What’s Hot: The S90, which replaces the aging S80, is the brand’s all-new flagship. It’s the first car and second vehicle, with a premium luxury swag-appeal, to be introduced by a Chinese-owned company. And it’s the first car from the brand that combines the best elements of safety and design, both inside and out.

volvo2016

The vehicle’s knockout modern design, both inside and out, is a winner. The S90’s world-class orthopedic seats were literally taken out of the brand’s ultra-luxurious, award-winning XC90 crossover.

The interior, led by Tisha Johnson, one of the highest-ranking designers in the field and the only female auto designer in the U.S. to run a design studio, looks like a work of art. The well-executed interior is arguably one of best executed interiors in the segment, exhibiting a level of detail one would expect in a Bentley or Rolls Royce.

Besides the premium interior, the S90 offers a standard pilot assist semi-autonomous drive system, which still requires the driver to keep his hand on the steering wheel. Volvo, always known for safety, includes a segment-exclusive large animal detection system along with a run-off-road mitigation system. No other midsize luxury vehicles currently offer these features.

For the first time, Volvo has a competitive vehicle that plays in the midsize luxury vehicle segment. The front-wheel drive S90, which is fueled exclusively by 4-cylinder engines, competes against such established heavy hitters as the BMW 5-Series and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The S90 is going up against a segment that offers not only a few 4-cylinders, but 6- and 8-cylinder engines, too.

If any midsize luxury car buyers take issue with a 4-cylinder, keep in mind that  Volvo is able to offer it due to its lightweight architecture. More importantly, the S90 will literally be fueled by a pair of gas saving 4-cylinders, with either a turbo or a supercharged engine, which pumps out 250- and 316-horsepower, respectively.

Despite the lack of a true 6-cylinder, Volvo’s supercharged engine horsepower is within the range of many of its competitors. Volvo’s traditional customers have become accustomed to the automaker offering a cylinder or less than its competitors. In fact, in 2014, Volvo discontinued its 5-cylinder engines.

Still, for luxury buyers coming from brands outside of the Volvo family, this could be an adjustment.

Volvo plans to up the ante in the segment by adding a plug-in hybrid, as well as a station wagon. We wouldn’t be surprise if Volvo adds a high performance R-model, too!

What’s Not: 

Unfortunately, as a result of Tesla’s recent high-profile fatal accident using a similar feature, Volvo’s emphasizes that their pilot (hands-free) driving system can only be utilized when hands are on the wheel. And in case one decides to push the limit, as we did, the system automatically disengages when it sensed our hands were no longer on the steering wheel. As we’ve been advised, the system is best used for heavy stop and go traffic.

Strangely, this stylish vehicle lacked an adjustable sliding front sun visor and a power operated tilt-and-telescopic steering wheel. And the flimsy hidden cup holders seemed out-of-place. And heated front seats are not standard on the base Momentum model. We can’t figure out why Volvo cheaped out on these simple amenities.

Breakdown:

Drive or Drive-By: During the height of the Great Recession a few years ago, none of us were sure if the brand known for safety would survive all of the instability in the marketplace. Fast-forward a few years later after cutting all ties to Ford, the company is stronger than ever. The Volvo S90 has it all  – cutting-edge safety features, an eye-popping stylish exterior, a state of the art showroom interior and an array of fuel-efficient engines to combat higher gas prices when they inevitably return.

Competition: 2017 Genesis G80 (formerly Hyundai Genesis sedan); 2017 Lincoln Continental; 2016 Acura RLX; 2016 Audi A6; 2016 BMW 5-Series; 2016 Cadillac CTS; 2016 Cadillac CT-6; 2016 Jaguar XF; 2016 Lexus GS; 2016 Mercedes-Benz E-Class; and 2016 Infiniti Q70

S90 Trims:

Momentum

Inscription

Standard Safety Features: ABS; airbags; LED headlights and taillights; LED foglights; a rearview camera; a pilot assist semi-autonomous drive system; a collision avoidance pedestrian/bike city safety feature; a large animal (or deer detection system); a run off road mitigation (and protection) system; a lane departure warning system; a rear park assist system; power folding rear headrests; door handle illumination; ABS; stability control; a temporary spare tire; and a tire pressure sensor

S90 Momentum Standard Features: 18-inch wheels; a power sunroof; an a variety of driving mode settings; leather power front seats; a leather steering wheel; an auto dimming rearview mirror; an 8-inch infotainment touchscreen display screen; keyless entry; a keyless ignition starter system; and a nav system

S90 Inscription Features: 19-inch wheels; 12-inch infotainment screen; dual tailpipes; power front seats with driver memory setting; power extender for front seats; heated/ventilated front seats; Nappa soft leather auto high beam headlights; rear door manual operated sun shade; A headlight high pressure cleaning system; AppleCar play; and a 4-zone climate system with a cooled glovebox

Optional Features: 20-inch wheels; retractable rearview mirrors; a blind spot information with a cross-traffic alert system; a 360-degree surround view camera; heated rear seats; a heated steering wheel; a power operated trunk lid; a heads up display system; a Bowers and Wilkins Premium audio system with a CD player; a premium rear air suspension system; and a charcoal headliner.

Pricing: The front wheel drive Momentum and Inscription trims, with the base turbo charged engine, have a starting price of $47,945 and $51,445, respectively. To step into the more powerful supercharged engine, with the all-wheel drive configuration, buyers will pay between $5,800 to $6,000, depending upon the trim. Pricing on a well-optioned out S90, with an all-wheel drive system, can easily approach the $67,000 mark.Standard Audio System: a 10-speaker AM/FM/Satellite audio system

 Bluetooth Connectivity: Yes

 USB Charging Port: Yes

 USB Connectivity: Yes

 Bumper-to-Bumper Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles

 Engine/Horsepower: 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder/ 250-horsepower

 Powertrain Warranty: 4 years or 50,000 miles

Recommended Fuel: Premium

 Standard Fuel Mileage: 23-city/34-hwy (source: Fueleconomy.gov)

Jeff Fortson is an auto analyst and editor of a car-buying website for women and minorities. To learn more about his popular car-buying workshop and/or to price a new-vehicle, drive on over to www.JeffCars.com. Follow him on Twitter/JeffCars.

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