good car?

The V90 is a special car. In a world of crossovers, it's a station wagon. And in the small world of station wagons, it has its own unique style, presence, and ambiance. It may not be a ferocious drivers car, but it suits someone with a family that enjoys traveling along a road and having a distinctive and pleasant environment to do it in. The V90 manages to pull off elegant and sharp without being showy and is a pleasure to drive without having to go fast. Volvo is serving a particular kind of customer here and doing it well. For its few faults, nobody should skip past the V90 if they're looking for a premium family car and daily driver wrapped up in a neat and useful package.

What's the Price of the 2019 Volvo V90?

Pricing for the Volvo V90 kicks off with the T5 R-Design carrying a base MSRP of $53,450 before options, tax, licensing, registration, and a $995 destination charge. The T5 Inscription is priced from $53,450. To equip all-wheel-drive, buyers must upgrade to the T6 engine, with prices starting at $57,450 for the T6 AWD R-Design and increasing to $59,450 for the T6 AWD Inscription. With most equipment standard, there isn't the need to load up on costly options, although doing so can easily push the asking price beyond $65,000

2019 Volvo V90 Models

The Volvo V90 is offered in two trims; R-Design and Inscription, both of which are available with the turbocharged 250 horsepower T5 engine in front-wheel-drive guise, or the twincharged 316 hp T6 engine as an all-wheel-drive model.

Both models feature 19-inch alloy wheels keyless entry, LED headlights, a panoramic sunroof, hands-free liftgate operation, four-zone climate control, leather upholstery, power adjustable front seats, a nine-inch touchscreen infotainment system, navigation, and premium Karman Kardon audio. Standard safety comprises a reverse camera, blind spot monitoring, lane keeping assist, forward collision avoidance, and adaptive cruise control.

The R-Design features bespoke exterior styling elements and a sportier suspension tune, while inside there are R-Design seats, a sports steering wheel with paddle shifters, and aluminum inlays on the dash and doors.

Meanwhile, the Inscription gets heated and ventilated front seats, more stately exterior styling, softer suspension, and real wood interior inlays.

Trim Engine Transmission Drivetrain Price (MSRP)
T5 R-Design
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$51,450
T5 Inscription
2.0-liter Turbo Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
Front-Wheel Drive
$53,450
T6 R-Design
2.0-liter Twincharged Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$57,450
T6 Inscription
2.0-liter Twincharged Inline-4 Gas
8-Speed Automatic
All-Wheel Drive
$59,450
See All 2019 Volvo V90 Trims and Specs

Additional Packages

While well-equipped as standard, the V90 can be upgraded by several packages as well as standalone options. The most important package is the $2,500 Advanced Package, which equips a driver's heads-up display, 360-degree camera, full LED headlights with active bending functionality, front park sensors, and automated parking. Also bundled into a package, but available as standalone options are a heated steering wheel and heated seats for $750.

On the standalone front, for $150 apiece you can equip a power-operated load cover, a CD player, a 12 volt rear power outlet, or a cargo bay divider. A heated steering wheel and heated windshield are available at $300 each, while Park Assist Pilot can be equipped for $500. Massaging front seats will cost you $600, while the 360-degree camera costs $900, as does the driver's heads-up display. Two of the most expensive, but worthwhile options are the active rear air suspension for $1,200 and the incredible 15-speaker Bowers and Wilkins premium sound system for $3,200.

What Volvo V90 Model Should I Buy?

For people living in the snow states, the T6 trim is the only option to get the all-wheel-drive drivetrain. The R-Design sport trim and stiffer chassis don't necessarily suit the V90, and the sports seats, in our opinion, defeat the object. The extra power from the T6 is nice but not an absolute must, so we heartily recommend looking at both the T5 and T6 with the more stately and comfort-oriented Inscription trim. The Bowers and Wilkins sound system is a must, so if there's a Volvo in your future then make sure you tick that option

Check out other Volvo V90 Styles?

2019 Volvo V90 Comparisons

2019 Volvo V90
2019 Volvo V90

2019 Volvo V90 vs Mercedes-AMG E63 Wagon

Like Volvo, Mercedes-Benz has a long history when it comes to wagons, and the latest E-Class Wagon may be their best yet. Like the Volvo, it focuses on luxury, with an abundance of standard and available equipment and semi-autonomous functionality, plus Mercedes' gorgeous dual-screen interior. The E-Class may start off at a higher price, but the E450 4MATIC is equipped with a 362 horsepower bi-turbo V6 whose power and performance the Volvo can't quite match. The V90 is more frugal, though, and it offers four-zone climate while the E-Class only caters to optional tri-zone climate control. For the money, the Volvo is better equipped a standard, however, the E-Class rides better, has greater amounts of available tech, and has nearly double the cargo volume behind the rear seats. You can also have the E-Class in a fire-breathing AMG variant, while the V90 is lukewarm by comparison. The E-Class has Volvo beaten, this time around.

See Mercedes-AMG E63 Wagon Review

2019 Volvo V90 vs Jaguar XF Sportbrake

While Mercedes and Volvo focus on luxury, Jaguar offers the XF Sportbrake to cater to those who want some driver enjoyment from their luxury wagon. It manages comfort as well as the others, but it's sportier and more nimble when it needs to be, and the available supercharged 380 horsepower V6 means there's plenty of performance, although even the base 296 hp engine is more than potent enough for most. The Jaguar is rear-wheel drive biased, too, making for sportier handling dynamics. Both wagons are well equipped, but the Volvo is the cheaper option and offers advanced safety features the Jag doesn't. It comes down to an age-old question - do you do the sensible thing and buy a Volvo, or do you enjoy driving, in which case you buy the Jaguar?

See Jaguar XF Sportbrake Review

Volvo V90 Popular Comparisons