2017 Volvo S90 Preview
By Christian Wardlaw, January 13, 2016
- New flagship sedan replaces S80
- T5 and T6 gasoline powertrains
- T8 plug-in hybrid powertrain
- Available all-wheel drive
- 8-speed automatic transmission
- City Safety adds large-animal-detection capability
- New Road Departure Mitigation technology
- Next-generation Pilot Assist semi-autonomous driving system
- Long list of standard and available safety and infotainment technologies
Shown publicly for the first time at the 2016 North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) in Detroit, the new 2017 Volvo S90 will serve as the company’s new flagship sedan when it replaces the aged S80 before the end of the year. The S90 is expected to compete with a long list of midsize luxury sedans including the Acura RLX, Alfa Romeo Giulia, Audi A6, BMW 5 Series, Cadillac CTS, Genesis G80, Infiniti Q70, Jaguar XF, Lexus GS, Lincoln MKZ, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class.
Volvo simultaneously refers to the new S90 as a “4-door coupe” and a “flagship sedan.” Either way, the rakishly handsome car lives up to the automaker’s assertion that it is both “classy and cool.”
Up front, Volvo’s new grille design is stamped with the company’s latest “Iron Mark” emblem, and is flanked by T-shaped “Thor’s Hammer” headlight designs. The roofline gracefully sweeps into the trunk, triangular rear quarter windows and a vestige of traditional Volvo beltline shoulder providing brand-specific definition to the profile. Tasteful chrome trim underscores the doors.
Around back, oversized C-shaped taillights look out of place but provide a distinctive lighting signature after dark.
According to Volvo, the new S90’s interior “masters the art of blending innovative technology and natural materials into an elegant, welcoming, and tasteful ambience.” From the tablet-style infotainment system to the traditional Scandinavian approach to the cabin’s materials, colors, and surfaces, this Volvo conveys luxury. It also includes a climate control system with an active carbon filter and Clean Zone air purification.
Volvo plans to announce greater detail with regard to trim packages and equipment closer to the S90’s arrival in showrooms. In the meantime, know that a top-shelf Inscription version is planned and will load the S90 with luxurious details, including an Orrefors crystal shifter, knurled metal switchgear, premium leather, and matte finish wood trim.
Under the Hood
Three different Drive-E powertrains are planned for the new 2017 Volvo S90. Standard in the S90 T5, a turbocharged, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine makes 240 horsepower, delivered to the car’s front wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission. Automatic engine start/stop technology will help to conserve fuel.
The Volvo S90 T6 gets a supercharged and turbocharged (you read that correctly) version of the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. Volvo says it produces 320 horsepower, but in other U.S.-spec models it generates 302 horsepower. An 8-speed automatic transmission and automatic engine start/stop are standard for the S90 T6.
As an option, an all-wheel-drive (AWD) system can send up to half of the engine’s power to the S90’s rear wheels. Volvo says this version of the car can accelerate to 60 mph in less than 5.8 seconds.
In the S90 T8, a Twin Engine plug-in hybrid powertrain is standard. A gasoline 2.0-liter “Super Turbo” engine powers the front wheels, while a 65-kW electric motor powers the rear wheels, effectively creating an AWD system. The electric motor draws juice from a 9.2-kWh Lithium-ion battery that is housed in the center of the car and between the seats.
Together, these components produce 410 horsepower. Pure, Hybrid, and Power driving modes are available, the S90 T8 capable of electric operation in Pure mode. The 8-speed automatic transmission gains paddle shifters in this application, which also includes automatic engine start/stop and brake-energy recuperation systems.
For decades, Volvo has emphasized the safety of its owners and their passengers, and this holds true for the new 2017 S90. For instance, the car’s underlying safety cage is constructed of ultra-high-strength, hot-formed boron steel, ultimately comprising 35% of the car’s total body weight.
Additionally, the S90 will include City Safety and IntelliSafe driver-assistance and collision-avoidance technologies. City Safety continues to provide pedestrian- and cyclist-detection systems combined with automatic emergency braking technology. It also features intersection braking, which debuted on the 2016 Volvo XC90, and which can help to avoid an accident when the driver is trying to turn left across traffic. New for 2017, City Safety adds large-animal-detection capability that works night or day.
IntelliSafe Assist is also standard for the S90. It includes an adaptive cruise control system and next-generation Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive technology. With this latest version of Pilot Assist, the system keeps the car centered between lane markings at speeds up to 80 mph, and is no longer dependent upon following a car ahead. Volvo suggests that Pilot Assist is best used in stop-and-go and congested traffic situations or on freeways with clear lane markings.
Pilot Assist works only if the driver’s hands are on the steering wheel, and Volvo makes it clear that the driver remains responsible for operation of the vehicle, including acceleration, braking, and steering. “The driver is always legally responsible for driving the vehicle,” reminds Volvo.
To deactivate Pilot Assist, the driver need only use the brake pedal, the accelerator, or the steering wheel to take full control of the S90. Using the turn signal to change lanes temporarily suspends the system’s steering support in order to facilitate that action.
Safety-related options for the S90 include an IntelliSafe Surround package that adds a blind-spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alert and a rear-collision warning. Active high-beam headlights and 2-stage booster-seat cushions for children are also available.
Using the large tablet-size infotainment screen, the S90’s driver can access a range of cloud-based Sensus Connect apps and services. Highlights include a Wi-Fi hotspot; text-messaging support; local search; Internet radio, traffic, and weather reports; and more. The infotainment system is compatible with Siri Eyes Free, offers Apple CarPlay smartphone-projection technology, and works in conjunction with Volvo On Call subscription services including automatic collision alert, emergency support, car locator, remote engine starting, and more.
Additional upgrades include a Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system, a 360-degree surround-view camera system, and Park Assist Pilot that autonomously steers the S90 into parallel and perpendicular parking spaces.