Someday soon, as an homage to not-too-long-ago automotive history, a manufacturer will introduce a vehicle called a station wagon. A good choice would be this year’s Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design. The 2021 editions, like other carmakers’ choices in recent years, are called wagons. It’s as if the “station” designation is an insult.
The original classification derived from families carrying their heavy trundle suitcases to train stations. The long wagons, precursors to sport utility vehicles, became “station wagons.” Beauties they were, with three rows of seating, lots of interior and exterior wood and comfort to spare. Road trips were joyful.
The Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design is the modern-day equivalent to yesteryear’s classics. It’s a holdover generation, but the already sleek exterior styling has a few upgrades. The grille has been revised, as have fascias front and rear, taillights and alloy wheels. The exhaust pipe is now hidden, and several new exterior colors are available.
The new wagon features a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 316 horsepower and a turbocharged and supercharged engine. The wagon accelerates with a slight lag, but its performance is impressive. It powers down the road with authority, with the only downside being a strong possibility that freeway speed limits will be exceeded without a driver’s knowledge. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard for both the AWD R-Design and the smaller 250 horsepower option.
Cargo space presumably is still a priority for wagon buyers. It’s the one area in which the new Volvo trails competitors, but it doesn’t feel cramped. The seating arrangement provides plenty of room for suitcases of all kinds, grocery bags and golf clubs. It also has a hands-free power liftgate.
New standard equipment this year also includes automatic on/o adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beams and high-pressure washers, slippery road/ hazard-light alert, a power-operated cargo cover and two USB-C ports for the rear passengers and wireless charging.
Volvo doesn’t scrimp with its luxury wagon. A panoramic moonroof, wiper blades with integrated washers, leather upholstery and heated/10-way power-adjustable front seats add to the Swedish nature of making vehicles. They always feel solid and safe.
Automatic cruise control is a superior feature, available in most new vehicles. The Volvo V90’s system is located via a push button on the steering wheel. Unlike other vehicles’ less-than-intuitive approaches, the V90’s is a light, one-touch process, with automatic decreases in speed if the vehicle in front is too close. Re-acceleration is equally smooth.
The top-line Bowers & Wilkins sound system is a $3,200 upgrade and the head-up display option is $1,500. A station wagon approaching $70,000 was likely never imagined by early adopters to family travel, but by today’s standards, the new Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design is as good as it gets.