2017 Volvo S90 Inscription
2017 Volvo S90 Inscription

Test Drive: 2017 Volvo S90 Inscription

Many, many (many) years ago when I first started testing and reviewing automobiles, I distinctly remember writing a review on a BMW in which I outlined how much more exciting Bimmers were over, say, Volvos that were just so ordinary and boring, and clearly made for fat bankers who did nothing more than play golf. That caught the attention of Volvo communications reps pretty quickly, and I was very shortly after put behind the wheel of a burnt orange coloured S60 T6.

I remember that test-drive well: I wanted to like it, I really did. And truthfully, I did. But it was just missing… something.

Since then, I’ve driven a fair share of Volvos, from the quirky C30 to the absolutely fabulous V60 Polestar, and I have to say the brand’s vehicular evolution over the years has been palpable, as well as impressive. They really have grown in all areas: drivability, design, and luxury. However, one thing that’s remained throughout and that’s been Volvo’s constant strive for ultimate safety and comfort on the road. Nowhere has this been made more apparent than in the stunningly gorgeous, all-new S90 saloon.

When I first set eyes on the S90, it was two years ago at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. Despite being in the industry for close to a decade, I’d yet to attend the Detroit Auto Show and that was my first experience. Sensory overload is a bit of an understatement; overwhelmed and exhausted at the end of it all, there were a few cars that stood out in my mind from the whirlwind press days, and the Volvo S90 was definitely one of them.

2017 Volvo S90
2017 Volvo S90 Inscription

For starters, it’s absolutely gorgeous to look at. In my (humble) opinion, Volvos haven’t always been that attractive. Boxy and utilitarian, the Polestars managed to be a bit sporty, but otherwise their design language was based on geometric lines and shapes and boxy edges; and that worked for them at the time. I was also a fan of the S60 and have fond memories of my first drive in an XC60 where City Safety saved me rear-ending a school bus.

However, when they unveiled the sleek, sexy, smooth lines of the S90, I’m sure I remember a clear and collective intake of breath from the crowd as we all took in the sheer beauty that was the S90 sedan. It is that attractive. We knew it had to be when the XC90 was launched before it, and that too turned heads as one of the more attractive SUVs on the road (and it still does and is).

Really, the only distinguishing “Volvo” feature on the all-new S90 luxury sedan is the larger-than-life Volvo symbol across the decidedly masculine and imposing chrome linear front grille. Asymmetrical, modern LED headlights flank the grille and an aggressive front lip protrudes below. The entire sedan is bold, big and intimidating in all the right ways. The S90 is a businessmen suited up for the ultimate power meeting with high-level CEOs and corporation heads. Its prepped and ready to take on the world, and not just because it’s dressed for the part… oh no, there’s so much more to this vehicle than just a chiseled jawline.

2017 Volvo S90 Inscription
2017 Volvo S90 Inscription

See, the week I had the supreme pleasure of driving this dreamboat saloon, Mother Nature decided to dump about 40cm of fresh snow on the ground … in one night.

Now, knowing my Volvo S90 Inscription was equipped with AWD, I knew I had a slight advantage over some on the road. However, it’s “luxury saloon” status made me question its ability to handle removing itself from the snow that reach all the way up to the door sill, and was piled even higher in front where the plow had cleared the parking lot.

Crawling through the knee-deep snow to get to my S90, I powered up the 2.0L Supercharged and Turbocharged mill to at least heat up the interior while I considered how to dig the handsome beast out. With 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, the suave S90 is much more than a pretty face (when asked), and I love that about it. Like the 7 Series and even the new Genesis G90, these large sedans hide a serious punch on the road, much to other motorists surprise.

2017 Volvo S90 Inscription
2017 Volvo S90 Inscription

After clearing off the foot or so of snow from the hood, roof and trunk, I decided to see how confident the power-suit wearing S90 really was and got behind the wheel, leaving the pile of snow in front and all around the vehicle.

It powered through it all without so much of a twitch or shudder. Grip was immediate, power was linear. Nary a wheel slipped nor gear stuck. The Volvo S90 handled the 40+cm of snow piled around it with ease. As I sat there in the S90 looking at the mountain of snow I’d just driven out of, I couldn’t help but feel so much more impressed with this vehicle, as if I’d just witnessed an Armani-suited guy help birth a cow in a field, covered in mud and cow placenta; there stands a real man.

And it wasn’t just the snow-covered parking lot where the S90 impressed. The remainder of the week was spent traversing streets and parking lots loaded with snow and ice, and the Volvo was sure-footed and steady, no matter what. The weight of the vehicle undoubtedly played a role in the steady feel on slippery surfaces, as did Volvo’s responsive AWD system. Despite the 300+ ponies, I never felt the S90 was “too powerful” for snow and sketchy weather conditions. That’s another plus of this sedan: It can be as civilized or as mental as you, the driver, request it to be.

Throughout it all, each time I got behind the wheel of the 2017 Volvo S90 Inscription, I was reminded what an overall experience it is to drive an all-new Volvo. The centre stack and entertainment system is a thing of beauty and technological advancement. The screen is like a mini version of the one found in Tesla’s Model S, and works like an iPad with swipe screen changes and app-like menu selections. Three drive modes are selectable via a turn wheel near the shift knob, and all controls can be accessed via steering-wheel mounted buttons so eyes can be kept on the road at all times.

2017 Volvo S90 Inscription
2017 Volvo S90 Inscription

Space up front and in the rear is ample in the S90 Inscription, and my son was on cloud nine back there. He may also have requested doughnuts in the parking lot after the snowfall … and he didn’t mean from Tim Horton’s…

I’m not ashamed or afraid to admit, I fell hard and deeply for the 2017 Volvo S90 Inscription. From its exterior look to its interior luxuries and the way it drove (even in the snowpocalypse) to the gentle supercharger whine you hear every time the throttle is pressed ever so slightly harder than usual… it all comes together so perfectly in a package that, in my opinion, is very well priced for what you get. With a starting price just above the $60k mark, it’s well worth looking into. Of course, my particular tester pushed closer to the $90k mark with all the bells and whistles, but still.

2017 Volvo S90 Inscription
Price MSRP: $$73,925.00
Configuration: Front engine, all-wheel drive
Engine/Transmission: 2.0L Supercharged/Turbocharged, 8-speed Geartronic
Power/Torque: 316 horsepower / 295 lb-ft
Fuel economy: 9.4L/100km combined
Competitors: Audi A6, BMW 7 Series, Genesis G90

Related links:
Volvo Canada
CAR (Canadian Auto Review)

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