Volvo’s S90 flagship sedan has some significant changes for its second year, 2018, including the debut of a 400-horsepower T8 Twin-Engine Plug-In Electric Hybrid, with 313 horsepower from a 2.0-liter super- and turbocharged direct-injection gasoline engine and 82 horsepower from an electric motor.
A new longer wheelbase adds 4.5 inches of legroom to the rear, making it best-in-class. The completely redesigned rear seat also has new available power window shades, a revised luxurious center armrest, heat and ventilation, and quad-zone climate control.
New luxurious Volvo design language includes distinctive Thor’s Hammer LED headlights, soft Nappa leather, and a nine-inch center touch screen. Updated technology includes Sensus Connect and City Safety. S90 also adds Oncoming Lane Mitigation and Blind Spot Indication with steering assist, as well as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Oncoming Lane Mitigation uses steer assist to help avoid head-on collisions, while BLIS uses the system to reduce risk of lane-change collisions.
A new power-operated panoramic moon roof with a powered perforated textile sunshade slides opens or tilts in the front, allowing light and air inside. The sunshade, when closed, reduces glare while maintaining an airy feel. S90 is the only sedan in its class offering this luxury feature as standard.
Volvo S90 offers four Momentum trims: T5 FWD, $48,100; T5 AWD; T6 AWD $54,100; T8 eAWD plug-in Hybrid, $63,650; and two Inscription trims: T6 $58,600; and T8 eAWD plug-in Hybrid, $68,150, the one I drove. A T6 turbo- and supercharged gasoline engine provides 316 horsepower and a T5 turbo engine delivers 250 horsepower.
My Inscription was a very attractive T8 in Crystal White ($595) with Maroon Brown/Charcoal interior and special 20-inch Inscription 10-spoke silver wheels with summer tires ($800). The hybrid system included a 1.4 kWh high-voltage (270-400) battery with a dual voltage (110/220) charging cable, and was mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission with start/stop technology, eAWD and Drive Mode selection.
Standard Pilot Assist, a semi-autonomous drive system using adaptive cruise control and lane-keep assist, is a middle step between total driver control and total machine control, taking over at least part of the driving while still requiring human supervision and occasional driver intervention. Without human intervention, Pilot Assist deactivates.
The Premium Air Suspension in the rear ($1,200) used separate air chambers for each wheel, which adapted to driving conditions using a computerized compressor, allowing the driver to control and adapt the suspension.
Inscription features added $4,500 to the base price of $63,650, and included Active Bending Lights (added to LED headlights with Thor’s Hammer DRls and auto high beam), high-level interior illumination, highly textured open-grain North American Walnut inlays, heated and ventilated front seats, tailored leather dash and upper door panels, power front seat bolsters and cushion extensions.
The power side and rear curtains were included in the package, along with the four-zone climate control with separate controls in the rear, a cooled glovebox, laminated side windows for safety and soundproofing, soft Nappa leather upholstery and color-coordinated key fob, and “Inscription” badge on the trunk lid.
Volvo’s advanced LED light technology stayed on high beam and provided a wide, long light patter, which dimmed when another vehicle approached from the opposite direction. Thor’s Hammer T-shaped DRLs were eye-catching even when not illuminated.
High-pressure headlight cleaning is activated along with the windshield wipers – a nozzle pops out of the bumper. A chrome strip along the lower doors is part of Inscription’s exclusive character. Bright trim around the door handles is a luxurious touch, and ground lighting beneath the door handles, activated when the door is remotely unlocked, welcomes and helps locate the handle.
The matte silver waterfall grille between the headlights is designed to “float” in the opening, and features distinctive, slightly concave vertical chrome bars and a glossy chrome frame. At the lower outer grille, black inserts with horizontal chrome bars added a stylistic touch.
Heated windshield washer nozzles were part of the Convenience Package ($2,550), along with a power trunk lid, 360-degree Surround View camera, HomeLink, a 12-volt power outlet in the trunk, rearview mirror compass, and last but not least, Park Assist Pilot with front park assist. Park Assist Pilot measures a parking space and takes over the steering (driver controls acceleration and braking) to take the effort out of parking, either parallel or perpendicular.
Side mirrors fold flat against the car, out of the way when the car is parked or going through a car wash. Beautifully grafted tailpipes are precisely integrated into the lower rear bumper, joined by a slender chrome strip.
When the doors were unlocked, interior, foot-well, and mood lights were illuminated, and when the front doors were opened, a puddle light under the door lit the ground. Illuminated “Volvo” sill plates and soft guide lights along the doors and dash were welcoming.
My S90’s cabin was elegant and airy. Wide walnut inlays on the plush, charcoal top-stitched doors, and dash, and massive Maroon Brown Deluxe rear center armrest (Luxury Package, $3,450), were cut diagonally. The “book-matched” walnut on the rear center armrest was trimmed with chrome, and the pop-up storage cover/armrest was plushly padded.
Comfort front seats with renowned Volvo ergonomics were easily adjustable for perfect fit. A backrest massage feature with five programs, three speeds, and three intensities (Luxury Package) made a long road trip especially comfortable and reduced fatigue.
The package also included rear outboard seat heating and ventilation, leather-wrapped sunvisors and grab handles, and a Nubuck headliner and pillars in Ivory
When the Luxury Package is chosen, foldable rear seats and headrests are omitted. Plush rear seats were wide, with enough room to seat three comfortably without feeling squeezed, and a “boss button” on the passenger’s front seat allowed the right rear passenger to move the front seat forward for even more room.
A Heated Steering Wheel Package for $300 wasn’t needed in the sweltering summer heat, but the Uni-Deco trim (a satin silk metal rim) around the hand-stitched leather-wrapped steering wheel was lovely to look at and pleasant to grip. Distinctive zig-zag stitching added to the finely crafted feel.
The beautiful Orrefors crystal gear lever, made in Sweden of high-quality crystal, by skilled craftsmen exclusively for Volvo, was decidedly elegant, but operation was not intuitive. It took a few minutes and jerky movements to adapt to the unfamiliar method.
The textured silver “start engine” knob rotated to the right to start and stop, which also required trial and error to comprehend. A roller button for Drive Mode, textured silver and located behind the start knob, also required a few minutes of familiarization. Perhaps some study of the owner’s manual would have been helpful.
Volvo Sensus Connect brought the massive nine-inch touch screen with navigation (with free map updates and real-time traffic information), Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and a 12.3-inch digital instrument display. Volvo On Call included a mobile app with remote start, Nav Send to Car, and emergency roadside assistance via a trained operator using GPS location.
Road Sign Information displayed speed limits and other information signs on a Graphical Head Up Display ($900) and the Driver Information screen. The HUD also presented navigation information, current speed, adaptive cruise information, and more.
A Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound system ($3,200) provided excellent clarity and realism throughout the cabin, with a 12-channel amp, 1400-watt output, and 19 separate high-end speakers. The stainless-steel perforated speaker panels allowed the yellow Kevlar speaker cones to peek through.
The Side Impact Protection System consists of reinforced lower sills, B-pillars and energy absorbing honeycomb materials inside the doors. Driver and front passenger seats are mounted on transverse steel rails designed to crush a reinforced center console to absorb energy. Side-impact air bags are fitted to the outer edge of the front seats and move with the occupant, no matter the position of the seat. Side-curtain air bags help protect front and rear occupants.
My Volvo S90 was very attractive, luxuriously comfortable throughout, loaded with advanced technology (I found the touch screen a little overloaded), and economical – I averaged 28.2 mpg with combined highway and neighborhood driving.
With options totaling $17,495 and $995 destination charges, the delivered price for my Volvo S90 Inscription hybrid was $82,140.
The automotive columns of Emma Jayne Williams have appeared regularly in the Star-Telegram since 2007. Contact her at email@example.com.