Review: Volvo S90 (2016)


Genuine premium feel with a luxury interior. 2.0-litre diesel engine is impressively quiet and smooth. Excellent ride comfort. Good value for money alongside the competition. 8-speed torque converter auto.

Limited engine range. Boot is deep but the opening not large.

Volvo S90 (2016): At A Glance

With the S90, Volvo finally has a high quality saloon that's easily a match for the competition. With a genuine sense of luxury inside, a beautifully smooth ride and an excellent 2.0-litre diesel engine, the S90 is one impressive premium saloon that offers a genuine alternative to the usual four-door suspects.

It replaces the S80 in Volvo's range but the two are like chalk and cheese. This is one of a new breed of Volvo cars that follows on from the impressive XC90. True the estate V90 version will probably make more sense for many - after all Volvo is well renowned for its estates - but if you don't need the extra carrying room, the S90 will be right up your street. 

Just one 2.0-litre diesel engine is available. It may seem too small for a car this size but with twin turbochargers it offers more than enough performance. The entry-level D4 version has 190PS and we think it provides all the power you'll need, while official economy of 64.2mpg should mean running costs are reasonable.

The D5 uses the same engine with 235PS, but doesn't feel that much quicker in everyday driving. It does however come with all-wheel drive as standard. What really stands out is the S90's comfort. It's wonderfully quiet on the move, the ride quality is excellent and the seats incredibly comfortable. We can think of no better car for covering long distances.

With a high quality interior, the Volvo has a genuine feeling of luxury thanks to lots of leather and different interior trims so you can create your own Scandanavian hideaway. Or just go for black. The quality of the finish is top notch and features like the huge touchscreen that dominates the dash, make this feel very different from the competition.

It drives well too and is a huge improvement on the S80. The onus is still on comfort, but the S90 corners impressively with responsive and well weighted steering. It isn't a small car though, which you notice in tight car parks or down narrow country lanes.

There is a huge range of safety kit fitted, including a semi-autonomous driving system. This matches the speed of the car ahead, stays in its lane and will even slow to a complete stop before accelerating back up to the selected speed, all without the driver’s help. It's clever stuff and does actually come in handy in real world driving.

What does a Volvo S90 (2016) cost?

List Price from £37,820
Buy new from £25,699
Contract hire from £209.77 per month

Volvo S90 (2016): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4963 mm
Width 2019 mm
Height 1443 mm
Wheelbase 2941 mm

Full specifications

When it comes to size - the S90 is a slightly bigger than the competition. That competition being things like the BMW 5 Series or Jaguar XF.

That means better rear legroom and it's here where the S90 plays it's trump card. It's got plenty of rear space, so if you've got ever-growing teenagers to transport around, your back will appreciate not having their knees jabbed into it.

There is a high central tunnel though, which means you can't comfortably get three in the back for any length of time, but the Isofix points are easy to use thanks to plastic covers and guide slots. There's also good headroom, despite the sloping roofline.

The seats - in both the front and back - are some of the most comfortable in any car. The finish is excellent too, with impressive materials including leather upholstery as standard. It certainly feels like a well made car with a genuine air of luxury. 

The minimalist Swedish design also helps the Volvo stand out from the competition and there's a range of different materials and trim finishes so you can make your Volvo feel very Scandanavian if you want - like our picture above shows. Of course if you want a more subdued black, that's available too.

Dominating the central dash is that big touchscreen, looking a lot like someone has stuck an iPad in there. It's a good system though and we found it slick and intuitive, although it can take some getting used to at first. It controls most functions including ventilation, navigation, audio and phone connectivity, plus it means there are less buttons to clutter the interior.

The S90 is very well equipped with dual-zone climate control, heated front seats, voice control, Bluetooth, European mapping and traffic information are all among the standard equipment. Plusher Inscription models gain softer Nappa leather, power seats and hands free tailgate, along with various styling tweaks, while R Design variants get sportier styling and lower suspension.

The boot is a good size and very deep too but the 500-litre space isn't that easy to utilise as the opening is fairly shallow albeit wide, although it's not better or worse than any other saloon. Getting a pushchair in there is no problem though, even a larger one, plus it has an electric opening boot lid as standard.

Standard equipment from launch:

Eight-speed automatic transmission, adaptive cruise control, Pilot Assist, hill start assist, electric parking brake with auto hold, keyless start, automatic and auto-dipping LED headlights, auto wipers, power tailgate, rear parking sensors, alloy wheels, two-zone climate control, 8-inch TFT driver info screen, leather upholstery, heated front seats, City Safety, Road Edge Detection, Run-off Road Protection, speed limiter, lane keeping aid, road sign info display, 9-inch touchscreen, voice control, DAB, Bluetooth, USB socket, 10 speakers and navigation with European mapping and traffic.

R Design adds sports seats, front LED fog lights, multi-colour theatre lighting, R Design interior and exterior styling plus lower suspension.

Inscription adds Nappa soft-touch leather, power front seats, hands free tailgate, Inscription exterior and interior styling. 

Child seats that fit a Volvo S90 (2016)

Our unique Car Seat Chooser shows you which child car seats will fit this car and which seat positions that they will fit, so that you don't have to check every car seat manufacturer's website for compatibility.

Which car seat will suit you?

What's the Volvo S90 (2016) like to drive?

The S90 is initially available with just one engine - the 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel - that comes in two versions, both with twin turbochargers.

The D4 is the cheaper of the two and has 190PS but what really counts here is the 400Nm of torque which is available from low revs and makes for strong but effortless acceleration.

The more powerful D5 - which despite the name is sadly no longer a five cylinder - is the same engine but with power upped to 235PS and an extra 80Nm of torque. That extra power means it's around a second quicker from 0-62mph on paper but in everyday driving there's little different between the two.

If you're buying an S90 it's easy to lust after the D5 - which Volvo also grandly calls 'Powerpulse' - but the the D4 has all the power you'll ever need. Of course the key difference is that the D5 comes with four-wheel drive as standard, the D4 makes do with a standard front-wheel drive set-up,

But it doesn't suffer from that. On the contrary, the D4 version of the 2.0D is actually our favourite in the S90. It costs less, feels just as quick and is more economical with a claimed 64.2mpg. Not that the D5 is exactly poor with an official figure of 58.9mpg but it does cost £7000 more.

Both versions offer strong performance and the engine feels a cut above most other 2.0-litre diesels. The same goes for refinement. This engine is incredibly quiet, helped by good sound insulation, plus there's no vibration in the cabin, even at high revs. It all adds to the feeling that this has a luxury edge that's missing from other 2.0-litre diesel saloons.

While the S90 replaces the S80 in the Volvo range, the two couldn't be more different when it comes to handling. The S90 is no big and wallowy four-door, instead it feels surprisingly agile. The responsive steering is very good with a nice weight and it means the Volvo goes exactly where you point it. There's also no kick through the steering column when you go over a pothole - a big criticism of the S80.

One thing the S90 has inherited is a superb ride. It's incredibly comfortable, not only on the motorway but also over poor quality country lanes and around town. That comfort is further helped by excellent seats with plenty of adjustment, making this a great car for very tall drivers.

There's no manual gearbox, instead the S90 comes with a standard eight-speed automatic which is one of the best around with very quick yet smooth changes.

One great feature is the standard semi-autonomous cruise control. It matches the speed of the car ahead, stays in its lane and will even slow to a complete stop before accelerating back up to the selected speed, all without the driver’s help.

The driver does need to have their hands on the wheel at all times and it does trip up when lane markings are worn away, but for the most part it works well, taking the pain out of rush hour on the motorway. It’s one of several standard safety technologies that sets the V90 apart from its rivals.

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
D4 50–64 mpg 8.2 s 116–123 g/km
D5 AWD 44–59 mpg 7.0 s 127–144 g/km
T4 38–42 mpg 7.8–8.7 s 153–157 g/km
T5 38–43 mpg 6.8 s 154–156 g/km
T8 AWD 166 mpg 4.8–5.1 s 46–49 g/km

Real MPG average for a Volvo S90 (2016)

Real MPG was created following thousands of readers telling us that their cars could not match the official figures.

Real MPG gives real world data from drivers like you to show how much fuel a vehicle really uses.

Average performance


Real MPG

23–54 mpg

MPGs submitted


Diesel or petrol? If you're unsure whether to go for a petrol or diesel (or even an electric model if it's available), then you need our Petrol or Diesel? calculator. It does the maths on petrols, diesels and electric cars to show which is best suited to you.

What have we been asked about the Volvo S90 (2016)?

Every day we're asked hundreds of questions from car buyers and owners through Ask Honest John. Our team of experts, including the nation's favourite motoring agony uncle - Honest John himself - answer queries and conudrums ranging from what car to buy to how to care for it as an owner. If you could do with a spot of friendly advice before buying you're next car, get in touch and we'll do what we can to help.

Ask HJ

What would you recommend as a new car under £40k that is quiet and comfortable on the motorway?

What would you recommend as a new car under £40k that is quiet and comfortable on the motorway?
Any premium car will be very quiet and refined on the motorway. A Volvo S90 starts at around £36,000 and would be a lovely choice for covering high miles. Also consider an Audi A6 - or look a size smaller at cars like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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