2020 Volvo S90

By April 27, 2020

The 2020 Volvo S90 is a mid-size luxury sedan that’s an antidote for buyers who are bored with the same old luxury-sedan choices. The svelte S90 is both conservative and stunning from the outside, with a beautiful interior to match the gorgeous exterior. The interior features leather seats that are some of the most comfortable and supportive in the car world.
For 2020 it gets better, with a new R-Design trim incorporating popular features and unique looks. Maybe more significantly, for 2020 the previous base engine with front-wheel drive (T5) has been eliminated (it remains in the 2020 S60 mid-size sedan), leaving the all-wheel-drive T6 with 8-speed automatic transmission as the base drivetrain. The T6 is a turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that makes 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque.

There’s also the plug-in hybrid T8, which is basically the T6 engine with the same 8-speed automatic, plus a battery pack and electric motors that boost it to 400 hp and 472 pound-feet of torque, with a range of 21 all-electric miles. It also gets 5 more miles per gallon. Its charm is its power and especially awesome torque.

The S90 T6 is EPA-rated at 21 mpg city, 31 highway, 25 combined. The T8 is rated at 30 mpg, and can travel 21 miles on electric power.

The S90 hasn’t been crash-tested by the NHTSA, but the IIHS rates it a Top Safety Pick. Standard safety technology includes automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, active lane control, blind-spot monitors, and a driver-assistance system called Pilot Assist that enables drivers to go hands-free for several seconds at a time. A surround-view camera system and automated parking assist are optional.

Model Lineup

The discontinuation of the S90 T5 means the entry-level price has increased, to $55,000 for the T6.

Standard equipment on the base S90 includes Among the standard inclusions are adaptive cruise control and a semi-self-driving feature.
Unfortunately, the elimination of the entry-level engine has bumped the 2020 S90’s base price up to $55,000. There are three models: Momentum, R-Design and Inscription.
Standard equipment on the Momentum includes leather upholstery, 18-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, Bluetooth, a 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system with smartphone integration, and Volvo’s suite of active safety and driver assist features.
The R-Design adds nappa leather, aluminum interior trim, a cooled glove box, four-zone climate control, laminated side windows, premium audio and a tailored dashboard and upper door panels. There’s also a unique 20-inch R-Design wheel option.
Inscription versions add cooled leather seats, walnut wood trim, additional seat padding and exterior color-coded mirror caps.

Packages available for all trims include a heated rear seat and steering wheel bundle, an Advanced package adding a HUD and other tech, and the Luxury package with cooled rear seats and massaging fronts.

The T8 plug-in hybrid powertrain starts at more than $64,000 for the Inscription trim level. Its cost can be lowered by federal tax credits and applicable state or local credits.


The S90 blends minimalism with classic sedan proportions including a long hood suggesting a rear-wheel-drive car, although it’s actually front-wheel drive. The sides were sculpted to make the sedan look low and long.
The headlights that Volvo designers call “Thor’s Hammer” sweep back to begin the sculpted sides that flow to the back. The boxy trunk lid looks modern and the C-shaped taillights complete its lighting signature. The finishing touch is a vintage Volvo badge.


The cabin is roomy and beautifully appointed. Thin roof pillars and low window lines make it feel open, while widening the outward visibility. The leather is superb and fittings luxurious, while the R-Design and Inscription have niceties, including a suede-like headliner and exotic trim materials.

Power-adjustment is standard for the front seats, while heating and cooling are options, as is massaging. The rear seats are actually maybe better, thanks to more than 40 inches of legroom and optional individual climate control and heating.

The trunk is 15.4 cubic feet, about average for the class.

Driving Impressions

The base T6 powertrain is a turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that makes 316 hp and 295 pound-feet of torque, mated to an 8-speed automatic. The S90 is not light, tipping the scales at 4,800 pounds, but the T6 can still push the S90 from 0 to 60 mph in 6.0 seconds.

The T8 adds a 10.4-kwh hybrid battery that can drive the S90 for up to 21 miles on electricity alone, and electric motors that (along with more turbo boost) bump the combined power up to 400 hp and 472 lb-ft, respectively. The T8 can do that 0-to-60 run in just 4.8 seconds, an eye-opening time.

The competent handling is augmented by a drive mode select system, which benefits from the optional air-ride suspension. The 18- and 19-inch wheels offer a softer ride than the 20-inchers that can be a bit on the harsh side.

Final Word

The 2929 Volvo S90 is a superb luxury sedan, with features and a feel all its own. The T6 powertrain is brilliant and the T8 plug-in hybrid is state of the art. If you’re tired of the same old luxury, here’s your new alternative.


—by Sam Moses, with driving impressions by The Car Connection

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