Volvo wagons are making a comeback, and the new V90 is plushest and most stylish of them all. It performs and coddles like a proper luxury sedan, and yet can haul a load when duty calls. If the V90 is any indication, upscale wagons still have a place in America's driveways.
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2018 Volvo V90 Overview
What's New for 2018
The Volvo V90 is a new model based on the S90 sedan, which debuted last year.
Choosing Your Volvo V90
Although it's officially classified as midsize, the V90 ranks as one of the largest wagons on the market. Passenger comfort takes priority over cargo capacity, as evidenced by the expansive rear seat. Three adults can stretch out with 19.8 cubic feet remaining in back for luggage and such. Folding the rear seat yields 54 cubic feet of load space, about the same as a compact crossover.
Front-drive models, dubbed T5, carry a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that produces 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. T6 models get all-wheel drive and a more powerful 2.0-liter that's both turbocharged and supercharged (or "twincharged," if you prefer). Output jumps to 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. Both engines use an eight-speed automatic transmission. The V90 is rated to tow up to 3,700 pounds.
The T5 and T6 come in sporty R-Design and plush Inscription trims:
All V90 models are available with a 19-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system ($3,200), heated rear seats ($425), and a head-up display ($900). T6 models can also get an adaptive air suspension for $1,200.
Choosing between the R-Design and Inscription is simply a matter of personal taste — do you lean toward sport or luxury? Whether to spring for the T6 setup is little more complicated. Even if you don't necessarily need all-wheel drive, the more powerful engine is reason enough to upgrade if you intend to fill up your wagon on a regular basis.
2018 Volvo V90 Review
Wagons were supposed to be retired, but, happily, Volvo never got the message. The 2018 Volvo V90 makes you forget everything you hated about this body style in the past. The V90 delivers beautiful looks, an elegant interior, and a quiet, comfortable ride. We just wish that it was easier to find on dealer lots.
Volvo offers the V90 in standard and Cross Country lines. The all-wheel-drive Cross Country offers slightly more ground clearance, although it isn’t designed for rigorous off-road duty. Take either model down a well-worn path, preferably one covered in gravel, and you won’t worry about becoming stuck.
Volvo offers the 2018 V90 in R-Design and Inscription trims, and we'd choose the R-Design. Volvo makes this one available in T5 and T6 models. We chose the T6, as it's an all-wheel-drive model with a turbocharged and supercharged engine. This combination supplies superior performance and handling, especially when flooring the gas pedal or pulling out of corners. If you live in a snowy climate, all-wheel drive should be your choice.
- Model: 2018 Volvo V90 R-Design T6
- Engine: 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged inline-four
- Output: 316 hp / 295 lb-ft
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
- Drivetrain: All-wheel drive
- Fuel Economy: 22 City / 31 Hwy
- Options: Convenience Package ($1,950, surround-view camera, heated washer nozzles, parking assist, Homelink, compass, grocery bag holder)
- Base Price: $56,945 (including a $995 destination charge)
- Best Value Price: $58,895
Volvo offers only one engine choice: a 2.0-liter inline-four. It's what Volvo does with this engine that's so interesting. Base models are turbocharged and some models, including our recommended model, have both a supercharger and a turbocharger. Volvo is the only production brand offering this unusual boosting combination. Some Volvos, but not the V90 (at least not yet), add a plug-in hybrid system for maximum boost and efficiency.
The all-wheel-drive V90 utilizes both boosting methods to deliver 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. These numbers are better than what most V6 engines provide and easily beat some V8 models from a few years ago. Volvo pairs this engine with a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission.
The boosting combination means that you have full power from the onset and continue to enjoy robust performance as you move forward. As the supercharger eases, the turbo kicks in, ensuring that you’re never lacking in power. The engine is noisy at times and, thankfully, Volvo doesn't fool you into thinking that there's a V8 under the hood with a fake exhaust soundtrack.
The V90 acquits itself well on the road, pulling out of corners with ease and staying centered in its lane. The available air suspension system loads evenly and aids in supplying a well-controlled ride.
You don’t have to go back too far to find station wagons that were downright ugly. Here’s looking at you 1992 Chevrolet Caprice Station Wagon. In more recent years, the Dodge Magnum showed us that wagons can be hot. These days, you’ll find even more competitors as the Buick Regal TourX and the Jaguar XF Sportbrake vie for customers along with models from Audi, Volkswagen, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz.
As for the Volvo V90, it offers all the styling charm and handsomeness of the similar S90 sedan and XC90 crossover. Both models combine traditional and contemporary Volvo design features to deliver some of the most beautiful designs of our day. The V90 carries this look out carefully and it executes well. The only downfall with the exterior that we found is the tapering sides and angled cut of the hatch, which combines to limit the height of the cargo area.
Moving inside, we found the cabin spacious. The only challenge for tall passengers entering the back seat is making sure their heads are low enough before sliding in. You’ll find a reasonable amount of storage spaces, including underfloor storage in the rear compartment. The cabin is definitely a cut above, but it isn’t lost on us that Volvo still lacks luxury cachet.
The Best and Worst Things
Volvo is tops in all things safety and can claim the same with its many active safety features. These include adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring, and automatic emergency braking. If there's anything we don’t like about the V90, it's its lack of availability. Finding one, especially the V90 Cross Country, can be a challenge. Likely, you’ll have to order yours.
Right For? Wrong For?
The Volvo V90 is for anyone who wants an upscale model and isn't put off by a wagon. For everyone else, the XC90 SUV will do, especially if you need taller cargo compartment clearance.
The Bottom Line
The 2018 Volvo V90 offers a handsome silhouette in an uncommon body style. Prices can move up quickly, but a well-equipped model can cost you less than $60,000. That’s within the range of models from Audi and Mercedes-Benz, but more than what Buick charges for the TourX.