2020 Volvo V90 review: Good looks will get you far

Whoever said not to judge a book by its cover clearly hadn’t laid eyes on the Volvo V90.

Jonathan Harper

It’s been four years since Volvo first introduced the V90 wagon, but damn if seeing one in my driveway doesn’t make me a little weak in the knees. Maybe it’s the Bursting Blue paint. Maybe it’s the style changes of R-Design. All I know is that whoever said not to judge a book by its cover clearly hadn’t laid eyes on the Volvo V90.

Like it

  • Gorgeous exterior design
  • Comfortable and well furnished interior
  • Huge list of standard driver assistance technologies

I do not like

  • Sensus technology is sometimes faulty
  • 20-inch wheels negatively affect ride quality
  • Extra effort required to purchase one

The R-Design features a slightly different lower front fascia and these 20-inch 5-spoke wheels, but even the standard V90 looks really nice. The low, wide stance and sooooo long profile are all great, as is the shortened front overhang, plus the LED lighting elements and generous dash-to-axle ratio. It’s a design that is both striking and modern, but is sure to age well. I wouldn’t change anything.

That long roof shape also lends itself to utility. Fold the rear seats and the V90 offers 53.9 cubic feet of cargo space, which is about the same as a compact SUV. Sure, while passenger space is just as generous, that low overall height means headroom can be an issue for taller passengers, especially in the rear. At least the R-Design comes standard with a panoramic sunroof, to make the cabin as open and airy as possible, which is particularly welcome given my tester’s all-black upholstery scheme.

Every single part of the interior of the V90 is as beautiful to look at as it is to touch.

Jonathan Harper

Up front, the driver and passenger are treated to super comfortable and supportive chairs. Every single part of the V90’s interior is as beautiful to look at as it is to touch, with soft leather wrapping around the dashboard and steering wheel and high-quality plastics on the door panels and center console. I could do without the abundance of piano black finishes around the shifter and cup holders, as it gets very dusty very easily, but that’s a minor gripe on an otherwise lovely cabin. The carbon fiber trim also looks great.

Volvo’s Sensus software handles the infotainment tasks, arranged on a 9-inch screen in portrait orientation. I have had a love / hate relationship with Sensus over the years and my experience continues to be hit and miss. Despite the added processing power, the V90’s system is often slow to respond to commands at startup, but once started, these problems disappear. I like them both Apple CarPlay is Android Auto they are not only standard, but can be relegated to the lower pane of the home screen so as not to occupy the entire interface.

What I don’t like, however, is that some of the hot spots for accessing pages like the settings menu are a bit small and easy to get confused while driving. Swiping left or right reveals different menus for different things, but while the learning curve is a bit steep, once you get to know Sensus, it offers a wealth of features.

A group of digital gauges is standard, and while I appreciate the minimalist approach to what information is given to the driver, the screen isn’t as feature-rich as you’ll find in Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz products. That said, where Volvo really raises the stakes over the German competition is its standard level of active driver assistance technology. Automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, driver warning monitoring, blind spot monitoring, cross traffic warning, adaptive cruise control, traffic sign information and Volvo’s Pilot Assist technology, which adds steering assistance for driving on the motorway, they are all standard on the V90.

Volvo offers its T5 and T6 engines here, which you will find in virtually all of the company’s other models. The T5 consists of a 2.0-liter I4 turbo with 250 horsepower and 258 foot-pounds of torque, while the T6 – which is what I have here – adds a supercharger to the mix, resulting in 316 hp and 295 lb-ft. . Interestingly, the less powerful T5 delivers its full thrust of torque at just 1,500rpm, while the T6 takes another 700rpm to increase thrust – and honestly, given the V90’s relatively relaxed demeanor, unless you don’t want to brag, the T5 seems like the way to go.

The eight-speed automatic transmission is inaudible in its action, and the T6 models come standard with all-wheel drive for added traction in bad weather.

Jonathan Harper

That’s not to say the T6 isn’t a great engine. It delivers a lot of power, and despite having a turbocharger and supercharger working under the hood, overall operation is smooth. The eight-speed automatic transmission is inaudible in its action, and the T6 models come standard with all-wheel drive for added traction in bad weather. If you stick with the T5, you’re stuck in front-wheel drive, but that’s not necessarily a problem that a good set of winter tires can’t solve. Also, if it’s a sturdy and take-anywhere skill, could I recommend the V90 Cross Country?

Even with the extra power and additional drive wheels, the T6 setup isn’t much less efficient than the T5. The EPA says a front-wheel drive V90 T5 should return 22 miles per gallon in the city, 33mpg on the highway and 26mpg combined, while the T6 AWD lowers those numbers to 21, 31, and 25, respectively. , I recorded 24 mpg.

On the road, the V90 doesn’t force you to drive it hard. The steering has a nice weight, but feels a little numb. The V90 doesn’t hate being thrown into a corner and the chassis does a good job of mitigating roll on winding roads. Unfortunately, this R-Design tester’s 20-inch wheels and low-profile tires make racing often fragile on Los Angeles freeways.

2020 Volvo V90

The R-Design kit might look sporty, but the V90 is something of an easy-to-make cruiser that will happily play for hundreds of miles at a time.

Jonathan Harper

However, I really enjoy driving the V90. It’s easy. There’s great visibility from the front, and an individual drive mode lets you customize things like the throttle, steering, and even the brakes to your liking. Personally, I prefer to leave everything in Comfort, as that’s where the V90 really shines. The R-Design kit might look sporty, but the V90 is something of an easy-to-make cruiser that will happily play for hundreds of miles at a time.

But here’s the thing: you really have to want a V90 to get one. This wagon remains an order-only deal, meaning dealers don’t readily have them in stock, instead focusing their efforts on the higher-driving V90 Cross Country. At $ 53,090 to start, including $ 995 for the destination, the V90 T5 FWD represents a $ 3,090 deal compared to the cheaper Cross Country, which can only be purchased in the T6 AWD version. And if you’re really excited about a Volvo wagon, there’s also the $ 40,645 V60, which is slightly smaller but uses the same engines. Don’t forget the $ 46,095 V60 Cross Country either. Decisions decisions.

The 2020 Volvo V90 is comfortable, functional and quite pleasant to drive, and there’s a lot to be said for the inherent exclusivity (read: interesting factor) of a made-to-order car. Those who make the extra effort to look for one will surely not be disappointed. The design alone makes it a standout.

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