Volvo V90

Wagon-enthusiasts rejoice — the Volvo V90 is coming to America! Alright, so it won’t exactly be on dealership lots, but you will be able to purchase the V90 through Volvo’s Online Concierge or via Overseas Delivery. Details on the North American version of the V90 are still sparse, but one thing everyone can agree on is that it is gorgeous. The V90 is built on Volvo’s new SPA platform.

Car and Driver says “While the S90 is handsome, the V90 looks even better, with the elongated greenhouse enhancing the new model’s clean sculpting.” Motor Trend is even more enamored with the design, calling the Volvo V90 “arguably the most stylish conventional wagon on the market, with an avant-garde design and a clean, stylish interior in the grandest of Scandinavian tradition.”

Arguably the most stylish conventional wagon on the market, with an avant-garde design and a clean, stylish interior in the grandest of Scandinavian tradition.

Here at MVS, we agree wholeheartedly. Even in wagon-deprived North America, we have some nice-looking choices. The BMW 3-Series Sports Wagon retains the well-loved styling of its predecessors (if not their performance-variants). The Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon looks decent in the right light, or if you squint real hard. The Audi A3 Sportback is… okay, never mind, let’s just forget about that one. The new Volvo V90 is, however, a startlingly beautiful car.

Volvo V90 Trims and Drivetrains

Interior cockpit Volvo S90/V90 blond

In the United States, it appears that we’ll be getting the V90 in two trims: Inscription and R-Design. If these are spec’d anything like the Volvo S90, we can expect the Inscription to be luxurious and the R-Design to be sporty. In Volvo’s other models, the Inscription has offered upgraded leather and comfort features, such as heated and ventilated seats. The R-Design has typically featured a lower and firmer suspension, performance-oriented wheels, and mild body-styling touches.

Also shared with the S90 will be the available drivetrains. While buyers in the UK (and other regions) get diesel engine options, here in the US we’ll be getting the same T5 and T6 drivetrains that appear throughout Volvo’s current lineup. The T5 is a 2.0L turbocharged gasoline engine, mated to a FWD drivetrain through an 8-speed automatic transmission. The T6 adds a supercharger and AWD, but is otherwise the same. The former puts out 250hp and 258ft-lbs of torque, and the latter 316hp and 295ft-lbs of torque.

Here in the US we’ll be getting the same T5 and T6 drivetrains that appear throughout Volvo’s current lineup. The T5 is a 2.0L turbocharged gasoline engine, mated to a FWD drivetrain through an 8-speed automatic transmission. The T6 adds a supercharger and AWD, but is otherwise the same. The former puts out 250hp and 258ft-lbs of torque, and the latter 316hp and 295ft-lbs of torque.

Motor Trend tells us to expect a T8 option, which would put out 400hp, but confirmation on that is currently lacking. Such an option might appeal to those of us interested in performance, but if it’s like the XC90’s T8 (and it would be), then it’d be best to steer clear anyway. The hybrid “twin-engine” system is heavy and overly-complicated, and the small acceleration gains wouldn’t be worth the headache for most buyers.

Volvo V90 Wagon Opinions

Volvo has been fairly quiet about official details on the North American V90, but there is a lot that we can surmise based on what’s already available overseas. Unlike some Volvo wagons of yore, the new Volvo V90 will not have 3rd-row seating (rear-facing or otherwise). It is somehow slightly shorter than the S90 sedan, but is a bit taller. Shockingly, it only weighs 70lbs more than its rear hatch-bereft sibling.

The technology and features found on the rest of Volvo’s top-tier lineup are likely to also be found on the V90. These will almost certainly include leather fully-adjustable seats, adjustable climate zones, and a host of cameras, computers, sensors, and screens to keep you safe and entertained. We can also expect most of the handling, ride, and performance characteristics to be quite similar to the S90.

Volvo V90 Studio Interior

Some automotive news outlets, like Car and Driver, have already got their hands on the new V90, and have published their initial impressions. As you’d expect, they compare the interior of the V90 with that of the S90, saying “Inside, the V90 looks identical to the S90, at least from the back seat forward. The handsome cockpit employs upscale materials and vertical vents called Airblade, and the dash is dominated by Volvo’s innovative and intelligent portrait-oriented 9.0-inch touchscreen, which eliminates many buttons and knobs.”

We at MVS certainly aren’t the only ones who appreciate a beautiful wagon. Jalopnik makes their feelings clear, stating “Then, there’s the wagon, which is definitely going to America. The V90 is not your mom’s car. It’s an S90 made way more practical, and arguably prettier.” As we’ve noted ourselves on other Volvo models, the 4-cylinder-only options might be worrisome to some. But, Jalopnik seems unconcerned, retorting “Roll your eyes like a grumpy old person at the thought of owning an inline four in a luxury car, but this twin-charged 2.0 is an engineering masterpiece. Volvo says that the combined output of those four cylinders and the electric motor will reach over 600 horsepower one day, but for now, you get 316 very smooth horses and the flat torque curve you deserve.”

Roll your eyes like a grumpy old person at the thought of owning an inline four in a luxury car, but this twin-charged 2.0 is an engineering masterpiece.

Car and Driver echoes Jalopnik’s sentiments about the engine, saying “The V90 felt comfortable, quiet, refined, and responsive. The T6 we drove had plenty of power and the immediate responsiveness we expect from a supercharged engine.” Their opinion on the handling, however, is not quite as glowing, admonishing “Our only dynamic criticism was the sharp increase in steering effort as you eased the wheel off-center. The hard initial steering makes the car feel heavier and less wieldy than it is.

Jalopnik had a more favorable view of the steering, saying ” Mind you, the steering felt best in its most assisted form, which means you’re likely to use your individual settings instead of the go fast mode set by the factory.” They were even more impressed with the suspension and ride quality: “The hydraulic shock absorbers adjust themselves according to your settings but also taking your speed into account, making the car sharpen up once you really get moving even if you set the driving mode to comfort or eco. In dynamic, it’s all about the body control, but the car never gets harsh or even close to uncomfortable, taking care of nasty potholes and bumps along the way without a problem. That’s quite something and exactly what luxury buyers are looking for.”

Volvo V90 Final Thoughts

Volvo S/V90 R-Design Studio

Obviously, some disagreement is always going to exist among automotive journalists, and that reflects the differences in opinions held by the general public. Early impressions seem to indicate that the handling and steering characteristics may not appeal to all drivers. However, it’s worth noting that the steering, handling, and suspension of the V90 (as well as the S90) are user-adjustable from the cockpit. Ideally, that means most drivers will find a setting that is to their liking, but some might still find the electronically-assisted steering lacking.

What everyone does seem to agree on is that the new Volvo V90 is gorgeous — a real standout in this segment, and particularly for wagons. The clean lines and refined, yet unabashedly aggressive, styling work very, very well. It’s surely one of the best looking cars (of any style) on the market currently. It looks like it would be equally at home in a Napa Valley vineyard, a trendy urban restaurant, or a snowy alpine pass. It oozes sophistication, without veering into the dangerous territory of pretentiousness.

It looks like it would be equally at home in a Napa Valley vineyard, a trendy urban restaurant, or a snowy alpine pass. It oozes sophistication, without veering into the dangerous territory of pretentiousness.

Looks are important, but there needs to be substance to back them up. All reports indicate that the V90 has that substance in the form of a comfortable, luxurious, and well-built interior. Even without adding optional equipment, it seems to contain what most of us expect to see in an executive wagon. Despite only having 4-cylinder gasoline engines available in the US, the turbocharged T5 and twincharged T6 are powerful and we’ve yet to see any complaints about them.

Volvo V90 and a historical line-up of Volvo estate models

If you’re the type of buyer who appreciates the utility of a wagon, without needing (or wanting) the bulk of an SUV, the new Volvo V90 should absolutely be at the top of your list. It’s no secret that wagons are a dying breed in the United States, but Volvo has long been a consistent purveyor of that long-roofed goodness. While the V90 will only be available by special order here in the US, it will be available. Pricing is likely to be close to the S90, and as far as we’re concerned, that’s a bargain. Do you really want to show up at the office in a 3-Series, like everyone else, anyway?

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Date January 31, 2017
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