On September 22, 2016, I drove the then-new grande dame of Volvo’s lineup, the all-new S90 sedan. It replaces the S80, which itself replaced the good old boxy Volvo 940/960/S90 Series in 1999. I miss those boxy Volvos, owned a couple of those boxy Volvos, and was curious to see what the new, non-boxy, sleek new Volvo flagship was like.
So, what’s new? Pretty much everything. Including the engines. Gone is the venerable 3.2L straight six and the T6 twin-turbo, replaced with a four cylinder, 2.0L turbocharged, supercharged engine with 316 hp. Confusingly, the two available engines, despite being four-cylinder powerplants, are labeled T5 and T6. If you speak Volvo, you know that used to designate five or six cylinders. No idea why that was done. I blame marketing.
And now, let me pause for all the know-it-alls to go, “AUGH! A four cylinder in a $65,000 Volvo! What?!” But let me tell you, the only way I knew this was a four-cylinder was reading the brochure. If you told a test-driver that it was a six, you’d probably get away with it if they weren’t car guys. But first, a walkaround. However, I still miss the 3.2 six in the S80. It was, as Ferris Bueller once said, so choice…but I digress. Onward!
This is about the nicest looking Volvo in years. The previous S80 I liked, especially after the mild refresh about four years ago, but it still looked a little anonymous, and a little too close visually to the S60. Even I, a Volvophile since but a tot, sometimes mistook them for the cheaper S60 in traffic. That will not be a problem with this car. It is large and in charge, with classic long hood, short deck styling, lots of chrome, lots of gadgets, and major ambience inside!
The front end is its best feature. And there is a nod to the past for those in the know, with a grille nearly identical to the classic Volvo 1800E and ES. Other than the traditional Volvo crossbar, it is a dead ringer for the one used on 1972-73 1800s. Lots of details abound too, like ‘VOLVO’ script in the side of the tail lamps, the ‘Thor’s hammer’ running lights, and a groovy ‘Inscription’ logo in the side chrome strip (that’s Volvo for ‘Brougham’ by the way).
The only thing I wasn’t really sold on was the rear styling. The first time I saw those taillights and that huge blank swath of metal between them, I thought it was bad. I no longer hate it, it is growing on me, but it really needs to have the license plate relocated to the trunk lid or something.
Or maybe I just want it to look more like my good old 1991 Volvo 940 from the back. Now that was a great car. I still miss it.
Open the door and lots of Scandinavian luxury awaits. Generous use of wood trim was much appreciated by your reviewer, and the leather thrones were suitably cushy and orthopedically designed, as in proper Volvo tradition.
Two things I don’t particularly care for, the touch screen and the keyless start (call me a Luddite if you must), are at least intuitive enough, and the car fires up with just a little bit of growl. I drove Volvos exclusively for nearly 20 years, and despite the newness of this model, much was familiar. The rock-solid handling, those most excellent seats, and a quiet, smooth ride.
Of course, being a 2017 model, there are a couple of mildly annoying nanny ‘assists’, namely a blinking speed limit sign that pops up if you go over the speed limit. The speedometer does a happy little blinkety-blink thing at the same time. Yes, yes I know, car! Now go away.
The heads-up display, however, showing the area speed limit and your current speed, seemingly just above your front bumper, however, was very nice.
All in all, the Volvo delivers. Classy, comfortable, and with its four-cylinder powerplant, surprisingly fuel efficient as well, 22 city and 31 highway. Not bad at all, especially when you factor in the all-wheel drive. Klockau says check it out.
Car provided by McLaughlin Cadillac-Volvo-Subaru, of Moline, Illinois. Special thanks to Brian Cox and Dave Calvert, for putting up with me, ha ha.