The Swedish automaker is playing it safe by carrying over the same classic design with very few changes under the hood

Even though they are arguably the most practical vehicles you can buy, wagons were never really considered to be an enthusiast’s first choice. Things are so bad in the States that automakers started retracting their wagons from here and focused on the European markets instead, where they were greeted with open arms. However, times are changing now. Volvo has been renovating the 90 series, and now it’s the V90’s turn. The current V90 is already about three years old and it has started to look dated (blame the Cross Country models to an extent for this). The new V90 does not look radically different from the current model, but the automaker did hide the subtle changes it brings in on the bumpers and fog lamps.

Overview

The 2020 Audi RS6 Avant is one of the hottest wagons ever and finally coming to the U.S. Exterior
- image 856567

Audi recently launched the 2020 RS6 Avant, and the wagon has garnered a lot of attention. The company will also be bringing in the A6 Allroad. Buick has managed to crack the code with its wagon and has changed its reputation of being a ’Grandpa’s car,’ thanks to some smart-ass who decided to paste the traditional wagon with black plastic cladding and raising it by a few inches to add the oomph factor. Now, Volvo did not have to take that path since its wagons looked elegant and sophisticated anyway. But that doesn’t mean the company can take it lightly. The wagon market is growing stronger and stronger by the day, and the Swedish automaker needs to keep its head up to make sure it does not fade away when the competition increases. For now, the company has come up with a slightly updated wagon and may run it for the next couple of years before the generation change.

Exterior

  • Thor’s Hammer LED Daytime Running Lights
  • Minor Aesthetic Changes
  • New Elements on the Bumper Could Include New Air Intakes and Fog Lamps
  • New Graphics in the Taillights On The Trunk
  • Side Profile Is The Same
  • Wheel Designs Look Familiar
2020 Volvo V90 Spyshots Exterior
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Up front, there are no changes above the bumper. The slim and sleek headlights come with the trademark ‘Thor’s Hammer’ LED Daytime Running Lights.

The grille has several slats within and they sit quite flush to accommodate the Volvo badge in the center.

The border of the grille is dressed in chrome, but not the elements inside. The hood has a crease on either side, and the ‘dip’ outside them gives the face a very rounded-look. The elements on the bumper are covered with black tape, thus making it difficult to comprehend the changes there. The air intake and fog lamps are covered, but from the shape and looks of it, I don’t think there will be any major design change. However, even subtle changes on this part of the fascia could result in the wagon looking noticeably different from the model it replaces.

The side profile is what makes a wagon, well, a wagon. The V90 is a very long vehicle, but quite proportionate at the same time. You don’t feel any one side hanging or stretched more than the other. The plain-looking profile does not carry any badges on the fenders. You can see how the rear quarter glass slopes upwards at the end, giving a neat finish to the D-Pillar, and also accentuating the boomerang shape of the V90. The V90 spotted here was painted in black, so the chrome border around the windows and the door strips actually look quite classy and break the monotony. The B- and C-pillars are blackened out. The wheel arches sit flush with the body and do not wander even slightly out of the body. The car seems to be riding on 18-inch wheels, finished in silver and matte grey. The wing mirrors sit on the door and are wide enough to accommodate the view till the very end. Turn signal indicators are also integrated here.

2020 Volvo V90 Spyshots Exterior
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The rear, just like the front and side, looks to be pretty much the same. However, we noticed that parts of the rear lights are covered up, but only the parts that are reaching into the trunk. The shape seems to be the same, but the covered part could feature new graphics and detailing. The Christmas-tree taillights remain the same otherwise.

Automakers that used to feature these long, vertical taillights before are ditching them, but Volvo is persistent on using them.

I, for one, like them quite a bit. There is also a crease on that part that’s not there on the current model. Again, they seem like subtle changes but could make the Volvo V90 look different, especially during the night when the lights are in action. The lower parts of the bumper are also covered up in tape hiding some new details. New rear fog lights, perhaps? Even the part where ‘Volvo’ should be present on the hood is taped. Is the company planning to slap the logo here instead of the letters? That would be the opposite thing of what Skoda is doing lately.

Interior

  • New Safety Tech Like Oncoming Lane Mitigation
  • Infotainment System Could Be Updated
  • Cabin Dimensions Expected To Remain The Same
  • Not As Spacious As The Mercedes E-Class Wagon
2017 Volvo V90 High Resolution Interior
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There are no pictures of the interior, but we don’t expect any kind of changes here. Volvo is known to maintain a low-key profile of sorts when it comes to facelifts and upgrades. If the company gets a little too adventurous, we can expect a new theme or a new upholstery, at the most.

But, with that said, the interior does look dated. Currently, the V90 shares a cabin with the S90 sedan.

Although it looked quite classy three years back when it was introduced, things are different now. For instance, the start-stop knob needs to make way for a new design and a better placement. This is a very convenient position for the driver, but it needs to be out of reach of the kids and other occupants.

The current model comes with a vertically-slotted touchscreen system. Volvo was one of the earliest adopters of the ‘touch future’ and offered a host on features that could be controlled through a touchscreen. With that said, Volvo has remained where it is in terms of technology whereas the competition has gone way past it. But, if rumors are to be believed, the Swedish automaker will update the infotainment system and offer Android Auto as well. Apart from this, other driver assist systems like City Safety with Autobrake, Cross Traffic Alert, and Oncoming Lane Mitigation could also be offered.

2017 Volvo V90 High Resolution Interior
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The biggest advantage of any wagon is the space it offers, and the Volvo V90 is no exception. The V90 is supremely comfortable and spacious in all the departments. Since the V90 is not going to wear a different body shape and design, the dimensions inside will be the same as the current model.

The V90 offers 38.7 inches of headroom, 42.2 inches of legroom, and 57.5 inches of shoulder room at the front.

The figures fall down slightly lower at the back as the wagon offers 37.8 inches of headroom, 35.9 inches of legroom, and 55.9 inches of shoulder room. Even though the rear slopes down a bit at the rear, the cargo area takes the hit instead of intruding into the rear passengers’ headroom. The cargo space, literally why people buy a wagon over its sedan/SUV counterpart, is aplenty. With all the seats up the V90 still manages to offer a cargo space of 19.8 cubic-feet. Flip the rear seats down and you’ll have 53.9 cubic-feet of space available at your disposal. However, these figures are not enough to beat the Mercedes E-Class wagon that offers 20.5 and 57.4 cubic-feet of space with the seats up and flipped down, respectively.

Drivetrain

  • 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged mill
  • 250 Horsepower
  • 258 Pound-feet of Torque
  • Front-Wheel-Drive
  • 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged and supercharged mill
  • 316 Horsepower
  • 295 Pound-feet of Torque
  • All-Wheel-Drive
  • Eight-Speed Automatic Transmission
  • Could Borrow The New Kinetic Energy Recovery Braking System
  • Will Be 15 Percent More Fuel Efficient
2017 Volvo V90 High Resolution
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Coming to the drivetrain, the V90 shares its engines with the other 90 Series vehicles in the company’s portfolio.

Basically, it is just one engine offered in different states of tune. The base trims come with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder turbocharged mill that makes 250 horses and 258 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the front wheels via an eight-speed Aisin automatic transmission. With this engine, the V90 delivers 27 miles per gallon in mixed conditions. In the higher models, the same engine comes with a turbocharger as well as a supercharger that generates 316 ponies and 295 pound-feet of twist. Here, power is sent to all wheels via the same eight-speed automatic gearbox and it delivers 25 miles per gallon, combined. The all-wheel-drive trim in all its glory takes 5.6 seconds to reach the 60 mph mark from a standstill, which is slightly faster than its Cross Country alter-ego. The V90 rides lower than the Cross Country, which makes all the difference. However, it is slower than the Mercedes E-Class wagon that can do the same sprint in around five seconds.

2020 Volvo V90 Spyshots Exterior
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In the European markets, the V90 is available in other flavors as well.

Just like the gasoline trims in the U.S., this is also a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine offered in two skins.

In the base D4 model it makes 187 horses and 295 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to either the front wheels, or all four wheels. In the higher trim, the same engine makes 225 ponies and 347 pound-feet of twist. Given that the XC90 received a few technical updates, Volvo could follow the same suit in case of the V90 as well. The new update is the addition of a kinetic energy recovery braking system that, according to the company, can save up to 15 percent fuel in real-world driving conditions.

Prices

2020 Volvo V90 Spyshots Exterior
- image 858162

The Volvo V90 starts at $51,450 for the base trim. The trim prices are as follows:

Volvo V90 prices
T5 R-Design $51,450
T5 Inscription $53,450
T6 AWD R-Design $57,450
T6 AWD Inscription $59,450

Competition

Audi A4 Allroad

2020 Audi A4 Allroad
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Technically, the Audi A6 Allroad would rival the V90, but thanks to the lack of wagons in the States, we have to pit it against the A4 Allroad. The new A4 Allroad borrows a lot of design cues from the Q8, thus making it look a lot more premium over the previous models. The wheelbase, cargo space, and other dimensions are similar to the Volvo V60 Cross Country. On the inside, the A4 Allroad is loaded with features and is a comfortable cabin overall. The touchscreen infotainment system supports Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Under the hood, the Audi A4 Allroad features a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder unit that makes 248 horses and 273 pound-feet of torque. It can sprint from a standstill to 60 mph in 5.9 seconds and has a top speed of 130 miles per hour. The Audi A4 Allroad starts at $45,700 for the base model.

Audi A4 Allroad specifications
Engine 2.0-liter, four-cylinder unit
Power 248 horses
Torque 273 pound-feet of torque
Mileage (combined) 27 miles per gallon
0 - 60 mph 5.9 seconds
Cargo Size 24.2 cubic-feet / 58.5 cubic-feet with rear seats folded down
Price from $45,700

Read our full review on the 2020 Audi A4 Allroad

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon

2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon High Resolution Exterior
- image 678607

This E-Class Wagon is slightly more accomplished than the V90 is almost all the departments. This vehicle is not as relaxed or sleeper-looking as its Scandinavian counterpart and will attract people looking for more bling. On the inside, there’s a panoramic 12.3-inch screen that controls navigation, entertainment and many comfort settings. The biggest difference here is that the Mercedes E-Class Wagon comes with a rear-facing third row as well. It is powered by a 3.0-liter, V-6 bi-turbo engine that makes 362 horses and 369 pound-feet of torque. Power is sent to the wheels via a nine-speed automatic transmission. As for the 0-60 mph figure, the Mercedes E-Class wagon takes 5.1 clicks to complete the sprint.

Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon specifications
Engine 3.0-liter, V-6 bi-turbo mill
Power 362 horses
Torque 369 pound-feet of torque
Mileage (combined) 23 miles per gallon
0 - 60 mph 5.1 seconds
Cargo Size 35 cubic-feet / 64 cubic-feet with rear seats folded down
Price from $64,200

Read our full review on the 2019 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Wagon

Conclusion

2020 Volvo V90 Spyshots Exterior
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The Volvo V90 is a practical buy if you intend to do a lot of long drives and need a spacious vehicle that drives like a sedan. Wagons are slowly making a comeback and they will enjoy a stronger resale value in the future, if that matters to you. There is the V90 Cross Country as well that is supposedly off-road friendly, but all you mainly get are different aesthetic dynamics and a taller ride height. If we had to make a choice between this and the two Germans, we’d choose the Volvo V90. However, now that we know the Audi A6 Allroad will be coming here as well, we might be inclined towards that. The updated V90 will most likely be launched alongside the updated S90 sometime in 2020.

  • Leave it
    • The infotainment system is slow and needs a full change instead of an upgrade
    • Four-cylinder engines only
    • Competition has more accomplished products

Further reading

2019 Volvo S60 Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Volvo S60.

2017 Volvo V90 High Resolution Exterior AutoShow
- image 704230

Read our full review on the 2018 Volvo V90.

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