Driven: Volvo S90

Gone are the days when a Volvo was a somewhat utilitarian vehicle favored by college professors and sophisticated suburbanites that looked like the box it came in. Today, Volvo has a styling department that is making up for lost time, especially with the 2018 Volvo S90, its ‘big’ sedan that presents a refreshing, stylish and sensible option.

From the curved front grille to the low roofline, sculpted lines and LED front-running lights, the S90 is a good-looking sedan from any angle. Good things continue inside where a heads-up display shows your speed and the posted speed limit on the bottom of the windshield, allowing you to keep your eyes on the road instead of the instrument cluster. Here, that’s an LCD screen, not real gauges, which allows for display of navigation instructions right in front of the driver.

Front seats are heated and cooled and swathed in rich nappa leather. The heated leather steering wheel includes handy audio controls, and a 9-inch, dash-mounted touchscreen displays navigation, a 360-degree surround-view camera, back-up camera, and audio and ventilation controls. A sunroof spans the front and back seats, and attractive wood trim adds warmth to the stylish interior.

The rear seat has tons of leg room. Rear-seat passengers also get two sets of vents and their own digital ventilation controls, along with a large armrest between lightly bolstered rear seats. The S90 has a deep trunk with a pass-through for long items, and folding rear seats further expand its cargo-carrying capacity. Power sunshades keep back seat passengers cool.

Instead of a traditional key or start button, the S90 has a switch behind the gear select lever to turn the engine on and off. To conserve fuel, the engine shuts off automatically when the car is stopped. Handling is nice with three drive modes: economy, comfort and dynamic. Dynamic stiffens the shocks, holds gears longer and tightens the steering, making it much more fun to drive. In dynamic mode, it has good pick-up without turbo lag, thanks to the supercharger. One can shift manually with the gearshift lever.

Being a Volvo, the S90 offers all the latest electronic nannies, including lane keep assistance, advanced electronic stability control, a blind spot indicator with cross traffic alert, back-up camera, front and rear parking sensors, park assist, anti-whiplash front seats, automatic headlights, and collision avoidance, which provides automatic braking and warns you of upcoming hazards. Oncoming Lane Mitigation steers the car back into its lane if you veer into oncoming traffic, and Run-off Road Mitigation prevents you from leaving the road accidentally. Navigation can warn of traffic congestion and re-route. It seems to do everything but brush your teeth.

The Volvo S90 offers the safety, most of the technology and gadgets, and the leg room (if not more) of a full-size European sedan (think Mercedes E-Class and BMW 7-Series), but does so in a smaller package that’s easier to maneuver, gets better mileage and costs a lot less.

According to Stephen Lynch, general sales manager at West County Volvo, “The 2018 S90 is much more luxurious than its predecessor, with lots of room in the back. The interior is greatly improved to the point where I see it as a sanctuary.”

S90 T6 AWD 

Base | $55,000
Including delivery as driven with options | $69,000

gas mileage
city | 22
highway | 31

front engine, all-wheel drive
2.0-litre turbo and supercharged 4-cylinder engine
316 horsepower
8-speed automatic transmission

Robert Paster ( is also an attorney in private practice, concentrating in estate planning and probate.