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2017 Volvo S90: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader October 2016

It's taken a few years, but Volvo has thrown off the shackles of its Ford overlords and embraced the freedom of Chinese protectors. The 2017 Volvo S90 represents the second vehicle in a lineup that's been completely reengineered since Zhejiang Geely Holding Group bought the Swedish nameplate from Ford Motor Company in 2010. The new S90 is assembled in Sweden, and it no longer shares manufacturing or design with Ford's products. Thanks to massive investment and seemingly benevolent oversight, Volvo is prospering.

The Scandinavian brand is riding high on the success of its XC90 crossover vehicle, and many elements of that vehicle's technology carry over to the flagship sedan, making a good argument for the virtues of being a (relatively) boutique automaker rather than part of a giant global megacorporation.

What's New for 2017?

S90 rides on an all-new Scalable Product Architecture platform, which will be the basis for multiple future vehicles, including the upcoming V90 wagon. This unibody (frameless) design incorporates a lot of high-strength, extra-high-strength and even ultra-high-strength steel along with aluminum. The all-new skin of the V90 stretches like a muscular shell. The Scandinavian Sanctuary concept interior incorporates a big portrait-oriented touchscreen in the center console to interface with audio, climate, navigation and vehicle functions. Volvo's latest Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving system is standard on all trim levels. Two new engines, each a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, connect to an 8-speed automatic transmission. The turbocharged version delivers 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque and comes with front-wheel drive, while the turbocharged/supercharged version generates 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque and comes with all-wheel drive.

What We Like

Impressive safety features (a Volvo hallmark); tasteful, luxurious interior design; impressive fuel economy for a full-size sedan; great telematics interface (Volvo Sensus)

What We Don't

Good performance in a great-performing class; rear design is less attractive than front

How Much?

$46,950-$56,250

Fuel Economy

T5 model S90s have a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine with front-wheel drive and fuel-economy ratings of 23 miles per gallon in the city and 34 mpg on the highway. T6 models have a 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged engine with all-wheel drive and fuel-economy estimates of 22 mpg city/31 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

T5 Momentum ($46,950) and T6 Momentum ($52,950) come with a power sunroof with sunshade, 18-inch alloy wheels, adjustable drive-mode settings, leather upholstery, 10-way power front seats, Volvo Sensus Connect with a 9-in touchscreen and navigation, an 8-in driver display, a 330-watt audio system with 10 speakers, keyless entry and drive, rear park assist and camera, heated front seats (optional on T5/standard on T6) and LED headlights, fog lamps and taillights. An optional Momentum Plus Package ($1,000) adds active bending lights with auto high beams, high-pressure headlight cleaning, 4-zone electric climate control, a cooled glove box, a 12.3-in driver display, Apple CarPlay and a USB hub.

T5 Inscription ($50,450) and T6 Inscription ($56,250) add heated and ventilated front seats, a 12.3-in driver display, active bending headlights with auto high beams, high-pressure headlight cleaning, Apple CarPlay, a USB hub, manual sun curtains for the rear doors, Nappa soft leather upholstery and 19-in alloy wheels.

A Vision Package ($1,950) can be added to all models. It includes automatically dimmed mirrors, retractable rearview mirrors, a blind spot monitoring system, cross-traffic alert and a 360-degree surround-view camera.

The Climate Package ($1,550 on T5 Momentum; $1,050 on others) provides heated front seats, heated outer rear seats, a heated steering wheel, heated washer nozzles and a heated windscreen.

The Convenience Package ($1,000) adds Park Assist Pilot, front park assist, HomeLink, a compass, a 12-volt power outlet and a power-operated trunk lid.

Additional stand-alone options include a Bowers & Wilkins Premium sound system with a CD player ($2,650), premium rear air suspension ($1,200) and a heads-up display ($900).

Safety

Volvo is proud of its safety features. The brand is working toward its chairman's promise of Vision 2020, which has the stated goal that "no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020." As such, each S90 comes with Pilot Assist (Volvo's semi-autonomous drive system), City Safety (collision avoidance, low- and high-speed collision mitigation and pedestrian, cyclist and large-animal detection), run-off road protection and mitigation, lane-departure warning, road-sign information and driver alert.

Behind the Wheel

If Volvo doesn't have the most comfortable, supportive seats in the auto industry, we're not sure where to find them. Slide into the driver's seat, and the well-designed dash spreads out in front of you. Volvo's Sensus system operates in a very familiar fashion, with pinch-and-pull zooming, swiping and other functions that will be intuitive for smartphone users. The display contents are easily customized and reward users who are willing to invest a little setup time. Both front- and rear-seat passengers will be happy with their perches, too. The S90's comfortable ride and impressive fuel economy would make it an ideal road-trip vehicle.

Out on the road, the S90 soaks up the pavement smoothly. Highway performance is especially pleasant and relaxing, especially once you come to terms with Pilot Assist's gentle intervention. Curvy roads and tight turns betray the S90's size a bit, as the big sedan is more of a cruiser than a carver by nature. Performance from the T5 engine is good. It's better from the T6, but neither engine can really be called sporty. Enthusiasts may scoff, but most drivers will be perfectly satisfied, especially since the smooth 8-speed automatic transmission works so transparently.

Other Cars to Consider

2017 BMW 5 Series -- The BMW 5 Series has been a contender for best full-size sedan for almost 2 decades and still sets the standard for sporting performance.

2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class -- When it comes to safety, Mercedes-Benz strives to rival Volvo's innovation and leadership. The E-Class can be equipped with a dazzling array of safety options.

2017 Audi A8 -- Audi's reputation for interior design is on full display in the top trim levels on A8, offering a compelling case for German aesthetics.

Autotrader's Advice

The 2017 Volvo S90 shows what the Swedish company can do when given the reins to its own creativity. After 5 years of Chinese ownership, the legacy of Volvo's subservience to Ford has finally been shed, and a new generation of unique, elegant sedans has emerged. We'd go for the T6 Momentum trim level for the added performance of turbocharging and supercharging together, along with the all-weather road-handling ability of all-wheel drive, while saving a few dollars on the luxury features of the Inscription trim.

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Used 2017 Volvo S90 T5 Momentum
Used 2017 Volvo S90
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Used 2017 Volvo S90 T6 Momentum AWD
Used 2017 Volvo S90
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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2017 Volvo S90: New Car Review - Autotrader