The Car Connection Volvo S90 Overview
The Volvo S90 is a mid-size luxury sedan that, along with the XC90 crossover, ushered in a rebirth for the venerable Swedish brand. Introduced for the 2017 model year, it squares off against the Audi A6, BMW 5-Series, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, among others—a tough set of competitors.
With the S90, Volvo offers impressive materials, technology, and self-driving systems at a reasonable price.
In 2020, Volvo axed the T5 engine offering and Excellence trim package in the S90. For 2021, some mild styling changes were adopted on the front and rear ends.
MORE: Read our 2021 Volvo S90 review
The S90 is part of a new era for Volvo and it's designed with better proportions than its predecessor—including wheels placed closer to the corners. The S90’s athletic stance, upright grille, and “Thor’s hammer” headlight design make it distinctive from a distance, and sporty, while both the headlights and the rear lighting frame boxier details within curvaceous, organic sheet metal. Interior design in the new S90 is distinctive, elegant, and clean, with a prominent real-metal frame that bisects the dash, holding a large piece of wood, and acting as a nice complement to the relatively bright, plush interior.
The S90 is offered in T6 and T8 models. A T5 model was initially offered, but retired for 2020. There’s a 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo-4 engine in the T5, while T6 models upgrade to a 316-hp version that’s turbocharged and supercharged. T8 models have a plug-in hybrid system that produces 400 hp and all-wheel drive. All S90 models have an 8-speed automatic transmission and are built with a weight-saving new structure that extensively uses hot-formed boron steel. An air suspension will be available on top-trim Inscription models, and is expected to bring a more settled ride as well as improved handling.
The S90 rides on a 120-inch wheelbase and is about the same size as the Acura RX, but slightly larger than the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Standard features include a power sunroof, LED headlamps with corner illumination, leather upholstery, birch wood inlays, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, keyless entry, rear park assist, a rearview camera, power-folding rear headrests, the Sensus Connect touchscreen, 10-speaker 330-watt audio, and satellite radio.
For 2018, it grew by 4 inches, with every bit of that space devoted to pampering rear seat passengers. In 2019, Volvo added a range-topping Excellence trim level.
Active-safety features are aplenty in this model. One highlight—a standard feature—is Volvo’s Pilot Assist, a semi-autonomous feature, arrives in second-generation form in the S90 and now functions up to 81 mph. The S90 also has a segment-leading animal detection system to help identify deer and other animals that may be in the roadway—helping to reduce or avoid a collision.
The S90 nameplate was previously used for the Volvo 900-Series (940 and 960), which were rebadged the S90 for the 1997 and 1998 model year. Those are rear-wheel-drive models that carry a strong reputation for longevity.