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By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

An impressive force of style, size and safety, the mid-sized Volvo S90 sedan is able to compete with its European counterparts thanks to a well-equipped cabin and powerful turbocharged engine. And plainly put, a vehicle like the S90 is a great option if you’re looking for luxury without all the associated snobbery often attached to elevated brands.

I drove a 2017 Volvo S90 with the 318-horsepower turbocharged 2-liter T6 engine paired to an eight-speed Geartronic automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Available in just two trim grades – Momentum and Inscription -- standard equipment on my S90 Inscription test drive included: nineteen-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires; leather upholstery; heated front seats; four-zone climate control; Sensus Connect with a Wi-Fi Hotspot; Sensus navigation and a nine-inch touchscreen; 12.3-inch digital display; ten-speaker audio system; XM radio; Bluetooth connectivity; power moonroof with sunshade; rear assist with a backup camera and sensors; leather upholstery; ten-way power front sport seats; push-button start; power rear sunshade; integrated tailpipes; and Inscription trim detailing. Price as described without optional packages came to $52,950.

The Volvo S90 is compared to the BMW 5-Series, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Audi A6. I also recently test drove a Hyundai Genesis G90 that was on scale with the S90.


Stylish But Comfortable Results: Roomier than the S60, the S90 is definitely a step up in comfort from the S60 (more speakers and seat controls, bigger touchscreen). Overall, the interior design is uber-sleek with materials and technology that rival any competitor. Rear legroom is nearly 36-inches with 17.7 cubic-feet of trunk space. Stuffed with additional features, my test drive has a $3,300 Inscription Package (extra seat support, linear walnut wood inlays and illumination, Active Bending Lights, Apple CarPlay, badging); a $1,950 Vision Package (360-degree rearview camera, Blind Spot Information System and Cross Traffic Alert); a $1,950 Climate Package (heated rear seats, steering wheel); a $1,000 Convenience Package (power trunk, park assist); and a $2,650 Bowers & Wilkins audio system.

Reliability & Safety Factor: Volvos do have a reputation for being safe. The 2017 Volvo S90 is a Top Safety Pick by The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) with ratings of “Good” in all crash-test testing areas; however, headlights without optional equipment rates a “Marginal” and ease of use with LATCH is “Acceptable.” My five-year old was able to buckle herself in with no issues. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has not yet rated the model year at the time of publication. Blind Spot Information and Cross Traffic are options – I’d like to see these as safety standards.

Cost Issues: A 2017 Volvo S90 Momentum starts at $46,950. My loaded Volvo S90 Inscription test drive reached $66,105 with all the packages. My recent top-of-the-line 2017 Hyundai Genesis G90 test drive was $69,050.

Activity & Performance Ability: One of the performance highlights for going with a Volvo is the twin-turbocharged power that brings cadence and quick action to your every driving situation. The all-wheel drive options are also a solid component. You’re not going to be missing out even when compared to my Genesis’s larger 3.3-liter V6 engine, especially considering what an advantage you’ll have at the pumps. Larger wheels like the S90’s nineteen-inch upgrades tend to hit the asphalt a bit harder. Steering feel seems to lack ease and makes longer drives and harsh curves a bit of work.

The Green Concern: The turbocharged 2-liter gets some excellent fuel economy at 25 miles-per-gallon combined (22-city and 31-highway) compared to the Genesis’s 20 combined.

The 2017 Volvo S90 proves that the Swedish maker is quite capable of offering qualities in a mid-sized sedan that reach beyond sensibility and straight into the heart of style and svelte performance.

©2017 Katrina Ramser

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