The S90 offers something a bit different from the competition, with its emphasis on comfort, refinement and smoothness – not to mention its elegant good looks. It ticks all the boxes for an executive saloon, providing lots of equipment, stellar safety kit, generous cabin space and plentiful power.
The S90 is a bit cheaper to buy than its direct rivals. You save a useful amount compared with the equivalent Audi A6, and the gap is bigger still when compared with the BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Resale values are also on a par with those competitors, so you shouldn’t lose out when the time comes to sell the car on, either.
Official figures say you’ll average around 50mpg with the most efficient diesel engine, a figure that drops to around 40mpg with the higher-powered four-wheel drive version. The petrol T4 and T5 petrol models are rather thirsty (although no more so than equivalent Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz models), returning less than 40mpg in real-world driving.
The T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid versions are very expensive, but have CO2 emissions of just 40 g/km and an official average fuel consumption figure of 100+mpg. Whether you achieve this depends on how and where you drive, but some drivers may be able to commute using electric power alone.
Expert rating: 3/5
Reliability of a Volvo S90
Volvo’s cars have a reputation for being solid and dependable that isn’t really borne out in reliability or customer satisfaction surveys. As a brand, Volvo often finishes above rivals such as Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, but we’re generally talking about mid-table results. Auto Trader owner reviews of the S90 are very positive, however, which bodes well. Warranty cover – at three years or 60,000 miles – is on a par with the S90’s key rivals.
Expert rating: 4/5
Safety for a Volvo S90
The S90 is one of the safest saloon cars around. As well as all the airbags and crash protection you’d expect of a Volvo, it has a range of extremely advanced safety features that help prevent you having a collision in the first place.
As standard, it comes with an automatic braking system that can help to avoid – or mitigate – collisions with other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and large animals. There’s also technology that uses the car’s steering and brakes to help prevent you veering off the road unintentionally, as well as front seats that are specially designed to reduce spinal injuries if your car leaves the road and lands heavily.
On top of that is a system that automatically steers the car back into your lane should you drift out of it, an automatic braking function that steps in if it detects that a collision with an oncoming car is imminent, and advanced cruise control that steers the car to keep you centred in your lane on the motorway.
An optional safety pack includes a blind spot information system that can help steer you away from oncoming traffic and a rear collision mitigation system that activates the hazard warning lights and pre-tightens the seat belts if it detects an imminent collision.
Expert rating: 5/5
How comfortable is the Volvo S90
The interior of the S90 is modern and luxurious, with a dashboard dominated by a portrait-format touch-screen that, in combination with steering wheel-mounted controls, takes care of pretty much all the car’s infotainment systems. It’s really easy to use, with smartphone-style operation and simple menus.
A fundamentally good driving position is enhanced by a wide range of adjustment for the seat and steering wheel. The seats themselves are classic Volvo – cushy, ideally shaped and very supportive over long journeys. Boot space is competitive rather than class-leading, but what the S90 lacks in capacity, it makes up for with everyday usability. The opening into the boot is nice and wide, the lip isn’t too high, and the tailgate is electrically operated on all models.
Volvo’s emphasis on comfort and everyday ease-of-use is also evident in how the car drives. The S90 whisks everyone on board from A to B – no matter how far apart those two points may be – in complete comfort and with the minimum of fuss. The ride is smooth and there's very little noise at speed; R-Design models are a bit sportier, yet still very comfortable.
Expert rating: 4/5
Features of the Volvo S90
Even the cheapest S90 comes with a huge array of standard equipment. As well as an automatic gearbox, you get LED headlights with an active high-beam function, 18-inch alloy wheels, two-zone climate control, satellite-navigation, a built-in internet connection, front and rear parking sensors and a rear-view camera, leather upholstery and electric driver’s seat adjustment.
The higher trim levels are truly opulent and allow you to give the car a sportier or more luxurious twist, but Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration is a cost option across the range.
Expert rating: 4/5
Power for a Volvo S90
You can choose from petrol, diesel and hybrid S90 models, with every version providing the kind of strong performance you expect of an executive saloon.
Even the lower-powered (D4) diesel engine gives you a 0-60mph time of less than eight seconds. The higher-powered (D5) diesel and the two turbocharged petrol options – the T4 and T5 – give quicker performance still.
On top of the four conventionally powered S90s, there’s also a T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid version that combines a petrol engine with an electric motor to give a combined output of 390 horsepower. You can roll around on electric power alone for around 30 miles or so, and the acceleration you feel is reasonably sprightly and more-or-less silent. When the battery runs low, or more performance is needed, the petrol engine combines with it to give near-sportscar levels of acceleration, as a 0-60mph time of less than five seconds illustrates.
An automatic gearbox is standard for all models; the D5 diesel and Twin Engine models also have four-wheel drive.