Volvo V90

Safe and stylish alternative to established competition

8.4
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 5 reviews
  • Handsome looks
  • Frugal, yet powerful engines
  • Lavish interior
  • Boot not the biggest in class
  • No smooth six-cylinder engines
  • Less spacious than you expect
 

£34,955 - £44,455 Price range

 

5 Seats

 

53 - 62 MPG

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.

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 from launch – 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 comes later boasting 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 firm and 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.

Check out the paint shades on offer for this stylish estate by reading our complete Volvo V90 colours guide or see if it’s the right size for you using our Volvo V90 sizes and dimensions guide. If you’re after a more off-road focussed estate, read our V90 Cross Country price, specs and release date article.

The main focus of the V90 is comfort, something the cabin expresses perfectly – it doesn’t have the flowing forms of the E-Class’ interior or the sporty metal trims of the A6, but it’s simply designed, well built and great to look at.

A large 9.0-inch touchscreen controls nearly all the car’s systems – from the stereo to the climate control – meaning it is easy to navigate. However it does without a scroll knob that would make it easier to use on the move.

Volvo V90 passenger space

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. For a more in-depth analysis of the interior have a look at our dimensions guide.

Volvo V90 boot space

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. It 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, which weren’t available at the launch.

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.

At first, the V90 will be offered with two twin-turbocharged diesel engines. Top-of-the-range models get clever tech to improve throttle response, plus four-wheel drive for extra grip in the wet.

Volvo V90 diesel engines

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 for a £30 annual road tax bill.

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 (for £100 annual road tax) can be attributed to the car’s power-sapping four-wheel-drive system.

V90 buyers can only choose between basic Momentum and top-spec Inscription trim, however the Volvo is better equipped than rivals.

Volvo V90 Momentum

Basic V90s get leather upholstery, heated seats, climate control with two temperature zones, the touchscreen infotainment and LED headlights. The stand-out feature is the car’s autonomous driving system.

Volvo V90 Inscription

Step up to Inscription and you get sportier seats upholstered in softer leather plus a multi-function 12.3-inch digital display that replaces the regular dials. On the outside you get nicer-looking 18-inch alloy wheels as opposed to 17 inch items on basic cars. There is also more chrome on the outside and the tailgate gets a hands-free function to open it by waving your foot under the rear bumper.

VOLVO V90 R-DESIGN

In R-Design trim the V90 comes as standard with a revised front bumper with integrated fog lights and a new splitter. The grille features piano black inserts and the five-spoke alloy wheels boast a two-tone diamond cut finish. New floor mats and revised pedals are also fitted as standard, as are sportier front seats with a more heavily contoured design.

Conclusion

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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