Test Driver: 2018 Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription
Just a few years ago, Volvo's future seemed anything but certain. After being bought by a Chinese holding company during the Great Recession, the manufacturer was slow to bring out new models as the economy recovered. The biggest news was the introduction of a sophisticated supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four cylinder engine, but it was not immediately available in many models.
But now Volvo is not only back but completely reimagined. Originally known for staid, reliable and safe cars and stationwagons, it is now a full fledged luxury manufacturer pushing the envelope on advanced automotive technologies. It's newest models are not only plush but large, and — in the case of the S90 sedan — getting bigger. For 2018, the long wheelbase version is the only one available.
That's reportedly because the S90 is now built and also sold in China, a country whose consumers not only value luxury appointments but large back seats, too. And the new version does not disappoint. Most American buyers will probably think of it as something of a limousine, like the Cadillac Fleetwoods of old.
But unlike those land yachts, our test S90 — a fully loaded version with optional all-wheel-drive — was fun to drive. The aforementioned engine (dubbed T6 for unknown reasons) cranks out 315 horsepower and 295 foot pounds of torque. Much of it is immediately available because of the always-on supercharger, aided by the exhaust-fed turbocharged that delivers more boost as the engine speeds up. It was even faster in Dynamic mode.
It also held the road remarkably well for such a large car. Reviewers consistently refer to the S90 as a midsize sedan, but with a 120.5-inch wheelbase (4.7 inches longer than last year), it seems more like a full-size to us.
The S90 comes in two trim levels, Momentum and Inscription. Ours was the latter, and included every conceivable comfort, entertainment, information and safety feature. Most were controlled through a whopping 12-inch swipe and touch screen that functioned like an iPod. If you didn't grow up with such a device, a little practice is required to figure out how to use it. But it becomes easier over time.
The exterior styling of the S90 is restrained, with only the retro grill signaling that it is a Volvo. The interior is very refined, with tasteful wood and steel trim accenting the fine leather found everywhere else. If there is still such a thing as a Scandinavian style of car design, this is it.
But this is not your father's (or grnadfather's) Volvo. It is a thoroughly modern luxurty sedan for a large modern family, or someone who carries up to four other adults on a regular basis and wants to impress them. Just be sure to set some time aside to learn the display screen.
2018 Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription
Base price: $49,095
Price as tested: $69,140
Style: Mid-size luxury sedan
Engine: Supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter inline 4 (315 hp, 295 lbs-ft).
Transmission: 8-speed Geartronic automatic with three drive modes
EPA fuel economy: 22/31
Length: 200.1 inches
Weight: 4,047 pounds
Final assembly point: Daqing, China