Road Tested: 2017 Volvo S90 T6 AWD

The 2017 Volvo S90 T6 AWD offers comfortable ride quality, safety and one of the coolest infotainment systems ever.

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SEATTLE, April 25, 2017 — Volvo has easily been one of the most sought-after auto brands when folks think of safety. Its accomplishments in the areas of safety has done a great deal to cement a loyal fan base around the world.

Its 2017 S90 T6 sedan is a luxury sedan that packs all-wheel-drive, comfort and interior space in spades as well as has one of the most feature-rich infotainment centers we’ve ever encountered in any car, at any price.

This S90 uses Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) which uses a transverse layout, even though this car is all-wheel-drive. This allows Volvo to produce a number of cars on a unified platform, such as its XC60. There’s some stiff competition or this car by way of the Audi A6 3.0T, BMW 535i, Cadillac’s CTS 3.6 and the Mercedes E300.


Under the hood of this T6 AWD model, lies an inline 4-cylinder, turbocharged and supercharged engine that has a rated output of 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque. To reduce turbo-lag, the supercharger handles the boost up until 3500 rpm and then the turbocharged kicks in. Paired with the eight-speed automatic transmission, it’s enough to propel the T6 from zero to 60 in around 5.6 seconds. The main issue here that the engine is fighting is the 4,222 pounds that the car tips the scales at. Shifts are smooth and the transmission also has a sport mode with a more aggressive shifting pattern.

The EPA gives the car a fuel economy rating of 22 in the city and 31 on the highway. Because we drive it in the Bay Area, however, our average miles per gallon was towards the lower end of this spectrum.

The design language of the S90 blends Euro-design styles with hints of both Japanese and American styling as well. It has some elements of masculinity to it – the front grill, for example – while still having software, more feminine areas such as its sense of rounded and smooth edges.

Inside, you’ll be rewarded with some very comfortable and inviting leather seating that has more than enough room for four adults – there’s a ton of legroom in the back. The way Volvo tastefully incorporated the wood trim and other high-quality materials, give the 90 a very upscale look.

The cars cabin space feels very large inside, considering its overall dimensions.

Powered by B&W (Bowers and Wilkins) audio, the infotainment system is really in a league all its own. It’s the first touch-screen-based system we’ve seen that navigates similar to a cell phone or tablet. The end-result is a menu system that gives you control over most everything inside the car and some of its driving dynamics.

The precision of audio clarity exhibited by the B&W system is easily amongst the best you’ll find in any car. However, it could use quite a bit more bass response – what’s present is good but far from as great as it should be and pails in contrast to others. If they can find a way to ratchet-up the bass response, they’d have the makings for what could be the best factory audio system around.

Even though its Navigation System doesn’t use Google Earth, the mapping is still clear, easy to read and is one of the better “non-Google” mapping systems we’ve used.

Driving the S90 T6 can leave one with mixed feelings. On one hand, it does have a great deal going for its ride quality, creature comforts, technology, interior roominess and safety. On the other hand, it doesn’t drive nearly as sporty as some of its competition. The acceleration is good but not as great as other cars in this price range from zero to 60 and the overall handling exhibits more body roll and less predictability then some might like.

However, we’re not convinced that the “German sedan buyer” is the target market for this car, anyway. The ideal customer will be one who’s a Volvo loyalist, already, wants a car with a sporty feel to it and absolutely falls in love with the execution of how well the interior is put together.

Volvo has done a rather admirable job of making this car distinctly Volvo – offering one a measure of solitude, comfort and style that’s all unique to the brand.

If you’re in the market for a quality sedan that’s built for safety, a comfortable ride, decent power and fuel economy, then you should look to test-drive the S90 T6 AWD.

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