2018 Volvo V90

2018 Volvo V90 Review

If you're a luxury wagon enthusiast, this new Volvo V90 is something you're going to lust after.
author
by Calvin Kim
Edmunds Editor

Volvo's wagon-rich history is on display with the 2018 V90, but those expecting a classic Volvo wagon experience may be in for a shock. The V90, like the related S90 sedan and XC90 SUV, is steeped in tech and style. If you're a wagon enthusiast, this new midsize luxury wagon is something you're going to lust after.

Based on exterior dimensions, the new V90 is very similar to the Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagon. But the V90's exterior styling makes it look decidedly longer and sleeker than the E-Class. Inside, the V90 shares the same design and materials philosophy as the S90, with a large, centrally located touchscreen display, attractive wood and leather materials for the Inscription models, and carbon fiber and aluminum for the R-Design. Ergonomics are great for long-distance driving, and Volvo offers fold-down booster seats for the outer two rear-seat positions to help your young ones transition from child safety seats to regular seats.

It's true that a crossover SUV will likely make more sense from a practical standpoint. But here's the alternative if the idea of driving around in a glorified box doesn't appeal to your visual senses. The V90 also provides a measure of exclusivity without compromising too much on real-world use. If these attributes appeal to you, the 2018 Volvo V90 will be a great choice.



we recommend

We recommend the 2018 Volvo V90 Inscription T6. Its all-wheel-drive system can provide sure-footed capability in all seasons and, with the right tires, make the V90 an excellent ski-mobile. The T6's four-cylinder engine is turbocharged and supercharged for a boost in power that matches nicely with the already refined V90's ride and handling. Combined, these features make a practical daily driver into an engaging vacation machine.

trim levels & features

All 2018 Volvo V90s come very well equipped, so you're basically paying for powertrains. The R-Design T5 and Inscription T5 start the lineup off with the lowest power and front-wheel drive. Some may find the T5 underpowered especially when fully loaded. The R-Design T6 and Inscription T6 provide more power and all-wheel drive that better matches the suspension and chassis. There's also a V90 Cross Country that features increased ground clearance and all-wheel drive and the engine found in the T6. It's reviewed here.

The Volvo R-Design T5 and Inscription T5 are equipped to nearly the same level and differ in interior materials, seat designs and colors. They both are powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine (250 hp, 258 lb-ft) driving only the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Inscription comes standard with heated and ventilated Comfort seats, leather upholstery, and its own exterior and interior visual trim package. The R-Design features a unique sport suspension calibration, comes standard with paddle shifters, and gets sport seats and R-Design specific interior and exterior trim, such as front and rear fascias, wheels and roof rails.

They both come standard with navigation, a panoramic roof and loads of safety tech such as blind-spot monitoring, adaptive cruise control, emergency braking and lane keeping assist. Optionally, you can add a Convenience package, which includes a top-down camera system, heated washer nozzles, a flip-up partition in the trunk area that holds grocery bags, and an automated parallel or perpendicular parking system.

The R-Design T6 and Inscription T6 are powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that's both turbocharged and supercharged. At maximum power, it produces a stronger 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. And unlike the T5, the T6 comes with all-wheel drive. Otherwise when it comes to the interior and exterior, the T5 and T6 are essentially the same.

trim tested

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

Note: The S90 and V90 share identical powertrains and interior and exterior elements. Aside from the additional cargo volume in the rear, the two vehicles are essentially identical. Our findings remain broadly applicable to the V90.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall

Driving

3.5 / 5.0

Acceleration4.0 / 5.0
Braking3.5 / 5.0
Steering2.5 / 5.0
Handling3.0 / 5.0
Drivability3.0 / 5.0

Comfort

4.0 / 5.0

Seat comfort5.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort3.5 / 5.0
Noise & vibration3.5 / 5.0
Climate control4.0 / 5.0

Interior

4.0 / 5.0

Ease of use4.0 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out4.0 / 5.0
Driving position3.5 / 5.0
Roominess3.0 / 5.0
Visibility3.0 / 5.0
Quality5.0 / 5.0

Technology

4.5 / 5.0

Audio & navigation5.0 / 5.0
Smartphone integration4.0 / 5.0
Driver aids4.0 / 5.0

driving

edmunds rating
The V90 T6 Inscription doesn't wow you with performance pedigree, but it's plenty fast when called upon. The steering feels reasonably 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 not a sports car.

acceleration

edmunds rating
The T6 engine's turbo-supercharger tandem whips the V90 to highway merging speeds in no time. Sounds raspy when asked, but does the job. 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 in stopping power, especially important because this is a 4,000-plus-pound car (4,200 pounds in all-wheel-drive trim).

steering

edmunds rating
Requires more effort than a cruise-oriented premium car should, yet not sharp enough to be called sporty. 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; it doesn't feel committed or quick to change directions.

drivability

edmunds rating
A refined driving character oriented more to comfort than speed or sport. Comfort mode is too sedate and dulls the V90's senses and accelerator response. Sport mode will be the default for most drivers seeking some spirit.

comfort

edmunds rating
What the V90 lacks in heart-racing performance, it makes up for in high-class cabin comfort. You'll think you're driving a trendy, modern hotel lobby. Ride quality suffers when equipped with optional 20-inch wheels. 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 race car over more severe bumps and imperfections. Our test car came with optional rear air suspension, which helped, but also optional 20-inch wheels, which probably didn't.

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 accessed via touchscreen menu instead of buttons and dials.

interior

edmunds rating
The V90 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 create blind spots.

ease of use

edmunds rating
Usual Volvo control quirks (e.g., button with an arrow-tipped open circle and "+" symbol inside indicates both set cruise and increase speed). But the touchscreen is intuitive and it's easy to access primary nav, phone, audio and climate functions.

getting in/getting out

edmunds rating
Easy enough 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-telescoping, though it should be power-adjustable at this price. There's 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
Just shy of 36 inches rear legroom, enough for a 6-foot passenger seated behind a 6-foot driver. Plenty of shoulder room and hiproom front and rear.

visibility

edmunds rating
The long roofline and wide pillars inhibit rear corner visibility, but generally no problem to quickly assess blind spot before a lane change or when reversing. Thankfully, blind-spot monitoring is standard.

quality

edmunds rating
Appears built to high-quality standards. Time will tell with Volvo's latest family of new products, but to the eye, the V90 is free of unsightly gaps and improper fit issues. 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. Optional hands-free trunklid and a 12-volt outlet in the trunk add some errand-running and tailgating utility.

technology

edmunds rating
We sampled only the high-end stereo system, but it sounds worth every penny. Our Euro-zone 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 the highway and in around-town traffic.

audio & navigation

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

smartphone integration

edmunds rating
No issues with standard Bluetooth connections. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity is standard.

driver aids

edmunds rating
Pilot Assist coordinates adaptive cruise control, steering and lane keeping assist systems for semi-autonomous 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.