Ace of Base: 2018 Volvo V90 T5 R-Design

Matthew Guy
by Matthew Guy
ace of base 2018 volvo v90 t5 r design

Volvo, once solely known for making sensible and safe Swedish bricks constructed primarily of bridge girders, has lately been building some fantastic-looking machinery. Witness the fabulous crimson longroof pictured above.

When Ford sold Volvo Cars to the Zhejiang Geely Holding Group in 2009, I feared the company would be pillaged and plundered for its intellectual properties, with the skeleton of its former self hung out to dry behind the woodshed. As it turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong. Volvo is better than ever.

When the V90 showed up at the Geneva Auto Show in 2016, it took approximately 0.002 seconds for the internet to start buzzing about Volvo wagons again. For 2018, the V90 starts at $49,950 and, joy of joys, the snazzy R-Design is the least expensive model of the large Volvo wagons. Excellent.

A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder resides under that long bonnet, delivering 250 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Those measures are 66 and 37 units shy, respectively, of the more powerful T6. Being a T5, the power is shuttled through the front wheels only.

From the Thor’s Hammer daytime running lights framing each side of the unique R-Design grille to a natty R-Design set of shiny twin exhaust finishers poking out of the rear valence, the V90 Wagon is an absolute looker. Choosing the R-Design trim instead of the more expensive Inscription model also allows buyers to select bolder colors, such as the $0 Passion Red shown here. 19-inch five-spoke matte-black alloy wheels with an aggressive pattern look sharp and disc brakes the size of dinner plates hide behind the spokes.

Nicely crafted flappy paddles live behind a leather-wrapped steering wheel, greeting the driver as the pilot settles into the leather (trimmed in the R-Design with suede-ish Nubuck) sport seat. An enormous infotainment screen (the best this side of Tesla’s unit, in this author’s opinion) dominates the center stack. Volvo doesn’t ding their customers for navigation and it goes without saying that Volvo’s legendary reputation for safety is baked into the V90. From lane-keeping aids to emergency braking assistance, the list of security and safe-driving features as long as a Viking’s fighting spear.

A $0 panoramic moonroof with a power shade lets in the sunshine, pairing with the standard equipment metal mesh inlays to brighten up an otherwise handsome but funereal interior. Please don’t waste $800 on replacing those inlays with carbon fiber ones.

The major gripe I have with the least expensive V90 is the lack of heated seats. De Hus av Volvo will install them for $750 – annoying, given that they are included on a $20,250 Hyundai Elantra. At least a heated steering wheel is included for that $750. For an extra $875, V90 buyers can get heated wiper nozzles, heated rear seats, and a heated windshield. I would spring for those stand-alone options. Can you tell I’m from frigid Canada?

Seeing as 2018 V90 buyers will have to custom order their machine, it only makes sense to consider the European Delivery experience. In it, Volvo provides two airline tickets and hotel accommodations to pick up your V90 and tour the company’s factory in Sweden, before the car shipped back to your dealership.

So, given the lack of heated amenities, the V90 T5 R-Design is tremendously desirable but not a true Ace of Base… at least not in my current place of residence. If I chose to live in a locale when ice and snow and misery doesn’t fall from the sky on an alarmingly regular basis, however, I think it certainly makes the grade.

Besides, my all-time favorite hot rod Volvo wagon doesn’t come from Sweden. It was built by Ross Converse.

[Image: Volvo Cars]

Not every base model has aced it. The ones that have? They help make the automotive landscape a lot better. Any others you can think of, B&B? Let us know in the comments. Naturally, feel free to eviscerate our selections.

The model above is shown priced in American dollars, without destination fee. As always, your dealer may sell for less.

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2 of 27 comments
  • Azfelix From certain angles the bonnet appears oversized with respect to the rest of the car - like a skinny teenager wearing a bulky sweater nicked from her older sister's wardrobe.
  • Tassos This is way too god damned OLD, 21 years old to have all the necessary options you need TODAY. You need a 10 year old or less car. AND if you give us THIS POS, a 21 year old model, that is not even a LUXURY car, whoever pays $10k for a Golf, And I Do NOT care what anniversary it is (they are all UTTERLY INSIGNIFICANT) deserves to get this MOST UNRELIABLE AND COSTLY TO REPAIR OF ALL LOUSY ECONOBOXES< EVEN THE DOMESTICS AND THE KOREANS.
  • Tassos As you say, Toyota confirmed this on TUESDAY. Today is WEDNESDAY. Why is everything on TTAC held back one or more days before you tell us the NEWS when it is NO MORE THE NEWS?
  • MRF 95 T-Bird You can find a decent and far more stylish Audi TT or an S4 of a similar vintage for under $10k.
  • RHD "In all situations, the grip of the tires (225/40R18 front, 225/35R18 rear) brings with it road noise."Are the rear tires actually smaller than the fronts??!! Adding just a bit of sidewall would take care of the bumps and rough ride. I'm not a fan of BMWs, personally, but this is a very enjoyable car. There are times when driving a convertible is pure bliss, and with a bit of power it's fun as well. (And certainly a better drive than a gussied-up, overpriced German taxicab!)