2018 Volvo V90 Review

#2 in Wagons
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2018
The Car Connection
2018
The Car Connection

The Car Connection Expert Review

Andrew Ganz Andrew Ganz
February 1, 2018

The 2018 Volvo V90 wagon is a more stylish, sportier-looking alternative to ubiquitous luxury SUVs.

The 2018 Volvo V90 is the longest and largest wagon for sale in the U.S. market, as well as the most flamboyantly styled.

As a derivative of the S90 sedan, the 2018 V90 wagon is a model that simultaneously builds on the brand’s heritage while striking out in an entirely new direction. Volvo offers a mildly off-road-oriented version of the V90 called the Cross Country, and it's by far the more popular of the two.

Either way, the V90 earns a hefty 7.8 out of 10 on our overall scale. Those numbers reflect our high opinion of its style, copious space, and generous features. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

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The V90 is available in T5 and T6, Volvo-speak for two engine options. A 240-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo-4 engine is in the T5, while T6 models upgrade to a 316-hp version that’s turbocharged and supercharged. An 8-speed automatic is standard. The base V90 T5 can be ordered with front-wheel drive, but the T6 and both versions of the V90 Cross Country are available exclusively with all-wheel drive.

No matter what version is selected, the V90 rides softly and hushes the outside world. No version is truly sporty in the vein of the Mercedes-AMG E63, but the V90 is at all times upscale and relaxing.

Inside, the V90 is commodious and exceptionally comfortable. Standard gear includes a gorgeous vertical infotainment screen and a TFT display in the instrument cluster. Leather upholstery is standard, with the option to upgrade to even softer hides.

Keep in mind that Volvo is making the V90 an order-only process—few wagons will ever make it to the States without a sale bill attached. The V90 Cross Country is stocked by Volvo dealers.

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2018 Volvo V90

Styling

The 2018 V90 is beautiful and nuanced, yet not unnecessarily complex.

Volvo knows how to style a station wagon.

We give it a 9 out of 10, with two points for its interior and one for its sublime exterior. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

With the V90, Volvo renders sheet metal softly and organically at the sides. There's an abruptness at the front and rear that bring it right in line with the brand’s past—including a new version of the Volvo ironmark in front, flanked by “Thor’s hammer” headlights (a complex, distinctive LED array), and a blacked-out hatch that emphasizes the wagon's roofline and tapering sides.

It’s also stark, simple, and contrast-oriented inside—a hallmark of Scandinavian design—while also introducing just a bit of Mediterranean warmth and skipping the German influences entirely. There are some shared cues and design attributes with the XC90, but there’s wood and metal detailing, a digital instrument cluster, and a clean, upright look overall.

The only way in which the V90 does take after the sport-sedan establishment is in its fundamental proportions; Volvo’s new scalable product architecture allows the front wheels to be pushed out ahead and, in the case of the V90 (and S90) the hood to be lengthened. That gives the V90 a longer hood and hunkered-back proportions that take far more after the classic P1800 coupe of the 1960s (and the 2013 Concept Coupe that inspired the V90) rather than the Volvo wagons of the more recent past.

The V90 Cross Country varies only slightly, with plastic fender flares and a modestly raised ride height.

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2018 Volvo V90

Performance

The Volvo V90 strikes a nice middle ground between performance and duty.

The powertrains for V90 are shared with the S90 and XC90 and include a 250-horsepower turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder (T5), or a 302-hp, supercharged-and-turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder (T6). That model should be able to accelerate to 60 mph in around 5.5 seconds or less, while even the T5 wagon will click off 60 in well under 7.0 seconds.

We rate the V90 at 7 out of 10, with points above average for its hushed nature and its good ride. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

A V90 Cross Country model, with increased ground clearance and some more rugged-looking lower-body cladding is available, and will be more accessible than the V90 since it's actually stocked by dealers.

All models in the lineup come with a very smooth-shifting Aisin 8-speed automatic—one that has the potential to shift. The V90 is by no means scorching in T6 guise—the only way we’ve driven it, briefly—but it’s plenty quick to satisfy most expectations.

We’ve only driven the V90 in T6 form and there, even in its firmer Dynamic setting with the available air suspension, it feels quite softly sprung. It’s no pure-bred sport sedan, for sure, but the suspension loads up evenly and predictably and unloads out of corners with grace and finesse. Most will likely find that the V90’s plush yet well-controlled ride straddles a nice middle ground, soaking up the bumps and heaves without too much pitching.

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2018 Volvo V90

Comfort & Quality

The 2018 Volvo V90 needs to measure up in terms of utility and flexibility, in all the ways that buyers will expect of a Volvo wagon, and for the most part it does.

The V90 follows Volvo tradition in offering great seats all around with long, supportive, widely adjustable front seats and even back seats that don’t feel shorted in the name of gaming leg room numbers or seat-folding. The V90 doesn’t offer third-row seating, as it has in some wagons of the past, so you now need to look to the XC90 crossover for that.

We rate the V90 at 9 out of 10 on account of its commodious front and rear seats, its roomy cargo hold, and its quality feel overall. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The tapering sides and angled cut of the hatch limit the height of the cargo area at the rear, and amount to a narrower load opening than SUVs (or some other wagons); yet an underfloor compartment (to be taken up, in part, by electrics in the T8 models) supplements with enough stow space for smaller items. Split rear seat backs flip forward neatly for a flat cargo floor. Our only complaint regarding the V90’s accommodations is one shared with the S90 sedan: its rear door cuts feel small for a full-size car, leaving the big and/or tall to cage their entrance and exit.

There’s a reasonably good set of storage places and cubbies throughout, although those trading in a Volvo from the past decade may note that the “floating” center console and huge storage compartment below are now gone.

With active noise cancellation, the cabin is very quiet, although some some of the choppier pavement we found, we noticed that more road noise enters the V90’s cabin versus the S90.

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2018 Volvo V90

Safety

There's no crash-test data yet, but the Volvo V90 gives us reason to believe it will excel.

No crash-test data is available for the V90 as of yet. Though we skip a rating here, the very closely related S90 turned in nearly perfect scores. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Safety systems and innovations have always been one of the ways the brand stands out, and that relationship continues with these new models. They’re among the first in the world to get a semi-autonomous system, known as Pilot Assist, as a standard feature. Building on the original version of Pilot Assist that made its debut on the 2016 XC90, this version lets the vehicle accelerate, decelerate, come to a complete stop, and steer between lane markings—and even now in the absence of them, with a road-edge detection algorithm. Pilot Assist can operate at speeds up to about 80 mph, but it will only let you take your hands off the wheel for about 15 seconds at a time—a decision Volvo made to emphasize that this system, while it’s capable of far more, is meant to be supplemental to the driver.

Also with the S90, Volvo is also expanding its City Safety object detection system to now include a large animal detection function. When an object is detected in the road ahead, the system provides warning and brake support to help avoid a collision. All those forward collision systems are standard, but Volvo is making supplemental systems like blind-spot monitors and rear cross-traffic alert optional.

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2018 Volvo V90

Features

Great features and options make the Volvo V90 a rival for more obvious luxury vehicles.

The 2018 Volvo V90 is well-equipped at every level. It's equal parts opulent and expensive, starting at about $51,000.

We rate it at 8 out of 10, giving it points above average for its terrific base content, a high degree of customizability, and exemplary infotainment. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

Volvo offers the V90 in two basic flavors: wagon or high(ish)-riding Cross Country. The wagon starts in R-Design guise with sporty styling touches, 19-inch alloy wheels, a 12.3-inch touchscreen for infotainment, a power moonroof, leather upholstery, navigation, and LED headlights. The luxury-oriented Inscription trim level runs about $2,000 more and is the basis for even more optional equipment.

The V90 Cross Country's lineup is simpler, with just a choice of engines before optional equipment.

Only a handful of options are on offer, most notably the $1,950 Convenience Package that adds a surround-view camera, an interior compass, and a system that can parallel-park the V90 at the press of a button. Individual options range the gamut from massaging front seats to heated rear seats to head-up display. Of particular note is the spectacular Bowers & Wilkins audio system that makes $2,300 seem like money well spent.

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2018 Volvo V90

Fuel Economy

Gas mileage is reasonably good in the Volvo V90.

The Volvo V90's fuel economy ratings are good, but the car's size and heft keep them in the upper 20-mpg range.

It's enough for a 7 out of 10 on our scale. (Read more about how we rate cars.)

The EPA says the 2018 V90 with front-wheel drive is rated at 24 mpg city, 34 highway, and 27 combined. With all-wheel drive, it's scored at 22/31/25 mpg.

The V90 CC's figures are somewhat lower. They're 22/29/25 mpg with front-wheel drive, 23/31/26 mpg with all-wheel drive.

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$49,950
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8.0
Overall
Expert Rating
Rating breakdown on a scale of 1 to 10?
Styling 9
Performance 7
Comfort & Quality 9
Safety N/A
Features 8
Fuel Economy 7
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