2016 Chicago Auto Show Update: A Look at the 2017 Volvo S90

“With the launch of the XC90 we made a clear statement of intent. We are now clearly and firmly in the game. With $11 USD billion of investment over the past five years we have not only reimagined what Volvo Cars can be – we are now delivering on our promise of a resurgent and relevant Volvo Cars brand,” said Håkan Samuelsson, President & CEO, Volvo Car Group.


And with that statement, Volvo fired a shot to the heart of the premium luxury market. The 2017 Volvo S90 T8.

“Our idea was to bring something entirely new to this rather conservative segment and deliver a visual expression that exudes leadership and confidence on the exterior. On the inside we have taken the S90 to the next level, delivering a high-end luxury experience that promises comfort and control,” said Thomas Ingenlath, Senior Vice President Design at Volvo Car Group.


The all-new Volvo XC90 Twin Engine powertrain

The all-new Volvo XC90 Twin Engine powertrain

The thing that is missing among all of this bold and expressive talk is Volvo’s T8 twin-engine plug-in hybrid powerplant, destined to power the S90’s T8 version.

It is the same one you’ll find under the hood of the wildly successful hybrid XC90 T8 sport utility.  The same one that delivers 320 hp and 400 lb/ft of torque.  The S90 T8 sedan gives you the same boost as the T8 sport utility–minus 1900 pounds of additional weight.  So when you need the power, the feeling of acceleration should be…mind-blowing.

I’ll say it again.  Green cars go fast.

Not sure what an S90 looks like?  Are you confusing it with the shape of a BMW or a Mercedes?  Take a look below, this should clear things up:

The S90 available to me at the 2016 Chicago Auto Show wasn’t ready to be driven.  It sat there in a stately way, waiting patiently for people to enjoy the experience. I must say, just sitting in a parked S90 was impressive.  The interior design, materials and craftsmanship left me with a feeling of comfort and airy space.  I wasn’t strapped into the pilot’s seat of a strike fighter, complete with an endless array of digital dials, buttons and gauges.  I wasn’t swallowed into a boring and unresponsive luxe-barge either.  I was strapped snugly into a classy vehicle.  The dash and touchscreen subtly informed me that anything I wanted to know about the car was a few taps away.  The beautifully crafted stainless steel B & W speakers at each side and in the center of the dash said “go ahead, crank up Beats 1” as well.

Volvo’s Ingelath continues on the S90:

“…We created our new flagship sedan, the Volvo S90, as a real game changer. It is classy and cool. The exterior is exceptionally well surfaced with a fantastic stance and the sort of clean lines that are singularly appropriate of a Scandinavian design. The interior masters the art of blending innovative technology and natural materials into an elegant, welcoming and tasteful ambience, Swedishness at its best…”


In comparison to the well-proportioned S90, the 2016 BMW 7-series looks a little chubby around the waist, and the new Mercedes Benz S550 doesn’t hide its length well.  It looks a little overextended.  If you check the official specs, the BMW is longer and squatter than the new Volvo, and the S-Class is slightly shorter with a different three-box (hood/cabin/trunk) configuration.  Meanwhile the S90 looks trim and elegant.

Lots of cars in this class have so much technology crammed into them it’s like getting an ice cream at Coldstone Creamery.  The S90 is no different.  Well…maybe.  Here’s one tangible benefit of their PilotAssist semi-autonomous driving technology:

If you’re driving under 30 mph, and there’s a vehicle in front of you, you can let go of the wheel.  Take a look:

Really, you can let go of the wheel.  Pilot Assist will track the car ahead of you, as well as the road markings around you in order to keep you in the lane. Without holding the wheel.  Again, provided you engage the system at speeds of 30 mph and below.  Once done, Pilot assist can drive for you at speeds up to 80 mph.  When you arrive at your destination, Pilot Assist can park the car, parallel or at an angle.  It can also pull out of either type of parking spot, all without you lifting a finger.  If your parent is getting older and wants one of these, let them have it.  The S90’s Pilot Assist means there’s a significantly lower chance of parking lot incidents.  If you’re a busy person, Pilot Assist can open up the time you spend cursing at traffic.  If you are self-aware enough to understand you are a bad driver, Pilot Assist can help you better interact with the rest of the human race trying to drive around you.

The 2017 Volvo S90 is the second of 9 new models Gothenburg has committed to by 2019.  Down the line, every Volvo nameplate will see variations of this kind of power and technology.  When China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Company bought Volvo back in 2010, many thought that the image of the Chinese automaker Geely would smear the Swedish reputation.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  The holding company added another automotive brand to it’s fold, and has let both companies function independently.  They let Volvo be Volvo, and the S90 is another chapter in a rare good story about a corporate takeover.

With Pilot Assist, you could read more about that story while the S90 drives you down the road.

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Copyright 2016 Hybrid and Electric Car News



Sebastian James


Accept no substitutes

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