2021 Volvo S90 T8 Recharge review: Comfy plug-in hybrid serenity

This is a long and elegant sedan.

Emme Hall / Roadshow

While Volvo’s fully electric models are those who make news, the company still offers a range of plug-in hybrids that all carry the Recharge name. The XC60 and XC90 crossovers are the most notable Recharge PHEV models, but Volvo also offers this powertrain in its elegant and comfortable sedan, the S90.

Like it

  • Good looking stately
  • Super comfortable seats
  • Many standard security features

I do not like

  • Small trunk
  • Sensus infotainment can be frustrating

Volvo’s four-door S90 has received an update for 2021, but the changes are quite minor, mostly consisting of small cuts and creases to the front and rear panels. The 2021 S90 is available in Momentum, R-Design and Inscription finishes, but only the latter two are available with the T8 Recharge plug-in hybrid configuration.

T8 is in Swedish for a 2.0-liter I4 engine that is both turbocharged and supercharged that powers the front wheels, and an 11.6 kilowatt-hour battery and electric motor on the rear axle. All in all, this system pushes out a healthy 400 horsepower and 472 foot-pounds of torque. The power that goes to the front and rear wheels means the S90 T8 also has all-wheel drive.

Charging the 11.6 kWh battery takes 2.5 hours with a level 2 wall charger or approximately 5.5 hours via a standard household outlet. When fully charged, the S90 says I have an indicated range of 25 miles of all-electric range, which is enough for me to walk around my little desert town for a couple of days, run errands, and hit the gym, all while I have the air conditioner at full blast to fight the heat of 100 degrees.

The S90 has Comfort and Dynamic ride modes, plus an individual setting that you can customize, but make no mistake, this sedan is made for smooth cruising, not canyon carving. The car is fast, with a smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission, and the ride is comfortable, especially with my tester’s optional air suspension. The S90 also has a great steering feel, with solid feedback in the center. This is a great travel machine. My only complaint is that shifting is one of those double-tap nightmares, where instead of pushing all the way from drive to reverse, you have to tap twice to get reverse. Sometimes I think I’m the other way around, but I’m actually in neutral. It’s frustrating.

The big wheels really complete the design of the S90.

Emme Hall / Roadshow

Still, the S90’s real-world fuel economy makes up for any quibbles. By running the engine on gas, I’m able to see 31.3mpg, which beats the EPA’s estimate of 30mpg. You will obviously be much more efficient if you connect as much as possible.

The S90 has many driver assistance standards, such as blind spot monitoring, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, traffic sign information, and adaptive cruise control. Everything works as expected, although I have some surprises with adaptive cruise control during my week. It can bring me to a full stop, but the system shuts down pretty quickly. Other manufacturers build in a three to five second pause before the ACC disengages, but I have to touch the gas to get me moving again. The S90 also has Volvo’s Pilot Assist, which combines adaptive cruise control and lane keeping assistance, but this is a practical system and should be treated as such.

Volvo’s Sensus infotainment is fine, but it’s definitely not my favorite system in the luxury space. It looks great and the 9-inch screen is large enough, but it can be difficult to navigate the system while driving and everything but audio volume and song selection is tied to the touchscreen. Sometimes I just want to turn up the temperature a bit and I wouldn’t have to scroll through the screens to find the climate controls.

Volvo’s interior is always top notch.

Emme Hall / Roadshow

Apple CarPlay And Android Auto they’re both standard, thankfully, but the real benefit of Volvo technology is the Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system. Yes, it costs $ 3,200, but it’s probably the best stereo I’ve ever heard, save perhaps for a Naim setup in a Bentley. I can digitally tweak the quality so that it sounds like I’m sitting in the Gothenburg concert hall, on a single stage or even in a studio. This is a stereo upgrade that is absolutely worth the price.

Keep your devices charged, the S90 has two USB-A ports and a 12-volt socket in the center console. The rear seat also has two USB-C ports and the mandatory 12 volt.

The interior of the S90 is well appointed with extremely comfortable front seats. The outer rear seats are similarly flexible, but the middle child will likely complain. My tester has heated and cooled front seats as standard, but the $ 750 Climate Package adds heated rear seats while the $ 1,300 Lounge Package adds rear seat cooling and front seat massage. I’m a fan of a good seat massage in the car and this feature, along with some heat and traffic jams, is no problem. I could stay here for days.

There aren’t as many plug-ins like the S90.

Emme Hall / Roadshow

For a large sedan, however, the storage space is small. The 13.5 cubic foot trunk is one of the smallest in the class, and the center console is so shallow that I laughed out loud when I first opened it. There’s a small closet to the left of the steering wheel and mid-sized door pockets, but you’ll likely find yourself using cup holders for more than just your soda.

2021 Volvo S90 T8 charging starts at $ 61,095 including $ 1,045 for the destination. The Inscription and R-Design models are priced the same, and I’d probably do it for the latter. The R-Design has less chrome and generally looks cooler, although it doesn’t have as many standard features and you can’t get the aforementioned Lounge package. The S90 can be purchased with a $ 1,295 Polestar Performance package, which Volvo says improves throttle response and engine performance.

The Volvo S90 goes up against some pretty heavy hitters like the BMW 5 Series, Genesis G90, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class, but only the Bimmer is offered as a plug-in hybrid. If the powertrain isn’t a must for you, you’ll find oodles of tech in the E-Class and plenty of value, as well as looking good with the Genesis, but still, it’s hard to argue against this rock-solid Swedish.

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