The move shows just how aggressive Volvo is being with their offerings, not even willing to rest on their laurels for more than a year. We loved the first-year 2017 S90, and awarded it with our Sedan of the Year trophy. Sometimes, when you come back to a car after a year passes, it doesn’t quite stand up. In this case, it feels even better with the passing of time. And with some big changes, there’s lots to talk about.
Recapping some of what we loved, there’s an incredible fit-and-finish level on the inside that signals Volvo’s aspirations to be considered among the best luxury cars. With an ex-Bentley interior designer, they more than hit the mark. Combining rich materials with reserved scandinavian design results in an exceedingly refined interior.
You can tell how much thought went into the layout and design, because nothing is out of place – either controls or design elements. It truly is one of the best looking cars you can buy on the inside. The exterior design isn’t quite as exciting, but that’s only because the interior is so good.
This is still very handsome sedan, and one that evokes the historic Volvo design language without looking too boxy. The grill is there, the silhouette is boxy, but the car is actually very sleek. And it’s improved with the added 4.7-inches of legroom, the lionshare of which (4.5 inches) goes to the rear seat legroom. The added length only makes the exterior shape even more refined, and the size falls between the normal and long-wheelbase versions of the German competition. The interior space feels just as plentiful as in the long-wheelbase variants of the BMW, Mercedes and Audi, which clearly is Volvo’s target here.
Along with the added legroom, there are new controls in the rear cabin. An LCD screen allows control of the rear HVAC zones, available massaging seats and power-sun shades are controlled from behind as well. Technology is woven into this Volvo, but it’s not in your face. There’s a great level of integration, with the majority of the tech behind the scenes. The portrait-oriented LCD display houses one of the most intuitive control systems we’ve ever used.
Safety has always been a key component of Volvo’s overall strategy, and although ambitious, they are committed to reducing fatalities in new Volvo cars to zero in the near future. Active safety features are some of the best we’ve tested, and the heads-up display is bright and informative. Features like a seat-belt interlock show just how committed to safety they are. You can’t move the car until you click the belt, and you can feel the automatic tensioner test the belt against your shoulder.
Powertrains are unchanged, with the entry level T5 at 250hp, the T6 we tested at 316hp and the T8 hybrid version at a combined 400hp. The twin-charged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder in our T6 test vehicle uses both a supercharger and turbo to make power, and it actually does so with a decent sound – certainly better than many 4-bangers on the market. We still miss the silkyness of a V6 or a brutish V8, but with 22-city and 31-highway MPG it’s hard to argue with the powerplant. For a luxury sedan with this much space, and this much luxury, it’s incredible efficiency. The hybrid only builds on that.
All this does come at a price, starting at around $46k for a T5 FWD, and starting at $58,500 for the AWD T6 Inscription we tested. With options, you can get well over $70k, and peaking out at over $82k for a fully optioned hybrid. Some of the options, like the exceptional Bowers and Wilkins audio system seem a bit steep on their own, but after sampling the system I wouldn’t order one without it. They key is that even with the extra length that brings this one step closer to the German standard, the fully optioned Volvo is much less. That makes it work cross-shopping for your next executive sedan.