Volvo Launches an Elegant New 2017 S90 Sedan
Eight months after its unveiling to the public in January 2016 at the North American International Auto Show, Volvo has finally launched its brand-new 2017 S90 flagship sedan. Built on a new platform, with new engines and new styling, the 2017 Volvo S90 is currently the only vehicle in the United States to feature standard semi-autonomous driving technology.
Three engine choices will be available under the hood, starting with a four-cylinder, 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged T6 engine that boasts 316 horsepower and 295 lb.-ft. of torque, and 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 will be offered with front-wheel drive while T6 models will have all-wheel drive. Mileage estimates have not yet been released, but are expected to be in the high 20s. Driving modes -- ranging from Sport, Comfort, and Eco -- will change the shifting, steering, and suspension behavior according to the driver's preference.
Eco-friendly shoppers will also appreciate the clean and powerful T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid powertrain due in 2017, which uses a supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine to power the front wheels and an 87-horsepower electric motor to power the rear wheels -- for a total output of 400 horsepower and enough lithium-ion battery for 30 miles of electric-only range. (A similar system is found in the XC90 T8.)
Outside, the four-door S90 is attractive, but not flashy. Volvo abandoned its famliar boxy look years ago, and the large 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 boasting 23 concave vertical bars (as opposed to convex on the XC90); 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. Connectivity includes a variety of cloud-based Volvo apps and services, and will integrate with both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Four plush bucket seats are upholstered high-grade leather, with a fifth center-rear seat best reserved for short trips or small people.
Safety has always been a priority for Volvo, and the new sedan makes another step toward Volvo’s "Vision 2020," which states that no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by the year 2020. Volvo promises this feat by equipping its cars with world first-safety technologies and highly advanced semi-autonomous features that include standard Pilot Assist, which works on top of adaptive cruise control, to steer the car at low speeds (from 6 mph up to 30 mph, as long as the driver keeps a hand on the steering wheel), and will even bring the vehicle to a full stop in congested traffic. Using radar- and camera-based systems, Pilot Assist also works at speeds up to 81 mph and can guide the car solely via lane markings without having to lock onto a car ahead.
The system also includes Run-Off Road Mitigation, which tracks the lines at the side of the road as well as vertical objects and color or texture changes to keep the car from leaving the pavement, and includes deformable, energy-absorbing structure in the seat bottoms to minimize the vertical loads and spinal injuries associated with such an event if it does occur.
Volvo’s City Safety system with low-speed forward-collision warning and automatic emergency braking is also standard, and for the first time, it can recognize and react to large animals as well as pedestrians, cyclists, and other vehicles. Blind-spot and cross-traffic alert systems are optional.
On top of all that, 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. Unlike other animal detection systems, if no action is taken, the S90 will automatically apply the brakes to avoid or mitigate a crash. 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?
The all-new model contains virtually no carry-over pieces from the previous sedan, but it's designed using Volvo’s highly flexible Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), which debuted on the 2016 Volvo XC90 crossover. 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. Only the distance between the front axle and dash crossbeam -- crucial for crash protection, and home to much of the powertrain -- remains the same for these vehicles.
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) -- and takes aim at the Acura RLX, Audi A6, BMW 5-Series, Infiniti Q70, Lexus GS, and Mercedes-Benz E-Class; a sibling V90 station wagon will join the lineup next spring. Also, the S90 carries a four-year, 50,000-mile warranty, which also includes all regularly scheduled service during that period.
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