There’s superb comfort—dynamic comfort—here, with a plush but well-controlled ride giving the driver enough control but pleasing passengers without too much bobbing or pitching over backroads and choppy surfaces.
And the cabin S90 is exceptionally quiet inside. The super-tight body structure and smart noise insulation techniques are part of it; so is Volvo’s incorporation of active noise cancellation, which counters any engine boom and road coarseness.
That same system supplements engine sounds in the car’s Dynamic mode. And before you think of that system as silly, in a large luxury car that has no paddle shifters or even sporty undertones, the S90 performs to a satisfying level in the T6 form we drove—with the special supercharged-and-turbocharged version of Volvo’s 2.0-liter inline-4 engine line, called Drive-E, plus all-wheel drive. Lesser T5 models have a turbocharged 250-hp version of the same engine, but with front-wheel drive.
Not scorching, but strong and reassuring
“Relaxed confidence” is the catch phrase Volvo uses to describe the way it’s tuned and configured the S90, and we think it’s apt. The S90 T6 is at its most tepid from a standing start, when mashing the accelerator to the floor momentarily does surprisingly little, with no quawk of the tires whatsoever; but the moment revs rise toward the 2,000-rpm range, this engine feels every bit like a replacement for a big 6-cylinder engine. Between the two, the T6 can dash to 60 mph in 5.7 seconds, while the T5 takes 6.5. A T8 model, arriving later in the model year, will produce about 400 hp from its plug-in hybrid powertrain and will likely be the quickest of them all.
Both versions of the S80 come with an 8-speed automatic transmission. From supplier Aisin, it provides smooth, quick, unobtrusive shifts, varying slightly in urgency depending on the mode.
Fortunately Volvo hasn’t messed too much with one thing: the seats. They remain the same delightful, supportive, orthopedically designed seats that Volvo has used in other models. In our test T6 they’re adjustable in all the right ways, with extendable thigh support, great all-day back support, and enough side support to suit this model’s dynamic but not racy personality.
This is a true five-passenger car, with enough legroom and (barely) enough headroom beneath the swoopy roofline. There’s one seating disappointment here, though: Getting into and out of the back seats require far more shimmying than is required in other sedans its size; there’s something restrictive about the roofline combined with the door cut.
Somewhere between the 5er and the 7er, the E and the S
At about 195 inches long, with a wheelbase of around 116 inches, the S90 is slightly larger than the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5-Series, and Audi A6 yet smaller then the S-Class, 7-Series, and A8. Don’t be surprised if Volvo’s working on an extended-length version.
Trunk space in the sedan is impressive—not so much because of the generous 17.7-cubic-foot capacity, which includes the under-floor storage, but because of the squared-off shape of it, allowing plenty of space for several large suitcases (or yes, golf bags).