The 2021 Volvo V90 R-Design Is the Same as Last Year, and That’s OK

The Volvo V90 debuted for the 2018 model year as a special-order vehicle. The Swedish automaker had assumed incorrectly that American buyers wouldn’t be that interested in this station wagon. But the Volvo V90 is regularly available now and sports a refresh for the 2021 model year. Though the updates to the new Volvo V90 R-Design are minimal, that’s not a problem.

Few changes for the 2021 Volvo V90 R-Design

Testing the 2021 Volvo V90 R-Design, MotorTrend noticed few changes compared to the 2020 model year. Though Volvo says it made changes to the front and rear fascias, upholstery, and interior trim, MotorTrend thought the changes were hard to notice.

There is a new wireless phone charger, though. And MotorTrend acknowledged Volvo’s “timeless” designs. Even with a 4-year-old design, the 2021 Volvo V90 “still looks fresh and new, inside and out.”

2021 Volvo V90 R-Design’s performance capabilities

MotorTrend proclaims the V90 R-Design “sportier than it is utilitarian.” The V90 comes in both the R-Design and the more expensive Inscription trim. There’s also a similar V90 Cross Country. MotorTrend found the R-Design has sportier, more agile handling than the Inscription due to different suspension tuning, giving it a more pleasant driving experience.

Its 2.0-liter super-turbocharged inline-four engine generates 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque. A Polestar Performance option is available to boost output, and it can even be added later. This upgrade increases the output to 330 hp and 325 lb-ft of torque, although it does cost $1,200. Both engines pair with two powertrain options: a front-wheel-drive T5 and an all-wheel-drive T6.

With the Polestar Performance upgrade, the V90 is 0.1 seconds faster in the 0-to-62 mph run, the automaker claims. However, MotorTrend found it made the car 0.5 seconds faster in its tests, reaching 60 mph in 5.6 seconds. MT also gave the eight-speed automatic transmission a positive review. 

The 2021 Volvo V90 R-Design’s interior


The 2020 Volvo V90 Is More Than Just a Pretty Face


The 2021 Volvo V90 R-Design has a luxurious interior that MotorTrend calls “richly appointed and carefully finished.” It also has comfortable seating for five and plenty of features, U.S. News reports. Nappa leather covers the seats, and the front ones are power-adjustable and heated with memory settings.

Cargo capacity

The V90 isn’t the most practical of station wagons, though. Its curved roofline means less cargo room. With all the seats up, it has less cargo space than the smaller V60. The V90 has 19.8 cubic feet, compared to the V60’s 23.2 cubic feet. With the rear seats folded down, the V90 provides 53.9 cubic feet of cargo capacity.

Amenities and technology

The V90 offers a conventional shifter, which will feel more familiar than the electronic shifter used in other Volvo vehicles. A panoramic sunroof is standard, as are quad-zone automatic climate control, proximity keyless entry, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a hands-free power liftgate, a universal garage door opener, and a cooled glovebox.

The V90’s 9.0-inch touchscreen has a portrait orientation, but it isn’t always intuitive to use. There are a few control buttons, but the touchscreen is used for some basic functions like climate control or seat functions. But the system is compatible with both Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. It also has a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster. The V90 comes standard with a Wi-Fi hotspot, Bluetooth, a 14-speaker sound system, navigation, satellite radio, wireless device charging, and voice recognition.

Driver assists

Among its advanced safety features, the 2021 Volvo V90 comes standard with the Pilot Assist active driving system. It includes adaptive cruise control and lane centering. MotorTrend found it to be “an impressive bit of engineering.” And the V90 R-Design comes standard with adaptive headlights, oncoming collision mitigation, forward collision warning, automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, front and rear parking sensors, rain-sensing windshield wipers, and a rearview camera. A head-up display and a surround-view parking camera system come in an available package.


The 2021 V90 R-Design starts at $51,800. But MotorTrend’s test model came in at $68,585.

The 2021 Volvo V90 R-Design may not be that different from the 2020 model, but that’s not a problem. MotorTrend was enthusiastic about it, saying it’s “quick, posh, beautiful, good fun to drive, and every inch the anti-SUV.” Volvo seems to have decided not to mess with something already good.