Volvo V90 Review & Prices
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
What's not so good
Find out more about the Volvo V90
There was a time when Volvo estates were all about boxy space, but the Volvo V90 shows what today’s Volvo is all about – style. Its sharp nose and sweeping roofline help give it classiness that its German alternatives struggle to match.
One diesel engine, two petrols and two plug-in hybrids are available. The diesels are great for the motorway, the petrols are excellent all rounders and the plug-in hybrids have lots of power and a pure-electric capability that will save you money on shorter trips.
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. On the motorway it's quiet and composed, aided and abetted by its comfortable seats and autonomous driving aids.
The V90 is a classy alternative to premium estate cars at a great price
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.
Inside, its interior is heavily influenced by the luxurious XC90’s – getting soft leather and natural wood throughout. The design is dominated by a large, portrait style infotainment screen that looks great, even though it can be a little fiddly to use. On the upside, it gives the cabin a smart, minimalist design that’s just as posh as anything the Germans offer. Having said that, the Volvo’s interior quality isn’t quite as good as you’ll find in alternatives.
The Volvo V90 may not have the outright boot-capacity-bragging rights of its forebears, but it’s still got a large boot that’s well designed and easy to load. The back seats, meanwhile, have plenty of space for tall adults even with the huge panoramic glass roof fitted.
While not offering the dynamic edge of the BMW 5 Series, The V90’s plush cabin and relaxing ride mean it fits the remit of a premium load-lugger and has every right to be at the top of executives’ shopping lists.
The Volvo V90 has a RRP range of £44,790 to £68,525. Monthly payments start at £734. The price of a used Volvo V90 on carwow starts at £16,790.
Compared to the BMW, the Volvo gets 18-inch wheels as standard that look smarter than the BMW’s 17s and you also get more standard equipment including keyless entry and real leather upholstery in place of the synthetic substitute found in the BMW. The Volvo even has more power as standard with its entry-level petrol engine producing 197hp versus the BMW’s 184hp.
The Volvo V90 is comfortable and easy to drive, especially on the motorway, although a BMW 5 Series Touring is more fun on twisting roads if that’s what you want from your posh estate
The Volvo V90 comes with an automatic gearbox as standard which makes it a relaxing car to drive around town, although it is lethargic so, if you want an instant burst of acceleration – say you’re aiming for a gap in traffic – there’s a pause before you’re right-foot prod is rewarded forward acceleration. This can be a little bit frustrating.
Another annoyance is the ride that can be a little too jiggly over bumps for a posh estate. Ultimate-spec models solve this by giving you adaptive dampers with rear air suspension and a Comfort setting that does a much better job of smoothing out the road.
Visibility is pretty good for a car of the V90’s size, and all models come with rear headrests that drop-down remotely to give you a better view out the back of the car. All models also come with front and rear parking sensors and a 360-degree camera that gives you a birdseye view of the road around the car.
On the motorway
The Volvo V90 is ideal for long motorway journeys. It’s quiet, its seats are very comfortable, and it soaks up bumps well, particularly if you specify the optional adaptive dampers. The Swedish brand gives the V90 autonomous driving aids that mean it can accelerate, brake and steer itself on the motorway and in queues of traffic, which helps take the monotony out of long drives.
The only downside is the Volvo’s clattery four-cylinder diesel engine that isn’t as smooth as the six-cylinder available on the BMW 5 Series Touring.
On a twisty road
On a country road the Volvo’s body leans in corners, but it’s not excessive and there’s no shortage of grip – it’s perfectly acceptable for what is, at the end of the day, a big luxurious estate car. Although a BMW 5 Series is more fun. Four-wheel-drive versions of the V90 aren’t any more fun than the front-wheel drive models, but they do have more grip on slippery roads.
The Volvo V90 is a roomy practical estate car, but a Mercedes E-Class Estate does have a larger boot and is more comfortable if you’re carrying three passengers in the back
The Volvo V90 misses out on the electrically operated steering column that you get in a BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class Estate, but there’s still plenty of adjustment for anyone to be able to get the wheel exactly where they want it.
All V90s come with front seats that are heated and adjust electrically for height, and you get extendable thigh support for long journeys.
Standard kit also includes a fully electrically adjustable driver’s seat with a memory function that makes it easy to return the seat to your driving position, and you get a heated steering wheel and heated rear outer seats.
In terms of storage, there’s room for your phone under the front centre armrest, you get two cup holders hidden under a shutter on the front centre console, the split-level glove box is big and so are the bins in all four doors – each will swallow a large bottle of water.
Space in the back seats
There’s nothing to complain about when it comes to the Volvo V90’s back seats. You get loads of knee room and headroom’s good too, even with the optional panoramic sunroof fitted. The middle seat is also comfortable and despite the large lump in the floor, there’s still space for three people’s feet. That said, the Volvo’s narrow cabin – it’s a little tighter than a Mercedes E-Class Estate – means three adults sitting abreast will feel more cramped than they would in the Mercedes.
The Mercedes back seat is also slightly easier to fit a child seat too because its back doors open a bit wider and its ISOFIX mounts are easier to line a child seat up to, although the Volvo’s Isofix covers are hinged (rather than removable) so you won’t lose them. And cleverly, the Volvo is available with integrated booster seats for smaller kids.
Volvo’s given the V90’s back seat plenty of handy features including a ventilation vent, three-prong plug socket and a centre armrest with integrated cup holders, although the Volvo’s ski hatch isn’t as handy as the 40:20:40 splitting back seats you get in a BMW or Mercedes.
The Volvo V90’s 551-litre boot is big, but not as big as the boots you’ll find in the BMW 5 Series Touring (560 litres) and Mercedes E-Class Estate (640 litres).
On the flip side, the Volvo’s boot is well designed. There’s no load lip so you can easily slide luggage in and out, a protective chrome strip means you don’t have to worry about scuffing the bumper and the parcel shelf moves up out of the way when you open the boot lid. The boot also has a square shape and a pull-up divider means you can separate luggage.
There’s also extra storage below – though there’s nowhere to store the parcel shelf – and the floor lifts out of the way on gas struts. What you don’t get, though, is a netted divider to separate the boot from the passenger compartment – it’s a standard feature in the BMW 5 Series which costs extra in the V90 – but it does mean the parcel shelf is lighter and easier to remove.
Folding the Volvo’s back seats down is easily done by pressing a couple of buttons at the boot opening and you’re left with large flat load space. Electric boot opening comes as standard, with hands-free opening on the options list.
The Volvo V90’s interior looks brilliant and feels pretty posh, but the infotainment display is quite fiddly to use
Every part of the Volvo V90’s interior feels solid and there are hardly any cheap-feeling plastics. As good as German cars like the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes E-Class? Not quite, but it gets so close it doesn't matter.
The design itself is very Swedish – minimalist, simple and easy to use – with vast swathes of unvarnished wood trims and chrome highlights that make it look posh, but not ostentatious.
You get a clean design thanks to the car’s standard-fit portrait-style infotainment screen which is used to control most of the car’s functions. Some of its icons are a bit small and tricky to press when you’re driving and it would be easier to control the car’s ventilation system using buttons and knobs rather than having to dive into the screen’s menus.
The built-in sat nav is good but suffers from the same fiddly controls as the rest of the infotainment. The screen isn’t quite as responsive as a BMW or Mercedes system, but it does recognise the pinch and swipe gestures you use on your phone. While it can be easy to get lost in the infotainment’s see of menus, the large home button makes it easy to get back to the main screen and you can configure it to suit your requirements.
Unlike earlier models, the updated V90 comes as standard with a digital instrument binnacle that has clear graphics and various display options. Ultimate models also get a head-up display that projects information like current speed onto the windscreen.
All models come with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so if you get bored of Volvo’s system, you can always default back to the more intuitive menus of your mirrored smartphone screen.
Love your music? Then it’s worth considering the optional Bowers & Wilkins stereo which is fitted to Ultimate models as standard – it has clearer sound and more punch than the Burmester system in the Mercedes E-Class Estate and is cheaper than the Bowers & Wilkins stereo available in the BMW 5 Series Touring.
The Volvo V90 is available with a choice of two petrol engines, a diesel and a plug-in hybrid model.
If you don’t do lots of miles, either of the petrols make sense, you can choose from 197hp B4 or 250hp B5 models. The B4 does 0-62mph in 7.9 seconds – it’s all the oomph you need, even when the car is fully loaded. Still, want more? The B5 is noticeably brisker; it knocks a second off the B4’s 0-62mph time and feels keener to accelerate on the motorway. Both will return 35mpg and cost between £585 and £945 to tax in the first year, depending on exact specification.
Do lots of motorway driving? Then go for the 197hp B4 diesel which will get close to 50mpg at a steady cruise and costs £585 to tax. It does 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds but offers more effortless acceleration at high speeds than the B4 or B5 petrol.
Your last options are the 253hp T6 and 310hp T8 plug-in hybrid petrol which are great choices if, say, you have somewhere to charge your car, do a short commute on weekdays interspersed with the occasional longer drive at weekends.
They have a short electric range of up to 27 miles which could make you a big saving on petrol costs, but also have plenty of performance when their petrol engines chime in – the T6 does 0-62mph in 5.5 seconds, the T8 does it in 4.7 seconds. Road tax is just £10 in year one for both models, although their 352.6mpg figures will drop rapidly when their batteries run flat. Recharging takes about three hours using a 7kWh charger.
The Volvo V90 was awarded five stars for safety by Euro NCAP with impressive 95 and 93% scores for Adult Occupant and Safety Assist tests, respectively.
Standard safety features form a list as long as your arm and include automatic emergency brakes that can detect cars, pedestrians and cyclists, and the V90 can even steer around imminent collisions if there’s no space to stop. You also get Volvo-specific features like run-off-road prevention, which can steer the car back onto the road if you veer onto the verge and run-off-road protection that, if you do fall off the road, primes the car’s seatbelts to hold you tight in place and prevent back injuries. These features go on top of the multiple airbags and stability control systems you get on other cars.
Volvo tends to perform better than other posh brands for reliability and owner satisfaction and the V90 comes with a three-year/60,000-mile warranty, which isn’t quite as good as the three-year/unlimited-mileage cover you get with the Mercedes E-Class Estate. V90s have been subject to various recalls for things like faulty curtain airbags, blowing fuel pump fuses, faulty wifi modules and melting plastic intakes.
*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.