2017 Volvo S90 Review


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2017 Volvo S90 Overview

There’s a lot of pressure on the all-new 2017 Volvo S90. After all, the luxury sedan’s older sibling, the 2016 Volvo XC90, was recently named the 2016 North American Truck/Utility of the Year by the organizers of the Detroit Auto Show. But with its stylish new look, industry-leading technology, elegant interior, and quality powertrain options, the S90 should quickly move out of the XC90’s big-brother shadow.

The S90 replaces the S80 as the luxury 4-door sedan at the top of Volvo’s lineup. This coupe has been a long time coming, but it seems like it was worth the wait. The S80 had a muted, almost plain, style, which felt in line with the Scandinavian sense of simple elegance. But although there’s still an understated class to the new S90, it also adds some welcome spice.

The new concave grille brings a touch of aggression, like a predator's smiling maw—let’s call it a prowling wolf in snowy Swedish woods. The LED highlights on the front headlights (Volvo refers to the T-shaped element as “Thor’s hammer”) adds to the front end’s sharp new style. The rear end seems to defy gravity with its lifted stance and gets its own unique lighting arrangement with stacked C-shaped tail lights.

The new look will catch your eye, but what might really capture your attention is the new technology. The S90 will come standard with the second-generation version of Volvo’s Pilot Assist, which debuted in first-generation form (where else?) in the XC90. The S90 will be the only vehicle in the U.S. market offering self-driving features as standard, and the system moves Volvo closer to its goal of producing a fully automated vehicle by 2020.

The updated Pilot Assist system allows the S90 to steer, accelerate, decelerate, come to a complete stop, and drive at speeds of up to 80 mph simply by reading road markings. The first-generation system only worked with speeds of up to 30 mph and required a car in front to track (in addition to the road markings). The new system also includes an upgraded City Safety feature that can detect large animals in the road, as well as other vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians. And all these safety features simply add to Volvo’s legendary reputation for producing some of the world’s safest vehicles.

The S90 also shares architecture (Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture) and engine choices with the XC90. Those engines are all 4-cylinders, as Volvo has kept its promise to offer nothing larger than a 4-cylinder engine going forward.

The S90 T5 trim comes with a turbocharged 2.0-liter, the same engine that produces 240 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque in the Volvo S60 (full specification details are not yet available for the S90, including mileage statistics). The S90 T6 is powered by a supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter that should crank out 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque (those are the numbers for the same engine in the XC90).

A supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter combines with an electric-drive system to form the T8 Twin Engine in the S90's top-end trim, the T8. This combo produces 410 hp (a 10-horsepower increase from the XC90 T8 Twin Engine setup) and 472 lb-ft of torque. The driver can select among three different modes for the T8: EV (for maximum efficiency, but with a maximum speed of 75 mph), Hybrid (switches automatically between gas and electric power), and Power (where you can get full horsepower and torque).

The S90 also borrows the large, infotainment-controlling touchscreen from the XC90, and why not? The screen has great graphics and is easy to use. The rest of the S90's cabin is similar to the celebrated XC90's interior, but adds even a bit more luxury. There’s real wood, subtle yet effective metal detailing, a Bowers & Wilkins audio system, and cell-phone connectivity using both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

There’s a lot to like about the new S90, but there needs to be. It will compete not only with German luxury sedans like the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class (a trio of heavyweights to be sure), but also the Acura RLX, Lexus ES, and new Lincoln Continental.


After working at gas stations and car washes in high school, driving across the country more than a dozen times and even living on the road in a well-outfitted truck, Tim O'Sullivan finally started putting some of his automotive knowledge to work when he began writing for CarGurus in 2008. He's also an award-winning journalist and the Sports Editor at the Concord (NH) Monitor.

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