Volvo V90 estate review
"The Volvo V90 is a large estate car with all the comfort, technology and style you could need"
- Fantastic design inside and out
- Very comfortable and safe
- Great all-round quality
- High-spec models expensive
- Some rivals are better to drive
- Boot not as big as you’d expect
The Volvo V90 is a far cry from older, boxy estate cars from the Swedish brand but the transformation is a positive one. The V90 is one of the most stylish cars of its type and yet still offers a huge interior and a big boot that should be more than enough for most buyers.
It’s a great option if you find yourself put off by the usual options from BMW and Mercedes, as the Volvo does things a bit differently. Not only is the interior smartly designed, with a minimalist look, the Volvo is more focused on comfort than some of its rivals, so it’s a great option for long commutes.
Rivals such as the BMW 5 Series Touring or Jaguar XF Sportbrake are much more enjoyable to drive, but the Volvo is more relaxed and feels more roomy in the cabin. The seats are very comfortable, the steering is light and the engines are punchy, which takes a lot of the stress out of a long trip in a V90.
There’s no shortage of tech either, as the Volvo has a huge amount of safety gear as standard and a useful combination of a portrait nine-inch infotainment screen and a digital instrument cluster. Combined, all the info you need is displayed easily and the systems are easy enough to use - aside from the fiddly air-conditioning controls.
The V90 has a bit of a self-imposed problem when it comes to the interior and tech, which is the Volvo V60. That model is smaller, so it won’t appeal to everyone, but it offers enough space for most and has a very similar interior with all the key bits of tech included as well, so it looks better value than the V90.
Compare the new Volvo V90 to its rivals – such as the BMW 5 Series Touring, Mercedes E-Class Estate, Jaguar XF Sportbrake and Audi A6 Avant – and you’ll generally find it leaves a positive impression, especially if you value comfort over sportiness. While it doesn’t have the biggest boot in its class, its 560-litre load bay (with the rear seats up) is about on par with its rivals.
Fold the rear seats down and you get 1,526 litres, which is quite a way behind the likes of the 5 Series Touring and A6 Avant and way behind the latest E-Class Estate, all of which offer more than 1,600 litres with the rear seats down.
The V90 shares plenty of parts with the Volvo S90 saloon, but no longer shares its engine range; the S90 is now only offered with a ‘Recharge’ plug-in hybrid powertrain. Pick the estate, and you have a far broader choice. The engine line-up starts with a 194bhp B4 petrol engine, while petrol buyers can also pick 247bhp B5 and 296bhp B6 models - all of which come with fuel-saving mild-hybrid technology.
Diesel is still reasonably popular in cars of this size, and the V90 offers a pair of 2.0-litre engines: a 194bhp ‘B4 (D)’ and a 232bhp ‘B5 (D)’, with the base engine likely to prove the most efficient for high-mileage drivers. There’s also a Recharge plug-in hybrid model (less powerful than the one in the S90), which marries a 2.0-litre petrol engine with an electric motor, offering around 30 miles of pure-electric driving and the potential for super-low running costs.
The most powerful engines feature four-wheel drive, with the lower-powered models getting front-wheel drive. If you’re looking at the rugged Volvo V90 Cross Country (reviewed separately), four-wheel drive is standard because it’s aimed at people who drive on rougher terrain. All V90s get the same eight-speed automatic gearbox as the Volvo XC90 SUV.
There are three levels of trim available for the V90 – Momentum, Inscription and R-Design – and standard equipment is just as comprehensive as you’ll find on the S90 saloon. Leather upholstery, heated front seats, LED headlights, dual-zone climate control and sat nav are all standard. Voice control, internet access, a powered bootlid and access to internet apps are also included on all models, as is Volvo’s Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving system. This will automatically keep the car a set distance from the car in front and within its lane at speeds up to 80mph.
R-Design brings more aggressive, sporting looks to the big estate car without increasing performance – in a similar vein to BMW M Sport and Mercedes AMG Line models. You’ll find a special design of alloy wheels, a restyled front bumper and a black grille that adds presence, while inside there are sports seats and ambient lighting. The suspension is lower and stiffer, which does sharpen the handling a little, but also diminishes the V90’s excellent ride quality. Inscription, meanwhile, is focused on luxury, with extra features and upgraded leather upholstery.
A glowing five-star rating – awarded after 2017 crash tests by independent safety experts Euro NCAP, is testament to how seriously Volvo takes safety. The company has actually stated that it aims for no-one to be killed or seriously injured in or by any of its new cars. This is a bold promise, but looking at the company’s track record and the amount of safety kit its cars come with, it’s hard not to believe it. It’s based on the same underpinnings as the five-star-rated Volvo XC90 SUV and gets the same comprehensive standard safety equipment.
Reliability isn't quite so assured, although Volvo did manage a decent ninth-place (out of 30) finish in our 2021 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey.
Although we prefer the honest nature of the Momentum to the more expensive R-Design model, the V90 is still one of the most impressive large estates Volvo has made. Although it doesn’t boast the biggest boot in the class, its plush interior, technological sophistication and sheer cruising pleasure mean it deserves to ride high on your upmarket estate shortlist.