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  • Writer's pictureAlain Kuhn Von Kuhnenfeld

2021 Volvo S90 Recharge

This week we are reviewing the Volvo S90 Recharge. Our vehicle was assembled at the Daqing plant in China and had an MSRP of CAD 89,550.00.

Volvo S90 Recharge
Photo by Vince P. Sziget

Fun Factor: 8

Volvo launched the S90 in 2017 as their flagship within their sedan lineup. It generally competes with the likes of the Audi A6, BMW 5 Series and E-Class even though the exterior and interior could easily compete against the upper classes of these manufactures. Back in 2013, Volvo announced investing time and effort into a single-engine for its whole lineup to reduce CO2 emissions. The then called "Drive-E" powertrain was a bold move from Volvo as they were putting all their eggs in one basket. Luckily for them, the switch to 4-cylinder engines for their whole lineup was a successful move as it gave them the ability to tweak the engine's output with a turbocharger. If Volvo wanted to add more power, they could slap on a supercharger. And, if that weren't enough, they could place an electric engine on the rear axle giving it uncompromised performances, at least on paper. In reality, the transition between the turbocharger and the supercharger, with the assistance of the electric engine, wasn't harmonious. This was particularly unpleasant when we tested the S60, V60 and XC60 Polestar Engineered trio, where the power out felt unrefined. To our surprise, Volvo has tweaked these systems under the hood of the S90 Recharge to make them feel more controlled, very smooth for such a complicated system. The S90's combined performance does not disappoint with its 400hp and 472 lb-ft of torque. 313 hp / 295 lb-ft from its engine and 87 hp / 177 lb-ft from its electric engine. On the comfort side of things, the S90 feels delightful; thanks to the rear air suspension, what would most likely not have felt this good, equipped with these massive 20inch wheels. Handling is softer if you compare it to its German, British and even American counterparts. This doesn't mean that you don't feel engaged with the vehicle; it gives it a more satisfying driving dynamic.

Volvo S90 Recharge
Photo by Vince P. Sziget

Can it Family: 9

Can the S90 be a family car? Sure, you can chauffeur around your kids. Why chauffeur around? If you let them be, they can adjust the copilot's seat to get more legroom if the amount of legroom wasn't already plenty. They can also enjoy the luxury of heated and cooled seats, even operate the moon roof for their comfort to enjoy the view of the city or the stars at night. If this wasn't enough, they also have sunshades on the side and rear windows on hotter days to keep them cool with their adjustable A/C commands. When we tested the BMW 530e, a major concern was the cargo room taken away by the battery; this is pleasantly not the case with the S90 recharge. The trunk has a wide enough opening to fit oversized items and is deep enough for any sports activity. Finally, as with other Volvo products, the front seats are comfortable on longer journeys. The main downside will be with smaller drivers, where the seat adjustments will not give them the best view around the vehicle.

Volvo S90 Recharge interior
Photo by Vince P. Sziget

Fuel-Friendly: 9

Like other Volvo plugin hybrids, the fuel efficiency is stellar for such a large vehicle. We drove over 1200km during our weekly test with an average fuel economy of 6.4L/100km. Volvo also seems to have improved the guess-o-meter for the electric range and the power management of the vehicle's battery. While the announced range is 34km, it achieved 40km without any trouble during our test. Like any PHEV, the S90 Recharge shines in the city, where we did 90% of our commutes electrically. Volvo announces the fuel economy for the S90 Recharge at 8.3L/100km in the city, 7.5L/100km on the Hwy and has a combined rating of 7.9L/100km when running with the gas engine alone. The announced combined average with the electric motor is at 4.0Le/100 km. As you can see with our XC60 Polestar Engineered review, it is possible to achieve these fuel economies, even more so if you can charge at your destination.

Volvo S90 rear seats
Photo by Vince P. Sziget

HWY-warrior: 8

The adaptative cruise control was once at the forefront. The system now shows its age while it finds a balance between safety and comfort. Other luxury brands have surpassed the type of system Volvo uses today. On the Hwy, the S90 sounds more refined and shields you from the exterior noise. Volvo has not only made improvements to the engine switch from electric to gasoline. It has shielded the noise of the engine from the cabin, making the change barely noticeable.

Volvo S90 Recharge
Photo by Vince P. Sziget

Karaoke-Friendly: 10

Yes, we can't hide it; we love the Bowers and Wilkins Premium Sound System. And yes, we have pointed out before, the sound is so crisp; it would fulfill any audiophile's dreams. Apple Car Play and Android Auto still require a physical connection to work; this is honestly a miss in our opinion, especially since there aren't many places to put your smartphone. Luckily, we see the implementation of USB-C connectors to make sure you'll connect your future devices.

Bowers & Wilkins
Photo by Vince P. Sziget

Baby-Friendly: 9

Installation of car seats is effortless as the ISOFIX ports are hidden behind a latch door that you can operate by lifting the latch. The ISOFIX ports themselves are easily accessible, and attaching the car seat is straightforward. The only hiccup we saw was that we had to pass the anchor hook of the car seat over the headrest as the space under the headrest was too small. As for smaller kids getting into the back seats, they will not have any issues opening the door handle.

Volvo ISOFIX ports car seats
Photo by Vince P. Sziget

City Cruising: 10

The S90 Recharge shines with its dual motors in the city; the hybrid system will be most efficient there. Especially while driving in stop-and-go traffic, it can recuperate some of the lost energy back into the battery. Shifting your gear lever from D to the B gear can harness the electric engine braking power depending on your liking. It's not quite one-pedal driving, but you only need gentle pressure on the breaks to get the vehicle fully immobilized at its highest level. Parking was quite simple as steering becomes light at slow speeds; additionally, the 360-degree camera effectively lets you see everything around the vehicle. If you need a helping hand, the S90 will do the parking for you, even in the tightest parking spots.

Volvo S90 center console
Photo by Vince P. Sziget

Why would we buy the 2021 Volvo S90 Recharge, or what we liked about it? Premium performance-oriented vehicle without the fuel consumption penalty. Simple & stylish interior, massaging seats. The Bowers and Wilkins sound system. Useable trunk for a PHEV.

Volvo S90 panoramic roof
Photo by Vince P. Sziget

Why would we not buy the 2021 Volvo S90 Recharge, or what did we not like about it? No wireless smartphone integration, semi-autonomous driving outdated for its class, at this price tag certain fully electric vehicle are available.

Volvo S90 rear console
Photo by Vince P. Sziget

Volvo has lent us this vehicle one week as a press vehicle. We have no affiliation with Volvo Canada. The above is a recollection of our personal opinion of the car referred above.

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