We were ready to write off Volvo just a few years ago. Today? There may not be a car brand with a brighter future, and the company's luxurious S90 flagship sedan is perhaps the best evidence of that yet.
Following in the footsteps of the similar, but equally impressive Volvo XC90, the S90 is a four-door luxury sedan designed to square off against the world's best cars: The Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the BMW 5-Series, the Audi A6, the Lexus GS, and the Cadillac XT6. That's some serious competition.
But let's take a look at what the S90 brings to the table.
First off, it's sexy from every angle. And that shouldn't really surprise anyone, since Volvo hasn't built a truly dull, style-free car in at least a decade. A new design language that could only have come from tranquil Sweden was ushered in by the XC90, and the S90 is clearly its sibling—albeit with its own special touches. Stunning tail lamps and an overall shape that honors the brand's boxy past help it stand out against rivals. There's an understated elegance that we appreciate because of the way it reminds potential buyers that, while they easily could have bought a BMW, they thought a little outside of the box (pun intended).
Inside, it's much the same, with a gorgeous infotainment integration and switchgear that puts rivals to shame. There's plenty of stretch-out space and the seats themselves are beautifully contoured.
If anything, the S90 gets even more interesting under its hood.
There will be three choices for North America: a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder in a T5 model, making 250 horsepower; a supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder in a T6, producing 316 hp; and a supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-4 working with an electric drive system in a range-topping T8 Twin Engine. The T8 model will be rated at 400 hp for the U.S. market, but Volvo hasn’t yet released more details about this version, which will arrive later in the model year. These powertrains work through an excellent 8-speed automatic transmission, and for now T5 models have front-wheel drive while T6 models get all-wheel drive.
Even in T6 form, with its firmer Dynamic setting and the air suspension, the S90 feels quite softly sprung. But it holds true to Volvo’s target of “relaxed confidence,” in that the suspension loads up evenly and predictably and unloads out of corners with grace and finesse. The plush but well-controlled ride straddles a perfect middle ground for many touring needs, pleasing passengers without too much bobbing or pitching over imperfect surfaces—and it’s very quiet, thanks in part to active noise cancellation technology.
Stay tuned to see if the S90 becomes The Car Connection's Best Car to Buy 2017.