If you like space, luxury and lots of tech and safety equipment (who doesn’t), then the Volvo V90 might be the used car for you. It’s tastefully designed inside and out, and offers plenty of space and comfort for passengers, plus loads of room for their luggage. Ideal for families, and anyone who loves the idea of being able to travel hundreds of miles and feel refreshed when they get out at the other end.
Forget everything you might remember about boxy Volvos from yesteryear – the V90 is a sleek estate. It’s so good looking, you’ll probably spend every weekend washing it to keep those curves looking shiny and new.
The narrow headlights feature T-shaped LED daytime running lights, the grille is wide and shallow, every version gets alloy wheels and there are chrome accents around the windows and elsewhere on some versions.
The V90 Cross Country is an all-wheel-drive version with a higher ride height that can tackle dirt tracks and is every bit as refined as the regular V90. The range was facelifted in 2020, with very minor styling tweaks changing the headlights, front fog lights and front bumper, while adding a new rear spoiler.
The V90 is a sleek estate
What’s it like to drive?
The Volvo V90 comes with a good choice of petrol, petrol-electric hybrid and diesel engines. The petrols, designated by a ‘T’ on the boot lid, comprise a couple of 2.0-litre units (the T4 and T5) with different power outputs. There’s also a plug-in T8 hybrid with a huge amount of power. The diesels are made up of a pair of 2.0-litre motors of varying power and are badged D4 and D5.
The engines were changed for a range of ‘mild hybrids’ in 2020 – three petrols (B4P, B5P and B6P) and 2 diesels (B4D and B5D) – plus a new plug-in hybrid called the T6 Recharge, all with 2.0-litre engines.
The V90 is a comfortable car to drive, especially if it’s been fitted with the optional adaptive suspension. It’s especially good at making motorway miles slip by with minimum fuss and also does a grand job of dealing with poorer roads in town. The plug-in hybrids can run solely on electric power for a few miles, which makes them super-quiet and boosts their appeal in urban situations because there won’t be any tailpipe emissions.
The focus on comfort means the V90 leans a bit more on bends than the BMW 5 Series Touring, but it’s still a very nice thing to drive.
It’s especially good at making motorway miles slip by with minimum fuss.
The Volvo V90’s interior is a real highlight. Step inside, settle into the driver’s seat and you’re greeted by a fairly simple and elegant dashboard. It’s topped by soft plastics, there are metal or wood inserts lower down and on the doors, the air vents and steering wheel inserts use piano-black plastic, and a portrait-style touchscreen sits in the middle of the dash. There’s also a digital screen in front of the driver and the multi-function steering wheel.
The touchscreen operates the climate control, audio and sat-nav, and works well. There are a few buttons beneath for the volume and pause/play/fast-forward. Higher trims get Volvo’s On Call app, which will call for recovery and lets you send nav info from your phone to the car. The standard audio system (with digital radio) is good but the Bowers & Wilkins upgrade that features on some cars has an 18-speaker set-up and sounds terrific.
There’s ample headroom and legroom for 4 adults, while a third passenger will be happy on shorter trips because that seat isn’t as supportive as the others. Every version (Momentum is base trim) gets leather upholstery (heated up front) plus Bluetooth, an electrically operated boot lid and keyless start. Inscription trim adds more sumptuous leather and fully electric seats, and R-Design brings sportier suspension and seats.
As well as the usual door bins front and rear, the Volvo V90 has a lockable glovebox, storage trays beside the gear lever and under the central arm rest, nets on the backs of the front seats and rear trays.
The boot isn’t as large as those in the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate or the Audi A6 Avant. It will hold several suitcases with the rear seats in place. Part of the floor can be raised to stop your shopping bags from rolling around, while the rear seatbacks split and fold via buttons in the boot to create a huge load space.
Running costs and reliability
The older, non-hybrid engines are most economical when they’re sipping diesel – expect economy of around 45mpg with the D4. The T4 and T5 petrols are likely to send economy down into the 20s.
Economy for the hybrid models, especially the plug-in hybrids, is more promising but depends on how often you can keep the latter’s batteries charged. Do that and stick to urban roads, where you’ll be able to run on electric power for prolonged periods, and average economy will soar.
What we love
We love the Volvo V90’s comfort and style. The carmaker might have Chinese owners these days but you’d never know because Swedish minimalism and build quality are still very evident. Volvo has had a great reputation for making ultra-safe cars for decades, and that continues with the V90 – with a maximum five-star rating from crash experts Euro NCAP, thanks in part to a raft of standard safety kit which makes it the perfect wagon for family life.
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Town and country drivers
The Volvo V90 is proof that a large estate can make a fine alternative to an SUV when you just need something to transport the family and all of their luggage, and aren’t fussed about a raised driving position. Throw in Volvo’s enviable safety record and a snazzy interior, and this wagon is a cracking used buy.
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