4.1 out of 5 4.1
Parkers overall rating: 4.1 out of 5 4.1

Volvo’s largest estate majors on style, safety and super-cool image

Volvo V90 (16 on) - rated 4.1 out of 5
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At a glance

New price £42,305 - £58,300
Used price £16,110 - £48,385
Used monthly cost From £402 per month
Fuel Economy 29.7 - 352.6 mpg
Road tax cost £30 - £490
Insurance group 27 - 44 How much is it to insure?
New

PROS

  • Eye-catching and elegant styling
  • High-tech safety kit as standard
  • Impressive passenger space in the rear

CONS

  • Boot size isn't its strongest point
  • Not as good to drive as some rivals
  • Pricey high-spec models and options

Volvo V90 rivals

Written by Murray Scullion on

The Volvo V90 is based on the XC90 SUV and S90 saloon, and spearheaded the Swedish carmaker's transformation into a fully-formed premium manufacturer following its 2016 launch. Not that Volvo is a newcomer to this market sector – it built up a solid reputation through its functional wagons throughout the 1970s, '80s and '90s, and now enjoys an image of left-field Scandi-cool, which buyers seem to love.

The V90 faces some formidable opposition for the money, though: the BMW 5 Series Touring, Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate and Audi A6 Avant are all direct rivals, and each is staggeringly good. They have been built by companies that have perfected the art of building premium models sprinkled with desirability – and Volvo has its work cut out going head-to-head with these players.

We should also mention here that there's a Volvo V90 Cross Country. With higher suspension and plastic cladding, it's aimed at people who want something a bit more rugged.

As ever, though, Volvo can count on a number of pioneering safety features to stand out from its rivals, most notably the standard-fit Pilot Assist adaptive cruise control system (with lane-keeping assistance), and highly-effective crash mitigation systems to help avoid accidents in the first place.

Volvo V90: based on the XC90, but even more stylish

There's no denying that the V90 is a stylish car. There's little boxiness you'd normally associate with big Volvo estates from the past. It's immediately recognisable thanks to the company's signature T-shaped LED 'Thor's Hammer' daytime-running lights.

Inside, Volvo's gone its own way, too. Large swathes of the cockpit may well be borrowed from the XC90, but this is a good thing, as it’s a great car. It's light and airy, and offered in some very interesting colour/material combinations, which will appeal to those who want to move away from the more usual blacks and greys. 

The way it drives is familiar too. Volvo calls this ‘Relaxed Confidence’ and it’s a refreshing change from the sporty pretensions of its German rivals. It’s no driver’s car (although very capable nevertheless) but there’s plenty of confidence-inspiring traction allied with a quiet, comfortable ride – providing you opt for the adaptive suspension package.

Volvo V90 interior

Volvo V90 diesel, petrol and plug-in hybrid options

The Volvo V90 is based on the same Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) underpinnings as the larger XC90 and S90, as well as the smaller S60/V60 and XC60. That means the engines, transmissions, safety systems, and much of the interior tech is shared across all models, meaning that they're tried and tested across pretty much all of Volvo's range, aside from the entry-level XC40.

All engines are mild hybrids or plug-in hybrids. The entry level engines are called B4, and are available as both petrol and diesel. Both of these are mild hybrids. 

Next up is the B5 - once again, both diesel and petrol versions are mild hybrids. The B5 is like the B4, only more powerful and more expensive. Next up is the B6 petrol. Once again, more power, more money.

And there's a plug-in hybrid too - called the T6 Recharge. This is only available with a petrol engine. For more info about propulsion, head to the engine section of the review.

Why the Volvo V90 has the best safety

Safety and space are the main selling points of this car, but it impresses more on the former count. Standard features include Pilot Assist, which takes care of the throttle, steering and brakes from traffic jams all the way up to cruising speed; plus a sophisticated crash avoidance system that can spot pedestrians, cyclists and large animals in front of the car, day or night. All new Volvos are also electronically limited to a top speed of 112mph.

The large Sensus touchscreen in the centre console is a step away form the opposition, most notably for being in portrait, rather than landscape format. It's easy to use once mastered, but because it replaces a huge number of functions and buttons from around the cabin, drivers new to the car might find it takes some getting used to. In addition, you also get a set of digital dials and a raft of driver assistance equipment.

Now for the V90's raison d'etre – its luggage capacity. And it's here that the V90 disappoints. You get a 560-litre boot that expands to 1,526 litres with the rear seats folded, but rivals are considerably bigger and more adaptable. Volvophiles will doubtless lament the absence of a vertical tailgate to boost capacity, which ironically, the newer V60 has – and as a consequence, the smaller car has more space to play with.

Click through the next few pages to read everything you need to know about the Volvo V90 including its practicality, how much it costs to run, what it's like to drive – and whether we recommend buying one.

2020 Volvo V90 rear

Volvo V90 rivals

Other Volvo V90 models: