Volvo S90 Review & Prices
The Volvo S90 proves you can have a fantastic executive saloon that’s not made in Germany. The big Swede is a safe and relaxing alternative to the Mercedes E-Class, BMW 5 Series and Audi A6
What's not so good
Find out more about the Volvo S90
It is immediately obvious that the Volvo S90 offers something different when you open the driver’s door and take a peek inside. There’s nothing overtly sporty about the S90’s high-quality finish and armchair-like seats. Instead, Volvo has focused on offering huge levels of comfort – something the old S80 (the S90’s predecessor) did rather well.
Faced with a long motorway journey, few cars are better prepared than the S90 – its seats are hugely comfortable, its ride composed at speed and noise suppressed very well, although just short of Mercedes E-Class levels. The S90 steers and stops with confidence, but the BMW 5 Series and Jaguar XF are still the driver’s choice.
The engine range is extremely simple as Volvo has reduced it to just one option, the 455hp T8 PHEV. It comes standard with four-wheel-drive and an eight-speed automatic transmission. Performance is strong, and being a plug-in hybrid, and fuel economy is good too if you keep the battery pack charged.
The S90's automatic braking system is the first capable of detecting even large animals
The V90 estate sister car is available with a broader engine range and can also be had in the Cross Country trim which gets a raised suspension and four-wheel-drive to help it cope with the rigours of an active lifestyle or rural living.
In keeping with pretty much every Volvo that’s ever left the factory, the S90 is super safe. It even pioneered a new automatic braking system that can detect large animals (deer, dinosaurs and the like) on the road. That’ll join a huge list of features seen elsewhere in the firm’s range, including an autonomous driving system that works up to speeds of 80mph.
Volvo’s entrant in the large-executive class will be a welcome one to anyone looking to buy outside the default options of BMW, Audi and Mercedes. Volvo has stuck to its roots by building a car that will devour huge mileages with ease and although it may not be at its best on twisting country roads, it is altogether more accomplished than its predecessor. It is as safe as the proverbial houses, but what is likely to excite buyers more is the luxurious interior that oozes quality.
The Volvo S90 has a RRP range of £63,080 to £67,830. Monthly payments start at £989. The price of a used Volvo S90 on carwow starts at £14,755.
The Volvo S90 looks somewhat pricey compared to its traditional German alternatives. But that’s because it’s now only offered with the range-topping 455hp T8 plug-in hybrid engine.
The Audi A6 and Mercedes E-Class are also offered with plug-in power, although their power outputs are between 292 and 320hp, and only the Audi is all-wheel-drive. Spec them to the level of the S90 and the price difference is negligible, but the S90 still maintains a performance edge.
The 394hp BMW 545e XDrive is arguably the closest match in terms of price and performance, yet still can’t quite match the S90’s 50-plus-mile electric range.
There’s no doubt that the S90 is quick in a straight line, it’s also a superb motorway cruiser. It just doesn’t engage with you like the best alternatives do when the road gets twisty
The Volvo S90 is a big car, yet the large windows, relatively narrow pillars and light steering make it easy to get about town. Parking such a big land yacht might send shivers up your spine, but the S90’s comprehensive suite of electronic aids come to the rescue. The self-parking feature will assist you in parallel parking manoeuvres and Cross Traffic alert with braking support will help you avoid bumping into cars as you reverse out of a bay, too.
Pilot Assist is standard on all trims and will help keep you in your lane as well as adjust your speed to keep a safe distance from the car ahead of you. The automatic emergency braking system was the first of its kind to detect a variety of road hazards and will bring the car to a stop if it senses that a pedestrian, animal or cyclist may be in the way. The ride quality is good over most road surfaces, but lacks that last level of polish you get in a Mercedes E-Class.
Keep the battery charged and you can make the most of the theoretical 88 miles of all-electric range around town, lowering your emissions and saving you money in the process. The brake regeneration feature can though make the pedal feel a bit grabby at times, something not unusual with plug-in hybrids.
On the motorway
The S90 makes for a great long-distance cruiser, it has impressive levels of refinement with minimal wind and road noise making its way into the cabin. The suspension setup is perfectly judged for the motorway, soaking up road undulations without issue. Once again, the impressive array of driver aids takes the stress out of longer journeys.
The Pilot Assist feature combines adaptive cruise control with lane keep assist which keeps the car on its course up to speeds of 80mph with no input from the driver – a safety feature will disengage it if you let go of the steering-wheel. The seats are very comfortable and supportive, perfect for road trips.
On a twisty road
Keep your speed in check and the Volvo S90 deals with a winding stretch of road in a competent, slightly aloof manner. There’s not much body roll and the suspension is capable of soaking up most road imperfections. Push a bit harder and the body control unravels, lacking the kind of engagement and controllability that you get in a BMW 5 Series or Jaguar XF.
It’s a big car with plenty of space for four or five adults, the storage space is decent, too, but boot space trails petrol and diesel alternatives
The front seats are rather comfortable, with plenty of support and you get electric adjustment with memory function for the driver. Seat heating is standard as is four-way lumbar support and there’s a power cushion extension for the driver.
Two large door bins will take big water bottles and other bulky items, while a closable centre armrest lets you hide your phone and wallet out of sight. The glovebox is big too, capable of storing large water bottles – got to stay hydrated at all times these days.
Space in the back seats
The two outside rear seats are individually contoured to offer decent side support and come with heating as standard. There’s tons of head and legroom for tall adults, although the intrusive centre floor hump does compromise legroom for the middle passenger.
The centre seat itself is narrower and less supportive too; a Mercedes E-Class is a bit more comfortable in the rear if you need to transport three passengers back there regularly. A pair of front seatback netted pockets and some door bins are provided for storage. The centre backrest can be folded down to reveal a shallow storage tray and two cupholders.
A pair of ISOFIX mounting points are located in the two outer seats, and there are handy plastic flaps so you won’t have to go digging for them when you install a baby seat.
Volvo lists the S90 T8’s luggage space at 461 litres. This is somewhat less than you get in a regular BMW 5 Series or Audi A6, which both have 530 litres, or the Mercedes E-Class which has an extra 10 litres.
However, the plug-in hybrid versions of these cars offer just 410, 360 and 370 litres respectively, making the S90 T8 the most luggage-friendly PHEV of them all.
The S90 does have a load lip which can hamper the loading of heavy objects, but all trims get a ski-hatch to load long items while still allowing you to keep the rear seats upright. If you do need to fold them, you can do so easily by pressing some switches next to the headrests. The boot floor isn’t adjustable, but it is quite flat and wide so you can pack in oddly-shaped items like mountain bikes without much hassle.
The interior looks and feels special, with high quality materials used throughout. Unfortunately, the infotainment system isn’t quite up there with the best when it comes to features and usability
The Volvo S90’s interior is a breath of fresh Scandinavian air compared to the usual suspects in this class. There’s no copycat styling here, with the elongated central air vents and portrait-oriented infotainment screen looking like nothing else around.
Material quality is definitely out of the top drawer, with soft-touch fabrics and plastics throughout the cabin and standard leather upholstery. The no-cost ‘Blond’ leather option lightens up the interior and adds stylish grey ash trim inserts. Opt for the higher Ultimate trim and you also get access to a midnight zinc coloured wool blend interior and a charcoal hued ventilated Nappa leather option.
The standard 12.0-inch digital driver display is an upgrade from the old 8.0-inch unit but doesn’t have quite the configurability of the displays you get in its German alternatives. There’s also a distinct dearth of buttons in the cabin, this adds to the slick minimalist feel but does mean that you have to consult the touchscreen to control most of the interior features.
The 9.0-inch infotainment unit is relatively intuitive to use but it lacks on-screen shortcuts for commonly used functions, aside from the climate control menu. It responds quickly to inputs and comes with sat nav and the usual Bluetooth connectivity and DAB radio features, but the overall look and feel is a step behind the latest infotainment systems from BMW and Mercedes.
Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, though, so you can use your phone’s apps if you prefer, and even the ‘basic’ 600W 14-speaker Harman Kardon audio system is superb. Ultimate trims get a Bowers & Wilkins 1,460W 19-speaker system that sounds even better. A head-up display is included as standard on this top trim as well.
The Volvo S90 is now available solely with the range-topping T8 plug-in hybrid engine. It sends 455hp through an eight-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels.
Performance is impressive, with the 0-62mph dash taking just 4.7 seconds. The claimed 353.1mpg fuel economy is very impressive but to come anywhere near that figure in real-world driving, you’ll have to keep the battery fully charged and make the most of the 54.1 miles of all-electric range. The battery pack can be charged from 0-100% using a home wallbox in around five hours.
The S90 is appreciably quicker and more powerful than the Audi A6 TFSIe which produces 292hp and will take 6.2-seconds to get from 0-62mph; its overall efficiency is rated at 235.4mpg.
A BMW 545e xDrive will sprint to 62mph in a slightly quicker 4.6-seconds, however its 33 miles of electric range and 156.9mpg rating both fall short of the S90.
The Volvo S90 received a five-star Euro NCAP rating in 2017, with particularly high scores for the adult occupant (95%) and safety assist (93%) categories.
Testing procedures have become stricter since then, but the S90 has also received more safety items as standard. All trims get Pilot Assist which includes adaptive cruise control and distance alert, and rear collision warning as well as emergency brake assist are also standard.
That’s not all as they say, because keyless entry, park assist front and rear and a lane keeping aid are also available on both trims.
The Volvo S90 has received some good reviews from owners when it comes to safety and build quality. Reliability scores were more of a mixed bag, although the S90 has been around for a number of years, so any historic teething issues should all be sorted out by now.
The S90 comes with a pretty standard three-year/60,000-mile warranty. This matches Audi but BMW offers unlimited mileage over the same period. The hybrid components are covered by a separate eight-year/100,000-mile warranty. The standard warranty can be extended by a year and 20,000 miles at an additional charge.
There have been a few recalls for the S90, these include fuel tank level and automatic emergency brake issues as well as incorrectly assembled driver and passenger seat rails. Not all of these are specific to the S90 T8 and there have been no recalls since September 2021.
*Please contact the dealer for a personalised quote, including terms and conditions. Quote is subject to dealer requirements, including status and availability. Illustrations are based on personal contract hire, 9 month upfront fee, 48 month term and 8000 miles annually, VAT included.