When Ford sold Volvo to China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group in 2010, analysts wondered if Geely would be able keep Volvo viable. The elegant 2017 Volvo S90 T6 AWD Inscription sedan and XC90 SUV answer an emphatic yes.
Without hesitation, I can say the S90 is the best-looking Volvo since the P1800 coupe. It's gorgeous in Mussel Blue Metallic. It starts with an upright waterfall grille and dynamic "Thor's Hammer" LED headlights, then sweeps up into a high belt line. It finishes with a fastback rear with a short trunk.
Recent Volvos have had some attractive, well-designed-and-screwed-together interiors. And the S90 T6 Inscription model continues this with the advanced Sensus Touch infotainment system commanding the dash. The rest of the interior has a slightly futuristic look with sculpted leather and real wood trim.
The interior feels bigger than it appears, and five passengers are treated to supportive and highly adjustable seats that outclass some cars costing double. Rear passengers receive first-class treatment with contoured and supportive seats. Rear head room and rear ingress/egress take hits for a low ceiling and ill-conceived door openings. The seat backs fold forward to provide a usable pass-through from the trunk. Surprisingly, rear cargo space stretches to 17.7 cubic feet.
For 2017, Volvo offers three engine choices for the U.S. - a turbocharged, 250-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder (T5); a 316-horsepower, supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 295 pound-feet of torque (my T6 tester); and the same T6 engine with an electric drive system to create a 400-horsepower T8 Twin Engine top model. All three powertrains work through a silky-smooth, luxury-class, eight-speed automatic directing power to all four wheels.
During my drives, the T6 exhibited two on-road personalities: luxury-car smooth around town, but not as confident during aggressive moves. All S90 models feature a double-wishbone front suspension, coil springs and hydraulic dampers and stabilizer bar up front. In the rear, there is a standard transverse composite leaf-spring suspension. From a standing start, the turbo and supercharger work in harmony to jump off the line. However, a "huffed and puffed" four-cylinder can only do so much. In 0-60 and top-end speeds, the S90 will be left behind. On aggressive turns, the electric steering is slow to respond and feels slightly disconnected.
Further driving behavior is influenced by S90's drive-mode selector. Default equals comfort, Eco mode upshifts earlier for fuel economy and Sport mode upshifts at higher rpm. Sport mode downshifts two gears with throttle input and factors in cornering and braking to prevent shifts at bad points during spirited driving. Braking is good, as is the Pilot Assist function. At speeds up to 80 mph (in concert with the adaptive cruise control) it reads the lane markers to basically steer the car, but you must keep your hands on the wheel.
One final thing - it's very quiet thanks to active noise-cancellation technology.
All this technology, style and more position the 2017 S90 T6 Inscription as a smart near-luxury sedan (as long as you don't want a sports sedan).
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