New Car Reviews

Better Vibrations? Our Long-Term Volvo V90 Hopes for a Good Patch

Here's to things hopefully looking up for our elegant Swedish wagon—for a change.

Long-Term 2019 Volvo V90 Update: Summer 2019 ( 4 of 4 ) Miles to date: 0

MANHATTAN BEACH, California—“After its run of bad luck, I hadn’t spent much time in the V90 until last night, but the commute home and the drive back into the office this morning was more than enough to remind me why it’s an Automobile All-Star,” notes senior editor and vintage Volvo collector Nelson Ireson of the 2019 V90 in our long-term fleet.

Well said, Mr. Ireson, couldn’t agree more. I’m reminded of the V90’s awesomeness every time I slip behind the wheel. The black beauty is elegant Swedish design incarnate, and it’s augmented by a sporty driving experience and cutting-edge engineering. Our 2019 Volvo V90 T6 Inscription has racked up close to 12K on the odometer so far, with most of those miles put on by commuting and road-tripping around Southern California from the San Fernando Valley to Orange County. It’s made a few Bay Area runs as well, and the car recently weathered a trek to the wicked hot Mojave Desert for a photo shoot with our Four Seasons 2019 Infiniti QX50.

If you’ve been following the trials and tribulations of our V90, you know that it’s suffered a number of nicks, dings, and other strange happenings. So much so that we were starting to think some evil Norse god put a curse on the poor thing. The cracked windshield and bent wheels have been replaced. We had the tires swapped out ($90) and received an alignment ($89.11), both by independent repair shops in the Valley. Figuring out what to do with the bent wheels is still a matter of debate around the office; they’re currently residing under senior editor Aaron Gold’s desk. Maybe the curse was put on Gold himself, who fessed up to scraping the Volvo’s right-rear fender one morning, a wound that matches the (still unsolved) minor hit that appeared on the front bumper of the same side of the car.

“I was backing into a spot—actually, I had already backed into it, quite successfully, but decided I should move the car a little to the right. I didn’t turn on the 360-degree camera, which I usually do when I dock this boat,” noted Gold. “The backup beeper was beeping, but I figured it was seeing the curb behind the car, but then—SCREEEE. I had scraped the side of the bumper on a very narrow metal pole, and the damage just went into the lower edge of the sheetmetal.” This note was followed by several expletives in our logbook.

Then there was what has become known as “The Saga of the Brakes: From Front to Back.”

It all started when the V90 threw a check-engine light at 9,200 miles, shortly after the tires were aligned. We thought that perhaps Mercury was in retrograde, but since the car was nearing its 10K service, we took it to the dealer. That maintenance was performed, and they also replaced the fuel-filler neck to fix an evaporation leak under warranty. Several staffers complained about a speaker buzz, but the dealer couldn’t re-create the problem (of course). All seemed good—other than the speaker buzz, that is, which predictably returned the next day.

Still, the V90 soldiered on until a couple of weeks later, when social-media editor Billy Rehbock noticed that the front end was starting to shake again, an issue we thought we had remedied after replacing the bent wheels. The shaking was confirmed by other staffers along with a noise when you hit the brakes—especially at higher speeds.

“I brought the car to Galpin Volvo and they found a service bulletin,” said Gold. “The job notes read: Front brake pads coming apart. Yikes! As near as I can tell from their description, bits of the pad were coming off and adhering to the rotor. They replaced the front brakes and pads under warranty. They also chased down the buzzing speaker and ordered a part.”

All was good again, or so we thought. A few days later we noticed the noise when you hit the brakes was back, though this time it was a little quieter and seemed to be coming from the rear of the car. So back to the dealer it went. Apparently no one had checked the rear brakes when we had the fronts done. Though they were not affected by the service bulletin, they also had the same problem. Galpin replaced the rear brakes and pads, also under warranty. Saga complete, fingers crossed.

On a brighter note, Volvo supplied us with a dog cage that we had installed in the rear compartment, but unfortunately this writer’s dog refuses to get into it. Hopefully Gold’s dog isn’t as snooty so we can get some use out of it.

We’re knocking on the V90’s wood trimmed glove box that the wagon’s run of issues is finally over, because now that summer’s finally here, we’re hoping to take it on few road trips and open up that huge sunroof—one of our favorite features of the vehicle.

“A gorgeous interior, luxurious materials, a quiet cabin, a smooth ride, and more than enough shove from its twin-charged T6 powertrain—and all of that on top of the incredibly functional wagon body shape. Even after all the adversity ours has faced, it’s a car I’d gladly drive anywhere, anytime,” Ireson also added to the logbook.

Sounds like we already have a volunteer for a summer fun run.

Our 2019 Volvo V90 T6 Inscription
MILES TO DATE 11,596
GALLONS OF FUEL 394.19
OBSERVED MPG 21
FUEL COST TO DATE $1,580.63
AVERAGE COST/GALLON $4.01
MAINTENANCE None
WARRANTY REPAIRS None
RECALLS AND TSBs None
OUT OF POCKET Windshield replacement, $1,557.42
Dent repair, $150.00
Wheel diagnosis, $210.00
SPECIFICATIONS
AS-TESTED PRICE $70,290
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 & 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