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Tested: The 2020 Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design Reminds You Why Wagons Rule

LOS ANGELES–The station wagon is a complete outlier in today’s automotive space, which may help to explain why driving one feels like a unique experience at every chance behind the wheel. Indeed, a Volvo V90 station wagon humming along on American roads is an unusual sight among the boring mob of SUVs and crossovers. In Los Angeles, where unruly drivers run amok, you can easily forget about the calmness found on the backroads located within just a couple of miles outside of the mayhem. In a crowded room full of regulars, the V90 encourages you to run for the hills, where you can retreat to nature for a dose of tranquility, making the 2020 Volvo V90 T6 R Design a car that deserves more credit than it usually receives.

2020 Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design: The Charming Blue Wagon

Parked handsomely outside of a coffee shop, the lengthy 2020 Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design in Bursting Blue metallic fit superbly in the frame of a large glass window.

“That is a wild color,” said the surfer guy standing behind me, who was also in line for a cup of ambition. He wanted to know how the V90 performed on its 20-inch R-Design wheels, and I told him it drove like a champ, thanks in part to the wagon’s premium rear air suspension. We talked about his glossy silver Volkswagen GTI parked next to the curb, and he shared that he had driven classic VW Busses for many years before making the switch to a dual-clutch transmission. I recommended he learn more about the pros (and cons) of modern technology, and off I went to Palos Verdes Estates, a place the 2020 Volvo V90 T6 R Design could spread its wings.

Another interesting conversation ensued when a Palos Verdes resident walking his dog stopped to ask how I enjoyed my ownership of the V90 wagon. I smiled and explained to him this was an Automobile drive. He mentioned the Porsches, BMWs, and Audis he used to drive, and disclosed he traded his Tesla Model X for a Volvo XC90 R-Design. He had, he said, spent most of his life condemning Volvo cars for being what he described as bland. The reason he surrendered the Model X for an XC90: He thought it was a safer car in which to transport his family, while acknowledging he never imagined he and his wife would one day each own a Volvo. Though he praised the Swedish marque, he also had criticisms of Volvo, including the company’s long-standing, apparently outdated badge, and the lack of variety it offers in terms of colors and wheel options.

Fair enough. Meanwhile, the all-wheel-drive V90 we tested dressed in the R-Design package costs $58,445, destination and handling included. Among the added equipment on our test vehicle were the Advanced Package ($2,450), R-Design leather seats ($750), carbon-fiber inlays ($800), and Park Assist Pilot ($200).

2020 Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design: Conquering the Obstacles

A supercharged and turbocharged engine sending power to all four wheels of a 4,000-plus pound wagon provided excellent traction on the coastline-hugging road to Palos Verdes. The front double-wishbone suspension and multi-link in the rear translate into a heavyweight champ that can endure every jab from an opponent and remain on his feet. By today’s standards, 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque aren’t what they used to be, but it was more than adequate for short sprints on the backroads of Rolling Hills Estates. The Spotify playlist streaming on the Bowers & Wilkins audio system brought everything together, a feature more than appropriate for an up-level station wagon.

On this secluded road with speed humps, I decided to test the 2020 Volvo V90 T6 R Design’s suspension at speeds of up to 35 mph, and I prepared myself for jolts and possibly even violent shaking. To my surprise, the V90 consumed the humps immaculately, and choppy pavement was even less of a threat; you can appropriately compare the V90’s response to road obstacles to a whale’s carefree swallowing of small fish. I toggled between Comfort and Dynamic driving modes, and found I preferred the sportier Dynamic setup. No matter how good or bad of shape the roads were in, the V90 supplied a continuum of smooth ride quality, and the cabin’s quietness was agreeable.

Concerning the size of this station wagon when making a U-turn on smaller roads, its turning radius was excellent and usable. I drove into a road leading to a horse stable and suddenly envisioned having to make a multi-point turn to extract myself, but the wagon swung its way out of there in a heartbeat without breaking a sweat. It’s certainly a capability people will appreciate in city driving.

2020 Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design: Discovering a Hidden Gem

The highlight of the drive came on Paseo del Mar between Lunada Bay and Palos Verdes Estates Shoreline Preserve. This region of Los Angeles County is unlike any other; it’s simply breathtaking. If I ever inherit a large sum from an unknown relative, I’ll claim some prime real estate in the neighborhood. I paraded the majestic Volvo V90 and watched cyclists go past the radiant blue wagon. It was a picture-perfect scene, and it reminded me the area wasn’t the only thing special I had discovered.

2020 Volvo V90 T6 AWD R-Design Specifications
PRICE  $58,445/$69,540 (base/as tested)
ENGINE  2.0L supercharged and turbocharged DOHC 16-valve I-4/316 hp @ 5,700 rpm, 295 lb-ft @ 2,200-5,400 rpm
TRANSMISSION  8-speed automatic
LAYOUT  4-door, 5-passenger, front-engine, AWD wagon
EPA MILEAGE  22/31 mpg (city/hwy)
L x W x H  194.7 x 79.5 x 58.2 in
WHEELBASE  115.8 in
WEIGHT  4,180 lb
0-60 MPH  5.8 sec
TOP SPEED  130 mph

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