Volvo ought to include a chauffeur’s cap with every 2022 S90 it sells, because the big sedan fills the void left by once-beloved livery vehicles such as the Cadillac DeVille and the Lincoln Town Car. Although the svelte Swede forgoes the stodgy styling of those discontinued American sedans, the Volvo feels like a kindred spirit to both. Credit its rear passenger compartment’s nearly full-size accommodations and a base price ($53,895) that is in line with mid-size luxury sedans.
That said, the Volvo’s back seat lacks the grandiose luxury typical of a stretch job. Save for its capaciousness—its rear legroom bests that of the full-size Genesis G90 and Lexus LS sedans by 2.6 and 1.5 inches, respectively—as well as controls that allow the right-rear passenger to adjust the front passenger’s seat, the amenities are rather conventional. Reclining rear seatbacks are not available, although massaging seats are an option on the top-tier Inscription trim.
No doubt, the S90 is far livelier to drive than any DeVille or Town Car. Under the hood is the latest variant of Volvo’s 2.0-liter inline-four powertrain, dubbed B6. Unlike the previous 316-hp T6 setup, which incorporated a turbocharger and a mechanically driven supercharger, the 295-hp B6 has a turbo, an electrically driven supercharger, and a 48-volt hybrid system. There’s also a 13-hp starter-generator system that makes for a stop-start system that imperceptibly shuts off and restarts the engine at stops when conditions permit.
The B6’s 21-hp deficit made itself known at the test track, as our 4303-pound test car needed 6.4 seconds to hit 60 mph—0.6 second longer than the last S90 T6 we tested. In the real world, though, the B6’s plentiful torque and responsive eight-speed automatic transmission offer enough grunt for any driver to hustle from one fare to another with little fear of tardiness. And while our test car’s 29-mpg average on our 75-mph highway route is 2 mpg below its EPA estimate, that figure does amount to a 4-mpg improvement versus what the T6 version managed.
The S90 drives smaller than its 200.4-inch length suggests. Thank the car’s quick and direct steering and its chassis composure, even if our S90 R-Design—equipped with adaptive dampers, rear air springs, and 20-inch all-season rubber—suffered from a somewhat flinty ride over pockmarked pavement. We wager the model’s standard 18- and available 19-inch wheels and tires ought to make for a slightly more comfortable cruiser.
Despite entering its sixth model year, the S90’s cabin continues to stand out for its simple, Scandinavian style and high-end finishes. Knurling on the central volume knob and air vents complement soft-touch plastics on the dashboard and door panels, as well as, in the case of the R-Design, real metal trim with a mesh finish that feels as good as it looks. Even so, the S90’s lack of an available power-operated steering column remains a bewildering oversight in a vehicle of this class. Nor is the 69 decibels of noise we recorded inside at 70 mph as quiet as we’d expect in an upscale four-door.
Volvo’s new Android-based infotainment system took the brunt of our ire, though. Short of its Google Maps–based navigation and Google Assistant voice-recognition tools, the setup struck us as no better—and in some ways worse—than the previous system. We know Volvo plans to fix some of our gripes via over-the-air updates (including adding Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility), but we question the decision to release this system in its current state.
If you’re using a 2022 Volvo S90 to pick up and drop off riders, a stellar navigation setup is perhaps what matters most. Of course, Volvo wants the big S90 to appeal to a broader base of consumers. For many, the car’s aggravating infotainment system may ultimately overshadow its handsome design, high-quality interior materials, and comfortable rear quarters.
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