2018 Volvo S90 T8 Review

The Volvo Story

Intent upon fielding an all-new lineup of automobiles, Volvo has gone back to the proverbial drawing board to re-envision every vehicle it offers. While the current S90 is going into its second year of production, the decision was made to ship only the long wheelbase version to the States for the 2018 model year. This development squares Volvo’s flagship off against those of the big three Europeans makers in size and equipment. However, priced closer to their mid-range cars, the S90 is also something of a bargain.

The 2018 Volvo S90 is also the best-looking car in the category, capable of holding its own parked shoulder to shoulder with the BMW 7 Series, Audi A8 and Mercedes-Benz S-Class in any valet situation. The S90’s look says money — big time — though not in an ostentatious fashion. Long story short, before you transfer funds to acquire one of the Germans, give this new Swede some consideration.

The interior is tastefully understated, yet simultaneously opulent. The choice of materials, the artful arrangement of shapes and the juxtaposition of wood, leather and aluminum trim give it an inviting atmosphere. If your most recent Volvo experience dates back to 2015 or earlier, stop by a Volvo store today to see what’s happening now—huge strides have been made.

Meanwhile, the comfort for which Volvo automobiles have long been known is also amplified. Every seating position provides excellent support, abundant legroom and generous headroom. Firm, yet pliant, the seats were designed specifically for long distance fatigue-free touring.

Key exterior features of the S90 include, LED headlights with automatic high beams and LED foglights. You’ll also find a panoramic sunroof, rear parking sensors, keyless entry and ignition, leather upholstery, wood interior trim, and power-folding rear headrests

A virtual instrument panel, a centrally mounted touchscreen with Volvo's Sensus infotainment system, a rearview camera, navigation, and a 10-speaker audio system with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto comprise the comfort and convenience tech. The safety ledger numbers forward collision warning and mitigation, semi-autonomous operation and blind-spot monitoring, along with rear cross-traffic alert and Run-off Road mitigation and protection among its attributes, The S90 Momentum also offers Oncoming Lane Mitigation, drowsy driver alerts, and a traffic sign reader.

Inscription augments all of the above with a set of 19-inch wheels, adaptive headlights, four-zone automatic climate control featuring a cooled glovebox, subtle accent lighting, and higher-quality wood trim and leather. Inscription also adds leather to the dash and door panels. Ventilated front seats and power sunshades for the rear windows further enhance Inscription’s passenger comfort potential. A set of 20-inch wheels, massaging front seats, heated rear outboard seats, ventilated rear seats and a suede headliner can be added to Inscription models as options.

Meanwhile, front proximity sensors, automated parking (parallel and perpendicular), a power actuated trunklid, and a 360º camera system can be had as optional choices with either trim package. Other upgrades include air suspension, a head-up display, a Bowers & Wilkins audio system and a heated steering wheel.

Power comes from a selection of three turbocharged engines. The base is designated T5 and is a 2.0-liter four with 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. This engine is only offered with Momentum trim. The mid-level offering, T6, can be had with either Momentum or Inscription trim and adds a supercharger to produce 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. The T8, which can also be had with either Momentum or Inscription trim, adds a plug-in hybrid system to generate 400 horsepower and 472 lb-ft of torque. All three get an eight-speed automatic transmission. The T5 uses front drive, while the T6 and T8 feed an all-wheel drivetrain.

Driving the 400-horsepower T8 Inscription model resulted in a number of interesting revelations. First of all, the hybrid powertrain pulls relentlessly. The S90 T8 is a remarkably fast car. However, it also defines a new paradigm for the sound of performance. While the four emits a suitably urgent growl, the potency of the sound doesn’t quite match up to the velocity potential.

Similarly, ride and handling are biased more toward comfort than sport. However, given the luxurious nature of the S90, we’re willing to give it a pass in this regard. With that said, we also noted an unusual amount of road noise creeping into the passenger compartment. We’re thinking the 20-inch tire/wheel combination might have been an issue there, so we recommend staying with the 19s. The handling of the Volvo doesn’t really require the lower profile tire anyway. Otherwise, it’s every bit the solidly competent car you’ve come to expect from Volvo—just with a more elegant twist.

Pricing starts at $48,100 for the T5, $54,100 for the T6 and $63,600 for the T8. However, the T8 powertrain qualifies for a $5,200 tax credit, which lowers its base price to $58,400. T8 Inscription starts at $68,150, before the $5,200 tax incentive, which effectively reduces the price to $62,950.

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