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2018 Volvo S90: New Car Review

If you’re looking for information on a newer Volvo S90, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 Volvo S90 Review

The 2018 Volvo S90 luxury sedan is a major part of the Swedish marque’s rebirth. After years of producing good vehicles, the company is now making great vehicles. This is accomplished by addressing every major and minor area, establishing a fresh design approach, developing new engines and setting even higher standards for interior quality, while staying true to traditional Volvo values like safety and comfort.

The S90 displays all those attributes, making it well worth including on the short list of anyone looking to buy a midsize premium sedan.

What’s New for 2018?

More rear space. After just one year on the market, the S90 grows by 4.5 inches, all of which is just past the center pillar resulting in a generous 40.4 inches of rear legroom. A panoramic sunroof with a powered sunshade is also standard, joining an expanded list that also includes blind spot monitoring. Some options bundles have also been rearranged.

The Sensus infotainment system’s interface has been updated for a more user-friendly experience, while active lane-keeping assist becomes available. All-wheel drive is now an option with the entry level T5 drivetrain. And the range acquires the T8 plug-in hybrid setup, as found in the XC90 SUV that shares a platform with the S90 sedan. See the 2018 Volvo S90 models for sale near you

What We Like

Impressive safety features (a Volvo hallmark); tasteful yet luxurious interior design; impressive fuel economy for a large sedan; great infotainment system.

What We Don’t

The smallest engine sometimes struggles with such a hefty car.

How Much?


Fuel Economy

T5 versions have a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine developing 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at 24 miles per gallon city, 34 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined (front-wheel drive) or 23 mpg city/32 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined (with the optional all-wheel drive).

T6 models have a 4-cylinder 2.0-liter engine that’s both turbocharged and supercharged to develop 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive is standard in the T6, and fuel economy is 22 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined.

The T8 plug-in hybrid also has a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine with turbocharging and supercharging, which is augmented by an electric motor and a lithium-ion battery pack. System output is a muscular 400 hp and 470 lb-ft of torque, driving all four wheels as standard. In EV mode, maximum range is 21 miles. The EPA estimates a combined miles-per-gallon equivalent (MPGe) of 71 when using both power sources. As a regular hybrid, it’s rated at 29 mpg combined. The quickest battery charging time at 220 volts is 2.5 hours.

All versions of the S90 use an 8-speed automatic transmission.

Standard Features & Options

The 2018 Volvo S90 is available in Momentum trim with a choice of all three drivetrains. Inscription trim offers just the T6 and T8 plug-in hybrid setups.

The T5 Momentum ($49,095), T6 Momentum ($55,095) and T8 Momentum ($64,645, before any federal or state tax credits) versions have a panoramic sunroof, 18-inch alloy wheels, full LED exterior lighting, adjustable drive mode settings, leather upholstery, birch wood inlays, 10-way power-adjustable front seats with driver’s-side memory settings, power-folding rear headrests, self-dimming rearview and side mirrors, Volvo Sensus infotainment system with a 9-in touchscreen and navigation, satellite radio, 8-in driver information display, keyless entry/ignition, rear parking sensors and camera, heated front seats (optional on T5/standard on T6 and T8) 330-watt 10-speaker audio system and a USB port.

An optional Momentum Plus package ($1,000) adds active lights that follow the steering, automatic high beams, high-pressure headlight cleaning, quad-zone automatic climate control and a 12.3-in driver display.

Heated front seats and a heated steering wheel are also available ($750).

T6 Inscription ($59,595) and T8 Inscription ($69,145, before any federal or state tax credits) include the contents of that Momentum Plus package, then add heated/ventilated front seats, powered rear window sunshade, manual sun shades for the rear passenger-side windows, Nappa soft leather upholstery and 19-in alloy wheels.

Inscription models are eligible for a Luxury package ($3,450) that consists of a Nubuck headliner, heated/ventilated outboard rear seats, massaging front seats and an extra-wide deluxe rear center armrest.

A Convenience Package ($2,550) brings Park Assist Pilot, front parking sensors, a HomeLink automatic garage door opener, a compass set into the rearview mirror, a 360-degree camera system, heated washer nozzles, a 12-volt power outlet in the trunk and a power-operated trunk lid.

Individual options include a 19-speaker 1,400-watt Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound system ($3,200, but one of the best car systems there is), rear air suspension ($1,200), a child booster seat ($235) and a head-up display ($900).

Trunk space is 13.5 cu ft., on the low side of average for the class, but still good enough for three sets of golf clubs.


Volvo specializes in safety features. 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), blind spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, run-off road protection and mitigation, lane-departure warning, road sign recognition, and rear collision mitigation.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not yet crash-tested the S90, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has made the car a Top Safety Pick.

Behind the Wheel

Supremely comfortable and gently supportive seats are another Volvo specialty. Slide into the driver’s seat, and the well-designed dash spreads out in front.

Volvo’s Sensus Connect system operates intuitively, with pinch/pull zooming, swiping and other functions that will be second nature for smartphone users. The display contents are easily customized and reward users who are willing to put in a little setup time.

The S90’s comfortable ride and impressive fuel economy make it ideal for road trips. The car soaks up any pavement imperfections smoothly. Highway performance is pleasant and relaxing, especially once the driver is fully acquainted with Pilot Assist’s gentle intervention. The 8-speed automatic transmission, meanwhile, is almost imperceptible in its operation.

Performance from the T5 is adequate, the T6 is more energetic — but neither engine could really be called sporty. Curvy roads and tight turns also bring something of a challenge, as this big sedan is more of a natural cruiser than a corner carver. The majority of drivers, however, should be perfectly satisfied.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 Acura RLX — Updated for 2018. Always worth considering for the equipment/cost equation.

2018 Audi A6 — Wonderful in so many ways, but a new generation is coming down the pipeline.

2018 BMW 5 Series — An all-new generation debuts for 2018. Excels in so many areas.

2018 Cadillac XTS — Front-wheel-drive and rides like a luxury car should. Spacious, well-priced and well-equipped.

2018 Genesis G80 — Comes with a lot of equipment for the price, but doesn’t seem quite as "fully baked" as most contenders here.

2018 Lexus GS — Getting a little old now, but still spacious, luxurious, well put together and enjoyable to drive.

2018 Mercedes-Benz E-Class — A new generation debuted last year. Technology, safety features, comfort, driving abilities and smart styling are all in abundance.

Used Mercedes-Benz S-Class — The trouble with buying a pre-owned car is that it won’t have such up-to-the-minute technology. But the S-Class has never been short of great features. That’s why it’s the best seller in its segment.

Autotrader’s Advice

Naturally, it all comes down to cost, but a T6 version in Momentum trim comes with a decent amount of power and equipment.

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  1. The article never mentions that Volvo shifted production of the S90 from Sweden to China for the 2018 model year, hence the wheelbase increase.

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