2018 Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-De­sign

Automobile - - All - Stars 2018 -

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 Cin­derel­las­tory 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 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 our Jan­uary 2018 is­sue 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 nonCross 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 ALL­STARS eval­u­a­tion ve­hi­cle.

“Sharp—that’s how you de­scribe the Volvo V90,” 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,” Wasef said.

We’re Still Smit­ten With an Old-School Seg­ment

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 eight­speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. (Front­drive 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,” 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 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.” AM


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


22/31 mpg (city/hwy)

L X W X H:

194.3 x 74.0 x 58.1 in WHEEL­BASE:

115.8 in


4,189 lb

0-60 MPH:

5.8 sec


130 mph

For the sec­ond year in a row, the resur­gent

Swedish au­tomaker pro­duced a car that im­pressed

us enough to earn the right to

be an All-Star. Well done, Volvo.

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