Consumer Reports is an interesting thing. It runs no ads, and that alone marks it an outlier in the publishing world. But when you throw in the fact that it’s not an expensive, high-art quarterly or technical trade journal but rather a product review magazine, well, you end up with a really strange animal.
Consumer Reports has always struck me as a just-the-numbers, please magazine. My mental image of CR is one of grey-faced technocrats with tape measures who don’t care for driving fun or performance, or really automobile beauty even. I’ve never passed up an automobile magazine for a copy of CR in the dentists waiting room.
It’s the car magazine for people who hate cars.
That rant out of the way, let’s look at their look at the Volvo S90. From their April 2019 issue:
Among its Luxury Midsize group, it’s mid-pack in terms of price, acceleration, fuel economy and owner satisfaction, but it got absolutely destroyed in “Predicted Reliability”. Consumer Reports’ definition of this term:
The Predicted Reliability, also called New Car Prediction, forecasts how well a new model that is currently on sale is likely to hold up based on its recent history. For this Rating, we average a model’s Overall Reliability score for the newest three years, provided the vehicle did not change significantly in that time and hasn’t been redesigned for the current model year. Over the years, we have found that several years of data are a better predictor than the most recent model year alone. One or two years of data may be used if the model was redesigned within that three-year time frame, or if there were insufficient data for some years.https://www.consumerreports.org/car-reliability-owner-satisfaction/consumer-reports-car-reliability-faq/
The one double-green was front seat comfort, a category for which Volvos are legendary. (My 1997 Volvo 850’s driver’s seat was far more comfortable than my 2017 VW Golf Alltrack’s seat, for what it’s worth.)
Speaking of legendary, those four “S”s you see in a row in the chart all stand for “standard equipment”, in this case standard safety equipment.
- FCW = forward collision warning
- AEB = automatic emergency braking
- Pedestrian = pedestrian detection
The 23 MPG Consumer Reports tallied is disappointing, especially because Volvo sacrificed (or rather we, the buyers, sacrificed in terms of refinement) so much to produce a one-size-fits-all (literally, it’s in all Volvos) 2-liter four-cylinder. This low fuel economy score isn’t an isolated, one-off outlier either. Volvo’s new 4-cylinder has been widely reported to return mediocre fuel economy in every Volvo, not just the S90.
To summarize: the Volvo S90 ended up 14th out of 17. Given CR’s evaluation of the S90, it’s a good thing safety is at the top of what people look for when buying a car!