The 2018 Volvo V90 wagon, which we drove on a shorter loop, offered essentially the same ride comfort as the S90 sedan, although with a little more road noise from its more open format. For that, however, you get a lot more cargo versatility—plus a beautiful extended roofline and panoramic moonroof.
In all models, you get the awesome Sensus Touch system that replaces the clutter of buttons with a large, vertically oriented touch screen and one of the easiest, most intuitive menu systems in the business—easily allowing a quick tap or swipe for core functions like sound settings, navigation features, or climate control and only showing the essentials, in a large, legible font.
An armada of world-first protection
Of course one of the main focus areas of the S90 is safety. Of course, the body structure aims for higher standards of occupant protection, and of course, the S90 includes one of the fullest sets of safety features among lucury sedans. But there are some world firsts, too. One of them is large animal detection; it’s the first car with a standard system that will automatically brake you to a stop (or significantly reduce speed) when a moose, elk, or deer is detected. Another is Pilot Assist, the second generation of a system that interfaces cruise control, lane-keep assist, and forward collision systems, as well as high-resolution cameras and processing developed by Volvo itself in Sweden.
Animal Detection in 2017 Volvo S90Enlarge Photo
Pilot Assist, Volvo says, has so far been optimized for highway use, and it lets you take your hands off the wheel for just 15 seconds at a time—which we did, noting very smooth lane following, at the center of the travel lane (it doesn’t depend on striping on both sides and has true road-edge detection, claimed to be another world-first). The automaker says that it’s capable of far more, insisting that it’s a more advanced system than what Tesla has in the Model S, for instance, but that it considers such technologies as strictly supplemental to driver control.
Volvo has made a concerted effort with the S90 to include the potentially lifesaving automatic-braking systems as standard, with other warning features like Blind Sport Information System (BLIS) and Cross Traffic Alert optional; officials concede that they’re not features for which every shopper might find value.
Priced lower than other lux sedans
As for value, the 2017 S90 lineup starts at $47,945 for the T5 Momentum. A top-trim T6 Inscription model is $57,245, but fully optioned with the excellent Bowers & Wilkins sound, the air suspension, the cold weather package, and other extras, you could push past the $65k mark.
Altogether, that’s less than the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, BMW 5-Series, Acura RLX, and Infiniti Q70, and more closely aligned with the Audi A6, a model that’s near the end of its model lifecycle—and a model that’s simply not as well-equipped.
After spending a couple of days driving, sitting, and riding in these models, it’s clear that Volvo hasn’t been restrained by expectations of what the S90 should be. That’s resulted in a genuinely stylish, different, and rather enchanting new sedan. The very lack of baggage, and lack of expectations, appear to have given the Swedish automaker an underdog advantage—and the freedom to design a car that is good on its own.
After a long winter, Volvo is heading into a sunny Swedish midsummer, in full song.
The S90 T6 models will reach dealerships beginning in July, with T5 models arriving starting in September. T8 plug-in hybrid models are expected sometime next calendar year, as are V90 wagons.