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CAR REVIEW: 2017 Volvo V90 Inscription T6

I’ve read and heard comments about the strange affinity many auto critics have for station wagons. For many readers and consumers alike, station wagons are nothing more than a vulgar, if not compromised family vehicle. Essentially, why would anyone purchase one over an SUV?

volvo v90

The thing with wagons is that they represent the ultimate expression of the automobile. Although most SUVs and CUVs are car-based, their exterior design is nothing more than an attempt to be a car. A station wagon is a car, and I’m a disturbingly passionate car freak. Thus, I love longroofs. I own two older wagons, albeit very different ones, and I would like nothing more than add many more to my fleet.

Of all the European wagons, none are more authentic than a Volvo. A Duett, Amazon, 240, 740, 850 or an early V70, to name a few, have all left an indelible mark on the wagon genre and the new V90 builds on this glorious past and takes it to the next level.

Styling inside/out

I’m unable to physically criticise this car. I love all wagons, it’s that simple. To be clear, a BMW GT is not a station wagon but a Subaru Outback most certainly is.

Volvo’s current design language is a clear evolution from what the brand introduced in the very early 2000s. With the S90 and V90, the achieved level of elegance that is unprecedented for the Swedish cum Chinese company. Volvo’s uniqueness shines through the car’s styling and nowhere is more obvious than in the V90 wagon.

There are no bad angles only more reasons to appreciate familiar elements such as the pillar-mounted taillights and distinct grille mixed in with the LED headlight and tall beltline.

The cabin is as spacious as it is sumptuous. All materials used within the car’s confines are second to none. The attention to detail and craftsmanship are on par with the Germans. Actually, the scarcity of controls on the dashboard outdoes the Germans at their own game. The standard 9” touchscreen holds all infotainment commands, connectivity, HVAC and general settings. The average newbie to this HMI will require some time before becoming familiar with all the menus but once it is achieved, regular knobs and buttons will seem archaic.

Comfort/space

The seats, a staple for Volvo, are as excellent as they look, both up front and in the second row. The rear bench is supple yet firm enough for ideal support on a long trek. The front perches are nothing short of perfect. While I was in possession of the V90, I road-tripped with colleagues in a new Mercedes E 43 AMG and although the seats were good, they paled in comparison to the Volvo.

As a full-size car, the V90 is roomy, and then some. The front occupants are treated to near lounge-like space and the same can be said for those behind. When station wagons are the topic of discussion, it is impossible to not bring up the boot.

The V90 is a big car but designers and engineers opted for more people room than cargo. For the majority of the 2000s, those in charge had decided otherwise. Although the trunk is large, it cannot accommodate as much gear as did the previous 2000-2007 V70.

The new Volvo V90 remains an extremely comfortable and spacious family luxury car.

Value/equipment

Keeping in mind the “90 Series” Volvo sits at the top of the heap, the V90’s base asking price of $59,900 for a Momentum trim almost seems reasonable. The sporty R-Design requires $64,450 while the top-line Inscription begins at $66,050. The price climbs very quickly from there as proven by my near $80k tester.

This money includes the likes of Convenience (park assist, more), Vision, Climate (heated rear seats and steering wheel, more), rear air suspension and Bowers & Wilkins audio. As is, the car’s level of kit is on par with a loaded Mercedes E 400 4MATIC wagon which is mildly more powerful, with one extra gear, but a little over $7,000 more.

On the technology front, the V90 ticks all boxes. It includes Apple CarPlay, USB connectors, a 12,3” digital display gauges, satellite radio, and more. Safety is paramount with standard City Safety, pedestrian and cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control with lane keep assist, to name but a few items.

Powertrain/handling

All Volvos are currently powered by a version of a boosted 2.0 litre 4-cylinder engine. The T6 badge reveals that this is the turbo and supercharged iteration and that it produces 316 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque.

The combination of the smooth operating 8-speed Geartronic automatic transmission and constant uninterrupted flow of power hoist the driving experience. Moments after applying pressure to the throttle, all torque is on tap, from 2,200 rpm all the way to 5,400. At 5,700 rpm, maximum horsepower kicks in. The sprint to 100 km/h from a standstill requires only 6.1 seconds, but this is not what the car is truly about.

The V90’s effect on my person is a soothing one. The entire time I had the car, I must have abruptly hit the throttle but once. The ample power is never laggy, nor does one ever feel rushed when behind the wheel. With the seats cradling the buttocks, starting the car and slipping the shifter into drive seems exciting enough. I’m not sure how else to explain the sense of confidence and wellbeing that take over when driving.

The ride quality is beautiful. To be frank, I would have expected a quieter cabin on the highway through more sound deadening but I suppose it’s fine. By comparison, the E 43 I rode in was far noisier at speed. The optional air suspension is ideal for all applications, from comfortable city cruising to spirited country drives. In both cases, the Active Chassis drive mode roller allows you to switch things up as you go along. Comfort mode is by far my favorite.

Steering and brakes are effortless and competent, and perfectly suited to the car. In fact, the car as a whole meets every possible need, from luxury and prestige, to family duty and driving efficiency. Oh, and did I mention it was a sexy station wagon?

I clearly cannot and will not hide my love for this car even if it seems misplaced because this is a wagon. Those that disagree, Volvo’s got you covered with the new XC60 and XC90. To those that get it, the V90 is as good and better than you imagine.

I’ve read and heard comments about the strange affinity many auto critics have for station wagons. For many readers and consumers alike, station wagons are nothing more than a vulgar, if not compromised family vehicle. Essentially, why would anyone purchase one over an SUV? The thing with wagons is that they represent the ultimate expression …

Review Overview

Comfort - 90%
Performance - 85%
Interior Space - 90%
Exterior Design - 95%
Interior Design - 95%
Fuel Economy - 85%

90%

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