Volvo has a long established and well respected reputation for developing outstanding estate cars. And the V90 is the latest example of all that experience and technology. It looks fabulous, drives beautifully, boasts excellent connectivity and safety features and is also competitively priced.
The goodPractical, stylish, and packed with safety features
The badNo quite as dynamic as some estate cars
Volvo V90 D5 PowerPulse AWD Inscription Plus
If you’re considering moving home but find the costs of a removals van too steep, then fear not because Volvo has the perfect solution with its mighty V90 estate car – and in case you’re wondering there will be room for the kitchen sink.
There is more good news too because despite being a giant of a car with one of the biggest load capacities around, the V90 looks fabulously stylish and also boasts all the on-board technology you could wish for.
The V90 joins its siblings the S90 saloon and XC90 SUV as the flagship models in the Volvo line-up and it features an elegant design that is complemented by a modern, premium interior that’s packed with all the latest technical know-how.
It’s no easy task designing and building a vehicle that’s easy on the eye despite being just shy of five metres in length and capable of transporting a whopping 1,526 litres of luggage with its rear seats down, but the Volvo team have succeeded on every count.
The V90 is streamlined with sleek curves and lines, LED headlights with distinctive T-shaped daytime running lights, a piano black front grille, smart alloy wheels, a panoramic sunroof (part of an optional pack), a powered tailgate and instantly-recognisable tail lights.
Move inside the range-topping Inscription Plus model and there is a wealth of technology to explore within the minimalist and clutter-free cabin which is a true reflection of calming Scandinavian design.
Creature comforts are plentiful and include the likes of the finest Nappa soft leather upholstery, heated and ventilated seats, a Harman Kardon sound system with smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, four-zone climate control including a cooled glovebox, a heated steering wheel and an easy-to-operate Sensus touchscreen system where all the car’s features can be discovered.
Admittedly all this luxury doesn’t come cheap with the V90 PowerPulse Inscription Plus model with AWD priced at £49,985 (£57,360 with options), but it’s worth noting this was the all-singing, all-dancing car and the V90 line-up starts from a far more competitive £39,335.
Powering our test vehicle was a 2.0-litre D5 diesel engine delivering 235hp and this was mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. It could sprint from 0-62mph in a very swift 7.2 seconds and onto a top speed of 146mph. According to official figures the V90 delivers combined fuel economy of 39.2-43.5mpg under WLTP testing with carbon emissions of 146g/km.
Out on the open road, the V90 powers through bends with excellent stability and road holding. It’s perfectly balanced and the engine is smooth and responsive as the car fires through the gears.
The driver can select from different drive modes called Eco, Comfort and Dynamic that alter the manner in which the car reacts and behaves. The PowerPulse technology is also worth a mention as it helps to overcome turbo lag which is quite common in powerful turbocharged diesel engines. This new advanced set-up helps to make the engine more instantly responsive.
In busy town centres the V90 is relatively agile and the great all-round visibility is a plus factor, but the car will need a very large parking bay to avoid sticking out at either end.
Another rather clever feature that’s standard across the V90 line-up is the Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive technology. Using radar and a camera, it controls the steering up to 80mph to keep the car in its lane. It works in conjunction with the adaptive cruise control to keep at the selected speed limit or at a set distance from the car in front. It accelerates, steers and brakes for you, although the driver does have to touch the steering wheel from time to time or the system will deactivate. It’s very clever stuff and worked very well when tested on the busy M4 where it was competent in stop, start traffic and also when the road opened up a little.
Comfort levels for all occupants within the V90 are very high and back seat passengers can really stretch out and relax with vast amounts of leg space. And, of course, the car has those exceptional storage limits making it a very practical choice for a family or fleet vehicle.
Being a Volvo, you would expect the V90 to be brimming over with safety kit – and it is. The car was awarded the maximum five stars when it was tested for its Euro NCAP safety rating and it features a generous array of specifications including two new systems called Large Animal Detection which scans the road ahead for any objects and Run-Off Road Mitigation which helps keep the car within its road markings to avoid accidentally drifting away from the highway.
Factor in the all-wheel-drive system and the Volvo V90 is the ultimate proof that estate cars are no longer load-lugging bulks of steel that lumber along. Yes, they still offer all the practicality and versatility necessary, but they can also be fun to drive, easy on the eye and packed with techno treats at the same time.
Volvo V90 Cross Country – first drive (2017)
Volvo does a number of things exceptionally well – obviously safety is one factor readily associated with the Swedish marque, but styling, performance, pioneering technology, driving dynamics and value are additional aspects that should be credited to the brand.
And the latest V90 in bold, rugged Cross Country design is the perfect example of all those qualities in one very smart vehicle.
Volvo launched its V90 and S90 models last year in Momentum and Inscription trim grades and they were received with much acclaim from the experts, but now there is extra choice with a rugged Cross Country and athletic R-Design versions of the V90 and an R-Design styling for the S90.
We concentrated on the V90 Cross Country and had the opportunity to fully test the car both on and off road. The results were exceptional.
The Cross Country badging means the V90 estate boasts a raised ride height, a distinctive black gloss grille with chrome studs, front and rear skid plates, protective wheel arches, charcoal-coloured side sills and door mouldings. These styling cues mean the vehicle looks rugged, adventurous and has a total ‘go-anywhere’ stance.
Step inside and the immaculate cabin layout is inspired by Scandinavian culture. It’s beautifully simplistic, with clean lines and offers the occupants a clutter-free, yet feature-rich driving environment. Techno treats include the likes of Volvo’s Sensus Connect and Navigation systems with full European mapping, a 9-inch touchscreen with zoom and swipe functions along with voice control, two-zone climate control, a heated steering wheel and heated seats.
We tested out the D4 190bhp AWD Cross Country priced at £39,785 (£44,135 with options added). This diesel-powered model was mated to an ultra-smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox and can sprint from 0-62mph in just 8.8 seconds. It tops out at 130mph and according to official figures can deliver a combined fuel economy of 54.3mpg with carbon emissions of 138g/km.
Out on the open road, the V90 was an absolute peach to drive and the luxury of heated seats and a heated steering wheel certainly helped to fend off the cold, winter chill. All occupants are treated to high levels of comfort with ample room for three adults to stretch out in the back seats. And the massive boot has a capacity of 560 litres which is increased to 1,526 litres with the rear seats dropped flat.
The driver benefits from excellent all-round visibility and all the technology is easy to use without causing driver distraction. It’s simple to access functions such as the temperature, audio system, heated seats and sat nav without needing a degree in advanced computer programming and the readouts are clear and precise.
Out on the open road, the car handled beautifully and was assured when pushed hard into long, sweeping bends with no body roll to report. Short bursts of rapid acceleration, in order to overtake slower moving traffic, were easily achieved and the cabin area remained beautifully insulated against the outside world with very little engine, road surface or wind noise filtering through.
We also had the opportunity to put the all-wheel-drive car through its paces on an off-road course that would have seen a number of more established 4×4 models struggle. Few manufacturers would have been brave enough to put such a challenging course together and then subject their vehicles to it with standard tyres and no added assistance. Yet the V90 climbed confidently up muddy banks and could even be stopped halfway up to test out the hill-start system. It then remained totally composed when descending steep drops and finally it ambled with ease through the mud and boggy tracks. The car returned in quite a state which in a way was testament to its awesome off-roading capabilities.
When it comes to safety the V90 features a whole host of systems that are not so easy to spot, but are certainly worth speaking about. For example, the City Safety suite of aids works by using an integrated radar and camera unit to scan the area in front of the vehicle and then identify any objects it detects. If, for example, a large animal such as a deer steps out in front of the car, the system automatically applies maximum braking force to avoid a collision or reduce the severity as much as possible. This function works during the day or night and is an addition to the City Safety feature that helps detect cyclists or pedestrians.
And whilst on the subject of safety, the V90 also has a run off road function which steers the car back on course if it detects you are moving too close to the edge of the road. Finally the Pilot Assist which is a major step towards semi-autonomous driving and will keep you in the correct motorway lane whilst watching out for any hazards. You still have to keep your hands on the steering wheel every few seconds, but it works at speeds up to 80mph, braking, accelerating and steering for you and it no longer needs a pilot lead vehicle to focus on.
So all in all, the new chunky V90 Cross Country model is quite the all-round package. It looks the business, is very capable when put to the test on and off road and it’s packed with innovative technology.
Volvo V90 – first drive (2016)
According to the RSPCA there were 42,000 incidents involving collisions with deer on UK roads last year and it’s a problem facing drivers up and down the country.
So anything that can be done to reduce that number has to be welcomed with open arms. And that’s just where Volvo comes into play.
Of course, the Volvo name is synonymous with safety and the latest XC90 was deemed the safest car ever tested by Euro NCAP. But now, the new V90 estate which has the same architectural platform as the popular SUV has taken that safety baton and carried it even further down the track.
That’s because the latest car (along with its S90 saloon equivalent) boasts a raft of safety systems and one of them can help prevent collisions with large animals such as deer. It is part of the vehicle’s City Safety suite of aids which is fitted as standard to all S90 and V90 models. It works by using an integrated radar and camera unit to scan the area in front of the car and identify any objects it detects. If a large animal such as a deer or horse steps out in front of the vehicle, the system automatically applies maximum braking force to avoid a collision or reduce the severity as much as possible. This function works during the day or night and is an addition to the City Safety feature that helps detect cyclists or pedestrians.
And whilst on the subject of safety, the new V90 also features a couple of other pioneering ideas. The run off road function which steers the car back on track if it detects you are moving too close to the edge of the road. Finally the Pilot Assist which is a step towards semi-autonomous driving. This system is great for motorway driving and will keep you in the correct lane whilst watching out for any hazards. You still have to keep your hands on the steering wheel every few seconds, but it works at speeds up to 80mph and no longer needs a lead vehicle to focus on.
The V90 is very easy on the eye with its beautifully streamlined curves, distinctive upright grille housing the company emblem, striking alloy wheels, and Volvo’s iconic Thor-hammer headlights.
Move inside and buyers cannot fail to be impressed by the level of on-board technology as all models are lavishly equipped with the likes of Sensus Connect and Navigation systems with full European mapping, a 9-inch centre console touchscreen with zoom and swipe functions along with voice control, two-zone climate control and heated seats.
The V90 is priced from £34,555 and is available in two trim levels called Momentum and Inscription. At present there is a choice of two diesel-driven, 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines – the D4 190bhp and the D5 235bhp. Both engines are mated to 8-speed automatic gearboxes. A T8 twin engine plug-in hybrid model will be introduced a little later on as will a sporty R-Design version.
The front-wheel drive D4-powered variant is likely to account for about 70 per cent of V90 sales, so it was that particular car in Momentum trim that we tested on road route around the Berkshire countryside.
It carried a price-tag of £41,250 with options fitted and could sprint to 62mph from a standing start in 8.5 seconds and onto a top speed of 140mph. According to official figures it can achieve combined fuel economy of 62.8mpg with carbon emissions of 119g/km.
The first thing to mention is how beautifully spacious and light the car is, and despite being a larger-than-life estate model, the V90 is agile, nimble and very easy to manoeuvre with a tight turning circle. In busy congested traffic, it simply cruised along and then on the faster roads and motorways it glided effortlessly through the gears with very little road, engine or wind noise filtering through to the cabin.
All the controls are simple to use and the interior has a crisp, clutter-free feel to it with a host of techno treats and creature comforts just one touch away.
We tested out the Pilot Assist on the motorway and it was ultra-efficient. The steering wheel becomes much heavier as it takes control of keeping the car in its lane. Add in the adaptive cruise control and the vehicle is the closest step to semi-autonomous driving I have experienced to date. It’s spookily effective as it gently turns, brakes and accelerates accordingly.
Comfort levels throughout the cabin are superb with bags of space in the back. And the boot can swallow up 560 litres of luggage. Drop the rear seats and that capacity rises to a whopping 1,526 litres.
And when you factor in all the car’s connectivity capabilities, it’s clear to see why Volvo has the premium German marques in its sights. The V90 may not feature all the blistering driving dynamics they offer, but it can easily compete when it comes to on-board technology, comfort and brand confidence.