As far as flagship sedans go, the 2021 Volvo S90 Recharge Plug-In Hybrid Inscription is a pretty good vehicle to have at the head of your pack.
The premium 5-seater is stylish, comfortable and features an excellent powertrain setup that delivers the best of two worlds thanks to the hybrid technology.
It’s also jam packed with standard features, including some notable items like Pilot Assist, Volvo’s semi-autonomous drive system with adaptive cruise control, as well as City Safety Collision Mitigation.
Despite the long list of standard equipment on the Inscription trim, our tester featured a host of options that pushed the final price tag to $91,565, meaning after taxes this is a six-figure purchase.
Some of the features are nice to have, including the massage feature on the front seats (part of the $2,350 Lounge Package), the Climate Package ($1,000) adding heated steering wheel, rear seats and windscreen washers, the Heads-Up Display (part of the $1,850 Advanced Package), rear air suspension ($2,400) and the new-for-2021 Bowers & Wilkins Premium Sound System ($3,750).
Powertrain: Volvo has packed a pretty good package under the hood of the S90 Recharge Plug-In Hybrid.
It pairs a 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged (because why not do both?) engine with an electric motor to deliver a combined 400 horsepower. The bulk of that – 313 hp – comes from the engine, which also delivers 295 out of the 472 ft-lb of torque from the pairing.
Whether you are in hybrid mode, EV mode or opt to get all your power from the engine, the S90 is a smooth operator. The system is paired to an 8-speed Geartronic automatic transmission.
Volvo estimates that the S90 has a combined fuel economy of 7.9 litres per 100 kilometres, which is pretty good. I did a little better than that, however, coming in at 6.6 L/100 km.
Volvo also says that the S90 has range of 34 kilometres on battery power alone. However, one morning the dash indicator showed that it had a range of 36 kms with a full charge. Neither figure is going to get you very far, but it does help for short commutes and drives to the grocery store, for example.
Exterior: The styling on the 2021 S90 remains largely unchanged, other than some minor alterations that include a new front bumper and fog lights, as well an updated rear spoiler on the trunk lid.
Volvo also introduced some new wheel designs for 2021 and our tested had an upgrade over the standard 19-inchers, featuring 20-inch 8-multi spoke black diamond-cut alloys ($1,000). They aren’t flashy, but they do look classy.
Some other nice exterior touches I enjoyed on the S90 was the fact the tailpipes are hidden, and the word Volvo spelled out across the trunk lip. It just looks elegant.
And as part of the Volvo family, the S90 also proudly shows off the Thor’s Hammer LED headlight design, of which I am a fan.
While I appreciated the elegance of the Platinum Grey colour, anyone looking for some flashier hues like red or blue are out of luck. Just my opinion, but I think the S90 would look fantastic in red.
Interior: The cabin, as you would imagine, is very welcoming and features a few new details from Volvo designers, including new air vents that stand vertically on each side of the large screen that is front and centre.
A stylish start/stop knob in the centre console sits right behind the crystal gear lever, giving that space a clean and compact look. The lever takes some getting used to as it takes two flicks down or up to get it into gear, but that is not a major issue.
Seating is extremely comfortable, including a 14-way power-adjustable driver seat with the added bonus of a massage feature (optional) to help put you at ease behind the wheel.
The materials and finish in the cabin are altogether excellent.
Rear legroom is absolutely massive, even with the seat in position for this 6-foot-tall driver. And the rear occupant on the passenger side benefits from control buttons that gives him/her access to features normally reserved for the driver – including opening the sunroof or raising the window shades.
For those with kids who like touching every button they can get their fingers on, like mine, there is thankfully a button to lock out those controls.
However, I did have an issue with the limited visibility out of the rear window thanks to the three protruding headrests, particularly the one for the middle seat. Depending on how close a vehicle is to you, they could be completely blocked out by them and that is not a good thing.
Infotainment: Let’s start with the good: The screen is fantastic, and the Bowers & Wilkins system is even better. It can be customized in a number of ways with pre-sets that replicate things like studio or an orchestra sound. Find the setting you like most – they are all good – and crank it up.
Where things get a little tricky is just trying to figure out where everything is on the interface. It’s not that the system is complicated, but it does take a while to familiarize yourself with where to find things like the controls for the heated seats and steering wheel, or how to adjust settings for things like the heads-up display or control the rear sunshade.
The system does come with satellite radio and navigation, and is compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to allow for easy connectivity with your smartphone.
Drive: I found the ride in the S90 to be comfortable and quiet, things luxury buyers covet. Some rougher patches did elicit some cabin vibrations, but it not to the point of being obtrusive. The S90s suspension setup is augmented by the optional rear air suspension, which is a nice addition to soften any blows on the road.
The overall driving feel and steering response is good, and the S90 handles well, making it a place both driver and passenger will enjoy for hours on end.
Conclusion: While perhaps not as flashy as some of the other competitors in this segment, the S90 still has plenty of attractive qualities that make it worthy of your attention. Its subdued styling exudes class and elegance, the passenger compartment is top notch and the overall driving experience is competent and enjoyable.
2021 Volvo S90 Recharge Plug-In Hybrid Inscription
Price as tested: $91,565.00 (CDN)
Configuration: Front engine/All-wheel drive
Engine/transmission: 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged 4-cylinder engine with electric motor/ 8-Speed Geartronic Automatic Transmission
Power/torque: 400 horsepower (combined)/ 472 ft-lb of torque (combined)
Fuel (capacity): Premium (60 L)
Combined fuel economy ratings (L/100 km): 7.9 L/100 km
Observed fuel economy (L/100 km):6.6 L/100 km
Pure Electric Range: 34 kilometres
Warranties: 4-years/80,000 km (basic)
Competitors: Audi A6, Mercedes E-Class, and BMW 530e