What's the used Volvo S90 saloon like?
Large luxury saloons have quite a tough remit. They have to satisfy the needs of the demanding businessman, eager to make smooth, reliable and economical progress while still making a suitable impression, and often they have to double up as upmarket family transport, large and practical enough to seat five and despatch a continental holiday with ease.
Traditionally, the Germans have held sway here, with the occasional Jaguar to shake the established order. But Volvo has always offered an alternative in this class, too, with this latest S90 proving itself more than a match for its rivals.
Engine choices from launch to 2020 were a pair of 2.0-litre diesels, a 2.0-litre petrol and a powerful petrol-electric plug-in hybrid. From new, a good range of trims was available, but even entry-level models got plenty of toys as standard. Both new and used, the S90 is priced right up against those premium models from the German brands, including the very capable Audi A6 and BMW 5 Series, plus the British Jaguar XF.
Entry-level Momentum trim kicks off the range. This gets you LED headlights, heated leather seats, sat-nav, Bluetooth and a DAB radio. On top of that, there’s a powered bootlid, keyless start and rear parking sensors. Stepping up to Inscription brings extra interior lighting, Nappa leather seats and a larger 12.3in digital instrument cluster, as well as bigger alloys and electric front seats. R-Design brings a different suspension set-up that makes the ride harsher.
On the road, the S90’s D5 diesel engine used a clever compressed air system to help the turbocharger kick in more promptly, with the result that it accelerates extremely well. The lower-powered D4 isn’t as quick, but it has enough shove to move the S90 around and is more economical. Both engines can be a little gruff when cold, and the eight-speed automatic gearbox is a little too hesitant.
The T8 is a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid. It’s extremely quick to accelerate and shuffles between its two power sources easily. It might not be able to match its average claimed fuel economy figures, but it’s a viable alternative if you’re unsure about committing to a diesel.
Add to that its comfort on all manner of roads and its motorway refinement and the case for considering the S90 becomes very strong, even if ultimately it can’t quite match its sporty rivals when it comes to handling finesse. Countered against that is Volvo’s reputation for safety, which continues in this car with a whole host of innovative, high-tech kit.
It’s large and good-looking outside and very spacious inside, for one, with a welcoming, stylish and luxurious interior. The driver of a S90 is treated to a brilliant driving position, no matter what their size or shape. Volvo’s seats are famous for their supportiveness and the S90’s are no different, while standard electric lumbar adjustment and seat-height adjustment make getting comfortable no problem. The S90’s steering wheel has a generous amount of adjustment, too.
The tall dashboard is dominated by the infotainment system, which reduces the requirement for physical switchgear elsewhere. It's the same one you'll find in the V90 and XC90, featuring a 9.0in tablet-style touchscreen through which you control many of the car's functions. This is responsive when you press it, but the large number of functions and small on-screen icons make it fiddly to use on the move. What’s left in terms of buttons and switches is neatly arranged and pleasant to use, despite the odd niggle.
Interior space is one of the S90’s strengths; it’s one of the biggest cars in its class. In the front, even the tallest folk should find plenty of head and leg room, while someone equally tall sitting behind them should still have space to spare. The S90's 500-litre boot doesn’t quite match that of the BMW 5 Series’ and falls further short of the Audi A6’s. However, there’s still enough space for a couple of large suitcases and it’s practical.
From 2020, Volvo has dropped diesel and petrol-only engines from the S90 range, and it's now available exclusively with a 2.0-litre petrol-electric plug-in hybrid system. It also dropped some of the trims, rationalising them down to just two: R-Design and Incription.
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