Volvo V90 Hybrid Review
The Volvo V90 plug-in hybrid has an upmarket, classy interior and is comfortable to drive. There are other posh estates which come with bigger boots, though.
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The Volvo V90 plug-in hybrid is the flagship of Volvo’s estate car range, providing space and luxury in equal measure.
Back in the 1980s, when (according to Huey Lewis) it was hip to be square, Volvo’s were designed with rulers and set squares. Get too close to a corner and you might cut yourself. Cut to today and the Volvo V90 shows that the Swedish brand knows it’s hip to be… curvy. Curvy but still practical, and luxurious into the bargain.
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.
Volvo V90 plug-in hybrid range and charging
Under the bonnet of this plug-in hybrid T6 Recharge model resides a 340hp hybrid powertrain comprising a 253hp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and 87hp electric motor. Volvo claims the car emits just 47g/km of CO2 and can average up to 134.5mpg. It can also cover up to 36 miles on electric power alone, all of which means it properly stacks up as a company car or simply for those who tend to do most of their mileage in town.
A 3kW three-pin plug will charge the battery to 80% in three hours, while a 7kW wallbox cuts that time to an hour and a quarter.
The Volvo V90 is a proper looker, but it backs this up with decent practicality and 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 Volvo V90 plug-in hybrid may not have the boot capacity of its forebears, but in every other area it’s a truly worthy alternative to the Germans. 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.
So, if you want to see the kind of offers that you can get, go to our Volvo V90 deals page.
There’s decent space for everyone in the V90, but Volvo no longer leads the way for boot space.
There’s plenty of space in the V90’s front seats for you to get comfortable – even if you’re very tall – and both front seats come with height adjustment and electric lumbar support as standard. As a result, you get a good view out over other cars and don’t have to worry about backache on long motorway journeys.
All V90s get lumbar adjustment and extended seat cushions as standard to give your legs even better support on long drives. These models also get a memory function for the front seat – handy if you regularly lend your car to someone else.
Space in the back is pretty generous in all V90s. The front seats are thinner than in a Mercedes or BMW so your passengers in the back have plenty of legroom to stretch out. There’s just enough headroom for six-footers to get fairly comfy, too.
Carrying three adults side-by-side is a bit of a squeeze – thanks to the tall lump in the floor and hard central seat – but there’s enough space under the front seats for three rear passengers to fit their feet comfortably. That said, an E-Class is better still for carrying three adults in the back.
The V90’s wide rear door openings make it easy to lift in a large child seat and folding covers help you quickly locate the two sets of Isofix points. Unfortunately, the Volvo’s low roofline means you have to stoop down low to strap in a child, but you’ll have a similar issue in almost all large executive saloons.
The Volvo V90’s cabin comes with plenty of handy storage spaces to help you keep it looking as tidy as possible, All four door bins and the glovebox can comfortably hold a 2.0-litre bottle and there’s some extra storage space under the central armrest for your phone or a pair of sunglasses.
You get two cupholders beside the gear lever under a neat folding cover and two more that pop out of the folding rear armrest. This also comes with a neat storage tray with a lid to keep thing safely in place if you need to fold the armrest away.
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 a couple soft bags in luggage terms.
You can’t adjust the height of the boot floor, but at least there’s no lip you have to lift luggage over. It’s certainly no worse than in the BMW, Mercedes or Audi, though, and you do get some neat switches beside the headrests that’ll let you fold the back seats down from inside the car – when the rear doors are open, that is.
With all the back seats folded away, there’s easily enough space in the back of the Volvo to carry a bike with both its wheels attached. The flat floor makes it easy to push heavy items right up behind the back seats and the loadbay’s square shape means you won’t have any trouble carrying a large TV box or some bulky flat-pack furniture.
All V90s come with a ski hatch behind the rear armrest so you can carry some very long items and two back-seat passengers at once.
Hybrid power trains makes the V90 rapid, and almost silent in EV mode, but get used to plugging it in.
Up front in this plug-in hybrid T6 Recharge model is a hybrid powertrain that links a 253hp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine and 87hp electric motor for a total of 340hp. Volvo claims the car emits just 47g/km of CO2 and can average up to 134.5mpg. It can also cover up to 36 miles on electric power alone, all of which means it properly stacks up as a company car with super-low tax bills. It also makes sense if you simply commute or do most of your daily mileage on short trips in town, when you can rely on the electric motor.
Bear in mind, however, that to get close to that astronomical economy figure you’ll have to make sure the car is plugged in whenever it’s stopped, so you can spend the bulk of your time on EV power.
A 3kW three-pin plug will charge the battery to 80% in three hours, while a 7kW wallbox cuts that time to an hour and a quarter. A charge to 100% from empty will take an hour and three quarters from a 7kW wallbox.
It might be a big car, but you won’t have any trouble seeing out of the Volvo V90. The relatively thin pillars and large windows give you a good view out, and the light steering helps make it reasonably easy to manoeuvre around town.
If the thought of parking a big estate car gives you chills, you can get the V90 with a self-parking feature that’ll steer you automatically into parallel and bay parking spaces that are just 1.2 metres longer than the car. This costs a decent amount extra but comes with a 360-degree camera system and a panoramic glass sunroof.
Thankfully, Volvo’s Pilot Assist feature won’t cost you a penny extra. This system combines lane-keeping assist with adaptive cruise control to accelerate, brake and steer for you at speeds up to 80mph – providing you keep your hands on the steering wheel. This helps make long journeys – especially on busy motorways – as relaxing as possible.
Adding to the V90’s stress-free driving experience is the comfortable suspension. You can get it with adaptive dampers and rear air suspension but the standard setup does a good job ironing out bumps and potholes so you needn’t bother.
Sadly, while the Volvo does a great job isolating you from the patchy road surfaces, it doesn’t feel particularly fun to drive. Sure, it doesn’t lean much in tight corners, but a BMW 5 Series and Jaguar XF both feel more involving on a twisty backroad.
If safety, rather than sportiness, is your main concern, the Volvo claws back plenty of points. It comes as standard with a wealth of active systems designed to prevent crashes including pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection, automatic emergency braking and even a feature that’ll tighten your seatbelt if the car detects a possible collision.
All these features helped the V90 achieve an impressive five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP when it was tested in 2017.
There are some gorgeous trims available, but you’ll need to choose carefully if the interior isn’t to look too gloomy.