The Volvo S90 is an elegant, uniquely Scandanavian luxury sedan that offers a distinctive personality in a field of German competitors. Rather than sporty handling and big power, it trades on comfort and serenity thanks to its plush interior and comfortable ride. We also find its minimalist design to be particularly attractive inside and out. While we don’t have full U.S. details on the updated 2021 model, we think the two engine choices will continue from before: a T6 model with a turbocharged and supercharged inline-four, and a T8 plug-in-hybrid that adds an electric motor for more power and a bit of all-electric driving range. Plenty of driver-assistance features are on hand to back up Volvo’s reputation for safety.
What's New for 2021?
The S90’s styling is ever so slightly updated for 2021. You’ll be hard-pressed to spot the new front bumper, revised fog lights, updated wheel designs, and reshaped rear spoiler, but they serve to modernize the car’s look a bit. There are also new features including an upgraded Bowers & Wilkins sound system, wireless smartphone charging, and USB-C charging ports in the rear.
Pricing and Which One to Buy
- T6 AWD: $53,000 (Est.)
- T8 eAWD: $66,000 (Est.)
Volvo has not yet released trim-level information for the 2021 S90, but we’d guess that the Momentum, R-Design, and Inscription trim levels will continue. We’d choose the Momentum for its value equation, as it’s nicely equipped for the money.
Engine, Transmission, and Performance
The base powertrain is a turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder and is called T6. Our T6 Inscription test vehicle ran from zero to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds—but it's not the hottest S90. The 400-hp plug-in hybrid T8 version debuted last year and it blasted down our test track, matching results of the six-cylinder BMW 540i xDrive (4.5 seconds) in our zero-to-60-mph testing, but out on the road we noticed some occasional hiccups when driving the hybrid powertrain. Give the S90's gas pedal a sharp input and there's a momentary delay, followed by an abrupt moment of acceleration as the gasoline engine kicks in to assist the electric motors. Handling is surefooted, but the trade-off is a ride that hardly feels like terry cloth. Rough stretches of road transmit more vibrations into the cabin than in more softly sprung competitors. The steering has a weighty feel, but it isn't as direct or as precise as it should be, which erodes the S90's perceived athleticism.
Fuel Economy and Real-World MPG
Out on our real-world highway fuel-economy test route, the T8 hybrid delivered 32 mpg, outperforming the T6 Inscription model we tested by only 1 mpg. It should be noted that we were unable to utilize the S90's 21-mile electric-only range during this highway drive as the system engages the gasoline engine automatically at highway speeds.
Interior, Comfort, and Cargo
The S90's cabin is by far its most impressive feature. A mixture of high-end materials—open-pore wood, genuine leather, brushed metal, and finely grained plastics—come together in a cohesive and undeniably modern space. The 14-way power-adjustable front seats in our Inscription test vehicle were all-day comfortable and should fit all body shapes. The S90 lacks features we've come to expect in this segment, though. A manual steering column makes a surprising—and disappointing—appearance, as nearly all of the Volvo's rivals offer power adjustments. The S90 sedan will meet the needs of most drivers, and models with the folding rear seatback offer a cavernous cargo area. Have even more gear to cart around? Check out the V90, the S90's wagon-bodied sibling.
Infotainment and Connectivity
The S90 is as connected as any of its rivals, and it relies heavily on its infotainment touchscreen to control many of its functions. All S90s feature a 9.0-inch infotainment touchscreen mounted in the center of the dashboard. To adjust simple functions such as the heated seats or the optional head-up display, the user must interact with the system. This is becoming par for the luxury-brand course, and some systems are more user-friendly than others. The S90's system is easy enough to use, but the driver will have a learning curve before feeling comfortable enough to make changes on the go. The S90 offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity as standard, allowing users to easily interact with their smartphones.
Safety and Driver-Assistance Features
An incomplete set of crash-test data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety makes it hard to judge the S90's safety. But its long list of driver-assistance features is impressive, and Volvo offers most of it as standard equipment. Key safety features include:
- Standard automated emergency braking with forward-collision warning
- Standard lane-keeping assist
- Standard adaptive cruise control
Warranty and Maintenance Coverage
Volvo offers a class-standard four-year warranty and includes all scheduled maintenance for the first three years. Genesis offers longer warranty coverage for owners of its G90 sedan, but it's the outlier in the segment.
- Limited warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Powertrain warranty covers 4 years or 50,000 miles
- Complimentary scheduled maintenance is covered for 3 years or 36,000 miles