Looking toward the future

The S90 is Volvo’s premium 4-door, 5-seat flagship sedan. Volvo’s City Safety technology, standard on all Volvo models, combines automatic braking functionality and collision avoidance systems to cover a range of potential accident scenarios and help keep you safe. City Safety is the only system on the market that detects pedestrians, cyclists and large animals such as moose and deer. Metro News Service photo
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The S90 is Volvo’s premium 4-door, 5-seat flagship sedan. Volvo’s City Safety technology, standard on all Volvo models, combines automatic braking functionality and collision avoidance systems to cover a range of potential accident scenarios and help keep you safe. City Safety is the only system on the market that detects pedestrians, cyclists and large animals such as moose and deer. Metro News Service photo

Credit: Metro News Service photo

Credit: Metro News Service photo

Plug-in hybrid Volvo S90 shows that not all hybrids are created equal

There’s a lot of misinformation and misnomers about electric vehicles and hybrids for that matter. The truth of the matter, more and more of these type of vehicles are coming to the market, whether you want them or not. And honestly, more times than not, the negative opinion someone might have about a hybrid, or a plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) is not fair.

Case in point, this week’s tester is technically considered a PHEV. However, had I not checked the Monroney (window sticker) I wouldn’t have known as it didn’t match any of the misnomers or stereotypes. It wasn’t pokey, it had fuel and that were was no range anxiety. It was on the quiet side, despite all of its power, but when it comes to a luxury brand like Volvo, quiet is a good thing.

The 2021 Volvo S90 falls under the umbrella of PHEV, but does a 2.0-liter supercharged and turbocharged engine sound puny to you? Add in a couple electric motor assists and it adds up to 400 horsepower and 472 lb.-ft. of torque. Now that’s a PHEV I can get on board with! Who would object?

An 8-speed automatic transmission performs seamlessly handling both the turbo and supercharger well with no noticeable lag or catch up time. Both the up revs and down shifts are great and well timed. With all-wheel drive, it’s just outstanding.

On looks this big sedan is refined, luxurious and elegant. Truthfully, I could pour on more adjectives to describe just how stylish the S90 is. It’s everything you’d want in a big, executive-style sedan. There are other European and Asian rivals to the Swedish-made S90, but none with quite the distinction and modern elegance.

Everything about the S90′s aesthetics is just right, from the right-sized grille to the toned-down back end. The distinctive head lamps have a great shape and are perfectly positioned on the front end. The elegant taillights complete the overall look of the S90.

The interior styling matches the rest of the car with pristine refinement and high-quality touchpoints. The plush seats are comfortable and as mentioned, the cabin is whisper quiet thanks to that “hateful” PHEV. Even the shifter knob has distinction with a crystal-like appearance.

The interior is not without some faults as the infotainment system, though full of technology, has a high learning curve and lacks intuition. It’s typical of Volvo and other European brands to go too far with the infotainment system and over engineer it.

For such a large sedan, the trunk space is disappointing. There’s 13.5 cubic feet of cargo room. There is a hands-free access to the trunk which does offer some redemption.

Volvo has the best trim names in the industry. The S90 has trims named Inscription, R-Design, and Recharge. My tester was the Recharge Inscription with a base price of $60,050. With several packages added to it, my tester had a final price of $70,640.

Fuel economy is hard to factor, since there is a small amount of gasoline-free range available, thanks to the PHEV technology. There’s about 27 miles of available all-electric range for the S90. And when combined with the rest of the powertrain, it has a combined electricity + gasoline range of 60 MPGe. I averaged just over 32 mpg in a week’s worth of driving, where I did not plug in to recharge it. So essentially it still runs rather efficiently even without being plugged in.

So, hopefully if you take one thing away from this review it’s that not all hybrid, plug-in hybrids and electric vehicles are bad. A sedan like the 2021 Volvo S90 PHEV serves as a great introduction to what’s coming in the very near future. And if we use this luxury sedan as a glimpse into that future, I’d say the future looks quite bright.

Jimmy Dinsmore is a freelance automotive journalist. Email him at jimmydinsmore73@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @driversside

2021 Volvo S90 Recharge T8 Inscription

  • Price/As tested price................................................ $60,050/$70,640
  • Mileage.......................................... 30 mpg 60 MPGe/combined
  • Engine............................................. 2.0-liter super and turbocharged 4-cylinder
  • Horsepower................................. 400 hp/472 lbs./ft.
  • Transmission................................. 8-speed automatic
  • Drive wheels................ All-wheel drive
  • Final assembly point................ Daqing, China

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