Is Volvo's new V90 the antidote to the modern obsession with SUVs?
In a world filled with chunky SUVs and four-door coupes, it was high time for a hero to come along and resuscitate the classic wagon. Thankfully, Volvo has stepped up to the plate with its stylish new V90. It mightn't be as boxy as the Swedish wagon driven by your high school geography professor, but don't worry, this is an estate car with pedigree.
Based on Volvo's Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), the V90 features the same chiseled face and Thor's hammer headlamps as the XC90 and S90 that it joins in Volvo's top-of-the-line 90 series. The real difference comes when you move on past the rear doors, where there's a long roof and large cargo area, which can be extended by lowering the rear seats flat at the touch of a button.
Beyond the styling, details about the V90 are thin on the ground. Volvo has made it clear it will be fitted out with the same suite of semi-autonomous features as the XC90 and S90, which means it will follow the car in front and stay in its lane at speeds up to 130 km/h (80 mph).
The car will also detect and help drivers to avoid large animals, like moose or kangaroos, and will prepare the interior in a run-off road situation. All of this is a part of Volvo's plan to have no road fatalities in its cars by 2020, and places it in the same sort of league as the new Mercedes E-Class.
Thanks to its PowerPulse technology, Volvo is claiming the V90's diesel engine will be packing a "distinct performance boost," while the T8 Twin Engine hybrid system will deliver around 410 hp (306 kW) and an all electric range of 50 km (31 mi).
On the inside, the car's interior offers up the same sumptuous ambience as its SPA-based stablemates. A panoramic sunroof lets plenty of light into the cabin, while a vertical-oriented Sensus touchscreen dominates the center console, and features smartphone integration through Apple CarPlay. Audio is pumped out of a 1,400 W Bowers & Wilkins sound system that comprises 19 speakers spread throughout the car, with a Fresh Air sub in the rear and a tweeter poking out the dash above the central touchscreen.
In a nod to buyers who live in colder climates, the system can be operated with gloves on, and proved snappy and easy to use when we had a poke around at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Those who doubt the 90 series' premium claims need look no further than the interior walnut touches and jewelry details, including a solid crystal gear lever.
We don't have any pricing information about the V90 yet, but we do have plenty of images. Take a look through the gallery to check out Volvo's antidote to the modern SUV in all its Swedish glory.
The car is also introduced in the video below.
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Six people easily fit into those station wagons with some of them being rated as 9 passenger cars (not cramped either). The fold out seats built into the back end of the bed... reminiscent of "rumble seats" from my Grandfather's era spawned such stories.
As good an idea as Volvo reviving the station wagon is, I just hope its a "real" station wagon if it wants to replace someone having the need for a real SUV. I never understood why people are crazy enough to shell out money for smaller and more plastic content cars.
But that was an era where OWNING your own car was a lot more possible financially. And when wrecks occurred, the cars were not automatically totaled (think the old days of telephone poles being sheared off with a car impact or cars deliberately hitting bumpers when parallel parking so as to know space between the cars). But its all about money nowadays instead of quality.
Its nice to have the choice though. I'd rather have a traditional estate than most MPVs, and this Volvo looks to be, on the face of it, a very nicely executed return to form for a maker who, in the UK at least, sold far more estates than saloons (sedans).
I think the V90 looks really good and the power train should be great just as it is in the S and XC, but I do not like they have gone all touch screen on us. While it is nice some of all the buttons are replaced by a screen I simply can not see how a touch screen works for the things you like to adjust while driving. I like being able to adjust the heater without looking simply by knowing almost on instinct where the buttons are and my fingers feeling their way - no screen can offer this.
Indeed, Bergamot - some of my favourite cars are the Merc, Audi and Beemer estates currently available here in the UK.
I can't help but think, when people make comments like:
"It is about time a station wagon was made again"
that's it's about time they came out from under their rock - or just remembered that there's more to the world than just the USA.