Introduced for 2018, Volvo V90 is the brand’s latest premium wagon, sharing engines, structure and features with the S90 sedan and XC90 crossover. It’s the longest and largest wagon currently sold in the U.S.
The 2018 Volvo V90 is part of a chain of V-series wagons that go back a long way with Volvo, usually related to S sedans with similar or identical powertrains and features.
2018 V90 wagons come in a range of models, including Cross Country models that sit taller and are capable of modest off-highway duty.
Two distinct engine choices are offered. In T5 models, a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder develops 250 horsepower. T6 models adopt a 316-horsepower version of that four-cylinder engine, which is both turbocharged and supercharged. Each engine mates with an 8-speed automatic transmission.
V90 wagons come in several trim levels: R-Design and Inscription, in addition to a base model and an Ocean Race Edition. The latter commemorates Volvo’s connection to maritime racing.
Front-wheel drive is standard on the base T5 model. T6 versions and Cross Country wagons come only with all-wheel drive.
More flamboyantly designed and sporty-looking than most wagons, V90s demonstrate clean Scandinavian elegance. V90 Cross Country models have higher ground clearance and can be fitted with lower-body cladding that provides a more rugged appearance.
No crash-test data has been released by either the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. However, the latter agency gave the related S90 sedan several Good scores, plus Superior frontal crash prevention, though headlights were deemed problematic.
Advanced safety technology has long been a Volvo hallmark, which continues with the V90. Standard safety features include blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, forward-collision prevention, and adaptive cruise control. Volvo’s City Safety object-detection system can now warn of large animals ahead.
An updated version of Volvo’s semi-autonomous driving system, introduced on the 2016 XC90 crossover, is standard on V90 wagons. Pilot Assist allows the wagon to accelerate, slow down, and come to a halt on its own. The wagon can also steer itself between highway lane markings, and detect road edges. The driver cannot take his or her hands off the steering wheel for more than about 15 seconds at a time.
V90 Cross Country wagons can be found and purchased at Volvo dealerships in the usual way. For regular V90 wagons, Volvo turned to a pre-order procedure, shipping a vehicle only after the purchase has been completed.
V90 T5 R-Design FWD ($49,950) comes with the 250-horsepower engine, leather seat trim, a panoramic moonroof, 12.3-inch touchscreen, blind-spot information system, adaptive cruise control, lane-keeping assist, collision mitigation, 19-inch wheels, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity, and navigation. T5 Inscription FWD ($51,950) adds such features as a hands-free tailgate and sunshades. (Prices are MSRP and do not include destination charge.)
T6 R-Design AWD ($55,950) and T6 Inscription AWD ($57,950) include the 316-hp engine.
T5 Cross Country AWD ($52,300) has taller ground clearance and rugged-look detailing, with the 250-horsepower engine. T6 Cross Country AWD ($56,100) substitutes the 316-horsepower engine. T6 Cross Country Ocean Race Edition AWD ($60,500) adds design elements to mark Volvo’s tie to maritime racing.
More than most automakers, Volvo still knows how to create a brilliant-styled wagon, without adding complexity. Bodysides manage to maintain a soft, organic appearance, while front- and rear-end elements suggest kinship to the company’s heritage. Hints of the celebrated P1800 sport coupe from the Sixties can even be discerned.
Distinctively complex LED lighting arrays flank the grille, ahead of a long hood. A blacked-out rear hatch emphasizes the tapering bodysides and the enticing roofline. Cross Country wagons differ primarily in plastic fender flares and modestly-elevated ride height.
Not only is the V90 roomy and commendably comfortable, its starkly simple cabin serves as a model of Scandinavian design. Some elements and attributes of the cleanly upright layout are shared with Volvo’s highly praised XC90 crossover.
Highlights include wood and metal detailing, a sublime infotainment screen, and a digital instrument cluster. Welcome levels of utility and flexibility blend with an overall sense of quality.
Seating excellence has been a Volvo tradition, and it’s immediately evident here. Front seats are impressively supportive and broadly adjustable, with long cushions. Back seats aren’t far behind, either, though door openings seem somewhat constricted for a full-size vehicle. Leather-trimmed seats are standard, with the prospect for upgrading to softer-yet upholstery.
Split rear seatbacks flip forward readily, creating a flat floor for the spacious cargo hold. However, the shape of the hatch restricts cargo-area height at the rear. An underfloor compartment permits additional small-item storage.
Active noise cancellation helps keep the cabin pleasantly quiet. Over choppy pavement, V90 riders are likely to notice more road noise than passengers in an S90 sedan.
Even though no version of the V90 qualifies as sincerely sporty, Volvo’s largest wagon promises a relaxing, upscale road experience. Quiet and comfortable, each wagon yields a soft ride, while virtually silencing the world outside. In doing so, the V90 strikes a balance between utility and performance.
Little pitching of the body occurs when traversing lumpy pavement and heaving surfaces. Again, the V90 reaches for the middle ground, promising and delivering a ride that’s well-controlled as well as providing a sense of plush motoring.
In T6 form, the V90 accelerates to 60 mpg in about 5.5 seconds â€“ not quite startling, but ready to satisfy all but the most demanding drivers. With the 250-horsepower T5 engine, performing that feat approaches 7 seconds. Volvo’s smooth-shifting automatic transmission adds to the pleasure.
Even with the driving mode set to Dynamic, fitted with Volvo’s available air suspension, the T6 wagon feels rather softly sprung. Handling proves satisfying, as the V90 suspension behaves evenly as well as predictably. Accelerating out of a corner can be accomplished gracefully, with a feeling of finesse.
Fuel economy isn’t bad, considering vehicle size and weight. The V90 T5 is EPA-rated at 24/34 mpg City/Highway, or 27 mpg Combined. All-wheel drive lowers the estimate to 22/31/25 mpg. The all-wheel-drive T6 Cross Country is EPA-rated at 23/31 mpg City/Highway, or 26 mpg Combined.
In its current corporate guise, Volvo may not quite warrant the all-out luxury status of some competitive premium-level automakers. Regardless, the new V90 wagon has plenty to offer in terms of style, generous feature content, and plenty of interior space. Each version is amply-equipped, infotainment systems excel, and numerous options are available. Cross Country variants stand a bit taller and look ready for action, but off-roading aspirations are relatively modest.
Driving impressions by Andrew Ganz, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.