While SUVs and crossovers continue to dominate the automotive market, there is still plenty of demand for great-looking executive sedans, with most car manufacturers and especially higher-end luxury brands continuing to offer many great choices.
Volvo is among those brands, and in particular, the Volvo S60 and Volvo S90 stand out as luxury sedans that double up as family cars, but how do they differ except in name? We look more closely below.
The Volvo S90 is a full-size luxury sedan, whereas the Volvo S60 is a smaller mid-size luxury sedan. As a result, the Volvo S90 is a more practical vehicle, with more cargo space and more room for rear-seat passengers. It also has a bigger base engine, although both S60 and S90 PHEV versions share the same engine.
Both Volvo cars come either as a mild-hybrid (regenerative braking) or plug-in hybrid. For the S60, the mild hybrid starts at $39,250 MSRP, and the PHEV “Volvo S60 recharge” at $47,650. For the S90, the mild hybrid starts at $51,850, and the PHEV “Volvo S90 Recharge” at $60,050.
When looking at these models, it’s easy to see the S90 as simply an enlarged version of the S60. It’s certainly larger: almost 13 inches longer at 200.1 inches, and a 7-inch longer wheelbase at 120.5 inches.
However, in width and height, the two models are very similar. The longer dimensions do help to make the interior of the S90 more spacious, especially for rear-seat passengers who enjoy 40.4 inches of legroom compared to just 35.2 inches in the S60.
When looking at their profile, lines, overall chassis design and front/rear light design, there are clear similarities. The front grille on the S90 is larger, and the intake design more subtle, with a metal-finish trim on the bumper. The S60 also has a sportier rear end with dual exhaust tips.
The interiors of both Volvo models are packed with upscale materials, high-end finishes, and a Scandanavian aesthetic that stands out from other cabins. Both models include premium features like the crystal gear shifter, Nappa leather seating, wood inlays, and metallic finishes to create timeless charm, and digital wizardry in the cockpit and infotainment system.
The S60 and S90 both use Volvo’s signature 2.0L 4-cylinder engine. The S60 mild hybrid uses the B5 powertrain mixed with a 48-volt hybrid system, offering both FWD and AWD, outputting up to 260 horsepower combined. The T8 PHEV powertrain in the S60 recharge offers up to 400 horsepower.
The Volvo S90 mild hybrid uses the B6 powertrain and the same 48-volt hybrid system. The horsepower output is 308 horsepower combined, but again up to 400-hp combined on the T8 PHEV version. While the PHEV offers improved performance, its EV-only mode does lack some oomph compared to PHEVs from some other car manufacturers.
On the road, the S60 is confident around corners, with responsive steering and plenty of grip. However, there’s no question that the base model with its 2.0-liter inline-4 engine lacks the punch of some similar sedan rivals from the likes of BMW, for instance.
The Volvo S90, despite its extra weight, is similarly capable on corners and intricate roads, but isn’t the most comfortable or quiet ride unless you opt for the Four-C Adaptive Air Suspension package for an additional $1,200.
Overall the handling is slightly better on the S60, but the more powerful S90 offers more impressive acceleration and a superior highway experience. That is unless, of course, you opt for the plug-in hybrid version of the S60/S90, which both share the same 400 horsepower T8 engine.
Practicality and Comfort
First, let’s look at maximum cargo capacity. The S60 offers 11.6 cubic feet in its trunk, which is below what you’d likely expect for a sedan in the luxury category. The S90 offers marginally more at 13.5 cubic feet, but the fact is that neither can rival any SUV or even hatchbacks for their trunk space. It’s normal for sedans to lag behind to an extent, but when shopping at the higher end, buyers expect more. Of course, you might want to consider the Volvo V60 and V90 Cross Country station wagons if you need more practicality and more off-roading capability.
As already mentioned, the S90 does provide passengers in the rear seats with around 5 more inches of legroom. However, room in the front seats are very similar between the two models, so those who rarely carry more than 2 passengers will not see much benefit in going for the bigger sedan.
If buying the mild hybrid version, the S60 gets 26-mpg in the city, 35-mpg on the highway, and a combined rating of 30-mpg.
The S90 gets 23-mpg in the city, 31-mpg on the highway, and a combined rating of 26-mpg. As one might expect, the smaller S60 is more fuel-efficient. Since the fuel tank capacity is the same at 15.9 gallons, that’s a good advantage for the S60 overall.
Electric Driving Range and Charge Times (Plug-In Hybrid Versions Only)
Let’s also compare the electric elements for the plug in hybrid versions of these two Volvo sedans. In terms of electric-only range, the S60 recharge gets up to 22 miles, which is more than Volvo PHEV SUVs, but not by much. The S90 enjoys the same 22 miles of electric-only range. If you’re driving in the city on short-distance errands, this electric range offers a nice boost and saves on gas consumption when driving at low speeds.
As for charging, the 10.4kWh battery in the S60 and S90 Recharge can be charged by your home level 2 wallbox in about 3-4 hours. The maximum charge permitted by the on-board charger is 3.7kW, so that’s the fastest it can go. If you use a level 1 charger, it can typically be charged overnight (from 6-8 hours) on a trickle charge. DC fast charging is not an option.
Technology & Features
In 2021-2022 Volvo has been turning away from their old infotainment system and replacing it with new features from Google. The S60 and S90 are therefore well connected with a new Google-powered infotainment system that is intuitive and easy to use. The on-screen buttons can be a little fiddly while driving for some, but most agree that it’s a big step forward.
A digital instrument cluster and a large vertically oriented touchscreen in the center stack are present in both models. There are several packages buyers can get to bring heated seats, a heated steering wheel, headlight cleaners, a driver HUD, and an advanced air cleaner that removes up to 95 percent of all harmful PM 2.5 particles. Fans of good sound will also appreciate the optional Bowers & Wilkins Premium sound system.
There’s not much difference between the S60 and S90 models in this regard. Volvo is quite consistent when it comes to features, as they are with safety equipment (see below).
The standard safety package on the S60 and S90 models, including the Recharge models, offers blind spot monitoring, lane-departure warning, forward collision warning and automatic braking, rear cross-traffic alert, and a 360-degree parking camera. The automatic parking pilot system is available in a separate package.
Volvo’s biggest competitors in the luxury sedan segment are unsurprisingly from German “Big Three”—Audi, BMW and Mercedes.
The S60 is often compared against the BMW 3 and 4 series as well as the Audi A4 and A5. The bigger S90 is more comparable to the BMW 5 series and Mercedes E-class.
Of course, the two Volvo cars are also slowly losing out to Volvo’s very own XC60 and XC90, which are essentially the Volvo SUV equivalents of the sedans.
Volvo S60 vs S90: Verdict
The Volvo S60 and Volvo S90, along with their Recharge PHEV models, both have a lot to offer to drivers and passengers alike. The S60 offers the more engaging drive, but lacks some of the overall power you get from the S90. On the other hand, the S90 is more sluggish on tight corners and is more suited to plain, straight roads.
The S90 offers more space and more legroom in the rear, but reduced fuel efficiency. When it comes to the PHEV offering, both offer the same electric range. It’s not the most competitive EV mode range, but suits commutes, school runs, and short-distance drives where you can charge up at the other end.
Those in the mood for a more resplendent, luxurious, and calm drive should opt for the Volvo S90, whereas those who want more of a “driver’s” sedan should go for the Volvo S60.
|2022 Volvo S60||2022 Volvo S90|
|Engine||2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas||2.0L Turbo Inline-4 Gas|
|Horsepower||247 hp @ 5400 rpm||295 hp @ 5400 rpm|
|Torque||258 lb-ft @ 1800 rpm||310 lb-ft @ 2100 rpm|
|Transmission||8-Speed Automatic||8-Speed Automatic|
|Drivetrain||Front-Wheel Drive||All-Wheel Drive|
|Rear Wheel Size||P235/45HR18||P245/45VR18|
|Front Suspension||Double Wishbone||Double Wishbone|
|Front Wheel Size||P235/45HR18||P245/45VR18|
|Turning Diameter (ft.)||37.1||38.7|
|MPG/MPGe - Hwy||35||31|
|MPG/MPGe - City||26||23|
|MPG/MPGe - Combined||30||26|
|Gas Tank Size (gallons)||15.9||15.9|
|Cruising Range - Hwy (miles)||556.5||492.9|
|Size and Weight|
|Max Width (in.)||72.8||74.6|
|Trunk Volume (cu. ft.)||11.6||13.5|
|Front Seat Leg Room (in.)||42.3||42.2|
|Front Seat Head Room (in.)||37.4||37.8|
|Front Seat Hip Room (in.)||55.3||56.4|
|Front Seat Shoulder Room (in.)||56.1||57.5|
|Rear Seat Leg room (in.)||35.2||40.4|
|Rear Seat Head Room (in.)||37.2||37.8|
|Rear Seat Hip Room (in.)||53.4||54.9|
|Rear Seat Shoulder Room (in.)||54.5||55.4|
|Entertainment System||Not Available||Not Available|
|Premium Sound System||Optional||Standard|
|Auxiliary Audio Input||Standard||Standard|
|Smart Device Integration||Standard||Standard|
|Hard Disk Drive Media Storage||Not Available||Standard|
|Premium Synthetic Seats||Standard||Standard|
|Leather Steering Wheel||Not Available||Standard|
|Woodgrain Interior Trim||Not Available||Standard|
|Rear A/C||Not Available||Not Available|
|Seat-Massage||Not Available||Not Available|
|Power Liftgate||Not Available||Not Available|
|Automatic Parking||Not Available||Not Available|
|Power Driver Seat||Standard||Standard|
|Cooled Rear Seat(s)||Not Available||Not Available|
|Hands-Free Liftgate||Not Available||Optional|
|Heated Rear Seat(s)||Not Available||Optional|
|Remote Engine Start||Standard||Standard|
|Cooled Front Seat(s)||Not Available||Not Available|
|Heated Front Seat(s)||Optional||Standard|
|Power Passenger Seat||Standard||Standard|
|Remote Trunk Release||Not Available||Optional|
|Heated Steering Wheel||Optional||Optional|
|Adaptive Cruise Control||Optional||Standard|
|Navigation from Telematics||Not Available||Not Available|
|Universal Garage Door Opener||Optional||Standard|
|Steering Wheel Audio Controls||Standard||Standard|
|Night Vision||Not Available||Not Available|
|Rear Parking Aid||Standard||Standard|
|Blind Spot Monitor||Standard||Standard|
|Cross-Traffic Alert||Not Available||Not Available|
|Lane Keeping Assist||Standard||Standard|
|Tire Pressure Monitor||Standard||Standard|
|Lane Departure Warning||Standard||Standard|
|Knee Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Driver Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Seatbelt Air Bag||Not Available||Not Available|
|Passenger Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Rear Head Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Rear Side Air Bag||Not Available||Not Available|
|Front Head Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Front Side Air Bag||Standard||Standard|
|Basic||4 Years / 50,000 Miles||4 Years / 50,000 Miles|
|Corrosion||12 Years / Unlimited Miles||12 Years / Unlimited Miles|
|Drivetrain||4 Years / 50,000 Miles||4 Years / 50,000 Miles|
|Maintenance||3 Years / 36,000 Miles||3 Years / 36,000 Miles|
|Roadside Assistance||4 Years / Unlimited Miles||4 Years / Unlimited Miles|