2018 Volvo S90

2018 Volvo S90 Hybrid Review

Flagship luxury sedan spaciousness and luxury for the price of a midsize.
4 star edmunds overall rating
author
by Mark Takahashi
Edmunds Editor

Scandinavian design is known for its simplicity and functionality, and as the sole Swedish carmaker selling road-legal cars in the U.S., Volvo puts this aesthetic front and center with the 2018 S90 sedan. From the outside, there's a stately heft that used to be the domain of German car companies. This year, that heft is further emphasized as the car is 4.5 inches longer than the previous year. On the inside, it's elegantly simple, with impeccable materials and an undeniable air of luxury.

The S90 also rides high on Volvo's reputation for safety and comes with all of the latest advanced features found in other cars, as well as a few that are unique to the brand. The sedan's appeal is further bolstered by some of the most comfortable seats in the industry and a large, ultra-modern central touchscreen that reminds us of the massive screen in Tesla vehicles.

Pricewise, the 2018 Volvo S90 is in lockstep with midsize luxury sedans that include the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The S90 is quite a bit larger, however, approaching the dimensions of those competing companies' flagship sedans, so it could be argued that you're getting quite a bit more for your money.



what's new

All 2018 Volvo S90 models are the long-wheelbase body style that was previously unavailable in the U.S. The regular-wheelbase S90 is no longer offered. Joining the lineup is the T8 plug-in hybrid powertrain, and some previously optional features are now standard.

we recommend

Without having tested the T8 powertrain yet, we recommend the T6 engine for its higher output over the T5. The Momentum trim should satisfy most shoppers' appetite for luxury. Many of the Inscription's features are available as options on the Momentum, giving you more of an opportunity to pick and choose exactly what you want.

trim levels & features

The 2018 Volvo S90 is a large luxury sedan that is offered in either Momentum or Inscription trim levels with a choice of three powerplants. The T5 models are powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (250 horsepower, 258 pound-feet of torque) paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission that sends power to the front wheels. The T6 is both supercharged and turbocharged (316 hp, 295 lb-ft) and comes standard with all-wheel drive. The plug-in hybrid T8 adds an 87-hp electric motor to the T6 engine for a combined output of 400 hp, 472 lb-ft.

Standard features for the T5 Momentum include 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights with automatic high beams, LED foglights with corner illumination, a panoramic sunroof, rear parking sensors, keyless entry and ignition, selectable drive modes, leather upholstery, wood interior trim, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, 10-way power-adjustable front seats with driver seat memory functions and power-folding rear headrests.

On the technology front, you also get Volvo On-Call remote feature control via a smartphone app, an 8-inch virtual instrument panel, a 9-inch touchscreen with Volvo's Sensus infotainment system, a rearview camera, a navigation system, and a 10-speaker audio system with USB/auxiliary input, satellite radio and Apple CarPlay/Android Auto.

Standard advanced safety features include forward collision warning and mitigation with pedestrian animal and cyclist detection, the Pilot Assist semiautonomous driving system, a blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, Run-off Road mitigation and protection, Oncoming Lane Mitigation, a drowsy driver alert system, and a traffic sign reader. The T6 Momentum adds heated front seats and a 12-inch virtual instrument panel.

The T6 Inscription trim extends the features list with 19-inch wheels, adaptive headlights, headlight washers, four-zone automatic climate control, a cooled glovebox, interior ambient lighting, upgraded wood interior trim, premium leather upholstery, leather coverings on the dash and door panels, ventilated front seats, power-adjustable front-seat side bolsters and thigh extensions, and power sunshades for rear windows. T8 models add a crystal shift knob.

The optional Convenience package is offered for all trims and includes front parking sensors, an automated parallel and perpendicular parking system, heated washer nozzles, a power trunklid, a surround-view camera system, a universal garage door opener and a 12-volt power outlet. Stand-alone options include an air-ride suspension, a head-up display, a Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system and a heated steering wheel. The Inscription trim is eligible for 20-inch wheels and the Luxury package (massaging front seats, heated rear outboard seats, ventilated rear seats, an upgraded rear-seat center armrest, additional leather coverings and a suede headliner).

trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our Full Test of the 2017 Volvo S90 T6 Inscription Sedan (2.0L inline-4 | 8-speed automatic | AWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Volvo S90 has received some revisions, including the switch to a longer-wheelbase version. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's S90.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall4.0 / 5.0

Comfort

4.0 / 5.0

Seat comfort4.5 / 5.0
Ride comfort3.5 / 5.0
Noise & vibration3.5 / 5.0
Climate control4.0 / 5.0

Interior

4.0 / 5.0

Ease of use3.5 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out4.0 / 5.0
Driving position3.5 / 5.0
Roominess4.0 / 5.0
Visibility3.0 / 5.0
Quality4.5 / 5.0

Utility

3.5 / 5.0

Small-item storage3.5 / 5.0
Cargo space3.5 / 5.0

Technology

4.5 / 5.0

Audio & navigation4.5 / 5.0
Smartphone integration4.0 / 5.0
Driver aids4.0 / 5.0

driving

The S90 doesn't wow you with performance, but it's plenty fast when called upon. Steering feels precise but needlessly heavy. The car's mass also makes it less snappy than its rivals in quick turns and corners. It can still hustle, but it's no sport sedan.

acceleration

edmunds rating
The T6 engine's turbo-supercharger tandem whips the S90 to highway merging speeds in no time. Sounds raspy at higher engine speeds. Plenty of power almost anywhere in the first six gears; seventh and eighth are fuel savers only.

braking

edmunds rating
Firm, solid pedal feel. Transmits confidence, which is good since this is a heavy car for its size.

steering

edmunds rating
Requires more effort than we expect in a large luxury sedan. Good feel on-center and sends decent road feel back to the driver, but extended driving will induce some fatigue.

handling

edmunds rating
All-wheel drive and grippy tires signal sporting intentions but feel outmatched by the car's mass. Able but not inspired handling. Feels less willing to change directions than some other cars in the class.

drivability

edmunds rating
Refined driving character is oriented more to comfort than speed or sport. Comfort mode is too sedate and dulls the S90's senses and accelerator response. Sport mode will be the default for most drivers seeking some spirit.

comfort

edmunds rating
What the S90 lacks in heart-racing performance, it makes up for in high-class cabin comfort. Ride quality is too harsh, however, perhaps due to a poor wheel-tire combination. Smaller wheels might ease the thumping we observed.

seat comfort

edmunds rating
Excellent shape and support. Firm but pliable. Ten-way power adjustments include thigh extenders and upper and lower lumbar. Easy to dial in comfort and adjust for sustained comfort during long drives.

ride comfort

edmunds rating
Regal and undisturbed on most road surfaces but jostles like a sports car over more severe bumps and imperfections. Our test car came with the optional rear air suspension, which helped, but also optional 20-inch wheels, which made it worse.

noise & vibration

edmunds rating
Wind and road noise is well suppressed, but there's a dull tire roar from the low-profile tires. Engine noise pipes in through the speakers. Not a bad sound, but not worth highlighting either.

climate control

edmunds rating
Stylish center-console vent design with directional vents and adjustable fan speed for rear-seat passengers. Some fan noise from the seat coolers, but it's muted. Most functions are accessed via a touchscreen menu instead of buttons and dials.

interior

edmunds rating
The S90 concedes nothing to its rivals in cabin design and materials. This is a first-rate interior all around, from upholstery, touch points and surfaces, and infotainment integration. However, large rear pillars and a sloping roofline create blind spots and diminish headroom.

ease of use

edmunds rating
Button labels aren't always obvious, which leads to some confusion. The touchscreen is intuitive, so it's easy to access primary navigation, phone, audio and climate functions.

getting in/getting out

edmunds rating
Easy to enter and exit the front seats, with a wide door swing and aperture. The sloping rear roofline means taller passengers might need to stoop slightly to get into the rear seats.

driving position

edmunds rating
The steering column has manual tilt-and-telescope, though it should be power-adjustable at this price. No trouble finding a good position for a 5-foot-10 driver, and we wouldn't anticipate trouble for taller or shorter drivers.

roominess

edmunds rating
There was enough legroom for a 6-foot passenger seated behind a 6-foot driver with the smaller-wheelbase S90 from last year, so we expect the 2018 long-wheelbase model to feel even more spacious. The sloping roofline eats into rear headroom some but headroom is on par with that of competitors.

visibility

edmunds rating
The sloping roofline and wide pillars inhibit some rear corner visibility, but generally there's no problem quickly assessing the blind spot before a lane change or when reversing. Blind-spot monitoring sensors are optional on this car, an odd circumstance for a car in this price range.

quality

edmunds rating
Time will tell with Volvo's latest family of new products, but to the eye, the S90 is free of unsightly gaps and obvious improper fitment. Early impressions suggest Volvo sweated the details.

utility

edmunds rating
A 60/40-split folding rear seat with a long-item/ski pass-through improves flexibility for what is an otherwise average-size trunk. The optional hands-free trunklid and a 12-volt outlet in the cargo area add some errand-running and tailgating utility.

small-item storage

edmunds rating
Adequately sized door pockets, center console and glovebox storage.

cargo space

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At 13.5 cubic feet, the Volvo's trunk is roughly the same volume as the rest of the segment, give or take a cubic foot. The disappearing gooseneck hinges keep luggage from getting smashed.

technology

edmunds rating
We sampled only the high-end stereo system, but it sounds worth every penny. The navigation system also impressed with its precision. Wireless connectivity comes via 3G but should be 4G at this level. Autonomous driving features work well both on highway and in around-town traffic.

audio & navigation

edmunds rating
Optional Bowers & Wilkins audio system is top-shelf, with only slight bass distortion when cranked (standard audio system unavailable to test). Turn-by-turn navigation is impressively accurate.

smartphone integration

edmunds rating
No issues with standard Bluetooth connections. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are optional.

driver aids

edmunds rating
Pilot Assist coordinates adaptive cruise control, steering and lane keeping assist systems for semiautonomous driving that works well at highway speeds and in stop-and-go traffic. Blind-spot monitoring and a 360-degree camera are available.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.