Review: Volvo V90 (2016)

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Beautifully finished cabin. High level of standard equipment. Extremely impressive safety technology.

Smaller boot than rivals. Apple CarPlay a cost option.

Volvo V90 (2016): At A Glance

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.

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.

Power comes from a 2.0-litre diesel producing either 190PS as the D4 or 235PS as the D5. The D4 has official economy of 62.8mpg, while the D5 manages 57.6mpg. Both come with a smooth eight-speed automatic transmission as standard. There’s also a T8 plug-in hybrid version, but it's expensive.

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. 

Volvo V90 T5 2016 Road Test

Volvo V90 D4 Cross Country 2017 Road Test

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Register your interest for later or request to be contacted by a dealer to talk through your options now

What does a Volvo V90 (2016) cost?

List Price from £39,845
Buy new from £27,890
Contract hire from £256.40 per month

Volvo V90 (2016): What's It Like Inside?

Length 4936 mm
Width 2019 mm
Height 1475 mm
Wheelbase 2941 mm

Full specifications

Volvo has long been known for its estate cars, so it’s a little disappointing that the V90 doesn’t provide as much load space as the Mercedes-Benz E-Class Estate (670 litres) or the cheaper Skoda Superb Estate (660 litres). Nonetheless, 560 litres of capacity from the flat load deck to the load cover is plenty for suitcases or shopping sprees.

Folding the rear seats is easy and liberates a maximum of 1526 litres to the roof, which is plenty for flat packs and trips to the garden centre. The load deck itself is nice and low, convenient for getting dogs in and out, plus the tailgate is power-operated as standard, so while it isn’t the biggest boot it’s still perfectly practical.

There are no real complaints elsewhere in the cabin. The rear row of seats provides enough leg and headroom for adults to sit in comfort, while the front seats are among the most comfortable available in any car. Quality is excellent, with impressive materials including leather upholstery as standard. Little details like Swedish flags subtly stitched to sides of the seats make the V90 feel genuinely special. 

Various different optional finishes and inlay materials including open grain wood and brushed metal are available and they really lift the cabin, making it feel light and welcoming. A slick, intuitive and large touchscreen system controls most functions including ventilation, navigation, audio and phone connectivity and is fitted as standard.

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.

It might be generously equipped as standard, but there is still a huge array of optional extras. Apple CarPlay, for example, costs £300, plus there are pricey extras like an impressive Bowers and Wilkins audio system for £3000 and numerous convenience packs, with extras like a 360-degree parking camera or a heated steering wheel.

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, 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, 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 V90 (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 V90 (2016) like to drive?

The V90 has with a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel in two versions – D4 and D5. The less powerful D4 produces 190PS with 400Nm of torque and is officially capable of 62.8mpg.

The D5 is essentially the same engine (sadly it's not a five cylinder unit any longer) and produces 235PS witha hefty 480Nm of torque. Officially it returns 57.6mpg. The D4 produces 119g/km of CO2, while the D5 emits 129g/km.

On the move there isn’t a huge difference between the two in terms of performance, so for its lower annual VED (pre-April 2017 at least) and company car tax the D4 is a sensible choice. That said, the D5 has punchier acceleration, thanks to a compressed air system that reduces turbo lag from a standing start – and in reality it’s likely to have very similar economy to the D4.

An eight-speed automatic is fitted as standard, with no manual alternative. It’s extremely smooth and most of the time gearchanges are barely noticeable, but it responds well when accelerating to overtake or join a motorway. It has a sport mode for more spirited driving and a manual mode, but most of the time it’s perfect in its standard setting.

Both the D4 and D5 are extremely refined, with diesel clatter only intruding slightly under hard acceleration. Wind noise is well-suppressed too, so at motorway speeds the V90 feels serene and relaxed. The suspension is geared more toward comfort than handling prowess, so bumps and potholes are ironed out well.

At the top of the range is the powerful T8 plug-in hybrid. This develops 407PS and has a 25 mile electric-only range. It's quick with a 0-62mph time of just 5.2 seconds and yet thanks to the fact it's a plug-in can quote official figures of 135mpg and 47g/km CO2. It’s expensive, though, so will have limited appeal and its economy figures aren't realistic in real world driving. 

The V90 has accurate enough steering, but it isn’t quite as precise or as nicely-weighted as the steering in a BMW 5 Series. It’s good enough though – there’s never a sense that the V90 can’t cope with tight bends or direction changes, it just tackles them with less precision and verve than its rivals from Audi and BMW.

Besides, any deficit on a B-road is made up for on motorways and dual-carriageways, where the standard semi-autonomous cruise control is a real help. 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.

Also fitted to all V90 models is City Safety, which can detect pending collisions with other vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and large animals like deer. It then warns the driver and will even perform an emergency stop if they don’t react. There’s also a system that attempts to prevent the car from running off the edge of the road if the driver loses concentration. 

Engine MPG 0-62 CO2
D4 58–63 mpg 8.5 s 119–129 g/km
D5 AWD 50–58 mpg 7.2 s 129–148 g/km
T4 42 mpg 8.0–8.9 s 156–160 g/km
T5 42 mpg 7.0 s 157–159 g/km
T6 AWD - 6.1 s 179 g/km
T8 AWD - 4.8–5.3 s 46–49 g/km

Real MPG average for a Volvo V90 (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

23–57 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 V90 (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

Can you recommend a good petrol hybrid estate?

I currently have a 2-litre diesel Toyota Avensis Estate with 94,000 miles since new in 2010. It's very comfortable and has a big boot with seats that fold down for a golf trolley. I travel about 10,000 miles annually with regular long trips. I'm changing cars soon and would like a little more comfort. I'm thinking an Audi estate, either A4 or A6, probably the A6 with larger boot. Ideally for the future I'd like a petrol hybrid. Any suggestions?
An Audi A4 or A6 sounds like a good option. Also consider a Skoda Superb if you're looking for value for money - we rate the Superb highly and the 2.0 TSI is a good engine. You can get a plug-in hybrid version, which might suit your needs if you can charge a car at home. If you'd like to go down to the plug-in hybrid route, we'd also recommend a Volvo V60 or V90 T8.
Answered by Andrew Brady
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