2021 Volvo top-line V90 wagon honors icons

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Someday soon as an homage to the not-too-long-ago automotive history, a manufacturer will introduce a vehicle called a station wagon. A good choice would be next year’s Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design.

The 2021 editions, like other carmakers’ choices in recent years, are called wagons. It’s as if the “station” designation is an insult.

The original classification derived from families carrying their heavy trundle suitcases to train stations. The long wagons, precursors to sport utility vehicles, became station wagons.

The 2021 Volvo V90 is top-line luxury wagon.
The 2021 Volvo V90 is top-line luxury wagon.

Beauties they were, with three rows of seating, lots of interior and exterior wood and comfort to spare. Road trips were joyful.

The Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design is the modern-day equivalent to yesteryear’s classics. It’s a holdover generation, but the already-sleek exterior styling has a few upgrades. The grille has been revised as have fascias front and rear, taillights and alloy wheels. The exhaust pipe is now hidden and several new exterior colors are available.

Volvo leads luxury wagons

The new wagon features a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder with 316 horsepower and the engine turbocharged and supercharged. The wagon accelerates with a slight lag, but its performance is impressive. It powers down the road with authority, with the only downside a strong possibility freeway speed limits will be exceeded without a driver’s knowledge.

An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard for both the AWD R-Design and the smaller 250 horsepower option. Gas mileage averages are 21 miles per gallon in city driving, 32 mpg on the highway for the R-Design and one mile more in each category for the base model.

Cargo space presumably is still a priority for wagon buyers. It’s the one area the new Volvo trails competitors. Behind the second row is 19.8 cubic feet. It expands to 53.9 cubic feet with the rear seats folded. The Subaru Outback (32.5 and 75.7) leads wagons, followed by the Mercedes-Benz E-Class (35 and 64).

Still, the Volvo in no way feels cramped. The seating arrangement provides plenty of room for suitcases of all kinds, grocery bags and golf clubs. It also has a hands-free power liftgate, activated by a foot wave under the rear bumper and with the proximity key in your possession.

New standard equipment this year also includes: automatic on/off adaptive LED headlights with automatic high beams and high-pressure washers, slippery road/hazard-light alert, power-operated cargo cover and two USB-C ports for the rear passengers and wireless charging.

The previous standard feature list remains: Pilot assist to blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert and steering assistance to lane-keeping assistance/lane departure warning to road sign recognition.

Volvo doesn’t scrimp with its luxury wagon. A panoramic moonroof, wiper blades with integrated washers, leather upholstery and heated/10-way power-adjustable front seats add to the Swedish nature of making vehicles. They always feel solid and safe.

Technology features include a 12.3-inch driver information display, 9-inch infotainment touchscreen, navigation, Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone integration, satellite radio and two front USB-A ports.

Automatic cruise control is a superior feature, available in most new vehicles. The Volvo V90’s system is located via a push button on the steering wheel.

Unlike other vehicles’ less-than-intuitive approaches, the V90’s works like what might be expected from Scandinavian design. It’s a light, one-touch process, with automatic decreases in speed if the vehicle in front is too close. The re-acceleration is equally smooth.

The top-line Bowers & Wilkins sound system is a $3,200 upgrade and the head-up display option is $1,500. A few lower-priced options push the $58,800 manufacturer’s suggested retail price to $68,435.

A station wagon approaching $70,000 was likely never imagined by early adopters to family travel. But by today’s standards, the new Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design is as good as it gets.

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