First impression: Volvo knocks it out of the park with understated looks, some of the best leg room for our market, and a lot of bang for the buck.
As we mentioned in the July issue of Chauffeur Driven, Volvo is diving head-first into luxury ground transportation, but isn’t entirely new to the game after decades of supplying vehicles for commercial pharmaceutical fleets. The OEM is marketing its flagship sedan, the S90, for our space and with great reason: the leg room! The 2018 S90 is a long wheelbase model that offers a cavernous 40.4 inches of leg room—even before adjusting the front seats. Volvo will launch a livery-specific package later this year that will include rear sunshades and an enhanced arm rest, but the standard S90 is available now, starting under $43,000 (price slightly higher for AWD).
The S90 is not in-your-face flashy, which is just how we like it. The vehicle is stunning with its “Thor’s hammer” inspired lights, sophisticated front grille, and streamlined exterior, but still maintains a classic elegance. And what does that mean? It means that your clients will be impressed with the car but not distracted by it. Besides, most of the wow factor is reserved for the interior—where it can and will impress your passenger and chauffeur.
Volvo has simplified its front cabin with air blade vents, a turn knob in the console to stop and start, and a 9” flat-screen panel control center. Slip behind the wheel and the first thing you notice is the lack of buttons and knobs that can often clutter the cluster and make a Ph. D. in engineering nearly required to figure out how to navigate the vehicle’s settings. We’re not saying the S90 is lacking—hardly, especially for the price—but it’s well organized behind a streamlined touch screen. Just watch those fingerprints because you know they are an unfortunate reality with these types of controls. Out testers had very little problems scrolling through the menu or figuring out how to change settings fairly immediately. We also loved the tiny touch of the Swedish flag on the corner of the front seats—it’s a nice reminder of its origins and legacy in safety.
While we loved the sleek front cabin, we were a bit more reluctant to initially try the Pilot Assist feature, which is an incredible semiautonomous driving system that controls speed, distance and stopping. Since driver’s ed, it’s been drilled into our brains that driving is an awesome responsibility, so surrendering the reins to a vehicle—albeit a very intelligent one—took some getting used to. Once we baby-stepped our way through it, Pilot Assist was a blast. We have a feeling we’re going to be seeing a lot more of this feature in the near future, and we had to trust the OEM whose very name is synonymous with safety.
So, that leg room... none of us had a single issue with the comfort or accessibility of the rear cabin. In fact, we were all able to stretch our legs completely straight and still not touch the back of the front seats. The same goes for head room and seat comfort. As previously mentioned, the livery package slated for a release later this year will feature an enhanced arm rest and sunshades for additional passenger comfort.
The S90 is powered by a Turbocharged Inline 4-cylinder engine, but don’t let that gas-sipping motor scare you—it has plenty of pickup at 250 hp even with a loaded backseat. The trunk is a bit on the smaller side, but still large enough to hold a fair bit of luggage (we were able to fit our usual test bags with some effort).
Volvo seems to recognize that our industry racks up the miles, so it has a three-year/150,000-mile warranty for qualified livery customers.
Bottom line: Volvo is the OEM to watch as it refines its offerings for our industry. The S90 is a solid, versatile vehicle with a competitive and affordable price, and with the expected addition of the SUV XC90, these two could build an impressive fleet. [CD0917]
• Pilot Assist
• BLIS, Volvo’s bind spot warning indicator
• Sensus Connect, Volvo’s vehicle information hub, which is displayed on the 9” touchscreen in the center cluster
• Lane Keeping Aid that vibrates when drifting across a line of traffic
• Clean Zone Air Quality System for four-zone adjustable climate controls throughout the car (including two for rear passengers)
• Collision Avoidance by City Safety, which helps to prevent low and high speed collisions of another vehicle, pedestrian, cyclist, or large animal
• Adjustable driver mode settings for ultimate passenger comfort
• 13.5 cu. ft. of cargo space with power-closing lid
• 10-way power front seats
• Panoramic moonroof with power sunshade
• Rear personal reading lights
2018 Volvo S90 Specifications
ENGINE: 2.0 L Turbocharged Inline 4 cylinder
MPG: 24/34 (city/highway, FWD)
Rear Head Room: 37.8”
Rear Leg Room: 40.4”
Cargo Space: 13.5 cu. ft.