For many, the thought of driving a station wagon evokes ideas of the Wagon Queen Household Truckster and the horrors of pre-smartphone household holidays. It is fairly the laborious promote, given America’s absolute obsession with crossovers. It is like making an attempt to show a canine to meow.

Regardless of this, wagons are nonetheless kicking round. On the reasonably priced facet, you will have the Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen and, um, that is about it in the mean time. However, should you’re trying to spend north of $50,000 on a station wagon, the probabilities increase to Brobdingnagian proportions — you’ll be able to select from three: The Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Jaguar XF Sportbrake and this Volvo V90.

Supplied you’ll be able to put down the crossover Kool-Support for a second, you may discover that the V90 impresses with its nice seems, strong driving dynamics and ample complement of the most recent tech for each driver and passengers. On the absolute minimal, this wagon will assist you stand out from the cookie-cutter crossover contingent.

Straightforward on the eyes — actual straightforward

Volvo’s earlier design language was a bit dowdy, however the newest era of automobiles has turned its lineup towards the sunshine. The brand new design is futuristic sufficient, with no bunch of difficult creases. The facet, for instance, has a robust character line that runs the size of the bodywork, which is sufficient to give it some power with out overdoing it.

One of the best components of the automotive, although, are its entrance and rear. Volvo’s “Thor’s Hammer” headlights stay a number of the prettiest within the trade, and our tester’s R-Design bundle removes a number of the chrome bits current on the opposite trim, Inscription. It is a clear look that makes good use of LEDs, once more, with out going overboard. It is aggressive, however not a lot that it seems such as you’re making an attempt to point out off.

I believe it is simply the best-looking automotive within the section. To my eyes, Benz’s E-Class Property has an annoying chrome strip that runs the width of the rear finish and appears like a unibrow. The XF Sportbrake is sharp, however I believe Jaguar’s design language would not really feel as recent as Volvo’s.

It is the identical story inside. Volvo has stepped its sport up in a giant method. Our tester’s inside was very properly sorted, with a degree of high quality historically reserved for Germans. Every thing seems and feels good, with leather-based masking the middle console, instrument panel (as an possibility) and door panels. I would in all probability skip the $800 carbon fiber overlay possibility, although — it is a bit a lot. The seats had been supportive for hours-long drives, whether or not on the freeway or again roads.

The V90 is huge, and thus occupants will discover loads of house to get cozy in each rows. The cargo space was spacious sufficient for per week’s value of groceries, with room to spare for a Goal run and a visit to the backyard heart.

This entrance finish is a tricky one to beat — not solely within the section, however past that, as properly.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Tons of tech

The association of the tech within the Volvo V90 takes some getting used to, nevertheless it’s straightforward to decide to reminiscence. Every thing occurs by the 9-inch Sensus Join touchscreen, which sports activities a vertical orientation, not like its rivals. This permits a bunch of knowledge to be displayed without delay, which will be nice at occasions and somewhat overwhelming at others.

The house display incorporates tiles in your most incessantly used options, whether or not it is navigation, media or Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Swipe to the left, and you’ll entry almost each characteristic and setting. You’ll be able to flip security programs on and off individually, and it is also the place you’ll be able to activate the surround-view digital camera, which shows the realm across the automobile with wonderful readability.

Swipe to the appropriate, and also you get your purposes. The automotive contains built-in streaming choices, like Spotify, which may run on the automotive’s built-in 4G LTE antenna. It is good that you do not have to make use of your telephone’s web to entry these options. The system can even entry native climate experiences, Yelp! critiques and it will possibly even file and ship small voice messages.

The V90’s optionally available Bowers & Wilkins stereo is a hefty $three,200, nevertheless it’s value it. Constancy is top-notch, coming near Mercedes-Benz’s wonderful optionally available Burmester audio. The system will be set as much as make it sound such as you’re in a live performance corridor, which is bizarre for speak radio, however rattling close to excellent in virtually each different occasion.

The local weather system, too, is touch-based. That makes it more durable to vary on the go, particularly should you simply wish to elevate or decrease the temperature by a level or two. Just a few additional switches for these features would go a great distance, as an alternative of limiting most each bodily swap to audio controls.

Stiff however not uncomfortable

Our tester got here with Volvo’s T6 powertrain, which is a 2.Zero-liter supercharged and turbocharged I4 placing out 316 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. It likes to rev, though the engine be aware is on the buzzy facet when leaning on the throttle. It shuffles off shortly, due to its all-wheel-drive system, however the eight-speed transmission often exhibited tough shifts when shifting up or down the gears.

I spent a good few hours on native Michigan again roads, and the V90 impressed me with its dealing with, regardless of its considerably massive measurement. It isn’t a efficiency wagon, per se, however it will possibly hold. The suspension feels a bit stiff, even with the optionally available air suspension out again and the mode swap set to Consolation. There is a Dynamic setting for sportier driving, however between the laborious shifts and the engine be aware, I discovered it greatest to go away it in Consolation more often than not. The extra steering weight in Dynamic felt good, even when it is all artificial.

A part of that boils all the way down to the tires. Our V90 was shod with low-profile, 20-inch Pirelli P-Zero summer season tires, which did little to mitigate bumps and shudders in larger Detroit’s usually uneven pavement. Most patrons aren’t more likely to go for these tires anyway, so your mileage will seemingly range, however including a little bit of sidewall would go a great distance in smoothing out the experience. Total, the trifecta of noise, vibration and harshness was managed properly, though primarily based on my experiences, I think about its closest competitor (the E400 wagon) does a bit higher job.

There’s an Eco setting for the powertrain that focuses on gas economic system, and the cease/begin operate was welcome, however regardless of these issues, gas economic system wasn’t precisely nice. Although the V90 is EPA rated at 22 miles per gallon metropolis and 31 mpg freeway, I achieved simply 20.5 mpg over a pair hundred miles, and I wasn’t precisely standing on the fuel pedal the complete time.

The V90 additionally comes with Pilot Help, a complicated driver help system driver able to controlling the automobile over quick stretches of street, although it’s a hands-on system — this isn’t a self-driving automotive.

When Pilot Help was engaged, the steering did not ping-pong in between lane markers, and it was usually clean on the throttle when visitors began spacing out. Nevertheless, I discovered the system braked considerably late at virtually each distance setting, so my overwhelming paranoia saved my following distance set quite far-off, simply in case. However on the entire, it is a clean system and it nonetheless feels bizarre the primary time it strikes the steering wheel with out human enter.

I might go for some totally different rubber. Summer season tires are pointless for many drivers.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

How I would spec it

Our V90 R-Design tester got here in at $68,290 (together with $995 for vacation spot), sporting about $13,000 in choices on prime of its $55,950 base value. I would personally persist with the R-Design, because the fancier Inscription trim would not actually jibe with my private style. I would ditch the $800 20-inch wheels and summer season tires, in addition to the $800 carbon fiber inlays.

Actually, these small choices apart, this could be the V90 I would decide. The additional smoothness from the air suspension and the additional bump from the stereo are value it, as is the $595 paint job. The $1,900 Comfort Bundle is nice to have, too, as a result of the surround-view digital camera system and entrance parking sensors will assist preserve the paint pristine for longer.

That brings the worth nearer to $65,000, which continues to be not a small chunk of change, however in order for you a giant, fancy station wagon, it is not going to point out up with a giant “BARGAIN” tag on it.

This part is particularly vital for the Volvo V90, as a result of it is solely out there as an order. Meaning, in order for you one, you’ll have to spec it out and order it from the manufacturing facility. Volvo sellers will not be actively stocking these, so not solely will you need to custom-order one, you may have to attend for it to be made. Utilizing the V90 Cross Nation as a test-drive platform is a good suggestion, because it’s 90 % the identical.

All the way down to brass tacks

Whereas $55,000 seems like a excessive level of entry, it is really the bottom beginning value in its section. The E400 4Matic wagon begins at about $64,000, and the loaded-up Jaguar XF Sportbrake instructions a hefty $70,450 (lower-spec, less-costly fashions are coming quickly).

The V90 has the smallest, least highly effective engine of the group, with its 316-hp I4 placing out a bit lower than the E400’s 329-hp V6 and the XF Sportbrake’s 380 hp. The V90 is the one wagon the place AWD is optionally available, not commonplace, as properly. Jaguar has not but launched EPA figures for the XF Sportbrake, however the E400’s 19-mpg-city, 25-mpg-highway figures fall wanting the V90’s thriftiness.

By way of cargo house, the V90 incorporates a good 69 cubic ft of cargo capability with the rear seats down, together with the additional cupboard space discovered below the ground. That is a bit greater than the E400’s 64 cubic ft, nevertheless it falls wanting the XF’s cargo capability by lower than a cubic foot.

If the V90 intrigues you, however you are still caught on the thought of experience top, you’ll be able to all the time facet step to the V90 Cross Nation, which packs a bit extra versatility in the best way of a small elevate and extra physique cladding. Different automakers are doing this, too, though their automobiles (Subaru Outback, Volkswagen Golf Alltrack) are in several segments. The closest competitor to the V90 Cross Nation could be the Audi Allroad, although it is a good bit smaller.

In the event you’re in search of a recent method to fancy, the V90 ought to impress you with its sensible seems and even smarter tech. It isn’t low cost, nevertheless it’s inexpensive than its two major rivals, and it gives patrons versatility in a bundle that is a step away from the standard crossover system. Wagons are again, child, and whereas they don’t seem to be excellent, they’re higher than they’ve ever been.

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