Volvo V90 (2016) Review

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Volvo V90 (2016) At A Glance

Honest John Overall Rating
The Volvo V90 is the big Swedish estate car redefined for the 21st Century, and is a big step in the brand repositioning itself as a genuine contender to the established premium German brands.

+Beautifully finished cabin, high level of standard equipment, extremely impressive safety technology.

-Smaller boot than rivals, Apple CarPlay a cost option.

Insurance Groups are between 27–44
On average it achieves 72% of the official MPG figure

With a practical boot, a beautifully-finished cabin, generous standard equipment and some of the best safety equipment of any car on sale, the Volvo V90 is a very impressive car. It’s family-friendly, easy to drive and extremely comfortable, making it a great alternative to the usual Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW executive estates.

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The V90 is a clever piece of automotive design; you can tell it’s a Volvo estate without having to think about it, but it doesn’t look overly boxy or anything other than modern and stylish. That same design theme also runs into the cabin too, which is discreetly stylish. Perhaps more importantly, there is plenty of space inside too.

Load volume with the rear seats in place is 560 litres, which is plenty for large suitcases or trips to a garden centre – but the cheaper Skoda Superb has more boot capacity for less money. That said, the V90 is still easily big enough for most families, especially in the back row where leg and headroom is enough for adults to sit in comfort.

The cabin is wonderfully finished, with leather upholstery as standard and a variety of upmarket finish options including metal or open grain wood inlays. Quality is seriously impressive – the V90 feels beautifully built, with a real sense of luxury, plus it’s packed with the latest technology, most of which is controlled from a large touchscreen.

The iPad style interface is intuitive, operating climate, in-car settings, connectivity and audio, with support for apps like Spotify. Navigation is standard and includes European maps and traffic updates, or iPhone owners can use their own navigation via Apple CarPlay, although that is a cost option rather than a standard feature.

There is a huge range of safety tech fitted to all V90 variants, including a semi-autonomous driving system that assists with steering and speed on motorways. Autonomous emergency braking is standard too – and it can detect pedestrians, cyclists and large animals like deer as well as other vehicles.

The engine line up in the V90 is quite unlike its key rivals, mainly because Volvo is continuing to push forward with its switch to electric vehicles and a phasing-out of pure combustion engined models. What that means for buyers is that the petrols and hybrids use the same 2.0-litre turbocharged engine, just with a different power output depending on how much you spend or with the addition of hybrid technology to alter the power output, while the two diesels are also differently-tuned versions of the same 2.0-litre four cylinder unit.

On the road the V90 feels quite big, which isn’t great on narrow country roads or in car parks, but elsewhere the car is extremely easy to drive and very comfortable, riding well over lumps and bumps. It isn’t quite as enjoyable through corners as the BMW 5 Series, but there are no complaints on a long motorway journey.

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate is bigger, but it’s also more expensive, while the BMW 5 Series Touring and Audi A6 Avant aren’t quite as luxurious or well-equipped, making the V90 an extremely tempting choice, and one that is especially easy to recommend to safety-conscious family buyers.

Ask Honest John

I want one last great diesel estate car. What would you recommend as a simple option?
"I drive 25,000 business miles per year and do not think battery-electric would be suitable for my next vehicle. I recently saw an advert for the advanced technology on an Audi diesel and it frightened me the number of systems all capable of requiring a £1000 repair bills at some point in their life and all superfluous to a steady motorway cruising. What mechanically-simple, comfortable, diesel estate car would you recommend as the last best in breed diesel?"
All diesels are becoming increasingly complicated in order to meet stringent emission regulations. You're not going to find a simple modern diesel but, for your mileage, I wouldn't be too concerned. Problems occur when people use diesels for regular short journeys and the diesel particulate filter (DPF) becomes blocked. For 25k miles a year (presumably mainly on the motorway), a modern diesel will suit your needs well and should be very dependable. A Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate or BMW 3 Series Touring would be a lovely choice for 25k miles a year. Also consider a Volvo V90 as a comfortable, slightly left-field choice.
Answered by Andrew Brady
Should I keep my diesel car if my mileage has dropped?
"I own a diesel 2015 BMW 5 Series estate with 51,000 miles - which I love. However, since retiring, my mileage is very low. A pre-owned 5 Series PHEV is frankly too expensive for me now. What would you recommend considering the driving dynamics of the 5? Or should I keep my car?"
It's likely to get problematic as it gets older if you don't take it for regular runs up the motorway. Lots of short journeys could lead to a blocked diesel particulate filter (DPF). A petrol or hybrid model would be a much better choice. A BMW 520i could be a good replacement, or consider a 3 Series if you don't need a car quite so big. We'd also recommend a Mercedes-Benz C- or E-Class, or a Volvo V90.
Answered by Andrew Brady
Can you recommend a comfortable Estate?
"I'm looking at an Audi A6, Volvo V60, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Skoda Superb to replace my 2015 Volvo XC70. I require 4x4 and it must have very comfortable front seats with good lumbar support. Is there another estate that I have missed? I have about £25,000 plus the trade in for the Volvo. Doesn't need to be new. What would you recommend?"
Your shortlist is pretty strong. A Volvo V90 could be a good option, particularly if you like your XC70. Perhaps even go for a V90 Cross Country for the ultimate in comfort. Or a Mercedes-Benz E-Class All-Terrain...
Answered by Andrew Brady
Could you recommend a reliable, premium estate?
"Please can you suggest a reliable, medium or large estate, preferably automatic. I don't mind if it has a bit of luxury."
If buying used, I'd recommend the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate (built from 2010-2016). It's hugely practical and was rated as one of the UK's best cars for reliability in our latest Satisfaction Index: A stylish and newer alternative would be the Volvo V90. The cabin is wonderfully refined and standard equipment levels are very high across the range:
Answered by Dan Powell

What does a Volvo V90 (2016) cost?

Buy new from £43,575 (list price from £44,210)