$34,383 - $40,491

2017 Volvo S90 Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 Volvo S90 was new.


Performance: 8.5

The all-new 2017 Volvo S90's performance is mostly well-reviewed. It drives well overall, even though it's underwhelming in some specific areas like handling. Both of the two available engines are adequate for daily driving, and fuel economy is above average.

  • "Out on the open road, the S90 is quite nice to drive." -- Motor Trend
  • "… driving impressions of the new S90 become inevitably caught up in appraisals of the new sedan's driver-assist systems. But if you turn off most of the electronic driving aids, you will find the S90 is a terrific car to drive yourself. While it might not be the equal of rear-drive, German-designed competitors in full-on performance driving -- something most luxury sedan drivers never undertake, by the way -- we found the all-wheel-drive T6 version of the S90 to be a satisfying sports sedan with laudable levels of road-holding, acceleration and steering." -- Kelley Blue Book
  • "The S90 is an impressive luxury effort, but ultimately still lacks some of the polish of its established European competitors, like the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and the redesigned Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The S90 rides just a little rougher, the handling has a little less bite and the engine sounds just a bit more strained when asked to deliver." -- Edmunds

Acceleration and Power

The 2017 S90 comes standard with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine that makes 250 horsepower, along with an eight-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. An optional powertrain includes a 316-horsepower, turbo- and supercharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

According to EPA estimates, the standard S90 gets 23 mpg in the city and 34 mpg on the highway, which is good for the class. The twin-charged engine returns fuel efficiency of 22 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway.

Both of the S90's engines provide a steady delivery of power and are good for most driving situations. They are, however, not overly thrilling. The automatic transmission shifts smoothly and provides for strong acceleration with responsive downshifts.

  • "As we drove S90 and V90 T6 Inscription models during the media launch, the dual forced-induction systems provided near-instantaneous torque, applying power smoothly and continuously to redline." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Performance from the T5 engine is good. It's better from the T6, but neither engine can really be called sporty. Enthusiasts may scoff, but most drivers will be perfectly satisfied, especially since the smooth 8-speed automatic transmission works so transparently." -- Autotrader
  • "It sounds like a belt-and-suspenders solution, but the supercharger provides an immediate power boost before the turbocharger kicks in to take over the job. It's not a rip snorting powerplant, but it still moves the S90 convincingly and with an alert kickdown from the 8-speed automatic transmission. For a bit more excitement, the driver can select 'Dynamic' mode (one of four available performance settings). This alters the transmission shift points and frees up the throttle for a decided improvement in acceleration." -- Consumer Guide

Handling and Braking

The S90 has capable overall handling, which focuses mostly on comfort and stability. It is less engaging and athletic than some competitors, though. Critics disagree over whether steering is too heavy or too light, but agree that the S90 lacks sportiness overall. Ride quality over uneven pavement is good, and the car stays comfortable and relaxed at highway speeds.

  • "Two days of driving the S90 T6 left me with the impression that while the sedan has its engaging moments, this car's forte is grandly touring in comfort. Steering effort, in any of the adjustable mode settings, is far too light to be considered competitively sporty, as is suspension tuning – even with the optional air suspension. Think of the S90 as the Swedish equivalent of a Cadillac CT6. It's so good at almost everything, but not at quickening the driver's pulse." -- New York Daily News
  • "Overall, the Volvo rides like a proper luxury sedan, but falls short of its competitors in both steering feel and ride quality. Although precise, the S90's steering feels needlessly heavy and resistant. Even at cruising speeds and in 'comfort' driving mode, the wheel requires more effort than seems necessary. It's meant to impart a sportier feeling, but ultimately leads to quicker driver fatigue. It's not a deal breaker and you probably won't notice it except on longer drives, but it's one of those unpolished details that keeps the S90 from being a class benchmark." -- Edmunds
  • "Out on the road, the S90 soaks up the pavement smoothly. Highway performance is especially pleasant and relaxing, especially once you come to terms with Pilot Assist's gentle intervention." -- Autotrader

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