The Volvo S90 is a sedan package offered under the Volvo 960 Series, which are executive cars produced from 1990 to 1998. However, the S90 model was only in the market for two model years, 1997 and 1998, and received only a few upgrades throughout its production years. Despite its discontinuation, however, the Volvo S90 continues to be a good option for second-hand shoppers looking for an affordable, easy-to-drive, and easy-to-maintain Volvo vehicle.
1990-1994: The Volvo 960 enters the market
The history of the Volvo S90 can be traced back to the introduction of the Volvo 960, a replacement for the Volvo 760. It was the first vehicle to showcase Britain-based designer Peter Horbury's creations. Basically an evolutionary progression of the 1990 760 model, the S90 shared several similarities with its predecessor. The most obvious difference was the new 24-valve DOHC inline six-cylinder engine that's made of aluminum. This engine is widely known as the "white block" because of its bare aluminum color.
Over its first four years, the 960 received several upgrades. The list included redesigned seats and restyled seat belts that came with hydraulic pretensioners in 1992, a more ergonomic shifter in 1993, and dual airbags for the front seats in 1994. Also in 1994, a sliding sunshade replaced the opaque sunroof, and the 3L six-cylinder US models were re-tuned to increase torque but reduce power. This change in the engine was in accordance to stricter US emissions laws.
A special edition, the 960 Executive, was also released. This special version was the result of collaborative efforts between Volvo and Nilsson, a coachbuilder based in Sweden. The Executive was equipped with a sealed c-pillar window for more privacy for rear passengers, b-pillar inserts, and longer rear doors.
1994-1998: From 960 to S90
The 960 received another facelift in 1994 that included panels with colors that matched the exterior body and a new grille. The engine line-up was also expanded to include a smaller 2.5L six-cylinder engine. For vehicles released as 1995 models, the front suspension was restyled to make it more similar to that of the Volvo 850, while the rear suspension was equipped with a new multi-link independent system.
In 1996, the 960 sedan was renamed as the S90. This new name was implemented in several European markets and in the North American market in late 1996. Aside from renaming the vehcle, all units sold in the US were also equipped with an Aisin AW-series automatic transmission. In 1998, Volvo discontinued the S90.
Throughout its short history, the Volvo S90 proved to be one of the brand's more reliable and durable models. As a matter of fact, after its production was ended, some 900 series models were re-used as chassis for ambulances because of their size and design.