2021 Volvo S90 Recharge stands out among luxury plug-in hybrids Featured

Posted On Thursday, 14 October 2021 20:00 Written by
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The 2021 Volvo S90 recharge is a strong plug-in hybrid option. The 2021 Volvo S90 recharge is a strong plug-in hybrid option. Photo courtesy of Volvo

Luxury automakers have embraced the plug-in hybrid at various levels, but one of the automakers going in full steam in this category is Volvo, which already offers a plethora of plug-in hybrids to the public and is eagerly moving toward an all-Electric Vehicle future.

One of the plug-in hybrids that is currently available from Volvo is the S90 Recharge, a large sedan that is pricey, yet fills the needs of any demanding luxury car customer. It embraces the future while maintaining the cushy and comfortable environment these buyers expect. I recently spent some time in an S90 Recharge, and I’m back with a full report.


There are different ways to approach luxury design. Some automakers are more flashy, but others take a more nuanced approach.

Volvo falls in the second category. Unlike the massive, dominating grille on new Lexus models, for example, the Volvo has a classy and minimalist design on the front end of the S90. You still sense luxury, but it’s not slapping you in the face.

The S90 is a long, beautiful vehicle, featuring 19-inch alloy wheels with all-season tires, a laminated panoramic moonroof with power sunshade, and metallic paint options. The power-operated sunshades in the back window and rear windows are controllable by buttons in the rear of the vehicle, which is a nice touch.

The S90 Recharge has a minimalist but upscale interior setup. It is very roomy inside — seating five adults with room to spare — and among the most comfortable and well-designed luxury sedans out there, period. High-quality materials are used throughout the vehicle, as they should be in a vehicle in this price range.

Among the upscale features are bright chrome bars in the front grille, chrome window trim, Nappa Leather upholstery, ventilated front seats, interior high level illumination, Harman Kardon premium sound, 2-zone automatic climate control and CleanZone, and wood deco Inlay.

An optional Climate Package features: Heated windshield wiper blades, heated rear seats and heated steering wheel. Another optional package features a hands-free power operated trunk lid, Graphical Head-up Display and 360-degree Surround View Camera. The massaging front seats are also quite impressive, but more on that later.


The 2021 Volvo S90 Recharge features a 2.0-liter supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder engine with an electric motor and an 11.6 kWh high-voltage battery. The system is paired with an 8-speed Geartronic automatic transmission, and the S90 features start/stop technology to boost fuel economy.

Overall, the system puts out a combined 400 horsepower (313 HP is direct injected, with the remaining 87 HP from electric motor) and 472 lb.-ft. of torque (295/177 split). All-wheel drive is standard.

The S90 Recharge offers a variety of drive mode settings, including: Power (for a sporty ride), Hybrid (for everyday use), and Pure (for the most eco-friendly drive). It features an anti-lock braking system with hill start assist, advanced electronic stability control, and electric power assisted steering.

The experience driving the S90 Recharge is very quiet inside, and very little outside noise penetrates the vehicle. Performance is impressive, including a solid 0-to-60 time that’s under 5 seconds. Braking is responsive, and you always feel in control of the vehicle, which reacts immediately to driver input.

Compared to other luxury plug-ins from competitors like Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, the overall experience behind the wheel in the S90 Recharge was very competitive. It’s an extremely smooth and fast ride; one you’ll look forward to every time. And as a bonus, during my time in the vehicle, it also handled very well in rainy conditions. I always felt safe in all weather conditions.

Optional features include an adaptive air suspension, and a jump up to 20-inch alloy wheels.


Diving into the S90 Recharge’s technology, let’s start with the Sensus Connect Infotainment system, which does an impressive job overall. Voice commands are almost always recognized on the first attempt, and my only real complaint is that the touchscreen controls are a bit convoluted at times and could be simplified.

The 9-inch center touchscreen features direct smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Sensus Navigation Pro was easy to use and got me to my destinations effectively and smoothly. 

Other tech features included Volvo On Call, wth its four-year subscription including a mobile app with remote start and Send to Car directions. A WiFi hotspot in the vehicle is offered, and there is Bluetooth for audio and phone call streaming through the vehicle.

A Harman Kardon premium sound system comes standard, but you can upgrade to a Bowers and Wilkins Premium sound system for an extra $3,200 and get an even crisper sound delivery.

As far as music options, you can enjoy SiriusXM satellite radio, terrestrial radio, or stream music through your devices. A total of four USB ports are included.

Comfort tech is a big feature in some of these new luxury vehicles, and that’s why I’ll be highlighting one particular option in the S90 Recharge — massaging front seats. Everybody loves a massage, but this feature offered in various luxury rides is not always the smoothest. Volvo, however, nailed it on the S90.

The driver and passenger have a variety of options for the style and speed of a massage, and the comfort it provides will make you want to go for a ride even if you don’t have anywhere to go, just to enjoy the relaxation these seats can provide. I highly recommend including them in your S90 Recharge.

Now we move on to an area where Volvo has always excelled: Safety.

There are a ton of innovative safety features on the S90, carrying on a long Volvo tradition.

Highlights include:

  • LED headlights
  • Blind Spot Information System, with Steer Assist
  • Cross Traffic Alert with Autobrake
  • Pilot Assist Driver Assistance System with Adaptive Cruise Control
  • Collision Avoidance by City Safety: Low and High Speed Collision Mitigation that detects Vehicles/Pedestrians/Cyclists/Large Animals (something not all competitors can claim)
  • Lane Departure Warning / Lane Keeping Aid 
  • Oncoming Mitigation by Braking 
  • Front, Side & Curtain Airbags with Drive Side Knee Airbag 
  • Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS) in front seats  
  • Power child lock on rear doors  


There are several measures by which you can measure the S90 Recharge’s fuel economy. It offers officially 30 MPG when using gas only (I averaged 26.3), and 60 MPGe combined gas/electric output.

Compared with plug-in rivals including the BMW 530e and Audi A7 quattro, the MPGe lags slightly behind its rivals, but the difference is not extreme enough to be a deciding factor.

In terms of electric only range, you can go up to 22 miles using only electric power in the S90 Recharge. Charge times are 15 hours at 220V (standard plug), or 3  hours at 110V. Based on these numbers, it’s obviously worth investing in a 220V charging outlet in your home or garage if you’re going to get an EV or plug-in hybrid. 


When you reach the luxury level of vehicles, costs are going to be high, even more so for plug-in hybrid models. The S90 Recharge I tested was just over $70,000; Base price starts about $60K for the Recharge model, and it’s going to cost at least $52K for a regular 2021 Volvo S90. These costs are on part with the few rivals it has in the plug-in hybrid luxury sedan class.  

The S90’s warranty is pretty strong, offering a 48-month/50K mile limited warranty; 144-month corrosion protection, and Volvo on-call roadside assistance. You also get complimentary factory scheduled maintenance for the first 3 years / 36,000 miles. 


For those who can afford its high price tag, the 2021 Volvo S90 Recharge is a classy, comfortable, well-designed, tech-savvy, fuel-efficient plug-in hybrid that will not disappoint those who decide to take it home, and holds up very well vs. its luxury competition.


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Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu

Additional Info

  • Vehicle: 2021 Volvo S90 Recharge
  • Price as tested: $70,640 (starts at $60K)  
  • Best feature: Classy design, safety leader, green credentials
  • Rating: 4.5 out of five stars     
  • Who will want this vehicle?: Luxury buyers seeking a classy, powerful, eco-friendly vehicle
Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

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