Volvo V90 Review

Volvo's big estate now offers tonnes of style, comfort and kit for the money

Strengths & weaknesses

  • Attractive, calming interior
  • Smooth and comfortable ride
  • The latest safety and driverless technology
  • Distracting touchscreen media system
  • An expensive choice
  • Stylish design has reduced boot space
Volvo V90 prices from £19,490.
Finance from £348.18 / month.

Think of a Volvo a couple of years ago and you’d probably imagine a rectangular box with enough space in the back to fit a shipping container (almost).

But Volvo’s big estate car is no longer a warehouse on wheels. The new V90 now has stylish design and a silky smooth ride to go with its traditional strengths of safety and practicality.

There’s a new interior style too, that seems to have been inspired by a Swedish spa, with a dashboard of walnut wood available on more expensive models, and a minimalist design centred around a big touchscreen media system. You can opt for seats that massage and cool your back if you like, too.

It's light, airy and calming and that’s before you even start the engine. When you do get moving, the road feels like it has been freshly steam-rollered, particularly with the optional air suspension, which absorbs bumps and keeps the V90 steady and level in corners. Quiet and efficient diesel engines complement the package, making it a car that’s almost - but not quite - as comfortable as the Mercedes E Class. Then again, the Volvo V90 is dramatically more affordable than its German rival, with fantastic value new car PCP finance deals available.

It's not a car that encourages fast driving: if you're looking for a sporty estate that feels more agile, and with steering that gives you a better sense of control, you'd be better opting for the BMW 5 Series Touring.

Like the Mercedes, the V90 can drive itself on motorways and A-roads. Its system, called Pilot Assist, controls acceleration, braking and steering. It’s one of the smoothest and precise systems we’ve tested and - unusually - it’s standard on every model. You have to keep your hands on the wheel to keep it working, but it takes much of the effort out of driving.

There’s not much effort required when you want to use the space behind you either. The rear seats fold with the press of a button, creating a virtually flat area that’s almost level with the bottom of the boot opening, allowing you to slide bulky objects in.

But while there’s plenty of space for flat-pack furniture or even a chest of drawers, the Volvo’s curvy looks eat into its luggage space, making the 1,526-litre boot (with seats down) smaller than those in the Mercedes, BMW, and Audi A6 Avant. The Volvo's also trounced by the 1,950-litre boot in the Skoda Superb, which is much cheaper - in some cases by £14,000 - but less luxurious.

The V90 is pricey in cash terms, with case prices starting at arouns £40,000, which is roughly the same as its comparable German rivals. However, PCP finance for new models is incredibly good value and ownership costs shouldn't be extortionate either. This means that if you plan to pay monthly, you could get much more for your money with a V90 than any of its similarly luxurious rivals.

None of the alternatives to the Volvo can match its lengthy list of safety equipment, either. There’s a raft of standard features including advanced automatic emergency braking that can stop you turning into the path of an oncoming car, and even recognise big animals like moose or horses.

In 2017, it received a full five stars from the independent Euro NCAP safety organisation, which ranked its adult and child occupant protection among the best that it has tested. The car's safety systems were also highly rated, and levels of pedestrian protection were high. The score was identical to the Volvo S90, which is the saloon version of this car.

You may also be considering a taller, sport-utility vehicle (SUV), such as the BMW X5, Audi Q7 and Volvo’s own XC90. These are more capable off-road, and offer the option of seven seats, but typically cost far more to finance or buy and are likely to get through far more fuel, too.

So if it's simply space you're after, a big estate such as the V90 has a similar level of ride comfort, a cheaper price, lower running costs and almost as much interior space as these supersized SUVs. If you want a car that fits beween both categories, then the V90 Cross Country fits the bill: it is fitted with four-wheel drive and has taller suspension than the standard V90, so it's less likely to get beached on rugged ground but doesn't have the same bulk as a big SUV.


Key facts

Warranty 3 years, 60,000 miles
Boot size 560-litres with seats up / 1,526-litres with seats down
Width 1,895mm
Length 4,936mm
Height 1,475mm
Tax £160 in first year, £145 or £455 thereafter / Pre-April 2017 cars: £30 to £100

Best Volvo V90 for...

Best for Economy – Volvo V90 2.0 D4 Momentum

The lower-powered diesel unit returns 62.2mpg and costs less to tax on an annual basis than its D5 counterpart.

Best for Families – Volvo V90 2.0 D5 AWD PowerPulse Momentum

The more powerful engine delivers punchy performance and entry-level Momentum trim provides all you need: just add the Xenium pack for an all-round parking camera and panoramic sunroof.

Best for Performance – Volvo V90 T8 R-Design plug-in hybrid

The most powerful, 408hp plug-in hybrid version will be sold later in the year in a racier R-Design trim that also features sportier suspension. The 0-62mph dash takes just 5.2 seconds.

One to Avoid – Volvo V90 2.0 D4 R-Design

Volvo’s R-Design cars are tuned to feel sportier, but the D4 diesel engine isn’t powerful enough to give the car a performance feel.


  • 2016 The Volvo V90 goes on sale, alongside the S90 saloon.

Understanding Volvo V90 names

Trim level Inscription

Three standard trim levels are available: Momentum, Inscription and R-Design. Each trim level presents increasing amounts of standard kit, while R-Design adds a sportier look and feel.

Gearbox Geartronic

An eight-speed automatic gearbox, which Volvo calls Geartronic, is currently the only option in the UK.

Engine 2.0 D5 PowerPulse

The engine size is given in litres (here it's 2.0). Those badged D are diesel-powered and the D5 engine is more powerful than the D4. The D5 also has a technology called PowerPulse, which makes the engine respond quicker when you press the accelerator. A V90 that combines a petrol engine with an electric motor for better fuel economy and more power will go on sale soon, badged T8.

Volvo V90 Engines

D4, D5 and T8 plug-in hybrid

Volvo is currently only selling diesel-powered V90 cars. Both the D4 and D5 engines available are quiet and smooth, with plenty of power for swift overtaking.

The D5 is more powerful than the D4, particularly when it comes to pulling power - known as torque. You can feel this as a surge when you accelerate from standstill, and it makes this engine best for towing. This engine is only available with four-wheel drive which also helps accelerate away when towing heavy loads, and improves control on slippery surfaces.

Both engines are economical; the D4 has an official mpg figure a little over 60mpg, while the D5 is just under. But these figures are generated from laboratory testing, so you should expect closer to 50mpg in the real world.

Later this year, the T8-powered V90 will go on sale, which is a plug-in hybrid car that combines petrol and electric power. The car’s batteries and electric motor will allow the V90 to travel for 28 miles on electric power alone. You can plug the car in to charge it up, so those with short commutes would rarely need to visit a petrol station. On longer journeys, the petrol engine provides power. Accelerate hard and both power units can combine for maximum performance. Low CO2 emissions will reduce company car tax rates. Prices have yet to be announced, but the T8 will be more expensive, so you’ll have to work out whether the running cost savings are worth it.



Fuel economy



Top speed





0 - 62mph: 8.5sec






0 - 62mph: 7.2sec


T8 plug-in hybrid




0 - 62mph: 5.2sec



Volvo V90 Trims

Momentum, Inscription and R-Design

The least expensive Volvo V90 models have Momentum trim, but they don’t feel cheap. All cars have a 9in touchscreen at the centre of the dashboard, which has voice control sat-nav. The screen also controls the dual zone climate control, which allows both front occupants to chose the temperature of the area around them; as well as the DAB radio and phone, which can be connected wirelessly with Bluetooth. A screen behind the steering wheel displays the digital speedometer.

Leather seats - heated  and electrically adjustable in the front - are standard, as are parking sensors, and there are power sockets in the front, rear and boot. A huge package of safety features, include Pilot Assist that allows the car to drive itself in traffic jams, as well as at high speeds on motorways and A-roads, although you still have to keep your hands on the steering wheel and remain responsible in the event of a crash. Automatic emergency braking can detect obstacles - including large animals - ahead and stop the car if the driver doesn’t respond to warnings.

Outside, all Momentum models have bright LED lights, 17-inch wheels on D4 models and 18-inch wheels on cars with the D5 engine, as well as a power operated boot that opens and closes at the touch of a button.

Upgrade to Inscription, and keyless entry allows you to poke your foot underneath the bumper to open the boot (as long as the key fob is nearby). All models come with 18in alloy wheels, and there are additional bits of chrome on the bodywork.

Inside, there’s a bigger screen behind the steering wheel, which shows a rev-counter alongside the speedometer, mood lighting and a walnut dashboard - dark birch or metal mesh can be selected at no extra cost

R-Design trim cars have a black grille, bespoke alloy wheels, racing seats and other performance updates for a sportier driving experience.

It’s possible to pay more for even bigger alloy wheels, but these make the car less comfortable. Adding air suspension has the opposite effect, giving a smoother ride. You can add extra luxury with front massaging and ventilated seats to keep your back relaxed and cooled on long journeys.

Volvo also sells additional packs offering groups of options. The Xenium pack includes a panoramic sunroof, parking camera that gives a 360 degree view of the car and an automated parking system for £2,000. The winter pack includes a heated sterring wheel and windscreen from £525.

Volvo V90 Reliability and warranty

Volvo was rated average for reliability in the 2016 Auto Express Driver Power customer satisfaction survey and it’s too early to tell whether the V90 will maintain the company’s position.

The car comes with a basic three years or 60,000 miles of warranty – whichever runs out first. There’s also a three-year unlimited mileage warranty on the paintwork, and 12 years against rust perforation.

Plus, the battery in the T8 Twin Engine is covered by a warranty for eight years or 100,000 miles - whichever comes first. If a component fails due to a defect or material fault, a Volvo dealer will rectify the problem, free of charge.

Used Volvo V90

In the past, Volvos have not held their value as well as German cars, but the V90 is expected to be different. Three year-old cars are expected to be worth more than half of their new list price after three years, which matches and even exceeds some rival models, depending on the specification. That’s good for new buyers and should result in good value finance deals, but will mean that you’ll be waiting for a while to pick up a used bargain.