Volvo’s flagship sedan is due for a refresh that’s slated to arrive next year

The Volvo S90 is scheduled to receive a mid-cycle revamp that’s expected to debut in 2020 for the 2021 model year. Once Volvo finally applies the finishing touches on the facelifted model, the S90 will feature mainly visual changes on the outside, but the Swedish firm might also tweak the sedan’s infotainment system to keep up with its rivals, and it may even introduce the mild-hybrid powertrain brought by the freshly-revised XC90.

A big question mark for now is how (and if) the S90’s interior will change. Volvo’s prowess for nicely laid out cabins that are also comfortable and high-quality suggests the carmaker won’t fiddle too much with an already perfect recipe.

Exterior

  • New grille
  • Redesigned front bumper
  • New fog lights
  • LED Matrix headlights
  • 3D design for the taillights
  • Redesigned rear bumper
  • New body colors and wheel designs
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The current Volvo S90 has a sleekness of its own, which sets is apart rather nicely from the likes of Mercedes-Benz S-Class, BMW 7 Series, and Audi A8. This means that given the matured design,

Volvo won’t try to shake things up too much, so expect a rather subtle set of tweaks.

As far as we can tell from the spy photos sent in by our carparazzi, those changes will touch down on the lower parts of the front grille. Speaking of which, the Volvo Iron Mark grille is likely to morph into a design that’s more similar to the V60 and V90 Cross Country. We also expect the facelift to bring LED Matrix headlights for the Swedish sedan, judging by the new light cluster pattern and redesigned fog lights. Fret not, though, as the Thor’s Hammer design is here to stay at least until an all-new Volvo S90 comes to replace the current generation.

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Moving to the rear end, the camouflaged taillights suggest a new design, but we can’t spot any changes in size or shape for the time being.

Volvo could, however, adopt a 3D design of sorts to add more visual depth to the rear clusters. Rounding up the changes list in the back is the reworked lower section of the rear bumper. That said, we doubt Volvo will tweak other aspects of the S90’s exterior, although it’s customary for a mid-life refresh to bring a couple of new wheel choices and perhaps one or two additional body colors just too keep things interesting. Needless to say, the sedan’s dimensions and proportions will not be affected in any way.

Volvo S90 exterior dimensions
Length: 200.1 inches
Width (incl. mirrors): 79.5 inches
Height (incl. shark fin antenna): 57.1 inches
Wheelbase: 120.5 inches
Track (front): 64.1/63.7 inches, depending on rim size
Track (rear): 64.1/63.7 inches, depending on rim size
Ground clearance: 6 inches
Weight: 4,819 pounds

Interior

  • Some new materials
  • Crispier infotainment system
  • Minimum changes needed
2017 Volvo S90 High Resolution Interior
- image 658267
The S90 gets a luxurious cabin

We can’t help but ask: is it really necessary to tweak the S90’s interior? We believe the answer is no and as such, we don’t think Volvo will make any major tweaks in this regard anyway.

Volvo might add some extra personalization options or even new materials to adorn the sedan’s cabin, but that would be pretty much it.

On a more personal note, we’d like the infotainment system to offer a crispier user experience similar to what the S90’s rivals have in store. However, our photographers didn’t get a chance to capture the car’s interior on camera, so there’s not much to speculate on.

In all fairness, sans the improvements that could be brought to the infotainment setup, it’s hard to push the quality higher inside the S90 without crossing to another price range. Volvo has been receiving a lot of praise for its interiors both in terms of design and quality, so there’s no need to overcomplicate things at this point. After all, if ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

Volvo S90 interior dimensions
Headroom: 37.8 inches
Front leg room: 42.2 inches
Rear leg room: 40.4 inches
Front hip room: 56.4 inches
Rear leg room: 54.9 inches
Cargo volume: 15.4 cubic feet

Drivetrain

  • Mild-hybrid tech on the cards
  • Current lineup should stay the same
  • T6 AWD, 316 hp, 295 lb-ft
  • T8 eAWD PHEV, 400 hp, 472 lb-ft
2021 Volvo S90
- image 870943
Rumor has it that the S90 will receive Volvo’s mild-hybrid tech already available for the recently revamped XC90 SUV, which also has a kinetic energy recovery braking system that’s said to contribute to up to 15 percent fuel savings and emission reductions in rear world driving conditions.

But until Volvo officially confirms or denies the introduction of such technology for the S90 sedan, we’ll have to look at the current engine lineup.

In the U.S., the 2020 Volvo S90 is available with two powertrain options: T6 AWD and T8 eAWD Plug-in Hybrid. The T5 powertrain used to be on the table as well, but for some reason Volvo’s online configurator doesn’t include this one for the 2020 S90. For the sake of the argument, however, we’ll mention that this choice relies on an inline-four turbocharged gasoline engine displacing two liters. Output is rated at 250 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of twist.

2021 Volvo S90
- image 870946

Coming back to the two options loaded into the online configurator, the T6 AWD has the same 2.0-liter mill as the T5 only it’s also supercharged for more grunt. As a result, the engine now makes 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque handled by an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

The T8 eAWD takes the same turbocharging and supercharging recipe used by the 2.0-liter mill but takes it to the next level with the addition of an electric motor good for 87 horsepower.

All-wheel drive is also on the menu while the system’s overall power goes up to 400 horsepower, while torque takes a hike to 472 pound-feet. It’s unclear whether Volvo will bring any sort of improvements to these existing powertrains, but chances are it won’t.

Prices

2021 Volvo S90
- image 870947

Once the facelifted 2021 Volvo S90 becomes available on the U.S. market, its price tag is bound to go up a notch. While we can’t pinpoint the exact asking price, the least we can bring into discussion is the flagship sedan’s pricing at the time of writing. The most affordable S90 is the Momentum model that starts at $51,195. It is followed by both the R-Design and Inscription trims, as they both require at least $54,295. However, if the T8 eAWD Plug-in Hybrid trim is specified, then the starting price tag jumps to $63,845. Also keep in mind that this hybrid powertrain can only be had with the R-Design and Inscription trim levels, while those opting for the S90 Momentum will have to make do with the T6. That said, we could extrapolate and say that

the revised S90 Momentum could start at around $53,000-$54,000, while the other two trims, R-Design and Inscription, might kick off at $56,000-$57,000.

Competition

Mercedes-Benz E-Class

2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 661154

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is one of those cars blessed with a flawless interior that’s hard to go up against. Those looking to get the E-Class in the U.S. won’t complain of being short of options, as the sedan can be had in three guises E 350, E350 4Matic, and E 450 4Matic. The entry-level E 350 starts at $54,050 and relies on a 2.0-liter inline-four turbocharged engine that produces 255 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque channeled towards the rear wheels through the nine-speed 9G-Tronic automatic transmission.

If it’s all-wheel drive you crave, then the E 350 4Matic picks up where the E 350 left off and adds such a gimmick without changing the engine’s power and torque coordinates. Lastly, the E 450 4Matic comes to please those looking for more grunt. Its 3.0-liter bi-turbo V-6 makes 362 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque for a 0-60 miles per hour sprint cleared in five seconds flat.

On top of those variants sits the Mercedes-AMG lineup that includes the E 53 and E 63 S sedans. The former uses an AMG-tweaked 3.0-liter inline-six that’s also turbocharged and paired to the company’s EQ Boost tech for 429 horsepower and 384 pound-feet of torque. 0 to 60 miles per hour happens in 4.4 seconds. The real king of the hill, however, gets a handcrafted 4.0-liter bi-turbo V-8, which blesses the E 63 S with 603 horsepower and 627 pound-feet of torque for a 0-60 sprint attainable in 3.3 seconds.

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

BMW 5 Series

2017 BMW 5 Series
- image 703473

Arguably the sportiest of the executive sedan bunch, BMW’s 5 Series is trying to lure in customers with several guises. There’s the 530i and 530i xDrive making 248 horsepower for a 0-60 miles per hour sprint of 5.9 and 5.8 seconds respectively, but there’s also the more powerful 540i and 540i xDrive which rely on 335 horsepower for a 0-60 time of 4.9 seconds and 4.6 seconds, respectively. Then there’s the M550i xDrive and its 523 horsepower, capable of sprinting from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 3.6 seconds. And if you happen to prefer a plug-in hybrid 5 Series, BMW will gladly sell you the 530e and its xDrive peer. Both are good for 248 horsepower, enough to let them accelerate from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.9 seconds.

Read our full review on the 2019 BMW 5 Series.

Audi A6

2019 Audi A6 Exterior
- image 771012

The Audi A6 is, too, available in the US of A as the 45 TFSI quattro and 55 TFSI quattro. If you’re still confused by Audi’s engine nomenclature, allow us to clear the air. The Audi A6 45 TFSI quattro relies on a 2.0-liter turbocharged straight-four engine good for 248 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque sent to all fours via Audi’s famed all-wheel-drive setup. If that’s not enough for your taste, then you can go for the Audi A6 55 TFSI quattro, which stands for a 3.0-liter turbocharged V-6 with 335 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque on tap. If that’s still too soft, maybe the Audi S6 is what you want. It uses a 2.9-liter bi-turbo TFSI V-6 tuned to churn out 444 horsepower and 443 pound-feet of torque, enough to complete the 0-60 miles per hour sprint in 4.4 seconds.

Read our full review on the 2019 Audi A6

Conclusion

2021 Volvo S90
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The facelifted Volvo S90 is coming, but don’t expect it too display a radically-changed exterior. Subtle changes are the way to go for Volvo and we’re happy that the Swedes are not overdoing this revamp for two reasons: 1) the S90 is already a fine-looking sedan and 2) there’s no point in changing things up and thus face the possibility of offsetting a perfectly good recipe that gives the S90 its very own, unique personality. That’s something you don’t see too often in the age of gaping front grilles and fake exhausts.

  • Leave it
    • Price should go up a tad
    • Rivals have better infotainments systems
    • Still won’t offer a high-performance version
Tudor Rus
Assistant Content Manager - Automotive Expert - tudor@topspeed.com
Tudor’s first encounter with cars took place when he was only a child. Back then, his father brought home a Trabant 601 Kombi and a few years later, a Wartburg 353. At that time, he was too young to know how they worked and way too young to drive them, but he could see one thing – each of them had a different ethos and their own unique personality. As time went on, he started seeing that in other cars as well, and his love for the automobile was born.  Read More
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