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2019 Volvo V90 Four Seasons Update 1: “I Don’t Think She Knew She Hit the Car”

A couple of silly mishaps affect our long-term longroof.

Aaron GoldwriterBrandon Limphotographer

EL SEGUNDO, California — When the Volvo V90 joined our Four Seasons fleet this summer, we predicted it wouldn't spend much time sitting around at the office parking lot, and we were right. The Volvo has clocked 5,000 miles in its first three months, and its popularity shows no signs of waning. Even when we have a selection of high-end metal around, there's usually someone who wants to take the Volvo home.

Yours truly was one of the first to take the V90 on a road trip, from our home base near Los Angeles up to San Francisco, California. As expected, the ProPilot Assist system, which provides semi-autonomous driving with adaptive cruise control and automatic lane centering, proved to be a boon—after 10 hours of driving I pulled up to the hotel feeling awake and alert. For long slogs such as that, it can be helpful to drive a car that shares the duties. Not that you can fold your hands in your lap and let the Volvo do all the work. ProPilot requires a hand on the wheel, albeit a light one, but the simple act of eliminating constant steering corrections does wonders to relieve fatigue, and in heavy traffic it's nice to rest one's feet on the floor while the Volvo follows the ebb and flow of traffic speeds on its own.

One thing that surprised me, though, was how often I had to stop for fuel. The V90's predecessor, the V70, had a relatively massive, 18.5-gallon tank, enough for a day of driving, but the larger V90's 15.9-gallon tank meant stopping for fuel a couple of times on days involving lots of miles. That said, perhaps it isn't entirely fair to castigate the V90, as its comfortable seats and automated driver assistance features invite extralong stints behind the wheel.

Shortly after the road trip, the V90's roof rails—listed on the original sticker, but not delivered with the vehicle—showed up. We fit them to the car, curious to see if there were any major differences in fuel economy or noise. The answer to both: No. Fuel economy has remained fairly consistent, though our 21-mpg average falls well short of the 25-mpg EPA combined rating. Highway fuel economy has been in the mid-20s, though the EPA puts it at 31. We're hoping the efficiency will improve as the Volvo gets more miles on it.

Given its 10,000-mile recommended service intervals, we figured the Volvo wouldn't be seeing a dealership service bay any time soon. And yet our Volvo seems to be a magnet for trouble—though most of it is not the car's fault. During the V90's second week with us, an oldster in a Camry backed into it in a parking lot as senior editor Nelson Ireson watched. "She didn't stop," he said. "I don't think she even knew she hit the car. She must be from Los Angeles." We initially thought the damage was just a scuff, but a closer look revealed the ribbing beneath the plastic bumper showing through in bas relief. We're pretty sure that means the bumper cover will need to be replaced at some point.

And if that wasn't enough, as the V90 was coming back from its initial photo shoot, it caught a rock to the windshield. That was one repair that couldn't wait. The cost of replacement it, including recalibration of the radar and cameras that live just behind the rearview mirror, ran a hefty $1,547.42.

The V90 did generate a little quiet drama of its own on my trip to San Francisco—quite literally. After stopping for lunch, I switched the car on and found there was no sound—no seatbelt chime, no stereo, no ticking from the turn signals. (Yep, those sounds come from the speakers nowadays.) Power-cycling the car didn't solve the problem. 20 minutes of driving in silence was all I could stand, so I pulled over to contemplate the fuse map and find a likely culprit. No dice—but when I restarted the car, the sound was back. The problem has not recurred.

A couple of days later, the Tire Pressure Monitoring System alert lit up, saying that all four tires were critically low. A check with a tire-pressure gauge showed they were fine. Resetting the TPMS system made the message go away, and this problem hasn't recurred either.

Since then the Volvo has managed to stay out of trouble, but we're wondering if more glitches (or misfortune) will show up as we pile on the miles. The big wagon's popularity among the staff shows no signs of waning, so we should know soon enough.

Our 2019 Volvo V90 T6 Inscription

OUT OF POCKET Windshield replacement, $1,557.42
ENGINE 2.0-liter supercharged and turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4; 316 hp @ 5,700 rpm, 295 lb-ft @ 2,200 rpm
TRANSMISSION 8-speed automatic
LAYOUT 4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD station wagon
EPA MILEAGE 21/31 mpg (city/highway)
LxWxH 194.3 x 74.0 x 58.1 in
WHEELBASE 115.8 in
WEIGHT 4,248 lb
0-60 MPH 5.8 sec (est)
TOP SPEED 155 mph
OUR OPTIONS Advanced Package, $2,500
20" Inscription wheels, $800
Massaging front seats, $600
Bowers and Wilkins audio, $3,200
Heated steering wheel, $300
115-volt outlet, $150
Rear air suspension, $1,200
Charcoal headliner, $200
Roof load bars, $250
Metallic paint, $645