Driving One of the Best-Looking Wagons Ever Designed
It’s not merely that Volvo has a habit of doing wagons well. Ever since the launch of the Duett in 1953, versatile Volvo wagons have consistently been cooler, more interesting vehicles than their sedan counterparts. And with the 2018 V90, which goes on sale in North America in the fourth quarter of 2017, Volvo has created one of the best-looking wagons ever.
The V90 rides on the same platform as the S90 sedan. Sporting the same wheelbase and width, the V90 is 1.3 inches taller than the sedan. Intriguingly, the V90 is 1.1 inches shorter in overall length, the difference due to a more compact rear overhang. The visual differences between the two are all aft of the B-pillar: new quarter-panels, dramatically angled D-pillars, and an artfully executed greenhouse. With the same extravagant dash-to-axle ratio, taut surfacing, and crisp character lines as the sedan, the V90 exudes the same confident stance and studied elegance infused with a dash of sportiness. Clearly, this is no Brick.
The interior is spectacular, an unmistakably Swedish take on luxury without the smorgasbord of clichés. With the rear seats upright, the V90 will swallow 19.8 cubic feet of stuff; with the seats folded flat, capacity balloons to 53.9 cubic feet. It doesn’t, however, offer a third row. If you want a three-row Volvo, buy the XC90.
V90s for the North Ameriacn market are likely to be all T6 models, which means the 2.0-liter turbo- and supercharged I-4 driving all four wheels through an eight-speed automatic. A touch of vibration at idle and a muted snarl at full throttle betray the cylinder count, but otherwise the four-banger behaves much like a six. Volvo’s claimed 0–60 time of about 6.0 seconds comes thanks to 295 lb-ft of torque available from 2,200 to 5,400 rpm. Still, the V90 is 0.3 second slower than the sedan.
The V90’s quiet and comfortable cabin impressed on our test loop in Spain, but after our slightly disappointing experience with the S90 stateside, we wonder how serene the aggressive 20-inch wheel/tire combination available on the top trim levels will feel here. Otherwise, the V90 has the same relaxed demeanor on the road as the S90. There’s plenty of precision and grip through the turns, so it can be hustled along a winding two-lane deceptively quickly. But this big Volvo is not trying to be a sports car; its transient responses are deliberate, measured.
The V90 is a roomy, comfortable, practical, enjoyable wagon. It’s Volvo doing what Volvo has long done best, just more stylishly and luxuriously so.