Volvo V90 Review
The Volvo V90 is the estate version of the S90 saloon and is a left-field alternative to executive cars such as the BMW 5 Series Touring, Audi A6 Avant and Mercedes E-Class Estate.
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Handsome looks
- Frugal, yet powerful engines
- Lavish interior
What's not so good
- Boot not the biggest in class
- No smooth six-cylinder engines
- Less spacious than you expect
Volvo V90: what would you like to read next?
Volvo estates are historically more sought after than their less practical saloon counterparts and the V90 is set to continue the trend, although its boot space has been compromised slightly to provide those stylish looks. The interior is heavily influenced by the luxurious XC90’s – getting soft leather and natural wood throughout.
Two diesel engines are available – the 188hp D4 and the 232hp D5. The latter comes with four-wheel drive as standard, while the D4 sends power to the front wheels – both get an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The plus-400hp T8 petrol-electric hybrid boasts huge performance, cheap running costs and an ability to move under electric power alone.
The V90 shares its underpinnings with the XC90 SUV, so don’t expect a sporty ride like you get in a BMW 5 Series – instead the Volvo rivals the Mercedes E-Class’ comfort.
Safety credentials are impressive, with an advanced automatic emergency braking system detecting not only people and cars, but animals as well – coming as standard and a semi-autonomous driving assistant that follows the markings on the road.
The V90 is a rival to premium estate cars at a great price
The Volvo V90 may not have the boot-capacity-bragging rights of its forebears, but in every other area it’s a truly worthy alternative to the Germans. Volvo expects the more-powerful D5 to be the best-seller and we can see why – it’s just about fast enough for all occasions and cheap to run, too. It may not have the dynamic edge of the BMW 5 Series, but with its plush cabin and relaxing ride the V90 fits the remit of a premium load-lugger and has every right to be at the top of executives’ shopping lists.
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Excellent quality throughout and the portrait infotainment system is very responsive.
The Volvo V90 provides more than enough space for four adults and their luggage, but it may well be a surprise that some alternatives do have bigger boots
What little the Volvo V90 lacks in outright boot capacity, it more than makes up for with lots of useful features that help make it easy to live with on a day-to-day basis
The standard leather seats are soft and relaxing so there’s really no need to spec up to the optional sports seats – they also take up more interior space.
Nearly five meters in length the V90 will happily fit four tall adults, but they’ll feel a little tighter than they would in a Mercedes E-Class.
Storage space is good in the V90 with two large cupholders, big glovebox and decent door bins. However there is nothing clever such as the wireless phone charging cubby that you can have in a Skoda Superb Estate.
People used to buy Volvo estates for their enormous boots so it may surprise that the V90 doesn’t lead the class in this respect. With a capacity ranging from 560 to 1,526 litres with the rear seats down it’s still very practical, but that maximum capacity is about 150 litres less than a A6 Avant offers – or two soft bags in luggage terms.
Being closely related to the XC90 SUV means the V90 can’t challenge the BMW 5 Series Touring on driving dynamics, but then it wasn’t supposed to.
The V90 is pretty agile for what it is and the autonomous tech works wonders in a traffic jam
The 187hp D4 model starts off the range and as an entry-level proposition it’s decent – returning fuel economy of 62mpg and emitting 119gm/km of CO2. Top-of-the-range D5 models get clever tech to improve throttle response, plus four-wheel drive for extra grip in the wet.
The more powerful D5 uses largely the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder, but gets a clever system called Power Pulse, which shoots compressed air into the turbo to make it more responsive. In practice it provides impressive shove from very low speeds, but the 0-62mph time of 7.2 seconds can’t match those posted by larger engined (and similarly priced) rivals.
Higher fuel consumption of 57mpg and CO2 emissions of 129g/km can be attributed to the car’s power-sapping four-wheel-drive system.
The Volvo inherits the XC90’s relaxed ride – exactly what you need on a long motorway journey. The plush ride can be further improved with the optional £950 rear air-suspension and we reckon it might be even better fitted with the smaller 17-inch wheels.
Noise inside is kept at a minimum at motorway speeds and most of what was audible could be attributed to the £1,700 20-inch wheels – go for the smaller 17 or 18 inch alternatives and it will be even quieter. Push the engine to its limit and its four-cylinder design means it is ultimately not as smooth as the six-cylinder units offered in rivals.
The standard eight-speed automatic gearbox is an option in some rivals and adds to the Volvo’s cosseting nature providing smooth changes, even if it’s not quite as polished as the one offered by BMW.