More than a few looks were thrown my way this past week while I was driving around town, feeling ever so eye-catching, in the refined 2018 Volvo S90 T6 Inscription.
I chalk it up to this: Many people still can’t quite figure out this completely unbox-like sedan I’m reviewing is in fact, a Volvo. Then they aren’t sure what to think when they see a blonde-haired 40-something at the wheel instead of a coiffed-haired lady on her way to a garden club meeting.
Something I further validate when I leave them behind in the 2018 Volvo S90’s capable, well-heeled dust.
Supercharged, Turbocharged And Ready to Roll
Yes, I’m here to tell you, you can use Volvo and “in the dust” in the same sentence. That’s thanks to the Volvo S90’s supercharged and turbocharged 4-cylinder T6 engine, which gives this all-wheel sedan some edge. Sure, a four-cylinder may make some people scoff, but with 316-horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, I quite liked the robust power and acceleration it provided a four-door that’s not exactly light (it weighs in at over 4,100 pounds.)
In terms of the ride, smooth isn’t the first word that came to mind when I sat behind the wheel. While it can be, depending on how you drive it, the S90 was more fun to drive than that. Mated to an 8-speed transmission, and equipped with optional rear air suspension, I’d describe the handling as sportier, responsive and better than you expect for a sedan of this size. In other words, it’s not a cruiser that will put you to sleep like say the Lexus ES 350.
New Face of Volvo
That the Volvo S90 could deliver such a satisfying ride that you’d never call boring raised even my own eyebrows, given its graceful and elegant exterior riding on 19-inch silver diamond cut wheels. (When it comes to elegance, even the windshield wipers play their part. Instead of spraying unsightly streams of fluid the traditional way, it comes out of the wiper arms themselves.) Indeed, Volvo’s new look is as un-boxy as it gets. Volvo’s dramatic “Thor Hammer” LED headlights more than steal the show in the front.
Excellently Crafted Interior
While the Volvo S90 is a great looking sedan, the interior is where it shines most. The layering of colors, textures, and design exude excellent craftsmanship. Linear walnut wood inlays and rich Nappa leather surfaces create a gorgeous space within the confines of four doors. Off-white leather heated and cooled seats are well contoured to confine you without complaint.
This is also a sedan clearly meant to carry back seat passengers. It’s spacious and truly a 5-seater with four-zone climate control. Rear window sunshades are a great feature.
The main attraction in the front is a 9-inch touchscreen that serves as command central through Volvo’s slick-looking, but somewhat distracting, Sensus interface. The simple home screen features great, colorful graphics. (It also displays high-quality rearview camera video along with an available 360-degree bird’s eye view.) But then things start to get complicated. Swipe to the secondary pages and there’s a lot going on. (Also, while swiping, make sure you don’t accidentally hit the button that folds down the backseat headrests if the seats are occupied. They fold down with a resounding thud.)
Everything on the center console is a breeze to operate including the gear shifter, engine start knob and drive mode selector. Above the steering wheel, the modern tachometer graphics get my thumbs up as do the leather steering wheel-mounted controls.
Bowers & Wilkins Sound System
If there is an upgrade I couldn’t live without, it would be the incredible $3,200 Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system. It comes with a 12-channel amplifier and 19 speakers, most of which are stainless steel. One on top of the dash minimizes the acoustic reflection from the windshield. Studio, Individual Stage and “Gothenburg Concert Hall” modes are engineered to deliver specific acoustics the cabin.
Tester Options and Packages
Along with the B&W system, test vehicle options include a $900 Head-Up display with great graphics that include speed limit signs along with a $300 heated steering wheel and the aforementioned $1,200 air suspension.
A $2,550 Convenience Package added a 360-degree camera, rearview mirror compass, heated washer nozzles, Park Assist Pilot and Front Park Assist, as well as a power-operated trunk lid and a 12-volt outlet in the luggage compartment.
Superb Safety Technology
As you’d expect, standard state-of-the-art driver-assist and safety features are a huge selling point of the Volvo S90. You get Pilot Assist, a semi-autonomous drive system with adaptive cruise control. It also comes with Volvo’s City Safety collision-avoidance system. Other standard features include Blind Spot Monitoring with Rear-Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Departure, and Run-off-Road Mitigation. This car isn’t shy about audible warnings either. It sounds various chimes to alert you to different dangers or objects in your way.
Fuel Economy and What You’ll Pay
Fuel economy is 25 combined. Also be aware it recommends premium fuel, thanks to the supercharged and turbocharged engine. The price tag for my tester is $69,140. Jerry reviewed a slightly lower MSRP 2017 model last year.