While it’s forged a reputation for safety, Volvo is arguably known just as much for its wagons. True, the Swedish brand’s embraced luxury SUVs with models like the XC90. But while other marques like Jaguar have had to cut their wagon selections due to poor sales, Volvo’s models are still going strong. And the 2021 Volvo V90 T6 may be the best of the bunch.
The 2021 Volvo V90 has style and substance
The 2021 Volvo V90 is available in two trims: the R-Design and Inscription. These trims are further split based on their powertrains. Again, there are two available: the front-wheel-drive T5 and AWD T6. The T5 has a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine with 250 hp and 258 lb-ft. Meanwhile, the T6 has a turbocharged and supercharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 316 hp and 295 lb-ft. Both have 8-speed automatic transmissions, Motor Trend reports.
If you’re going for maximum luxury, the Volvo V90 T6 Inscription is the one to get, Car and Driver reports. It comes standard with Nappa leather upholstery, walnut trim, heated and ventilated front seats with power-adjustable bolstering and thigh support, and rear-window sunshades, Autotrader reports. That’s on top of a chilled glovebox, WiFi, navigation, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, and a 12.3” digital gauge cluster. And, because the V90 T6 is a Volvo, it has an extensive standard ADAS suite, with automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping assist, and adaptive cruise control.
Plus, for 2021, every Volvo V90 has standard blind-spot monitoring, wireless charging, and rear USB-C ports instead of 12V outlets. The cabin air filtration system now includes an optional fine-particulate filter. Also, while the Volvo V90 T6 Inscription offered an optional Bowers & Wilkins audio system before, the 2021 system has been further upgraded, Car and Driver reports.
What’s the 2021 Volvo V90 T6 Inscription like to live with?
Admittedly, not all of the 2021 Volvo V90 T6 Inscription’s updates have gone smoothly, Autoblog reports. The wireless charging pad is a bit too small to comfortably fit the large smartphones many carry today. And while the 2021 wagon’s screen is larger, the infotainment system itself could be a bit more intuitive, Roadshow reports. However, Hagerty notes that Volvo is aware of this, and will begin introducing the Google-designed system that debuted in the Polestar 2.
Still, there are several reasons why Autoblog calls the 2021 Volvo V90 T6 Inscription the brand’s “best-kept secret” and “a design masterpiece.” The T6 powertrain is “more than capable” of letting the luxury wagon cover miles easily, Hagerty reports. Plus, it boosts the V90’s tow rating from 2000 pounds to 3500 pounds. Though Autoblog notes the equivalent Audi A6 and Mercedes-Benz E-Class wagons are faster.
Speaking of covering miles, the Volvo V90 T6 Inscription excels at it. Even with the larger optional wheels, the ride isn’t harsh. And if you want to drive on rough gravel roads, the optional air suspension soaks it all up, Hagerty reports. While there is some body roll, it doesn’t detract from the V90’s sense of stability, even on sweeping roads. The seats are comfortable, and the interior is both attractive and roomy. It’s also practical: the 2nd-row seats have dedicated climate controls and optional built-in child boosters.
The 2021 Volvo V90’s cargo hold isn’t quite as roomy as those found in some SUVs, Hagerty reports. However, because of the wagon’s lower ride height and flatter floor, it’s easier to load/unload. And if you’re storing longer items, the 2nd-row seats have pass-throughs, so you don’t have to fold the seats down.
Is it worth buying over the Cross Country model?
There is one more reason why Autoblog calls the Volvo V90 a “secret,” though. Unlike the V90 Cross Country, the V90 isn’t stocked by dealers, Automobile explains. If you want one, you’ll have to special-order it. Which makes sense from a volume perspective. In 2019, SUVs accounted for over 75% of Volvo’s sales, Hagerty reports. In contrast, V90 and V60 sales combined made up less than 3%.
But while it’s easier to get the Volvo V90 Cross Country, is it worth it? In terms of price, the Cross Country is actually cheaper—kind of. The 2021 V90 Cross Country is only available in T6 AWD trim, starting at $54,900. The base Volvo V90 T5 R-Design starts at $51,800. But the T6 Inscription trim starts at $57,800.
However, the Volvo V90 Cross Country doesn’t have all of the T6 Inscription trim’s features. It does have plastic body cladding, extra ground clearance, and a higher ride height, Forbes reports. It also has a dedicated off-road mode, Car and Driver reports. But, while it has standard leather upholstery, the Nappa leather is an optional extra. And if you spec it to that level, the V90 Cross Country is only slightly cheaper than the non-lifted V90.
Still, the Volvo V90 is harder to get than the Cross Country model, and it’s more expensive. So, what’s the appeal? There’s the exclusivity factor, which admittedly not everyone is into. The standard V90 also lacks the plastic cladding, but that’s a visual choice, which is a personal preference.
That’s arguably the biggest reason why someone would buy the 2021 Volvo V90 over the V90 Cross Country. It’s a bit like choosing to go to an indie band concert over a more popular venue. The music’s not necessarily any better or worse, it’s just a different kind of venue.
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