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Volvo: A Global Thinker Reflected in 2017 S90 Sedan

By Sue Mead, October 29th, 2016

It's well-known that Volvo, a global leader in safety technology, has built some of the safest cars on the planet and is continually adding new innovations. But, did you know that approximately 1.5 million deer, elk and moose are struck by cars in the U.S. each year, causing more than $1 billion in damage and close to 200 human deaths?

Volvo's Large Animal Detection with Auto Brake is a world-first and is onboard the 2017 S90. It can detect large animals and warn the driver of the danger. If no action is taken, the S90 will automatically apply the brakes to avoid or mitigate a crash.

The all-new flagship S90 is also the first car to have standard semi-autonomous Pilot Assist II that assists with steering, acceleration and braking to reduce the stress of stop-and-go commuter traffic, although the driver is responsible for monitoring the road conditions and reacting, if needed.

It operates on highways and at speeds up to 80 mph and no longer requires a car in front of it to follow. Additionally, World-First Road Edge Detection & Run-off Road Protection is projected to significantly reduce or eliminate traffic fatalities and injuries should the S90 leave the roadway; it bundles Lane Keeping Aids that attempt to keep the vehicle in the proper lane with new seat designs that absorb downward forces, in the event of an off-road crash to prevent serious spinal injuries.

We recently drove the new 2017 Volvo S90 sedan and were impressed with its attractive design, high-quality materials, potent powertrain, and driving dynamics. It's built on a new platform, with new engines and new styling.

Engine choices are a four-cylinder, 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged T6 engine that boasts 316 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque, plus a turbocharged-only T5 variant promising 240 horsepower and 258 lb.-ft. of torque. Both are mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission; T5 models are offered with front-wheel drive while T6 models have all-wheel drive. Driving modes -- ranging from Sport, Comfort, and Eco -- change the shifting, steering, and suspension behavior according to driver preference. Mileage estimates are expected to be in the high 20s.

Eco-friendly shoppers will also appreciate the clean and powerful T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid powertrain, which uses the supercharged/turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder to power the front wheels and an 87-horsepower electric motor to power the rear -- for a total output of 400 horsepower and enough lithium-ion battery for 30 miles of electric-only range.

Outside, the four-door full-sizer is attractive, but not flashy. Volvo abandoned its familiar boxy look years ago; the sedan features a sleek coupe-like shape with a long hood, strong belt-line running the entire length of the vehicle, and unique contoured rear side-glass. Up front are Volvo's "Thor's Hammer" LED headlights and a scalloped grille bedecked with 23 concave vertical bars; wraparound taillamps surround the short trunk lid in the rear.

The interior features low-gloss wood and satin trim elements offset by jewel-like switchgear, and an 8-inch TFT instrument panel. The console benefits from the 9-inch Sensus Connect touchscreen that debuted in the XC90, providing a clutter-free interior with minimal dashboard buttons. Four plush bucket seats are upholstered high-grade leather, with a fifth center-rear seat best reserved for short trips or small people. Connectivity includes a variety of cloud-based Volvo apps and services, and integrates with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The all-new model contains virtually no carry-over pieces from the previous sedan, and it's designed using Volvo's highly flexible Scalable Product Architecture (SPA). Its modular SPA underpinnings allow Volvo to build vehicles that share components and manufacturing processes but have different wheelbases, front and rear overhangs, and cowl and roof heights.

Volvo's flagship sedan is available in two trim levels -- Momentum (starting at $46,950 with the T5 engine or $52,950 with T6 powertrain) and Inscription (which adds an extra $3,500 to both T5 and T6 models)

Specifications

Base price $46,950 (as tested: $47,890)
Curb weight 4,012 lbs.
Displacement 2.0-liter
Engine type 16-valve turbocharged 4-cyl. w/DI
Epa mileage rating 23 mpg city, 34 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 14.5 gal.
Horsepower (net) 250 at 5500 rpm
Overall length 195.4 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 258 at 1500-4800 rpm
Transmission 8-speed automatic
Vehicle type 5-passenger FWD full-size sedan
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