2018 Volvo V90 Review

Station wagons are few and far between – even farther in the larger category occupied by the 5 Series and E Class. Volvo stays true to their roots though, with the Volvo V90 – the station wagon variant of the 90 cluster of vehicles that includes the S90, XC90, and V90 Cross Country. Swedish styling is draped across the latest SPA modular underpinnings with two engine variants to choose from, each with their own individual drivetrain. With the V90, Volvo’s claims of building cars for real people may just have notched up a little more relevance.

What's it like inside?

BMW does familiarity, Mercedes does faux opulence, but Volvo does interior like nobody else. Scandinavian warmth, minimalism, and attention to detail are all key features to the V90’s interior, with warm materials of the highest quality, classy design elements like the frameless mirror, and of course the portrait orientation Sensus Connect infotainment screen flanked by vertical blade designed air vents. Molded power adjustable seats make it easy to find the perfect driving position, while visibility all round is vastly superior to SUVs that may find favor amongst buyers in this category.

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The cabin offers vast amounts of space for both front and rear occupants in immense luxury and comfort, and the rear seat features a standard 40/60 split and Volvo’s traditional ski-door through to the cargo bay. Cargo capacity is voluminous, but despite the outward appearance of massive storage, a maximum 54 cubic feet on offer with the rear seats flattened is still below what other wagons offer.

What's it like to drive?

Riding standard on Volvo’s rear composite leaf-spring setup, the V90 is still pliant over most roads, but the optional adaptive suspension is the must have setup as it gives the rear an extra layer of pliancy over any surface, while the traditionally sprung front end maintains high levels of grip with the road surface. Even with the available 20-inch alloys, the ride is immaculate. It retains a level of connection with the road, but is soft without being overly floaty.

The V90, regardless of the setup, isn’t the most driver orientated vehicle in this segment – though it still doesn’t compromise on outright capability. Grip levels are high and the steering is direct, even if lacking in feedback. Lean on the car during cornering and there’s impressive body control over broken surfaces, with plenty of depth on offer should you decide to go canyon carving every once in a while.

What about the performance?

The V90 is offered stateside with two engine derivatives – T5 and T6 AWD. In T5 guise, the front wheels are driven through an 8-speed automatic gearbox by a 2.0-liter turbocharged Drive-E four cylinder that develops 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. If you want extra power or all-wheel drive, the T6 AWD gives you both, with the T5’s motor gaining an extra supercharger to up power outputs to 316hp and 295 lb-ft, whilst making use of the same 8-speed automatic gearbox. Though the T6 has more power, the staged system yields awkward power delivery – for that reason alone, the T5 is the better option.

What are my options?

Two trim lines are available, Inscription and R-Design, for luxury and sporting pretense. Both are extensively well equipped though and the V90 features as standard leather upholstery, 4-zone climate control, and power adjustable seats. The optional 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system is a must have option. Volvo’s penchant for safety is standard too, with lane keep assist, large animal avoidance, blind spot monitoring, active LED headlights, road sign recognition, and Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving all standard. The V90 hasn’t been crash tested, but the S90 sedan sibling was awarded as a 2017 IIHS Top Safety Pick.

The Verdict

If you’re into wagons as the perfect means to transport your family, then you simply can’t do better than the Volvo V90. The sporty R-Design offers visual appeal, and the T5 is the best engine choice, but all variants ooze style, comfort, and safety in abundance. This may just be one of the best all-rounders on the market.

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