Volvo V90 (2016 – 2023) Review

Volvo V90 (2016 – 2023) 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, no Android Auto connection.

New prices start from £37,455
Insurance Groups are between 27–44
On average it achieves 75% 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. Read on for our full review of the Volvo V90.

The V90 is a clever piece of automotive design; you can tell it’s a Volvo estate car 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 tAndroid Auto is not included.

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. There are no longer any diesel engine options.

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 a family car that is especially easy to recommend to safety-conscious buyers.

We've lived with a Volvo V90 Ultimate T6 plug-in hybrid for six months - find out how we got on with it in our Volvo V90 long-term test.

Ask Honest John

What do you recommend as a very comfortable, roomy, economical, safe and reliable car?

"We’re thinking of changing our 2012 Honda Accord Diesel Tourer for something with as much or more room - we need the space for sailing gear - but with a softer ride, more directional stability on motorways, brighter headlights, automatic transmission, predictable handling and similar reliability and economy. Like the Accord the new car would be mostly used for regular 100+ mile trips on motorways to the coast and back. I love the Accord’s diesel, the best engine I’ve ever had, so something like a diesel estate VW Passat or Skoda Superb could suit, but are the engines reliable, is the DSG box reliable and critically is it wet or dry clutch - wet clutches seem to be a better bet? The budget as little as possible (we see our cars as costly tools) but realistically it will have to be mid/high £k teens, perhaps a little more. Is there anything else I should consider?"
A Skoda Superb or Volkswagen Passat sounds ideal. You won't go wrong with the 2.0 TDI engine, provided you cover enough motorway miles to keep the diesel particular filter (DPF) clear (it sounds like you do). The DSG gearbox is reliable these days, too. As an alternative, take a look at the Volvo V90 - it's a very comfortable premium estate car.
Answered by Andrew Brady

What car has the most comfortable seats and coldest air con?

"What car on sale has the most comfortable seats and coldest air con?"
You should find that most cars with automatic climate control where you can set a specific temperature will allow you to go down to 16 or 17 degrees, as well as a 'low' setting that sets the fan speed to maximum at the lowest possible temperature. You should find this cold enough for almost any situation. As for comfortable seats, as a general rule larger cars tend to have more comfortable seats as the size of the car means bigger, more comfortable seats are fitted. You don't mention your budget, but we'd be looking at cars like the Skoda Superb or Volvo S90/V90 for maximum seating comfort and cold air con.
Answered by David Ross

I'm looking for estate or medium SUV for long road trips, what should I buy?

"I drive about 18,000 miles a year; two 3000 mile road trips each year and then the rest is a mix of around town and 50 miles on the motorway. I'm looking for either an estate or a medium SUV. For the road trips, something with leather, lumbar support and cruise control and that we can load up, but doesn't need to be one of the massive SUVs. I'm trying to work out the best make/model that will give me reliability and comfort for total cost over 4 or 5 years ownership and then sell on hopefully with decent residual value. My budget is up to £27k - what do you recommend?"
We'd almost always choose an estate car over an SUV, simply because they tend to be nicer to drive and make better use of their footprint in terms of interior space. With your budget we'd go for a Volvo V90, which offers an exceptional cabin, very comfortable seats, good ride comfort and a cavernous boot. We'd steer clear of R-Design specification which has a slightly firmer ride, but you should find a choice of diesel or petrol versions within your budget, and if you look hard enough you may find the PHEV version too which would be ideal to keep fuel costs down in city driving. They also hold their value well too.
Answered by David Ross

Can you recommend an SUV or estate car that can carry ladders?

"My 2014 2.0-litre diesel auto BMW 5 Series falls foul of the clean air zone (CAZ) requirements. It's been my third 5 Series, used for my work as a surveyor. The rear seats fold to accommodate my ladders and other long equipment. I'm looking to replace it with a CAZ compliant vehicle that fulfills the role. My motoring is a mixture of local journeys and longer runs of up to 300 miles round trips, including the London area. I have got used to a larger car, and automatic is a must. I'm not wedded to BMW and would consider something cheaper but of decent quality, finish and accessories. Comfortable seats and a quiet cabin are desirable. I have always preferred lighter coloured interior upholstery. I have tended to buy used cars at about 3 years old. An initial search suggested a Ford Mondeo estate, but I am aware that the fashion is now for the SUV type of vehicle, and I'm not a fan of estate cars, though I would consider one. Can you suggest a few alternatives that I might consider? My budget is flexible but, if my car is worth about £6,000, I would not wish to add much more that £14,000-£16,000 to that."
The issue with SUVs is that they may not be long enough to accommodate your equipment, unless you go for something large such as a Kia Sorento or BMW X5/Audi Q7. Other options we would be considering are the Volkswagen Passat or Skoda Superb Estate, the Vauxhall Insignia Sports Tourer, the Volvo V90 and the Mazda 6 Tourer. A Skoda Kodiaq may also fulfill your needs but again isn't as long as the estate cars here.
Answered by Lawrence Allan
More Questions

What does a Volvo V90 (2016 – 2023) cost?