2017 Volvo S90 T6 sedan wears elegance with simplicity

The new Volvo S90 is like a tailor-made suit. It fits just right, balancing sharp lines with elegant comfort. It’s as nice to look at as to luxuriate in, and there were random times behind the wheel where a seam in the seats or some other detail caught our attention and made us feel better, as if the car was a positive reflection of the self. It feels just right, like a nice suit and a flagship sedan are supposed to.

The S90 has been a finalist for many car of the year awards at a time when there is a renaissance in the luxury flagship sedan segment. BMW redesigned its 7 Series for 2016, as did Cadillac for its CT6. The Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the flagship benchmark, is due for a rehab in 2018, even as Hyundai has entered the fray by launching its luxury brand Genesis with the G90 full-size sedan. At anywhere from a half foot to a foot shorter than the competition’s flagships, the S90 is closer to the midsize of the sedan spectrum. Flagships don’t drive sales like crossovers, but they serve as a showcase for the brand’s capability.

The S90 shares the architecture of the XC90 crossover, which topped many 2015 car of the year lists including our own. The sedan is low and wide, with an athletic stance. Large 20-inch wheels (an extra $1,010 over the standard 19-inch rollers) further buff up the profile.

The design, both inside and out, is one of balance and proportion, spartan in the Swedish way but more nuanced up close. The front and rear overhangs appear symmetrical and the long nose dips into the grille, which has a vertical orientation at a time when most automakers have opted to stretch it out horizontally. The horizontal elements come at the grille’s edges, in the form of the LED headlights that have a horizontal T-shape wrapping around the side that Volvo calls “Thor’s Hammer.” It’s a modern, more sculpted take on Volvo’s traditional design sense of sleek but simple.