The 2020 Volvo V90 should be on the shortlist of anyone seeking a premium midsize car outside of the mainstream. Or even a premium midsize crossover/SUV. What makes the V90 special and different is the fact that it’s a wagon. While we acknowledge that wagons aren’t even a third as popular as crossovers, buyers ignore this fabulous machine at their peril.
One of the great things about the V90 is that it truly stands out as something different in the luxury car world. There are a lot of great luxury SUVs out there, including a few from Volvo, but let’s face it. Luxury crossovers these days are a dime a dozen. Dare to be different and consider a good old fashion wagon instead.
Luxury, practicality and value are three strong suits of this wagon. The V90 is built on the same platform as the excellent XC90 SUV and the equally wonderful S90 flagship sedan. So refinement and ability are baked into the overall package. Those wanting value for money should be satisfied, as even the entry-level trim comes with a lot of standard equipment.
There’s also a 2020 V90 Cross Country, which rides a bit higher and comes standard with AWD. Since this is technically its own model, it’s reviewed separately.
What’s New for 2020?
There are no major changes for the 2020 model year. See the 2020 Volvo V90 models for sale near you
What We Like
Superb styling inside and out
High-quality cabin materials
What We Don’t
So-so performance from the base engine
Cargo space a bit limited for its class
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 23 miles per gallon in the city, 35 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 21 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
The 2020 Volvo V90 comes in T5 FWD and T6 AWD versions, while both are available in R-Design and Inscription trim levels.
The T5 FWD R-Design ($52,095) has 19-in alloy wheels, keyless entry/ignition, a panoramic moonroof with a powered sunshade, aluminum roof rails, selectable drive modes, rain-sensing wipers, heated washer nozzles, leather upholstery, heated/10-way power-adjustable front seats with memory settings, power-folding rear head restraints/rear seats, quad-zone automatic climate control, a chilled glovebox, self-dimming mirrors (with a compass in the interior rearview mirror), rear parking sensors, powered/hands-free lift gate, a universal garage door opener, a 12.3-in driver information display, a cabin air quality system, ambient cabin lighting, Volvo Sensus Connect infotainment system with a 9-in color display, Wi-Fi, navigation, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration (including the Volvo On Call app with remote car control), Bluetooth, a 13-speaker Harman Kardon audio system, two USB ports, an auxiliary audio input, and satellite/HD radio. Plus an array of advanced driver aids (see the Safety section below).
The T5 FWD Inscription ($54,845) comes with 19-in alloy wheels, soft Nappa leather upholstery, ventilated front seats that also have power-adjustable bolstering and under-thigh extensions, walnut inlays, sunshades for the rear passenger windows, and several cosmetic additions.
Equipment for the T6 AWD R-Design ($58,095) and T6 AWD Inscription ($60,095) follows the same patterns. The only real differences are the more powerful engine and an extra set of driven wheels.
All versions are eligible for the Advanced package that brings partially autonomous parking, front parking sensors, a 360-degree camera system, a head-up display and full LED headlights with automatic high beams and high-pressure headlight cleaning.
Other options include 20-in wheels, massaging front seats, self-leveling rear air suspension (T6 AWD only), a powered load cover, a heated steering wheel, heated rear seats, integrated child booster cushions for the outer rear seats, and a Bowers & Wilkins 1,100-watt/15-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.
As you’d expect from a Volvo, it’s apparent that safety was a top priority when designing and engineering the V90. Standard features include anti-lock disc brakes, traction/stability control, active front head restraints, and a full complement of airbags.
As of this writing, 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, as this is a product of Volvo, a company that has made a name for itself by emphasizing the safety of its customers and their surroundings.
There are plenty of advanced driver aids as standard equipment, such as adaptive cruise control with detection of pedestrians, cyclists, and large animals, plus front/rear collision warning, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, run-off road mitigation/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 it’s almost surprising that it’s real wood. The brushed aluminum accents are never too shiny. Rear legroom measures a generous 35.9 inches. And the standard seats are some of the most comfortable we’ve ever sat in. The cargo space is obviously bigger than that of your average sedan, but it’s 54 cu ft. of volume is actually a little tight compared to other wagons in this class.
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 0-to-60 mph by 0.9 of a second (6.7 against 5.8). Performance from the T5 is adequate, but not thrilling considering it’s propelling a pretty hefty car. Handling-wise, the V90 is tuned for comfort with a fair degree of precision.
Other Cars to Consider
2020 Jaguar XF Sportbrake — Gorgeous in its own way, endowed with 296 hp or 380 hp and AWD, plus a generous 69.7 cu ft. of cargo space. Perhaps the wagon’s moment in the sun has finally arrived.
2020 Mercedes-Benz E 450 4Matic Wagon — Luxurious, practical, spacious, comes with AWD as standard and has two extra folding seats in the luggage 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. Obviously, being a Porsche, the Panamera is a bit more performance-oriented.
The main choices are how much power and how many driven wheels are required. Once those decisions are made, it’s just a question of budget. Buyers may not need to go beyond the well-equipped R-Design entry-level trim and most drivers will be satisfied with the T5 engine, but the enthusiast will want to spring for the T6. Find a Volvo V90 for sale