Tuesday, September 20, 2016

2017 Volvo S90: The Brand’s New Flagship Vehicle

What’s New: 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.

When Available: On sale now.
The Challenge: 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.

To address any trepidation midsize luxury car buyers may have with a 4-cylinder, one must note that Volvo is able to offer such 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. Ironically, Volvo’s traditional customers have become accustomed to the automaker offering a cylinder or less than its segment competitors. In fact, in 2014, Volvo discontinued its 5-cylinder engines.

So, for conquest customers, which are luxury buyers coming from other brands outside of the Volvo family, this could be an adjustment.  Also the vehicle with European roots plan 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!

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:


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 highbeam 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 blindspot 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.

Standout Features: The vehicle’s knockout modern design both inside and out. In fact, the S90’s world-class orthopedic seats were literally taken out of the brand’s stylish and ultra-luxurious award-winning XC90 crossover. The premium and well thought-out interior of the vehicle, which was led by interior genius Tisha Johnson, who happens to be one of the highest ranking designers in the field and the only female designer in the U.S. to run a design studio, looks like a work of art. The well-executed interior, which mirrors the hot selling XC90, with a larger than life, but well placed infotainment screen, 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 is also the only vehicle in the segment to offer a standard pilot assist semi-autonomous drive system, which still requires the driver to keep his hand on the steering wheel. And the brand, which is 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.

Quirks: To our surprise, the 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 in this well-healed vehicle.

Moreover, to add to our dismay, heated front seats are not standard on the base Momentum model. We are not sure why Volvo opted for these cost cutting measures. Hey Volvo, this is a premium vehicle!

First Drive: We spent time behind the wheel of the S90 Momentum, with the supercharged engine, while driving through the coastal area of the Hamptons, alternating between city driving and some highway speeds, as the brand’s new flagship soaked up the roads. Of course, we found the brand’s signature orthopedic seats to be quite accommodating all while we found a brief moment to use Volvo’s segment exclusive hands-on semi-autonomous driving system.  

Unfortunately, as a result of Tesla’s recent high profile fatal accident, using a similar feature, Volvo’s team continues to emphasize their pilot system can only be utilized when the hands are on the wheel. And in case one decides to push the limit, as we did, the system automatically disengages, when it noticed 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. We look forward to spending time behind the wheel during a more extensive test drive in the near future.

The Verdict: 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, while cutting all ties to Ford, the company is stronger than ever. Unlike the now defunct Saab brand, Volvo with its Swedish heritage, albeit its ties with a Chinese company, is unleashing vehicles that not only shows they are here to stay. Volvo has so many things in its favor with the S90, 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. The brand is finally ready and in a great cash position due to new owners to compete against first tier luxury vehicles.

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)

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