Sunday, September 03, 2017

Miscellany: 2017 Volvo S90 T5 review - Bil På Svenska

The guys and I took a big road trip across the Great Smoky Mountains last month for the solar eclipse, and we decided to do it in style, upgrading our rental car to the Volvo S90. Covering almost 1,000 miles in four days tells you a lot about a car, so here are the high and low points of Volvo's flagship sedan:


Standard Equipment

At the rental center, we had a choice between the Volvo and the Cadillac CTS. We opted for the S90 because even a low-level model has all the tech you could expect from a $40,000+ car: keyless entry, heads-up display, LED headlights, adaptive cruise control, blindspot detection...the list goes on. It's a refreshing change if you're used to being nickel-and-dimed by the German automakers.

Interior Space

The S90 is sized like a 5-series or an E-class, but thanks to its front wheel-drive layout, there is an insane amount of space for the rear seats. The person behind me could literally put one foot in front of the other in his footwell, and even had enough space to work on a laptop. If you're used to big family sedans like the Toyota Avalon, you'll feel right at home here.

Fuel Economy

The base S90 T5's turbo inline four (the T6 trim adds a supercharger) is remarkably thrifty. We hooned the Volvo through twisty mountain passes (including the famous "Tail of the Dragon"), long stretches of Carolina highway, and the urban jungles of Atlanta, and through it all the car managed to get a healthy 27 mpg. While premium gas is required, it's an impressive figure from a car as large as this.



While the S90's cabin is relatively well-insulated from wind and road noise even at triple-digit speeds, the powertrain doesn't do the car any favors. The engine can sound positively buzzy at high revs, and you never get the feeling of effortless power that you should out of a mid-size luxury car.

Handling and Acceleration

Perhaps the biggest knock against the S90 is what it's not - a sports sedan. With SUVs dominating the market (including the S90's stablemate, the XC90), there are few reasons to get a big luxury car if you're not scratching the performance itch. But Volvo has tuned the S90 to be a luxury cruiser, not a corner-carver or drag racer. It's quick and handles okay, but there is no getting away from the fact that it's not as engaging to drive as its competition.


We liked the Volvo a lot. While perhaps not the right car for people who put performance above all else, it was a huge upgrade from the bland econoboxes that form most rental car fleets. I'm not sure I'd ever actually buy one, but I'll be certain to give its smaller, sportier siblings a try the next time I'm car-shopping.


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