2019 Volvo S90

By September 10, 2019

The 2019 Volvo S90 is a mid-size luxury sedan with an elegant shape, chic cabin, splendid ride, competent handling, a smooth 8-speed automatic transmission, and available all-wheel drive. 

It’s powered by a 2.0-liter turbo-4 “T5” drivetrain, which adds a supercharger to become the “T6” or an electric motor to become a “T8” 400-horsepower plug-in hybrid. 

The T5 engine makes a tidy 250 horsepower with front-or all-wheel drive. The all-wheel-drive T6 adds a supercharger to make 316 horsepower. The T8 powertrain adds a 10.4-kwh hybrid battery and an 87-horsepower electric motor, enabling it to go 21 miles on battery power, or from zero to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds.

The T5 FWD gets an EPA rating of 23 mpg city, 35 highway, 27 combined, while the AWD gets one less combined mpg. The supercharged turbocharged T6 drops one more mpg, with a rating of 21/31/25 mpg. The plug-in hybrid T8 AWD is rated at 29 mpg combined. All three engines require premium fuel. 

The S90 hasn’t been crash tested yet. Every S90 comes with adaptive cruise control, active lane control, automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitors, and a semi-autonomous system that can pilot the car hands-free for several seconds.

Model Lineup

The S90 comes in Momentum, Inscription, and Excellence trim.

At around $50,000, the Momentum comes with leather upholstery, panoramic moonroof, 18-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth connectivity, a 9.0-inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, and a suite of advanced safety features, including automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and Pilot Assist driver-assistance technology that can steer, accelerate, and brake the car at low speeds, with the driver still fully in charge.

The Momentum costs about $8,000 more, and gains the twin-charged engine and all-wheel drive. 

Inscription trim includes cooled seats, Nappa leather, contrast stitching, 19-inch wheels, and real wood inlays. A surround-view camera system and automated parking assistance are optional.

The T8 plug-in hybrid powertrain starts at more than $64,000 for the Momentum trim, but it’s eligible for federal tax credits and some state or local credits that considerably reduce the initial cost. 

Exterior

Volvo takes a long hood, a steep grille, and sharp rear end and molds it into minimalist joy in the 2019 S90. The concave upright grille and swept-back headlights are elegant, and in profile, the lines and creases make it look low. 

The view from the rear is contemporary. An upright boxy trunk is book-ended by C-shaped taillights, a modern touch. A classic Volvo badge signs off with a retro flair.

Interior

The cabin is dark but airy. It’s chic without cliché. It’s a Scandinavian sanctuary in leather seats surrounded by matte wood. 

The front seats afford a great view thanks to thin roof pillars and low window lines. The seats are power adjustable and optionally heated, cooled and massaged. 

The rear seats benefit from the 2018 redesign of the S90, in which it added four inches of wheelbase, so the rear seats have more than 40 inches of leg room. Options for the rear seats include heat and individual climate controls. 

There’s an average 15.4 cubic feet of cargo space in the trunk, including the T8, whose battery pack doesn’t steal trunk space. 

Driving Impressions

The three engines are versions of the same 2.0-liter turbo-4. The T5 makes 250 hp and 258 pound-feet of torque, mated like all of them to an 8-speed automatic. The engine is small for the vehicle’s size, but manages decent acceleration.

The all-wheel-drive 316-hp T6 confidently pulls the S90’s 4,800 pounds, from zero to 60 mph in 6.0 seconds. But it’s the T8 that tops all the charts, most spectacularly the acceleration chart: 0-60 mph in 4.8 seconds, thanks to instant torque to all wheels from the electric motor. 

In terms of handling, the S90 is a milder Scandinavian luxury sedan, tuned for comfort not corner-blitzing. The ride is supple, on the soft side. With the 18-, 19-, 20- or 21-inch wheels, there’s decreasing comfort with increasing diameter.  Vehicles with bigger wheels should be equipped with the available air suspension to preserve the creamy ride. 

Final Word

The 2019 Volvo S90 has the dynamics of a more traditional car, but the striking looks of a modern classic. It’s strikingly handsome, even more so inside, and rear-seat space is vast. Of the powertrains the T6 makes the most sense, while the extravagantly equipped T8 becomes heavier and less sporty—though its planet-friendly mission may be more important to Volvo drivers than even the S90’s spare, elegant style.