Volvo’s all-new S90 premium midsize sedan arrived for 2017 as the long-awaited replacement for the S80, and it’s available in standard and hybrid versions, with lots of luxury features and cutting-edge safety and self-driving technology.
Prices begin at $48,100 (plus $995 freight) for the base S90 Momentum T5 front-wheel drive, and $58,600 for the T6 AWD Inscription models with gasoline-only power; and $63,650 for the T8 AWD Momentum or $68,150 for the T8 AWD Inscription model with plug-in hybrid powertrains.
In between are the gasoline-only Momentum T5 AWD ($50,300) and T6 AWD ($54,100). The Inscription models, which include the $3,300 Inscription Package with 19-inch 10-spoke alloy wheels in Silver Diamond Cut, can be upgraded to special 20-inch Inscription alloy wheels for $750 more, along with other packages.
T5 models come with a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline four-cylinder engine with 250 horsepower and 258 foot-pounds of torque, connected to an eight-speed Geartronic automatic transmission.
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T6 models get a supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder rated at 316 horsepower and 295 foot-pounds of torque, also paired with an eight-speed automatic.
The hybrid T8 models include the same engine as the T6, paired with an electric motor that powers the rear wheels while the gasoline engine runs the front wheels. This combination has a total of 400 horsepower and 472 foot-pounds of torque.
EPA fuel-economy ratings for the T5 are 23 mpg city/34 highway/27 combined. For the T6, ratings are 22/31/25. And for the hybrid, they are 29 mpg combined (using gasoline and electric) or 71 mpg-equivalent when running primarily on electric power.
Our test vehicle for this report was the 2017 S90 T6 Inscription, which came with the 316-horsepower four-cylinder engine, all-wheel drive and a superbly designed interior with Nappa leather upholstery (part of the Inscription Package).
The eight-speed Geartronic transmission has a manual-shift feature, and the seamless all-wheel drive directs power exactly where it’s needed for maximum traction, with no driver input required.
We averaged 24.4 mpg during our weeklong test, with a mix of about 60/40 highway/city driving. Unleaded premium fuel (91 octane or more) is recommended for the best performance.
Just as you’d expect from Volvo, the S90 is well built, well equipped, very comfortable, full of safety features, and a delight to drive. Road handling was superb, especially on twisty country roads near our home that we love to use for test drives.
Volvo says the S90 T6 can go from zero-60 mph in six seconds. Top speed is electronically limited to 130 mph, but the car could do 155 without the limiter. There’s plenty of power for this car, which weighs just under 4,100 pounds.
Our S90’s transmission shifted smoothly and at mostly just at the right time, so we did not make use of the manual-shift feature. The gearbox’s computer controller helps keep it from gear hunting on uphill and downhill slopes, and it downshifts quickly and accurately for quick bursts of speed to accommodate passing and freeway on-ramps.
In keeping with its upscale mission (and price), our S90’s cabin was almost limousine-quality. There is plenty of knee and legroom in the back seat, but it’s more comfortable with just two adults in the rear, with the center armrest pulled down from the seatback.
Among standard features on the T6 (before adding the Inscription Package) are a power moon roof with sunshade; LED headlights; heated 10-way power front seats with driver’s side memory; leather seating surfaces and steering wheel (tilt and telescopic); keyless entry and pushbutton start; and four-zone automatic climate control.
It also came with linear walnut wood interior inlays; illuminated door handles and high-level interior lighting; rear park assist, with rearview camera system; Sensus 330-watt/10-speaker audio system, with navigation, Wi-Fi, HD and satellite radio, USB port, Bluetooth connection, and nine-inch touch screen; a 12.1-inch digital instrument display; and a matte silver front waterfall grille.
Inscription Package features include the 19-inch alloy wheels, Nappa leather seats, active bending headlights, high-pressure headlight cleaning, leather dash and upper door panels, ventilated front seats with power side support and front cushion extensions, cooled glovebox, laminated side windows, and automatic high beams.
We had the 20-inch Inscription wheels ($750 extra), as well as the Vision Package ($1,950), which brought a 360-degree surround-view camera system, auto-dimming rearview and retractable outside mirrors, and Blind Spot Detection with Rear Cross Traffic Alert.
Also included were the Climate Package ($1,950), with heated outboard rear seats, heated washer nozzles, graphical head-up display, and heated steering wheel; and the Convenience Package ($1,000), with power trunk lid, universal garage/gate opener, and Park Assist Pilot with front park assist.
Other extras included the Bowers & Wilkins premium sound ($2,650) and Mussel Blue metallic paint ($560).
Standard technology features include Volvo’s City Safety system. It takes over control of the vehicle if the driver becomes distracted – perhaps while “texting” instead of driving – and automatically stops the car if it is about to run into the vehicle in front.
It will completely stop the car if it is going under 19 mph and the difference in speeds between it and the car in front (or a stationary object) is 9 mph or less. If the difference is more than 9 mpg, the car will brake itself, but won’t avert a collision completely.
While the City Safety system won’t compensate for all of the driver’s mistakes, it might help prevent a fender-bender. Volvo says studies show that 75 percent of traffic accidents occur at speeds of 19 mph or below.
Also included are Pedestrian, Cyclist and Large Animal Detection; the Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive system; Run-off Road Protection and Mitigation; rear park assist and rearview camera system; Lane Departure Warning and Driver Alert Control; and road sign information.
Other safety gear includes seat-mounted side air bags, roof-mounted side-curtain air bags for both rows, electronic stability control with traction control, four-wheel antilock disc brakes with electronic brake-force distribution, tire-pressure monitoring, the Volvo Whiplash Protection System, a high-strength steel safety cage, and side-impact protection.
Other features include electric power steering, adjustable drive-mode settings, and dual integrated tailpipes.
The automotive columns of G. Chambers Williams III have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 1994. Contact him at
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2017 Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription
The package: Midsize, premium, five-door, five-passenger, supercharged and turbocharged inline four-cylinder, gasoline-powered, all-wheel-drive sedan.
Highlights: Introduced for 2017, this is Volvo’s new signature sedan. It has a long list of high-tech safety features and options, and a powerful four-cylinder engine.
Negatives: Can get pricey with all the options.
Engines: 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder gasoline, supercharged and turbocharged.
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic/all-wheel drive.
Power/torque: 316 HP./295 foot-pounds.
Length: 200.1 inches.
Curb weight: 4,080 pounds.
Brakes, front/rear: Disc/disc, antilock.
Cargo volume: 15.4 cubic feet.
Side air bags: Front seat-mounted, roof-mounted side-curtain for both rows, standard.
Electronic stability control: Standard.
Fuel capacity/type: 15.9 gallons/unleaded premium recommended, not required.
EPA fuel economy: 22 mpg city/31 highway/25 combined.
Base price: $58,600, plus $995 freight.
Price as tested: $66,105, including freight and options (2017 S90 T6 AWD Inscription).
On the Road rating: 8.8 (of a possible 10).
Prices shown are manufacturer's suggested retail; actual selling price may vary.