Volvo V90 driving

Volvo V90 review

The Volvo V90 is a large estate car that’s luxurious, practical and beautifully designed. It comes with the latest tech and safety equipment.

Pros

  • Stylish, high-quality interior
  • Lots of space for people and luggage
  • Class-leading safety features

Cons

  • Limited choice of engines
  • Plug-in hybrid version costs more
  • Some rivals are more spacious

Summary

“The V90 is a smart, sophisticated and luxurious estate car.”

The V90 is Volvo’s largest estate car. It’s an appealing blend of practicality and luxury and there’s a rugged Cross Country model that adds a dash of SUV capability and character. 

On the outside the V90 is elegant and understated. Inside you’ll find a delightful blend of high-quality materials and the latest technology. The seats are comfortable and supportive over long distances, while the suspension has been designed to be as smooth as possible. The V90 is one of the safest cars you can buy, too, with an array of features designed to help protect you and your family.

It’s cost-effective thanks to a range of efficient petrol and diesel engines and there’s a low-emissions plug-in hybrid model that could really slash your tax bills. An upgrade in 2020 included minor cosmetic changes and even better fuel economy.

What's the interior like?

“The interior of the Volvo V90 looks upmarket and feels luxurious. It’s also extremely comfortable.”

The V90’s interior is stylish, with a sleek design and clever use of lighting. The seats are extremely comfortable, especially when travelling long distances.

You control the majority of the car’s functions through a large central touchscreen that works like a tablet, so you should have no trouble getting to grips with it. An excellent voice recognition system means you don’t have to lift your hands from the leather-trimmed steering wheel to use many features, while Apple CarPlay was an option when new.

There’s lots of space for five adults inside, with the optional electric slide-and-tilt panoramic sunroof doing little to rob tall people of headroom. 

The standard-fit electric boot lid opens to reveal a load capacity of 560 litres, which is more than enough for your suitcases or a month’s worth of groceries. A button in the boot folds the back seats, giving you the practicality of a small van.

What's it like to drive?

“Everything about the V90 is designed to make you feel relaxed behind the wheel.”

Volvo has focused on making the V90 as smooth and effortless to drive as possible. Had a hard day at the office? Endured hours at the soft play area? The journey home in the V90 should ease your pain.

There are faster and more agile cars in its class, but few cars offer the same blend of quietness and ride comfort. An eight-speed automatic gearbox is standard, so you don’t even have to worry about changing gear. 

All engines are turbocharged, whether you choose petrol or diesel. There’s also a plug-in hybrid ‘Twin Engine’ model (re-badged ‘Recharge’ in 2020), which offers the ability to travel 35 miles using electric power. You just have to remember to recharge the batteries overnight.

The more powerful versions have four-wheel drive as standard. So too does the Cross Country model, along with higher ground clearance and some extra SUV-style exterior trim.

Is it cost-efficient to buy and run?

“The Volvo V90 offers better value for money than its key rivals.”

Not only is a used Volvo V90 roughly the same price as a rival Audi A6 Avant, BMW 5 Series Touring or Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate, you get more for your money. There are more features on the entry-level model, along with extra safety equipment.

The engines are very efficient, with some versions of the 2.0-litre diesel achieving an average of about 50mpg. Even the four-wheel drive version is capable of an official 47mpg.

Don’t rule out the smooth 2.0-litre petrol engine. If you spend most of your time in the city or on school runs, it’s probably your best choice. The official average is about 40mpg, with a bit less from the four-wheel drive version.

You’re unlikely to achieve the official economy of more than 100mpg in the V90 plug-in hybrid, but the tax benefits and ability to cover a typical commute using electric power alone makes it a tempting alternative.

How reliable and safe is it?

“This is one of the safest cars you can buy.”

Volvo is known for being safety-focused, so it’s no surprise that the V90, with its five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, is one of the safest cars you can buy. A five-star Euro NCAP safety rating is only half the story, because the V90 scored near-perfect marks for adult occupant protection and driver assistance systems. In short, it’s packed with equipment designed to help prevent a collision, or minimise its impact if the worst should happen.

Reliability is generally good and any recalls should have been carried out by a Volvo dealer.

Which one is best for you?

Best for economy - T8 Twin Engine/Recharge

Best for family - Inscription

Best for fun - Cross Country

Even the most affordable Volvo V90 is well equipped. Features include a 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system, 12.3-inch digital instrument panel, dual-zone climate control and leather seats that may well be more comfortable than your living room sofa.

The R-Design adds a touch of sporty flair, the Inscription adds more luxury, while the Cross Country is a stylish alternative to an SUV. Look for options that might have been added when the car was new, including a Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system.

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