With the popularity of SUVs and CUVs, wagons are becoming a rare sight on the roads across America. The Volvo V90 R-Design was one of my most anticipated vehicles out of Volvo’s press fleet and Christmas came early when it was delivered. I attended the V90 Cross Country press launch in the Arizona desert but spending a week on the pavement around the DC Metro area would allow me to experience the all-new V90 R-Design in a familiar environment. The all-new V90 R-Design offers a larger passenger cabin and more advanced technology features than our previous 2015.5 V60 R-Design but it is also very similar to our family's 2017 XC90 Momentum.
Based on the new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) and the Volvo’s new design language, the V90 R-Design shares interior design elements with the award-winning XC90, such as the 12” Sensus Connect Touchscreen, and Thor’s hammer headlights. The R-Design offers more aggressive exterior and interior styling including Sport seats with Nappa leather bolsters and Nubuck suede centers. Full Nappa leather is a $750 option. Our test model came with the optional 20-inch wheels with summer tires ($800), and the incredible audio experience from the 1400W, 19 speaker Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system. This V90 R-Design was loaded options for a total suggested retail price of $68,290 with destination charges.
The Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA) is a modular product platform enabling Volvo to build several vehicles on top of a common infrastructure. 2016+ 90-series Volvo models are built on SPA. The flexibility of SPA enables Volvo’s engineers and designers to introduce a wide range of design features while also improving driveability, introducing world-first safety features, offering the latest connected car technologies and creating more interior space. Additionally, SPA has changed the way Volvo builds cars for its future by allowing a wide range of cars, powertrains, electrical systems, and technologies – all of the differing complexity – fitted on the same architecture, generating significant economies of scale.
The V90 R-Design is offered with two powertrain options. A front-wheel-drive T5 with 250 horsepower and 258lb-ft or the T6 with all-wheel drive and a spirited 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. Owners can check the box for the dealer installed Polestar accessory tune increasing power to 330 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. The tune provides sharper throttle response and enhanced transmission shifts for sportier driving. Switching the drive mode from Comfort to Dynamic is a very similar sensation to the V60’s Drive to Sport mode. In the V90, Dynamic mode delivers the sportier experience a driver expects from an R-Design model. The Polestar tune delivers a more noticeable Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality change – although in this instance, both personalities are enjoyable.
The V90 R-Design offers a dynamic appearance with an enhanced focus on the driver. An aggressive front fascia and unique grille differentiate the R-Design package from the Inscription and Cross Country versions of the V90. The R-Design offers the nice blend of predictable handling and performance for an everyday driver. The R-Design package would benefit from a more aggressive suspension or an adjustable setup. My tester handled with the soft agility of the Comfort mode versus a Sport or Aggressive modes found in Volvo’s 2004-2007 V70R. The smaller Volvo V60 Polestar delivers more performance, handling and stopping power for owners looking for the maximum performance from Volvo with occasional weekend track duties.
The exhaust note is subtle but the 2.0-liter four-cylinder pulled to the redline and the eight-speed transmission delivered quick shifts. The eight-speed is a welcomed improvement over Volvo’s six-speed Geartronic transmission. Acceleration is strong with a zero to 60 in 5.8 seconds, not bad for a wagon weighing just over 4,300 lbs. I managed 25mpg in mixed driving around Washington D.C. and northern Virginia.
While the V90 is slightly smaller than its seven-seat sibling XC90, it provides an equally luxurious driving experience. Total height to the top of the roof rails is roughly 58 inches (1,473mm) for the V90 and 70-inches (1,775mm) for the XC90. If you don’t need seven seats, I recommend the overall smaller presence of the V90 wagon. Those with active lifestyles can pull in to a typical garage with Volvo’s accessory cargo box still attached to the V90’s roof. The benefit is the opportunity to pack cargo in the comfort of a warm garage during the winter months.
The new V90 R-Design delivers a cutting-edge Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive technology, an advanced standard safety package, with large animal detection and run-off-road mitigation, and smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The technology is what really separates the V90 from the current generation V60. As I have written previously, the Sensus touchscreen can be a love or hate experience. The slow boot-up times are my biggest gripe with the system. On cold winter mornings, adjusting temperature or activating the seat warmers takes a minute or two longer than just hitting a button on previous Volvo models. Accessing certain functions requires a less than perfect user interface of swipes and menu selections. The Sensus interface is computer software that will be refined and improved over time based on user feedback. 2016 and newer models will benefit from the software updates ensuring all SPA-platform models have the latest version Sensus.
Volvo has produced a luxurious, powerful and stylish wagon. Until Volvo builds a more performance-oriented V90 Polestar, the V90 R-Design is a worthy successor to those aging V70R performance wagons. I wrote in my V90 Cross Country review that it was the best five-seat Volvo available. The R-Design package sits 2-inches (50mm) lower and sans the plastic cladding. Regardless of the trim package, the V90 offers traditional Scandinavian design within the quintessential Volvo wagon. I prefer a wagon to an SUV and the V90 is worth serious consideration, especially when you include the Overseas Delivery trip as part of the buying experience. The V90 R-Design is the modern Volvo that offers ample comfort, safety technologies and cavernous cargo capacity for those memorable family road trips and active lifestyle experiences.
[TABLE] [TR][TD]Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price:[/TD] [TD]$55,950.00[/TD][/TR][TR][TD]Convenience Package:[/TD] [TD]$1,900.00[/TD][/TR][TR][TD]- Heated washer nozzles - 360 Surround View Cameras - Grocery Bag holder - Homelink - Compass within rearview mirror - Park Assist/Pilot & Front Park Assist (Rear Std)[/TD] [TD] [/TD][/TR][TR][TD]Tailored Instrument Panel and Sun Curtain[/TD] [TD]$1,150.00[/TD][/TR][TR][TD]Metallic Paint[/TD] [TD]$595.00[/TD][/TR][TR][TD]Graphical Head up Display (HUD)[/TD] [TD]$900.00[/TD][/TR][TR][TD]Childseat outer [/TD] [TD]$500.00[/TD][/TR][TR][TD]Carbon Fiber Inlays [/TD] [TD]$800.00[/TD][/TR][TR][TD]Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound [/TD] [TD]$3,200.00[/TD][/TR][TR][TD]Heated Steering Wheel [/TD] [TD]$300.00[/TD][/TR][TR][TD]Premium Air Suspension in Rear [/TD] [TD]$1,200.00[/TD][/TR][TR][TD]20” R-Design wheel w/Summer Tires [/TD] [TD]$800.00[/TD][/TR][TR][TD]Destination Charge[/TD] [TD] $995.00[/TD][/TR][TR][TD][B]Total Suggested Retail Price:[/B][/TD] [TD][B]$68,290.00[/B][/TD][/TR] [/TABLE]