2022 Volvo S90 Review

Jack R. Nerad, Independent Expert | Sep 29, 2022

Introduction - Find the best Volvo deals!

It is difficult to say with finality that one vehicle is the "safest." However, one could make a case that the 2022 Volvo S90 luxury sedan is just that. As the flag-bearer of the Swedish automaker's lineup, Volvo builds the 5-passenger S90 to enable its passengers to survive accidents and, better yet, to avoid them in the first place. Volvo builds the S90 on its Scalable Product Architecture. Ever inventive, Volvo uses that platform as the basis for not only the S90 but also for the V90 and V60 wagons, XC90 and XC60 SUVs, and the S60 sedan. For the 2022 model year, the S90 gets a new powertrain—a 48-volt mild hybrid. And the powertrain change is a good rationale for revisiting this veteran player in the upper midsize premium sedan segment.

Volvo offers the 2022 S90 luxury sedan in three trim levels: Momentum, R Design, and Inscription. (For the 2023 model year, in a quest to make the designations more straightforward, Volvo has renamed the Momentum trim the Plus trim and the Inscription trim the Ultimate trim.) Either way you designate it, the Momentum, while "entry-level," is well-equipped. In the middle, the R Design offers sportier looks, but performance isn't much better than the line-topping Inscription/Ultimate or Momentum/Plus trims equipped with the same powertrains. Volvo gives designations to its powertrains, and the new powertrain for the 2022 model year is the B6. It replaces the wildly complicated turbocharged and supercharged T6. Another way Volvo has simplified its U.S. offering is by standardizing all-wheel drive (AWD) across the lineup.

Fundamental changes for the 2022 model year are switching to AWD across the board and substituting the B6 powertrain for the T6. Previously, the automaker offered a front-drive version of the bottom-level Momentum trim, but U.S. Volvo dealers didn't sell many of them.

What Owners Say About the Upper Midsize Premium Car Segment - Find the best Volvo deals!

2022 Volvo S90 Recharge T8 AWD Platinum Grey Front Quarter View

The Volvo S90 competes in the Upper Midsize Premium Car market segment. According to data collected from verified new-vehicle buyers for the J.D. Power 2022 Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) Study, 82 percent of new Upper Midsize Premium Car buyers are male vs. 62 percent for the industry, and the median age of a new Upper Midsize Premium Car buyer is 61 years vs. 54.

As part of the APEAL Study, owners rated the Upper Midsize Premium Car segment in 10 primary categories. Listed below in descending order, you'll find their preferences, from their most favorite thing about the vehicle to their least favorite:

  • Powertrain
  • Exterior styling
  • Driving feel
  • Feeling of safety
  • Interior design
  • Setting up and starting
  • Driving comfort
  • Infotainment
  • Fuel Economy
  • Getting in and out

What Our Independent Expert Says About the Volvo S90 - Find the best Volvo deals!

In the sections that follow, our independent expert analyzes an S90 R-Design equipped with the following options:

  • Thunder Grey Metallic exterior paint
  • Advanced package
  • Four-C Active air suspension
  • 20-inch alloy wheels
  • Bowers & Wilkins premium audio system

The test vehicle's price came to $64,790, including the $1,045 destination charge.

Getting In and Getting Comfortable

2022 Volvo S90 Recharge T8 AWD Interior Front Seats

Undoubtedly the best feature of the Volvo S90 is its interior. Using the innate Scandinavian design ethos as their guide, Volvo designers created a luxurious and supremely comfortable cabin without being ostentatious. It's a nice trick. One of the keys to this is using natural materials, including ventilated Nappa seat coverings and matte-finish wood trim that doesn't look "processed."

Volvo has developed a very positive reputation for seat comfort and adjustability. The seats in the S90 don't disappoint. Getting into a good driving position with a clear view of the instruments is easy and intuitive. Both front seats are multi-power-adjustable with power-adjustable lumbar support. They are so comfortable that you don't even know they are there on a long drive. The support and comfort are that good.

The optional Advanced package includes a head-up display that puts a great deal of information directly in the driver's line of sight. It also includes an air-purification system, a power-operated trunk lid, and a surround-view parking-assistance system. An optional Climate package includes the always-welcome heated steering wheel, heated rear seats (it gets COLD in Sweden), and a high-pressure headlight-cleaning system.

Rear-seat comfort and legroom are exceptional—a reflection of the Chinese ownership of the Volvo brand. Volvo S90s are popular in China, and chauffeurs drive many of their owners rather than the owners driving the car themselves. Thus, the rear seats are extra-generous.

2022 Volvo S90 Android-Based Infotainment System Review

2022 Volvo S90 Recharge T8 AWD Platinum Grey Front Quarter View 2

The 2022 Volvo S90 includes the heavily revised Volvo infotainment system. A new Android-based system replaces the once vaunted but now shunned Volvo Sensus system. Sensus was one of the first mainstream systems that placed simple controls like heating and air conditioning into the touchscreen interface. Many drivers found that needlessly complicated.

The Android-based infotainment system in the 2022 S90 features Google built-in and includes features such as:

  • Google Maps integrated navigation
  • Google Assistant
  • Google Play
  • Digital services package with data
  • Volvo Cars app
  • Apple CarPlay

Volvo has said that it learned a great many lessons from the Sensus experience. While the heavy reliance on Google-based functions in the new system largely works quite well, there are still some frustrations. For instance, drivers still control heating and air conditioning via the touchscreen, forcing you into the interface before you can turn the heat down. It appears to take fewer touches to get to those controls than before, but the system still requires some practice before you can play its "keyboard" well.

The S90 still offers a 9-inch touchscreen display. When Volvo first introduced the car, that seemed big. Now, it looks a bit on the small side. Large type, easy-to-read fonts, vivid color contrasts, and big on-screen "buttons" aid usability when the S90 is underway.

An important positive aspect of the new system is its use of Google Assistant. Occupants of the S90 can use the built-in helper to accomplish many tasks with simple voice commands. For example, setting up a destination in the navigation system is as simple as saying, "Google, take me to…" Google Maps then enlists real-time traffic information and suggestions to establish a good route. Given the minor complexities of the touchscreen, using Google Assistant has a very strong appeal. Indeed, one of them is that the driver can stay focused on the road ahead rather than on a touchscreen.

With its Android/Google base, you might wonder how it will deal with iPhones, but the experience in my test vehicle was good. There was never an instance when "Hey Google" slapped down Siri or vice-versa.

The new infotainment system in the S90 also includes Google Play Store with access to additional media apps, including Spotify and other streaming services. It has over-the-air update capabilities. The top-level Bowers & Wilkins sound system features a 4:15 digital amplifier, 1,400-watt output, and 19 speakers, including a top-center tweeter.

As one would expect, given the system's underpinnings, using the new Volvo system is a lot like using an Android phone filled with Google apps. Google Maps is a top-notch system accessed by many iPhone users. It worked perfectly well in the S90. Using voice commands to bypass the touchscreen interface seems like a worthwhile tactic most of the time.

The Bowers & Wilkins sound system is the more premium of the two available premium sound systems, and it is excellent. Sound is rich, full-colored, and well-segmented. While some would say it is like being in the Gothenburg orchestra hall, I would say it is even better because, in the car, the orchestra is playing directly for you.

What It's Like to Drive the 2022 Volvo S90

2022 Volvo S90 Recharge T8 AWD Platinum Grey Side View

Some might suggest that the Volvo S90 regressed by substituting the new B6 mild-hybrid powertrain for the former T6 powertrain. There is no denying that peak horsepower is down by more than 20. That's a lot to give up. But the new powertrain has a broad torque curve and excellent flexibility, so the horsepower shortfall is hardly noticeable.

Volvo builds the B6 powertrain on the brand's workhorse 4-cylinder engine family. The automaker replaced the T6's mechanical supercharger with an electric supercharger called an E-charger. According to Volvo, the electrical operation of the supercharger nearly eliminates the mechanical losses involved in the previous setup. It also has a 48-volt electrical system and a starter-generator that replaces the conventional starter motor. That delivers much better stop/start functionality to the great delight of those who disliked those early systems.

Keeping with the electrical theme, the cooling system uses an electric water pump that Volvo says eliminates friction losses and enables much more precise control of cooling. The B6's brake-by-wire technology allows the car to recuperate braking forces and use them to improve fuel economy.

Volvo equips the S90 Recharge—the high-performance plug-in hybrid (PHEV) version of the sedan (and no, I'm not kidding about that)—with the T8 powertrain. Through the magic of supercharging, turbocharging, and electric-motor assist, the S90 Recharge offers 400 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque. Further tweaks via Volvo's Polestar performance arm can take it up to 455 hp. The T8 powertrain drives all wheels through an 8-speed automatic transmission.

With the B6 powertrain in the test vehicle, the Volvo S90 is a good performer with a level of ride and handling that is appropriate for the non-enthusiast luxury buyer. In other words, most luxury buyers. In the city and over the concrete of far-flung Interstate highways, the S90 R-Design B6 is quiet, composed, and comfortable. Rear-seat occupants are in the veritable lap of luxury.

If 30-mph curves and switchbacks for miles on end challenge the S90 B6, the rear-seat folks—and even the driver—might not feel so comfy-cozy. There is some body roll, and the steering is perhaps a tick slow in tight corners. The S90 for that application is the Recharge, perhaps in Polestar trim. (Bring money.)

Though there is a lot—a whole lot, in fact—going on under the hood of the Volvo S90 in any trim and configuration, the vehicle is quiet with no jerkiness or awkwardness. The application of electric "boost" helps the car accelerate and smooths gear-to-gear shifts, but it is not readily noticeable. This is a luxury sedan with a clear emphasis on the luxury mission. Volvo emphasizes sportiness elsewhere in the lineup.

Volvo S90 ADAS Suite Review

2022 Volvo S90 Recharge T8 AWD Platinum Grey Side View 2

Volvo equips the 2022 S90 R-Design B6 with an impressive array of active safety and driver-assist features. Hey, it's a Volvo. One of the most sophisticated of its advanced driving assistance systems (ADAS) is Pilot Assist, which aids the driver with steering, acceleration, and braking in certain situations. Intended to be an antidote to fatigue in stop-and-go traffic and not an autonomous driving system, the hands-on-the-wheel Pilot Assist works on highways at speeds up to 80 mph. Due to some added tech, it no longer requires a car in front of it to follow.

Volvo equips the S90 with a sophisticated blind-spot warning system that includes steering assist and rear cross-traffic warning. According to the automaker, various sensors placed strategically around the S90 enable it to detect and avoid potential collisions. First, it warns the driver, and if it must, the car brakes itself. It detects not only other vehicles but also pedestrians, cyclists, and even large animals. (Smaller animals are, sadly, on their own.)

The Oncoming Lane Mitigation system, active at speeds between 37 and 87 mph, employs automatic steering to avoid a collision with an oncoming vehicle.

While many ADAS functions are difficult to test safely in real-world conditions, one clear positive of the Volvo systems is that they don't throw false positives and random warnings in the driver's face. They are primarily out of sight and out of mind like a very good baseball umpire.

The surround-view camera is extremely helpful in tight parking situations. It offers a very clear view of what lies around the S90's flanks. Adaptive cruise control is easy to deploy, easily adjustable, and performs as it should.

2022 Volvo S90 FAQ - Find the best Volvo deals!

2022 Volvo S90 B6 AWD Platinum_Grey Rear View

How much cargo space does the 2022 Volvo S90 have?

The Volvo S90 features a light, open interior with more than ample cargo space. In addition to plenty of front and rear headroom and legroom, the S90 has a folding rear seatback—a significant advantage in usability. With the rear seatback folded, the S90 offers an 82.6-inch-length cargo floor, while with the rear seatback in place, the cargo floor length is 45.2 inches. The S90 has 15.4 cubic feet of total cargo volume in its conventional trunk, including 0.2 cubic feet in underfloor storage. Lift-over height into the well-finished trunk is a convenient 26.5 inches.

Does the 2022 Volvo S90 get good gas mileage?

With its new mild-hybrid system, the 2022 Volvo S90 R-Design B6 sedan is EPA-certified at 23 mpg city/31 mpg highway/26 mpg combined. In the test drive, I observed 24 mpg fuel economy, often in urban stop-and-go traffic. The range on a 15.9-gallon tank of gas is approximately 410 miles.

Is the 2022 Volvo S90 safe?

The 2022 Volvo S90 is a Top Safety Pick +, the highest accolade awarded by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Meanwhile, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not rated the crashworthiness of the 2022 S90.

How much is the 2022 Volvo S90?

The 2022 Volvo S90 ranges in price from $52,850 for the Momentum to $55,950 for the Inscription. The destination charge is an additional $1,045. The S90 Recharge PHEV has a base price of $61,050 for the R-Design to $62,050 for the Inscription Extended Range with more electric-only capability.

What are the 2022 Volvo S90 competitors?

In the J.D. Power 2022 Initial Quality Study (IQS), the Genesis G80 ranks highest in the Upper Midsize Premium Car segment. The BMW 5 Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class are the next highest-ranked models.

In the 2022 APEAL Study, the Genesis G80 ranks highest in the Upper Midsize Premium Car segment. The BMW 5 Series and the Porsche Taycan are the next highest-ranked models.

Other competitors to the 2022 S90 include the Audi A6Audi A7, and Jaguar XF.

Independent Expert Opinion - Find the best Volvo deals!

2022 Volvo S90 Recharge T8 AWD Platinum Grey Rear Quarter View 2

The Volvo S90 is a very competent, supremely comfortable 5-passenger luxury sedan. The new B6 base powertrain improves its appeal and delivers good all-around drivability. If you seek an alternative to the German Big 3—AudiBMW, and Mercedes-Benz—the S90 provides it. The interior is especially nice, with superbly comfortable seats and a practical and casual aura. The highest-performance version of the S90—the plug-in hybrid Recharge with the T8 powertrain—also delivers the best fuel economy. No, that's not the norm, but neither is anything else about the Volvo S90. In other words, it's very Scandinavian. And I regard its innovations as a good thing.

Jack R. Nerad has reviewed cars, trucks, vans, and sport utilities for over three decades. He managed the editorial efforts of Motor Trend magazine and Kelley Blue Book and currently is the host of the SportsMap Radio Network program America on the Road, which is available on Apple Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, Stitcher, and other outlets.

The opinions expressed in this review are the author’s own, not J.D. Power’s.

No portion of these reviews may be reproduced, distributed, publicly displayed, or used for a derivative work without J.D. Power’s written permission. © 2023 J.D. Power

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