All Stars

2018 AUTOMOBILE All-Star: 2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design

We're still smitten with an old-school segment

Anyone older than 40 remembers a day when there were more wagons on the road than high-riding SUVs and crossovers. Sadly, that day has come and gone, and no matter how much we want it to, there will never be a Cinderella-story comeback. Dead segment driving, you might say.

Thankfully there are still a few companies keeping the fading wagon dream alive here in America—chief among them Volvo. And in case you hadn’t noticed, we love us some Volvos. The V90 wagon’s S90 sedan sibling scored a Daily Double last year as our 2017 Design of the Year and a 2017 All-Star. It’s pretty simple why: The new Volvos are that good.

To clarify, there are two flavors of the V90, the straight-up wagon New York bureau chief Jamie Kitman and friends drove to South Carolina and back as part of a feature story late last year, and the V90 Cross Country, a slightly cladded and lifted version Volvo can better market as a crossover alternative (because of course). As Kitman pointed out, the non-Cross Country V90 is only available for special order, so you really have to want one to get one. We wanted, and we went with a V90 T6 AWD with the R-Design package sprayed up in a sweet metallic shade called Bursting Blue for our All-Stars evaluation vehicle.

“Sharp—that’s how you describe the Volvo V90,” contributor Chris Nelson said. “It looks sharp, drives directly, operates in a straightforward manner, and has clean-cut aesthetics. Minimalist design means superfluous bits are contained to small trim pieces and the like.” Put another way, the V90 is tacklike, never tacky, and although it’s no hot-rod sled, it’s plenty capable dynamically.

 

 

“Beneath the V90’s slick surface treatments reside the usual Volvo underpinnings—a feeling that is solid, trustworthy, built to last,” contributor Basem Wasef said.

All-wheel-drive versions of the Volvo V90 come with the 316-horsepower tune of Volvo’s 2.0-liter super- and turbocharged I-4 paired with an eight-speed automatic transmission. (Front-drive models get a 250-horse turbo-only variant.) The powertrain provided more than enough motivation on Nevada’s freeways, state roads, and the delightful stretch of Highway 157, also known as Kyle Canyon Road, near our cozy and accommodating base camp at The Resort on Mount Charleston. “This I-4 is plenty of engine for this relatively big car, further proof there is a substitute for cubic inches,” Detroit bureau chief Todd Lassa said.

Relatively big is a good way to put the V90. At 54 cubic feet of cargo room with the second-row seats folded, it’s nine cubes shy of its XC60 crossover cousin. That’s more than enough room to pack in gear for two for a weekend at the lodge—or for a pack of dogs.

Inside, Volvo carved out an interior style that evokes a Swedish dance club for the R-Design—industrial chic—especially with the killer optional Bowers & Wilkins audio system spinning the cuts. Its 9.0-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen, with its tabletlike approach to operating vehicle features and connectivity options, is among the best going—although some editors pined for a few more vital control buttons. Some things never change, though. “The seats are typical Volvo—mega comfortable,” contributor Marc Noordeloos said.

Another Volvo constant is an emphasis on safety, and as with the rest of its lineup, the V90 is stacked with more nannies than an au pair convention. The overarching focus is on crash avoidance, including detecting moose, which is a thing in Sweden, apparently.

We’ll let design editor Robert Cumberford have the last words: “If you like station wagons—I do, very much—this is the one to have. Good-looking, great interior, plenty of room, plenty of performance, good road behavior. Of all the cars in the test fleet, this is the one that I can imagine buying and keeping in use for 10 to 15 years without much maintenance expense and with safety for all passengers. Nice is a good word for this car. And it will be the right word far in the future, when colors have faded and there are scratches and dents and signs of normal wear and all the new has disappeared.”

2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design Specifications

PRICE  $56,945/$68,290 (base/as tested)
ENGINE  2.0L DOHC 16-valve supercharged and turbocharged I-4/316 hp @ 5,700 rpm, 295 lb-ft @ 2,200-5,400 rpm
TRANSMISSION  8-speed automatic
LAYOUT  4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD wagon
EPA MILEAGE  22/31 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H  194.3 x 74.0 x 58.1 in
WHEELBASE  115.8 in
WEIGHT  4,189 lb
0-60 MPH  5.8 sec
TOP SPEED  130 mph

Buying Guide
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2018 Volvo V90

2018 Volvo V90

MSRP $51,950 T5 Inscription FWD Wagon

EPA MPG:

24 City / 34 Hwy

Cargo (Std/Max):

NA / 25.5 cu. ft.

Seating:

5/5