The 2018 Volvo V90 is a premium midsize wagon. Which might be a problem for some, since the accepted wisdom is that wagons don’t appeal to the average American car buyer. Especially since that person has morphed into the average American crossover buyer. But don’t let prejudice cloud your judgement. The V90 is a fabulous machine with plenty of luxury and a high level of usefulness. It’s built on the same platform as the excellent XC90 SUV and the equally wonderful S90 flagship sedan. So refinement and ability are part of the overall package.
Everyone has their particular tastes, but the buyer looking for something more aesthetically appealing than all those crossovers with as much style as a shipping container will find plenty to admire about the V90. Buyers seeking value for money should also be happy with the V90, as even the entry-level trim comes with a lot of standard equipment.
What’s New for 2018?
The V90 is all-new for this model year, although the extremely similar Cross Country version debuted last year. The CC only had one engine then, and now there are two available in both body styles.
What We Like
Superb looks inside and out; high-quality cabin materials; safety features; practicality
What We Don’t
Nothing immediately apparent
The V90 starts off with the front-wheel-drive T5 setup, which consists of a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine developing 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, along with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel consumption at 24 miles per gallon in the city, 34 mpg on the highway and 27 mpg in combined driving.
The all-wheel-drive T6 arrangement uses the same 8-speed automatic transmission, but this 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine is both supercharged and turbocharged to generate 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.
EPA estimates are 22 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 Volvo V90 comes in T5 FWD (front-wheel drive) and T6 AWD versions, while both are available in R-Design and Inscription trim levels.
The T5 FWD R-Design ($50,945) has 19-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry/ignition, a panoramic sunroof with a powered sunshade, aluminum roof rails, selectable drive modes, all-LED exterior lighting with active "bending" headlights and automatic high beams, high-pressure headlight washers, rain-sensing wipers, leather upholstery, heated/10-way power-adjustable front seats with driver’s-side memory settings, power-folding rear head restraints, quad-zone automatic climate control, a chilled glovebox, self-dimming mirrors, a rearview camera, rear parking sensors, powered/hands-free tailgate, a 12.3-in driver information display, cabin air quality system, ambient cabin lighting, the Volvo Sensus Connect infotainment system with 9-inch color display, Wi-Fi, navigation, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration (including the Volvo On Call app with remote car control), Bluetooth and a 330-watt 10-speaker audio system with two USB ports, auxiliary audio input and satellite radio/HD Radio. Plus an array of advanced driver aids (see the Safety section below).
The T5 FWD Inscription ($52,945) comes with 19-in alloy wheels, soft Nappa leather upholstery, ventilated front seats that also have power-adjustable bolstering and under-thigh extensions, power-operated cargo cover, walnut inlays, sun shades for the rear passenger windows and several cosmetic additions.
Equipment for the T6 AWD R-Design ($56,945) and T6 AWD Inscription ($58,945) follows the same patterns. The only real differences are the more powerful engine and extra set of driven wheels.
A Convenience package includes a universal garage-door opener, a compass in the rearview mirror, heated windshield washer nozzles, a 360-degree camera system, front parking sensors and a self-parking feature.
Other options include a head-up display, 20-in wheels, massaging front seats, self-leveling rear air suspension (T6 AWD only), a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, integrated child booster cushions for the outer rear seats and a Bowers & Wilkins 1,400-watt 19-speaker audio system.
Behind the rear seats is 33.9 cu ft. of cargo capacity, expanding to 53.9 cu ft. when those rear seats are folded down. Maximum towing capacity is 3,500 pounds.
Standard features include antilock disc brakes, traction/stability control, active front head restraints and a full complement of airbags.
The V90 hasn’t been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nor by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). But we’re not expecting safety to be a problem; this is a product of Volvo, a company that has made a name for itself by emphasizing the welfare of its customers and their surroundings.
There are plenty of advanced driver aids, such as adaptive cruise control with detection of pedestrians, cyclists and large animals, plus forward- and rear-collision mitigation, blind spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, run-off road mitigation and protection, lane-departure warning, road-sign recognition and driver-fatigue monitoring.
Behind the Wheel
The V90’s interior is just as elegant and well-considered as its exterior. The dark walnut trim feels so smooth that it’s almost surprising it’s real wood. The brushed aluminum accents are never too shiny. Rear legroom measures a generous 35.9 in. And the standard seats are some of the most comfortable to ever be installed in an automobile. That’s how Volvo rolls.
Naturally, the T6 has more thrust, which suits this roomy and refined machine, especially when it’s loaded up. But the T5 is only slower in the sprint from standstill to 60 mph by 0.9 of a second (6.7 against 5.8). Handling wise, the V90 is tuned for comfort with a fair degree of precision. Everything about this car is impeccable.
Other Cars to Consider
2018 Audi A4 Allroad — The A4 Allroad is a wagon with an SUV attitude. And although technically a compact, it’s spacious enough to compete in the midsize category.
2018 Jaguar XF Sportbrake — Gorgeous in its own way, endowed with 380 hp and all-wheel drive, plus a generous 69.7 cu ft. of cargo space. Perhaps the wagon’s moment in the sun has finally arrived.
2018 Mercedes-Benz E400 4Matic wagon — Luxurious, practical, spacious, comes with all-wheel drive as standard, and has two extra folding seats in the cargo area. Maximum cargo volume is 64 cu ft.
Used Porsche Panamera — Also luxurious and spacious, and that hatchback body style makes it practical, as well. A look at Porsche’s certified pre-owned (CPO) program will find a Panamera for the price of a T6 AWD.
The V90 is good enough, stylish enough and safe enough to dispel any qualms about not buying a crossover. The only thing to be wary of is how the ride quality might suffer with a 20-in wheel/tire combination.