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2017 Volvo S90: First Impressions

img818210357 1452531337845 jpg 2017 Volvo S90 | photo by Angela Conners

CARS.COM — There aren’t a lot of cars where its headlights really make the look, but the new 2017 Volvo S90 sedan gains distinctiveness from its T-shaped accent lights, which Volvo refers to as Thor’s Hammer. They border a wide waterfall grille with a large Volvo badge in the middle, and all of the elements combine to produce a powerful, stern-looking luxury sedan.

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Volvo bills the S90 as a flagship car, but it’s not as big as traditional flagships from the competition. The S90’s overall length is closer to that of the BMW 5 Series, but it’s about as wide as a BMW 7 Series and its roofline is lower than both. Volvo bills it as a four-door coupe — a counterintuitive term that luxury brands have become obsessed with in recent years — and it looks the part with a low, long hood and short trunk lid.

img817286836 1452531231244 jpg 2017 Volvo S90 | photo by Angela Conners

Compared to the S90’s front end, the rear styling is a letdown. It’s blocky and a little plain, which is jarring after seeing the car’s front. From the C-pillar back, it looks a lot like a Volkswagen Passat.

img848686550 1452531871797 jpg 2017 Volvo S90 | photo by Angela Conners

Volvo showed the high-end Inscription trim at the 2016 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, and the cabin is finished in the same high-quality materials that we’ve seen in the Volvo XC90 SUV. It also incorporates unique controls like a console switch to start the car.

img845915987 1452531837755 jpg 2017 Volvo S90 | photo by Angela Conners

As with the XC90, there’s a massive touch-screen that serves as the main interface for the navigation and multimedia systems, among others. It’s good to see that Volvo retained a physical volume knob rather than incorporating this function within a screen menu.

img849610071 1452531886948 jpg 2017 Volvo S90 | photo by Angela Conners

Visibility isn’t compromised that much by the S90’s high beltline and short side windows, and the sleek exterior lines don’t hurt backseat space as much as you might think. There’s good room for adult passengers, but the seat cushion was just a tad low to the floor.

Volvo has been somewhere between mainstream brands and top-tier luxury brands for a while now, but that could change if future models are as luxurious as the S90. Perception may take time to catch up, but Volvo is becoming a true luxury brand.

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Mike Hanley has more than 20 years of experience reporting on the auto industry. His primary focus is new vehicles, and he's currently a Senior Road Test Editor overseeing expert car reviews and comparison tests. He previously managed Editorial content in the Research section. Email Mike Hanley

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