We live in a day and age when many consumers look to their car not only as a safe form of everyday conveyance, but also as a personal retreat or perhaps an extension of one’s office…with perhaps a dash of dynamic drive performance thrown in for good measure. Our recent drive experience with Volvo’s 2017 S90 T6 along Spain’s Costa del Sol illustrated that this sedan answers all such anticipations with a spot-on drop of Thor’s Hammer.
What Volvo has accomplished with the all-new S90 over a relatively short development timeline is nothing short of astounding. Simply, the Volvo S90 T6 delivers as promised with a comfortable, safe, quiet, and near-luxury driving experience. It follows the well-received XC90 in Volvo’s total reinvention of its model lineup. For 2017, Volvo takes its second-generation Drive-E engine technology and performance to the next level, with the S90 powered by a very advanced, high output, supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder gasoline engine that’s both fuel efficient and near zero emissions.
While most luxury sport sedan buyers seek turbocharged mid- to high-displacement V-6 through V-12 twin cam torque monsters to inject their adrenaline rush, Volvo sees things differently. This automaker envisions a future with turbocharged three- and four-cylinder gasoline engines fulfilling primary drive duties, cogeneration, and plug-in electrification in the near future. And Volvo engineering sees this no later than model year 2018. In fact, international S90 project lead Peter Martens tells Green Car Journal that cylinder count is inconsequential in today’s engine technology. In Peter’s words, “it’s the engine’s horsepower and torque output that matters at the end of the day.”
But are four cylinders enough? As my co-driver commented during our test drive: “One would have to look under the hood of the S90 T6 to discover the four-cylinder.” Simply, this efficient engine is a source of exceptional power and satisfying performance. In all truth, the S90’s direct-injected, twin-cam aluminum 2.0-liter engine produces seamless torque. Notably, its use of both supercharging and turbocharging means there’s absolutely no turbo lag up to red line. An eight-speed automatic transmission contributes to the sedan’s overall fuel efficiency.
Producing 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft torque in the midrange, Volvo’s S90 T6 AWD achieves a respectable 0-to-60 mph sprint time of just 5.7 seconds, quick enough for the majority of drivers in the midsize luxury sedan segment. This efficient powerplant delivers an EPA estimated 22 mpg in city driving and 31 mpg on the highway.
A front-wheel drive T5 variant with a turbocharged rendition of the same mill produces a respectable 250 horsepower/258 lb-ft torque at 2200 rpm. This rivals the specs of many six-cylinder engines on the market today while achieving a desirable 23 city/34 highway mpg. Volvo expects market demand for the T5 and T6 variants will run about 50/50.
While we found the S90 T6 AWD model quite capable during aggressive driving on two-lane country roads, where this sedan truly shines is in long-range highway driving. It’s a luxury midsize rolling lounge with near-sports sedan handling attributes. Surprisingly, we found Volvo’s therapeutic seat requiring no break-in time. Our S90 came with driver and front passenger seating cooled, heated, and equipped with a massage option, arguably the best in the class. Leg, shoulder, and headroom is exceptional front and rear, as is this model’s premium-class fit and finish.
The S90 presents ride quality rivaling that of the best luxury commuters in the industry, thanks in no small part to Volvo’s optionally available rear air suspension, superior hydraulic dampening, and active electronic noise cancellation. It does this well while facilitating a split personality with the kind of sport-like-driving capability required by today’s all-inclusive consumer mindset.
Attention to the road is enhanced by a well-positioned heads-up display, where speed, engine temperature, and more can be monitored without requiring a glance at the instrument panel. The S90’s drive environment is well balanced, leather covered, wood-accented, and high-tech rich, yet intuitive in its operation. Everything is in its place and enveloped in high-end Swedish style and sensible accommodation.
Volvo runs a bit ahead of the trend with perhaps the best-working active safety suite available in the segment today. As demonstrated through its S90, Volvo continues the company’s historical emphasis on driver and passenger safety by providing its notable active safety features on all S90 trim levels.
The S90’s City Safety feature includes frontal collision avoidance, low-and high-speed collision mitigation, and auto brake engagement, plus pedestrian, cyclist, and large animal recognition. Run Off Road Mitigation senses if the vehicle is about to unintentionally leave the pavement and takes corrective action. With Pilot Assist, the S90 will assist in driving up to 80 mph, but the driver’s hand is required to stay on the wheel in 15 second intervals to ensure driver attention. Yes, we did test this and it worked flawlessly with near dead-center lane keep assist and adaptive cruise control that maintained distance from the car ahead.
First to market in the States is the S90 T6 AWD, followed by the front-drive S90 T5. Later we’ll see the V90 Estate Wagon and the S90 T8 plug-in hybrid. The price of entry for the S90 T5 is $46,950 with the T6 coming in at a base of $52,950. Volvo’s Inscription trim level adds $3,300 to the cost of each. Whichever you choose, the Volvo S90 may well be the bargain of the midsize luxury sedan segment.