To load-luggers what Porsche is to sports cars

Introduction

The Volvo V90 is the latest estate from this most famous estate car manufacturer. The brand is to load-luggers what Porsche is to sports cars. While its range is ever-broadening these days, there remains room for a voluminous and family-friendly wagon, and the latest V90 fits that brief to perfection. It’s also one of the most stylish estate cars Volvo has ever made.

Body Style: Estate      Seats: 5         MRP from £34,955 - £43,955 

Did you know? The V90 estate car is built upon the same underpinnings used by the Volvo XC90 seven-seat SUV – and Volvo also offers a V90 Cross Country for those who want an SUV half-way house.

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Verdict:★★★★★★★★☆☆(8.5/10)

The archetypal big Volvo estate is now better than ever. The upmarket-looking V90 is nothing like the boxy estate cars of old, with an attractive appearance that’s better-formed than the S90 saloon it’s derived from. It’s now every inch the Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz alternative, with the interior to match: this is a break from the cool, clinical Germanic norm, and all the better for it. The V90 is no sports car, but is a refined and capable premium car on the move, with downsized engines that punch above their weight and offer immense long-distance cruising ability. Safety is, needless to say, flawless. Audi A6 Avant, BMW 5 Series Touring and Mercedes-Benz E-Class drivers, there’s now a fourth option you should consider.

Design & Exterior

★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

Interior & Comfort

★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

Technology & Connectivity

★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

Performance & Handling

★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

Safety Features

★★★★★★★★★★ (10/10)

Spec & Trim Levels

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Running Costs & Fuel Economy

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Pricing

★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

We Like

Elegant styling

Superb interior

High standards of safety, onboard technology and connectivity

We Don't Like

R-Design suspension rather firm

Engines can be intrusive when revved

Big price jump to D5 PowerPulse AWD version

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Design & Exterior:★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

The oh-so classy and cool-looking Volvo V90 is the best-designed estate car the firm has ever made. It just looks right: measured, understated, richly detailed and perfectly profiled. Surfaces are gently and precisely shaped, the shoulder line is crisp and the rear end is more rakish than you’d ever expect from a big load-lugger. It’s the antithesis to square.

It’s a long car, with a distinctive front end. Those now-trademark Thor’s Hammer headlights make the front end distinctive and the Volvo grille is neat. Ramp things up further with the R-Design trim, one that’s expected to be popular in the UK. This has silver door mirrors, gloss black lower body detailing, high-gloss black mesh grille, matt-black diamond-cut alloys and cool integrated rear exhausts. It’s lowered too, for a meaner stance on the road.

Cross Country models, meanwhile, sit 65mm higher and have front and rear skid plates, charcoal-coloured wheelarch extensions and a generally tougher, more crossover-style appearance.

2017 Volvo V90

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Interior & Comfort:★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

The interior is classy and cultured. It’s warmly Swedish rather than Germanically clinical. Materials are plush and premium, trim inlays are attractive and standard upholsteries are rich. All models get leather seats and, being a Volvo, they’re among the most comfortable and supportive you’ll ever sit on in a car. Those in the front are heated; you can option up heated rear seats as well. Dual zone climate control is standard, rear climate is optional; you can even get a heated steering wheel.

Volvo’s largely gone button-free with the latest V90. The dashboard has been cleaned up by a standard 9-inch central portrait touchscreen infotainment system – more on that in Infotainment and Connectivity – into which most controls are accessed via touch, swipe and scroll. It’s high-resolution and very modern-looking: something that passengers will have to have a play with. (Volvo gives you a free microfibre cloth to wipe all those greasy mitts off…)

On R-Design models, it’s again given a sporty makeover, with leather and Nubuck front sports seats (with seat cushion extensions), metal mesh dash inlays, black headlining and perforated leather steering wheel. And with top-line Inscription trim, the fully-electronic 12.3-inch TFT configurable instrument pack is standard.

Practicality

The big V90 is a roomy car. Its seating position has traces of commanding SUV even in regular guise; the driver sits fairly high, with a clear view out down the long, broad bonnet. All-round visibility is excellent, particularly over the shoulder thanks to that glassy rear. There’s no end of seat adjustment and the driving position is perfect.

Rear seat passengers fare well too. The cabin is very wide, so two broad adults won’t feel squeezed, and there’s ample leg and kneeroom even behind a taller driver. The seat itself is comfortable and supportive, with B-pillar ventilation and even optional privacy blinds for a bit extra VIP kudos.

Boot space

It’s a big Volvo estate car with a big boot. With the rear seats up, there’s a yawning 723 litres of space, and even if you don’t want to load it to the roof, there’s 560 litres up to the windowline. Fold the seats and it stretches to 1526 litres: that’s not quite as much as the super-large Mercedes-Benz E-Class estate, but it’s still commodious. A maximum load width of 1.1 metres will slide in easily, and Volvo’s versatile 60/40 split rear seats helps you make the most of it.

The tailgate is electric and the load cover is automatic: you don’t need to keep sliding it open and closed each time you go into the boot. Volvo gives you hidden underfloor storage and a cargo divider that can hold shopping bags, plus a 12v charging socket in the boot. Take an Inscription and it throws in a hands-free electric tailgate.

2017 Volvo V90

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Technology & Connectivity:★★★★★★★★★☆ (9/10)

A tech highlight is Volvo’s standard 9-inch touchscreen: it’s like having a tablet computer stuck to your dashboard. Built into it is Volvo’s Sensus Connect web app system, so you can use Spotify and Skype in your car, although Volvo is rather mean in charging extra for Apple CarPlay: you get it standard in a Kia Picanto these days.

Sensus navigation is standard, with mapping that incorporates all of Europe and offers built-in traffic information. Volvo includes free annual map updates for life, so your sat nav should never be too out of date. You can add on the Volvo On Call app, for automatic emergency services dial-up in an accident, and remote vehicle monitoring via your smartphone. A stonking Bowers and Wilkins sound system is also available – although even the standard system is, typically for Volvo, excellent.

Although standard cars don’t get the full 12.3-inch TFT instrument pack, they do get an 8.0-inch TFT display within the analogue dials, so drivers needn’t feel too left out. As for safety tech, as we’ll see, there’s no shortage of that, either.

2017 Volvo V90

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Performance & Handling:★★★★★★★☆☆☆ (7/10)

The V90 drives as you’d hope a Volvo would: with refined, effortless comfort and stately progress. It does this better than its main rivals, as even a Mercedes-Benz E-Class has a bit of sporty focus these days. The Volvo is not a car to challenge the dynamic excellence of the latest BMW 5 Series, but that’s not to say it’s not a very able car in its own right.

For it to be at its best, you need to option up the Active Four-C Chassis, a £1500 option that adds all-round adaptive dampers and rear air suspension for level running whatever the load. So equipped, the V90 has an excellent ride, with great control, and decent precision in corners for a large front-wheel drive estate car. Its talents aren’t as broad without this chassis tech.

Note that R-Design models have stiffer suspension. This gives a firmer ride and stiffer reactions to bad roads. It’s a bit less well-suited to the Volvo style, although British buyers like the way R-Design models look: thus, mitigate the effects of this stiff suspension by making the active suspension option a must-have

At the moment, there are just two engines, D4 and D5 PowerPulse AWD. Both are actually the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel; the D4 produces 190 horsepower and the D5 PowerPulse produces 235 hp. The D5’s PowerPulse tech is a clever air boost for the turbo, which reduces lag times when you stamp on the throttle. It’s very effective and, in combination with all-wheel drive, gives it a hot hatch-like 6.9-second 0-62mph time. All that extra tech means it’s quite a price jump, but it’s still our preferred engine, particularly given the heavy loads V90s may be carrying.

Both engines are quiet enough for a four-cylinder, only becoming raucous and clattery when revved hard. It can be a bit of a surprise at times, but it soon settles down. The eight-speed automatic standard on all models is excellent.

Recommended engine: D5 PowerPulse AWD

0-62mph

6.9 seconds

Fuel economy

57.6mpg

Emissions

129g/km CO2

2017 Volvo V90

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Safety Features:★★★★★★★★★★ (10/10)

Top marks for the V90 here. It’s near-faultless in Euro NCAP for starters both for passive and active safety. But there’s so much more, such as standard Volvo City Safety autonomous emergency braking that can now detect pedestrians, cyclists and large animals. If one of them is about to jump into your way, the car will warn you and, if you don’t respond, apply full auto braking, to avoid a collision or at least mitigate one if it does occur.

It keeps an eye on the edges of the road, and will keep you on it, and will help you remain within the lane on motorways. A camera reads road signs and flashes it onto a screen in the car, the cruise control can cap your speed to a set limit and a system monitors the alertness of the driver, suggesting coffee if it thinks they’re weary.

It also has Pilot Assist as standard: that’s self-driving cruise control. You must keep your hands gently on the steering wheel, but the car will still steer for you on the motorway and help you either drive at a set speed or slow down and speed up as the traffic varies, at speeds of up to 80mph. Standard autonomous tech that's a real safety aid. It certainly makes motorway journeys less tiresome.

2017 Volvo V90

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Specs and Trim Levels: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Colours

Three solid colours are offered: Black Stone, Ice White and, just for the R-Design, distinctive Passion Red. Metallic choices include Magic Blue, Savile Grey, Twilight Bronze, Bright Silver, Osmium Grey, Onyx Black, Luminous Sand, Mussel Blue and Maple Brown. Premium metallic include Electric Silver, Crystal White and, again just for R-Design, Bursting Blue – another great colour.

Trim Levels

It’s nice and simple for V90 trims: Volvo’s familiar Momentum, sporty R-Design and posh Inscription range are offered, with the Cross Country as the rugged alternative. Even Momentum gets a great haul of equipment, perhaps everything you could wish for as standard. Treats include heated leather seats, Sensus touchscreen navigation, 18-inch wheels on the D5 PowerPulse, LED headlights, Pilot Assist autonomous drive and a power tailgate.

R-Design models have a superb set of contour sports seats, front LED foglights, full electronic instruments, interior theatre lighting and tailgate illumination. Inscription has rich Nappa leather, a power driver’s seat, hands-free tailgate and full keyless entry (regular models just have keyless start). The Cross Country is largely as per Momentum, but with unique styling features and black walnut trim.

Size and Dimensions

The V90 is a long and wide car – over 4.9 metres long and nearly 1.9 metres wide. Good job parking sensors are standard (you might want to add on the rear parking camera or 360-degree around-view parking monitor options). The standard car comes in at under 1.5 metres, tall, the Cross Country sits above it: in the metal, the extra height and stance is obvious.

Length

4936 mm

Width

1895 mm

Height

1475 mm (Cross Country: 1543mm)

Max towing weight without brake

750 kg

2017 Volvo V90

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Running Costs & Fuel Economy: ★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Those downsized engines deliver strong fuel economy and emissions. The front-wheel drive D4, an expected fleet car favourite, averages 62.8mpg, seriously standout for such a large and luxurious car. The D5 PowerPulse chips this to 57.6mpg; for some, the extra performance may be worth it. The D4 emits 119g/km CO2, and its more powerful sibling, 129g/km.

The D4 Cross Country is all-wheel drive, so economy drops to 54.3mpg. Its extra height sees the D5 PowerPulse economy nudged back as well, to 53.3mpg, but it still emits less than 140g/km CO2.

Reliability and servicing

Volvo builds the V90 on its new large car platform called SPA. It’s already been on sale for several years in the XC90, and is thus far proving reliable. The four-cylinder engines are also simpler and more affordable to service than the more complex five-cylinder engines in the V90’s predecessor.

2017 Volvo V90

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Pricing:★★★★★★★★☆☆ (8/10)

Volvo V90 prices begin at around £35,000 for a D4 model. The R-Design trim that Brits lust for is around £2500 more, and Inscription is a £3000 premium (so, just £500 on top of R Design). The big jump is between engines: to go from D4 to D5 PowerPulse will cost you £7000. Certainly that’s why Volvo expects most company V90s to be D4 models. Cross Country prices start at just under £40,000, and around £43,500 for the D5 PowerPulse.

2017 Volvo V90

 

Verdict | Design | Interior | Technology | Performance | Safety | Specs | Running Costs | Pricing

Recommendations

Cost Conscious

D4 Momentum – The spec is all-inclusive and the engine should deliver for all but the most demanding of drivers.

Tech Junkie

R-Design D5 PowerPulse – Full electronic dials, web-ready portrait-style touchscreen and a turbo that uses compressed air to minimise lag: pub boast gold.

Luxury Seeker

Inscription – This is Volvo at its plush and convincing luxury brand best. Nappa leather perfectly enhances an already delightful cabin.

Rivals

Audi A6 Avant

The ageing Audi A6 Avant is due for replacement soon but superb deals on the current one mean this classy exec is still worth a look.

BMW 5 Series Touring

The latest BMW 5 Series Touring is coming soon. The saloon model is exceptional, a class-leader, and we expect the same from the estate.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate

Mercedes-Benz has always made great estate cars. The latest E-Class shows it at the very top of its game. A brilliant car for life.

Jaguar F-Pace

Jaguar currently doesn’t offer an XF Sportbrake. Are dealers steering people into the F-Pace crossover SUV instead?

Volvo XC90

If you’re ogling the V90 in the Volvo dealer, you might also clock the XC90 large SUV. It’s pricier, but fantastic in its own right – and also seats seven; you can no longer get a third-row option for the V90

 

2017 Volvo V90