Volvo’s entire lineup consists of one engine in varying configurations.
There is that saying, “you don’t realize what you have until it’s gone” and lately, I think about that every time I get into a luxury sedan. Where most mainstream brands have basically walked away from these offerings the last several years, European and Asian luxury brands have maintained their executive saloons. Finding a naturally aspirated engine is next to impossible as most have either added turbos or hybrid technology. Volvo decided to throw a curveball into this segment and whether you like it or not, there is electrification in this 2021 Volvo S90 Recharge.
The Volvo S90 is tasked with taking on some of the best in the market such as the BMW 5-series, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Genesis G80. It’s an attractive sedan that is quite a unique sight; its look is subdued and sophisticated. It resembles a well-tailored suit with nothing flashy added into the mix. The headlights have the Thor’s Hammer LED design and chrome accents work well here. 20-inch alloy wheels fill out the gap nicely but sadly, there is not much to differentiate the regular gasoline from this Recharge model.
Inside, the S90 shares similar design cues found on other Volvo models currently on the market. Buyers will find a well-built interior that is tightly screwed together. Most of the materials used are high quality and feel rich to the touch. You need to touch the lower bits of the car to find the cheap stuff. As good as it feels, the Germans and even the Genesis models are on another level when it comes to fit, finish and materials used. Some plasticky bits and piano black finishes bring the S90’s feel down-market.
Volvo’s portrait-oriented infotainment screen housing the Sensus system takes some getting used to and the user interface feels dated when compared to the German rivals. Thankfully, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are present so you have something to fall back on. The optioned Bowers & Wilkins audio system is absolutely mandatory for audiophiles; this really is one of the best sound systems found on any car at any price point.
This is no sports sedan in terms of handling dynamics. There is a bit of body roll and the light steering lacks precision and feel that can be found elsewhere in the segment. As a daily driver in stop and go traffic, drivers won’t notice these issues too much and may even appreciate the soft manners of the S90 that are very Scandinavian. The cabin is whisper quiet and the chassis ensures a supple ride regardless of the road environment.
Volvo’s entire lineup consists of one engine in varying configurations. Base “T5” vehicles get a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. Opt for a T6 and they’ll slap on a supercharger, outputting 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. of torque. What was formerly called “T8” is now called “Recharge”, and this adds an electric motor and plug-in hybrid system to the whole shebang. Output here is 400 horsepower and 472 lb-ft. of torque, and a 0-100km/h sprint time of 4.5 seconds.
More importantly, this complicated system with all-wheel-drive and an eight-speed automatic means fuel efficiency figures are at a point where gasoline-only competitors are unable to match. The combination of decent power and frugal efficiency is impressive. We observed 8.0L/100km over a week’s worth of testing with a healthy mix of driving. Your mileage will vary depending on how much the car is plugged in, and we observed electric-only range of up to 18 kilometers.
The regular gasoline S90 starts at $69,100, and the Recharge comes in at $76,050. The requirement to add packages to get things like a heated steering wheel is a bit curious, but the S90 is a fairly well equipped car overall. A Lounge Package with rear seat ventilation and front seat massage is a nice touch at $3,786, and a powered trunk lid and 360-degree camera will set you back $2,091. We would strongly recommend the $4,238 Bowers and Wilkins sound system as well. Our tester came in just below $85,000 fully loaded, which is still well within what the rivals go for.
With the sheer amount of new crossovers entering today’s market, a traditional sedan like this 2021 Volvo S90 Recharge seems like the more appealing choice. While it may not be at the top of its class, it’s aging surprisingly well and has a lot going for it. Those with commutes that would benefit from the plug-in hybrid’s electric range would be more suited to the Volvo over its German rivals. There is an undeniable charm to this car, with its simplistic Scandinavian design and just lovely ergonomics.