2017 Volvo S90 first drive review

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With Volvo’s most recent products, including the 2017 Volvo S90 sedan and upcoming 2018 V90 wagon, the Swedish automaker is wholly embracing its Scandinavian roots.

From the upright concave grille, the prominent brand ironmark, and the elongated hood in front, to the name proudly spelled out across the rear, and the organic, French-curve upkick of the curved side glass at the rear, on the outside the new S90 sedan loads on retro cues from the great P1800 sports car. And then it embraces Scandinavian design more than ever inside.

Specifically, that’s design that’s functional, elegant, and not overly complicated. It’s also design rooted in light, and in seeing the rugged terrain and its stark contrasts between seasons, from the opressively dark, candlelit hibernation days of winter to the sun-soaked days of summer, when the sun never seems to fully set.

Volvo is indeed reemerging from a great winter slumber. If last year’s new XC90 crossover suggested that the brand has better days ahead, the S90 lineup is a confirmation that its rugged cousin was no fluke.

The brand has never had a flagship luxury sedan that’s anywhere close to a sales success, but the new S90 has the best chance ever to break into the segment. Looking back nearly 20 years ago, to when Volvo first released its S80 sedan, marking a new strategy moving away from its utilitarian roots and into the lixury market with the introduction of the P2 platform that would become the brand’s lifeline, Volvo has struggled to reach anywhere close to the U.S. sales of rival Mercedes-Benz, BMW, or Audi models.

2017 Volvo S90

2017 Volvo S90

Volvo still has a long way to go on brand cachet, but it’s gaining fast, and after a first drive of the S90 sedan and its V90 wagon counterpart, we think these models will factor into the market as legitimate counterpoints to those German stalwarts and distinctly different alternatives that will conquer sales from those models—and in faster fashion, from Acura, Infiniti, Lincoln, or even Lexus.

The automaker notes that 150,000 premium sedan leases will mature this year, and it hopes to conquest many of those; five percent of the premium-sedan market is its modest target at this point.

Even more of a revelation than the XC90

Once you see the S90 as a true rival to many of these luxury sedans, it’s quite likely this one will charm you. The S90 is built on the same Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) as the XC90 crossover, and like that model introduced last year, it’s a winner—heading down the road with just the right level of heft and poise, driving with the right amount of lightness.

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