The Major Problem With the 2021 Volvo V90 R-Design Is That It’s Not Practical

Shoppers looking for a family car alternative in an SUV-dominated market have few choices. But Volvo continues to provide a solution with the V90. Although the 2021 Volvo V90 features the same design as last year, critics continue to heap accolades on this wagon, calling it “Volvo’s best-kept secret.” However, as much as reviewers love this car, some call its R-Design model’s practicality into question.

Impracticality is the Volvo V90 R-Design’s biggest flaw

MotorTrend has plenty of good things to say about this year’s Volvo V90 R-Design. But its review also points out that the V90’s “swoopy roofline eats cargo space,” making practicality its biggest drawback. The wagon’s exterior design has improved the boxy look that plagued Volvo designs for decades. However, those sloping lines negatively affect the V90’s interior.

With all of its seats in place, the V90 allows for only 19.8 cubic feet of cargo space. That’s right, and this wagon hopes to compete in an SUV-dominated market. In fact, with 23.2 cubic feet of cargo capacity, the smaller V60 provides almost four cubic feet more than the V90. Critics note the wagon’s cargo space is the equivalent of a compact hatchback, severely hurting the V90’s family-car practicality.

But the Volvo V90 R-Design’s perks make it worth considering

A lack of practicality is a major drawback for family car buyers. But the Volvo V90 R-Design has plenty of positive features to recommend it. MotorTrend calls it “quick, posh, beautiful, good fun to drive, and every inch the anti-SUV.” Those are desirable attributes for any prospective buyer to keep in mind.

Another major advantage the Volvo V90 R-Design has over SUVs is its 2.0-liter super-turbo inline-four engine’s performance. And that’s without forcing its owner to pay higher prices at the gas pump. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 21 mpg in the city, 32 mpg on the highway, and 25 mpg combined. Engineers were able to draw 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque from the V90’s fuel-saving engine. However, with a Polestar Performance upgrade option, the wagon’s output jumps to 330 hp and 325 lb-ft for $1,200 extra.

The Polestar-upgraded V90 — with all-wheel drive and eight-speed automatic transmission — performed well on the MT’s test track. It sprinted from 0 to 60 mph in 5.6 seconds (0.5 seconds faster than the previous model tested), MotorTrend reports. And thanks to its sportier suspension, the V90 R-Design boasts sharper and more accurate road handling than its clumsy predecessors.

Stepping into the cabin, drivers can expect a traditional sliding gear shifter instead of the electronic types in some Volvo models. Occupants will also find user-friendly infotainment and navigation systems. And the driver-assist system — Pilot Assist — includes adaptive cruise control and lane-centering to reduce driver fatigue on long trips.

This wagon may be impractical, but it performs well

It’s no secret SUVs are more popular among today’s families, but drivers seeking an alternative should consider the Volvo V90. Its improved exterior design eliminates outdated Volvos’ boxy look. However, that creates a lack of cargo space, apt to lead to buyer hesitation.

But despite this drawback, its performance capabilities, fuel economy, and handling make the 2021 Volvo V90 R-Design a worthy family car with a kick.

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