Driving Notes

2017 Volvo S90 AWD

November 30, 2016

by Paul Clinton - Also by this author

Photo by Kevin Haegele.
Photo by Kevin Haegele.

Volvo's 2017 S90 luxury sedan arrives with an understated luxury you might expect from a Swedish sensibility and a powertrain that's one of the most impressive in the 2017 model year.

The S90 arrives as a new model for Volvo. In some ways it replaces the S80, which Volvo discontinued after the 2016 model year, as the fullest sedan in the Volvo lineup. But this sedan is 4.3 inches longer, so in some ways it's not an apt comparison.

The S90 has taken cues from Volvo's 2016 XC90 luxury SUV, and that's a good thing. The lines of the vehicle flow in a way that's never obtrusive, and the S90 gets the same Thor's hammer headlights.

Let's peek under the hood, because the optional four-cylinder engine sets this vehicle in the upper echelon of new-for-2017 models. The base T5 turbo four makes a 250 hp, while the turbocharged and supercharged T6 makes 316 hp. Both are examples of the kind of impressive blend of power and efficiency manufacturers are achieving these days.

We tested the T6-powered S90 Inscription with all-wheel drive, which gets an EPA-rated 31 mpg in highway driving, 22 mpg in the city, and 25 mpg combined.

The engine is mated to an 8-speed transmission and never breaks a sweat, while providing even-handed power delivery from dead stop to freeway speeds. Steering is precise and not too overly powered to deaden response. Braking is firm and responsive.

Photo by Kevin Haegele.
Photo by Kevin Haegele.

Like the XC90, the S90 arrives with excellent technology and safety features, including Pilot Assist, which can steer the car up to 80 mph, and the City Safety automatic braking to intervene in low-speed situations when a distracted driver encounters an object in front of the car.

The cabin of the sedan hues to the minimalist luxury approach, emphasizing comfort and infotainment that's intuitive. The Sensus Connect system offers organized menus to activate safety tech and audio options via a 9-inch touch screen. The experience is similar to using a tablet computer. Volvo's instrument panel shows digital gauges and other data on a 12.3-inch display.

Leather surfaces give way to open pore wood trim and polished aluminum.

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