The 2017 Volvo S90 T6 Inscription Is Calm, Cool, and Comfortable

Nice things happens when Swedish automakers have carte blanche to work on a luxury car.

Volvo S90 Review

2017 Volvo S90 T6 Inscription

WHAT THE HELL IS IT? Part two of Volvo’s return to luxury relevance. Also, a damn nice car.

WHO IS IT FOR? Well-to-do hipsters-turned-business-folk who like genuinely nice things, but still wouldn’t be caught dead in anything “mainstream.”

WHERE DID WE TEST IT? New York, New York, it’s a hell of a town

THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE IS: Daaaaamn, this thing looks good. The S90’s long, low proportions and sleek front end are the sort of styling features designers usually wind up forced to toss when a concept car gets the green-light for production. The Mjolnir LED headlights look even more aggressive here than they do on the XC90 this sedan shares a platform with.

THING THEY DON’T WANT YOU TO NOTICE, BUT YOU DO ANYWAY: That hood is waaaaaaay too long for the stubby 2.0-liter inline-four lying beneath it.

CAR IS GOOD AT: Regularly scheduled commuting, playing music, keeping its occupants relaxed.

CAR IS BAD AT: Making you comfortable eating sloppy foods inside it.

RATE 1 (VERY POOR) TO 5 (EXCELLENT):

  • PERFORMANCE: 3/5
  • COMFORT: 5/5
  • LUXURY: 4/5
  • HAULING PEOPLE: 4/5
  • HAULING STUFF: 3/5
  • CURB APPEAL: 4/5
  • “WOW” FACTOR: 4/5
  • VALUE: 3/5
  • OVERALL: 4/5

WOULD YOU BUY IT? Absolutely. It’s a perfect match for the open-minded, well-educated buyer seeking a luxury sedan with a pinch of sport for flavor (or who has a sports car parked in the garage for weekends and federal holidays). It rides as comfortably as any car in its class, and the interior is nicer than most cars costing twice the price.

DEEP THOUGHTS: Volvo really knocked it out of the park with this one.

As nice as the S90’s exterior is—and believe me, it’s even nicer in person—the interior is where the Inscription truly shines. Every inch of it seems coated in fine materials—soft two-tone leather, natural wood—and put together a level of care and skill usually reserved for far fancier cars. It’s warm and inviting—a welcome change from the cold, tech-heavy modern layouts favored by the German and Japanese luxury automakers that dominate the scene.

That’s not to say the S90 is lacking in technology, though. In addition to the suite of semi-autonomous driving features we at The Drive have already covered in great length, the Volvo comes with one of the better infotainment systems on the market. Centered around a large touchscreen that falls easily to hand, the Sensus system, as it’s called, so intuitive, it seems possible the Volvo techies held a séance with the ghost of Steve Jobs while designing it.

The supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder may lack the character of a silky inline-six or an effortless V-8, but it’s more than sufficient to haul the car around with all the verve needed for a luxury sedan that values comfort above sportiness. The interior is dampened enough to keep most of the ugly powertrain noises out.

But if you ears are still somehow offended by the engine, there’s always the Bowers & Wilkins stereo to turn to. It’s a $2,650 option, but it’s worth every damned penny. (True story: some of us in the office like to go down and sit in the XC90 we keep around for our Drive Wire videos, just to listen to music in it.) The Gothenberg Concert Hall surround sound setting is a particularly fun trick, creating the feel of being inside an acoustically mastered performance space with eerie precision.

It’s not perfect, mind you. The long hood and blunt nose can make placing the car’s corners a pain in the ass, and if you stare at it too long from the side, it starts to look a little tall—a relic, perhaps, of its shared XC90 heritage. But the S90 is good enough that it leaves you hunting for flaws, rather than presenting them for immediate judgment. If Volvo can keep turning out cars like this one, it should be good times in Gothenburg for a while to come.

SPECS:

  • PRICE (AS TESTED): $52,950 ($66,105)
  • POWERTRAIN: 2.0-liiter supercharged and turbocharged inline-four, 316 horsepower, 295 lb.-ft of torque; eight-speed automatic; all-wheel-drive
  • FUEL ECONOMY: 22 city, 31 highway
  • 0-60: 5.7 secs (manufacturer figure)
  • BEST ADJECTIVE TO DESCRIBE THE INTERIOR COMFORT LEVEL: Spa-like