Beautifully Designed and Ideally Built

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Think a Swedish-built sedan could never infiltrate the luxury market dominated by BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi? Say hello to the 2017 Volvo S90.

The new flagship replaces the Volvo S80 as a slightly wider and longer offering. Its sleek exterior features take Volvo beyond its reputation. It’s no longer the manufacturer of sturdy, stodgy vehicles only at their best in Scandinavian winters.

Equipped with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder, turbo-charged engine, the Volvo S90 is offered in T5 and T6 models. The latter delivers 316 horsepower while utilizing the turbocharger and supercharger. Both models have eight-speed automatic transmissions, with the T6 all-wheel drive.

As expected in luxury sedans, the Volvo S90 has a substantial standard features list. The upscale Inscription trim I drove added a healthy supply of upgrades, including 19-inch wheels, adaptive LED headlights and headlight washers. Nappa leather upholstery envelops the front seats, which have heating and cooling options. And consider: there’s a leather-wrapped dash panel, walnut trim accents, four-zone climate control, a 12-inch instrument display and Apple CarPlay integration.

The S90 drives with confidence and corners with grace. It’s in control, with tight turning in city driving and powerful, quiet advancement at highway speeds. The interior is elegant, dominated by chrome and metal accents and wood inlays. Seating is plush, with adjustments to suit any body style or driving position preferences. The 9-inch vertical touch-screen is handy. It controls most systems with intuitive menus. One large knob and a row of buttons work the rear defroster, stereo control and hazard lights.

Considering its legacy as an excellent winter vehicle, the new Volvo has a pass-through behind the fold-down center armrest. It’s ideal for skis. Buttons on the shelf behind the backseat release each section, with the 60/40 seats folding flat. It expands the cargo area for more winter equipment, grocery bags or cargo needs. The 17.7 cubic foot space is the segment’s largest.

The Volvo S90 is a beautifully designed, ideally built winter vehicle, like all Volvo models. But it fares well in all conditions, and it should make its German counterparts take notice. It’s the best car Volvo offers, and it shines. 

James Raia, a freelance writer based in Sacramento, California, specializes in sports and lifestyle topics. He publishes the website


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