Volvo used to be famous for sedans (and wagons). But if you ask today’s buyer, it’s probably all about the SUV XC models like the XC40, XC60 and XC90. They also have some gorgeous wagons if you are interested. And while they don’t always get the prime-time headlines, Volvo makes some very appealing sedans. Case in point, our 2022 S90 sedan. In fact, it may just be one our favorite Volvo’s!
Big, Bold, Beautiful
The first thing that grabs you is the sheer size of the Swedish sedan. It’s as long as many 3-row SUV’s and its sharp lines really grab you.
Up front there is a large, blacked-out grille, with the brand’s familiar logo and angled cross bar. Even more recognizable are the “Thor’s hammer” signature lights, that are just super cool. An aggressive lower fascia with round fog lights finish of the clean design.
The profile is typical of the brand’s sedans, sleek and modern, with a sporty lack of blingy trim in the case of our tester. Again, it’s the overall size that impresses – the S stacks up against the big Mercedes and Audi sedans for having a strong presence. Adding to our tester’s sporty vibe, massive 20-inch “rimless” alloys really filled out the wheel wells.
At the rear, it’s again familiar, with large V O L V O spelled out in big letters, C-shaped LED taillights and an integrated lip spoiler give off a performance feel. The finishing touch was the handsome Thunder Grey – that creamy pavement color that seems to be this season’s hottest hue.
Superb Cabin, Except….
Volvo’s have been at the very top of offering seductive interiors lately, and the S90 does not disappoint. The leather seats are multi-adjustable and incredibly comfortable – new for 2022 are non-leather options for those who would rather not have moo cow. The dash is a full digital presentation; the knobs have a nice, knurled effect that feel great to the touch. The quality of materials is at a high level, and everything looks lovingly assembled. In the last year, they’ve switched the more traditional shift lever to a shift nub, and by being more of an electronic interface, it takes multiple pulls to get the gear you want – it’s ok, but you get used to that pretty quickly.
What you don’t get used to is the new Android-based system, and it is frankly a step backward from the previous system, which was relatively easy to navigate. Even worse, no Apple CarPlay or Android Auto at launch – yes, the kind of stuff that comes standard on a Hyundai Elantra. The good news, if you’ve waited this long to buy an S90 there is an over-the-air update that adds Apple and Android connectivity, but we didn’t have it. Funny, in many ways, our vehicles are now the mobile devices that carry our technology around, and we are spoiled!
Speaking of spoiled, those in the back will enjoy limousine-like legroom, while the Bowers & Wilkins sound system is extraordinary. And with that long wheelbase, you also get a huge trunk.
Super-size Driving Fun
Well, it may feel limo-big on the inside, but the S90 drives like a smaller sport sedan.
Under the hood is Volvo’s B6 engine that’s a tech powerhouse, a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder featuring a turbo, a supercharger, and a 48-volt hybrid system for a maximum of 295 horsepower, and 310 lb.-ft of torque at just 2,100 rpm. Another cool feature is a 13-horsepower starter/generator system that not only makes for a beautifully seamless engine stop/start system, but when you turn the start knob first thing the engine just starts instantly which is pretty cool.
The Volvo does feature a 48-volt hybrid system, a “mild” hybrid – not to be confused with a full-on system that lets you run on EV – the gas motor is always on. Nonetheless, Volvo says the system offers drivers up to 15 per cent fuel savings and emission reductions in real world driving.
Helping you lay the power down is a quick shifting 8-speed automatic and all-wheel drive, and while it may not be as quick as the 316-horse T6 model we tested years ago, the B6 is very quick for a big car, and there’s loads of power down low for quick getaways and vibrant merging. And with all that power you still get an estimated 31 mpg on the highway – impressive for a luxury liner! If for some reason 295 Swedish Steeds aren’t enough, Volvo offers a T8 plug-in hybrid model with 407 horsepower. Hold on to your Lingonberries!
And when you turn the wheel, the S90 serves up another surprise – sport sedan reflexes. There’s great steering feel, sharp turn in and plenty of grip in the corners. Our tester had the optional Four C Adaptive Air Suspension, and we loved the tuning of nice ride quality with a little bit of firmness that made it enjoyable in the twisties. Add it all up and you there’s this feeling of trustworthiness. You go have fun, the big Volvo’s got your back. And it feels built to last for a long time.
How Much for all this Swedish Goodness?
This is Volvo’s luxury flagship, so the price reflects that. You can get into an S90 Momentum for $52,850. Leather lined with loads of luxury (say that fast 3 times!), it’s an excellent value in a large European sedan.
Our S90 B6 AWD R-Design is a minor step up in price at $54,930. That R-Design serves up a lot, including unique exterior trim, sport seats with rich Nappa leather, Harman Kardon audio system and 19” R-Design wheels. That’s a lot of style and premium for the money.
But that was just the beginning for our loaded Swedish cruiser, which also had the Climate Package ($750), Advanced Package ($1,900), Thunder Grey Metallic Paint ($695), Bower and Wilkins Premium Sound ($3,200), Four-C Adaptive Airs Suspension ($1,200) and 20” 5-double spoke alloy wheels ($800). Add in $1,045 for destination and we rang the bell at $64,540.
We’d compare our Swede with the Lexus LS500 AWD at $80,425. A Mercedes E450 4Matic comes in at $71,820, so in the big luxury class, the Volvo is a bit of a bargain. Maybe it’s biggest competitor is the swanky V90 wagon, which we love as well.
The Volvo S90 does everything you want from a premium European sedan, but then adds in that Swedish Volvo-ness that makes it feel a breed apart. We love it, and bet you will too.
Ben Lewis grew up in Chicago, and after spending his formative years driving sideways in the winter – often intentionally – moved to sunny Southern California. He now enjoys sunny weather year-round — whether it is autocross driving, aerobatics, and learning to surf.