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2018 Volvo S90 Inscription T6 Test Drive Review

Take a good look at the front of the car you see on this page. In the middle you’ll see the Volvo Cars logo. Its meaning is subjective. It represents different things to different people. To some, it may symbolize a rarity in the automotive world as a Swedish vehicle since Saab is no longer in business and Koenigsegg only produces ultra-expensive hypercars. To others, the Volvo Cars logo may be the mark of a safe car that families can feel comfortable taking trips in or handing down to teenage drivers.

The circle and arrow head is also the male gender icon, the astrological symbol for the planet Mars, and is a visual shorthand for iron, a metal which has proven its strength in tools, weapons, and engines over the course of centuries.

It’s a fitting logo for Volvo Cars, whose vehicles have long been associated with robust construction and confidence-inspiring safety. The S90 is the flagship sedan of the modern Volvo Cars lineup. It offers impressive luxury features, advanced infotainment, and thoughtful safety technology in an attractive full-size package. It’s available in two trim levels, Momentum and Inscription, and with the choice of three engine options, including a plug-in hybrid.

Volvo Cars sent us a 2018 S90 Inscription with the midrange T6 powertrain to test for a week. It makes sense that the Volvo Cars logo stands for iron. Our desire to get our hands on the S90 was strong already; finally experiencing it made our craving for the top Volvo four-door grow even stronger.

2018 Volvo S90 Inscription T6 Exterior

The main reason we wanted to get the keys to the S90 was its styling. Nothing else on the road looks like it, from its LED headlights, Thor’s Hammer daytime running lights, and Active High Beam illumination to its long yet graceful profile to its C-shape LED taillights visually connected by the chrome letters spelling out “Volvo.” The automaker managed to produce a vehicle with nearly 10 feet of wheelbase and more than 16 feet of total length stretched over (optional) 20-inch diamond cut wheels that looks both stately and well proportioned. Everyone who came by to comment on the S90 seemed to agree with our evaluation and told us how attractive it was.

2018 Volvo S90 Inscription T6 Interior

The inside of the S90 was a conservative mix of Blond Nappa leather, Blond and Charcoal trim, Linear Walnut wood accents, and metallic highlights with shapes and finishes that gave the cabin a visual flair. For example, a strip of brightwork spanned the width of the dashboard. That was bookended by black HVAC vents with chrome control knobs and filled in with unvarnished slats of walnut with rounded edges and a portrait-oriented nine-inch touchscreen flanked by equally tall vents.

That touchscreen gave us access to navigation, satellite radio, a built-in WiFi hotspot, our Bluetooth-connected phone, and the controls for the massaging, heated, and ventilated front seats. Scrolling through the Sensus Connect system’s various functions was as easy as touching and swiping up or down.

We were grateful for the convenience of adaptive cruise control, appreciated the information we received from the optional head-up display, and enjoyed the view of the night sky through the full-length moonroof with power sunshade. Most of all, we were happy knowing our test car was equipped with the optional Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound system. We couldn’t get enough of the 1,400 watts of clear audio that flowed from its 19 speakers. Most of the time, we used the Studio setting. For acoustic musical performances, we chose the system’s Individual Stage mode. For larger-than-life numbers, especially those with background choirs in them, we selected the Concert Hall configuration, which was engineered to replicate the acoustics of Sweden’s Gothenburg Concert Hall. It made the interior of the S90 feel as if it were a massive cathedral full of both space and sound – the perfect place in which to worship music.

The back seat of the S90 was also a wonderful place to spend time. It had more than enough legroom and some nifty gadgets. There were power sunshades for both rear windows and for the back glass. Whoever was lucky enough to sit in the rear passenger-side seat could create even more space for themselves by sliding and tilting the seat in front of them with a handy control knob.

2018 Volvo S90 Inscription T6 Performance

Volvo Cars uses a novel system to make sure the T6 version of the S90 makes power no matter where its engine happens to be on the rev range. Its direct-injected 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is both supercharged and turbocharged. That combo enables the I4 to crank out 316 horsepower and 295 lbft of torque. The S90 routes those substantial figures through an eight-speed automatic and all-wheel drive. Sailing down the road was the S90’s natural state. However, when we needed it to, it could get gone in a hurry.

A roller switch near the shifter allowed us to put the S90’s engine, transmission, and optional rear air suspension in a variety of operating modes. Dynamic was meant for ultimate performance. Comfort was dialed in for more serene traveling – and lived up to its name. Individual allowed us to customize the S90’s various settings. Eco saved gas. According to the EPA, the S90 T6 is good for 22 city, 31 highway, and 25 combined mpg.** We averaged slightly more than that last figure.

2018 Volvo S90 Inscription T6 Safety

Volvo Cars has a reputation for building vehicles full of safety technology. The S90 is no exception. Our review vehicle had features that helped it protect occupants from crashes with numerous airbags, avoid hitting pedestrians, watch out for blind spots, avoid running off the road, read road signs, look out for cross traffic, and stay in its lane. The optional Convenience Package contained a variety of goodies, including a bumper-saving 360-degree camera system, Park Assist Pilot, and Front Park Assist (in addition to the standard rear Park Assist).

The coolest bit of safety tech was the Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive system. We used it on the way to and from the San Antonio Auto Show. Once we had the adaptive cruise control’s speed and following distance set, we just pressed a button on the steering wheel and the S90 stayed in its lane and steered itself to follow the markings on the highway. We just kept a grip on the wheel and let the big Swede perform its electronic magic.

2018 Volvo S90 Inscription T6 Overall

If you don’t have the will of iron necessary to resist the temptation of buying a 2018 Volvo S90 Inscription T6, that’s OK. We can’t blame you. We felt a strong attraction to it, too. Just make sure you’re at a an AutoNation Volvo Cars dealership when you give in to the urge. Prices for the 2018 Volvo S90 start at $48,100.* An Inscription T6 model just like the one we evaluated goes for $69,140.

*MSRP excludes tax, license, registration, destination charge and options. Dealer prices may vary.

**Based on 2017 EPA mileage ratings. Your mileage will vary depending specific vehicle trim, how you drive and maintain your vehicle, driving conditions, and other factors.

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