2019 BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon vs. 2019 Volvo V90

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

To provide maximum traction and stability on all roads, All-Wheel Drive is standard on the 3 Series Sports Wagon. But it costs extra on the V90.

Both the 3 Series Sports Wagon and the V90 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, rear cross-path warning, available blind spot warning systems and around view monitors.

Warranty

There are over 15 percent more BMW dealers than there are Volvo dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the 3 Series Sports Wagon’s warranty.

Reliability

To reliably start during all conditions and help handle large electrical loads, the 3 Series Sports Wagon has a standard 900-amp battery. The V90’s 800-amp battery isn’t as powerful.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Volvo vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 11th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 35 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volvo is ranked 29th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Volvo vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 35 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volvo is ranked 22nd.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ April 2018 Auto Issue reports that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Volvo vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks BMW 18 places higher in reliability than Volvo.

Fuel Economy and Range

The 3 Series Sports Wagon has 1.3 gallons more fuel capacity than the V90 FWD’s standard fuel tank (15.8 vs. 14.5 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the 3 Series Sports Wagon’s standard front brake rotors are larger than those on the V90:

 

3 Series

V90

Front Rotors

13 inches

12.7 inches

The 3 Series Sports Wagon stops shorter than the V90:

 

3 Series

V90

 

60 to 0 MPH

106 feet

110 feet

Motor Trend

Tires and Wheels

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires available on the 3 Series Sports Wagon can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The V90 doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The 3 Series Sports Wagon has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The V90’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

The front and rear suspension of the 3 Series Sports Wagon uses coil springs for better ride, handling and control than the V90, which uses transverse leafs springs in the rear. Coil springs compress more progressively and offer more suspension travel for a smoother ride with less bottoming out.

The 3 Series Sports Wagon’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (49.1% to 50.9%) than the V90’s (53.7% to 46.3%). This gives the 3 Series Sports Wagon more stable handling and braking.

The 3 Series Sports Wagon handles at .89 G’s, while the V90 T6 AWD Inscription pulls only .88 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

Chassis

The 3 Series Sports Wagon is 11.5 inches shorter than the V90, making the 3 Series Sports Wagon easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

Passenger Space

The 3 Series Sports Wagon has 2.6 inches more front headroom and .6 inches more rear headroom than the V90.

Cargo Capacity

The 3 Series Sports Wagon has a much larger cargo area with its rear seat up than the V90 with its rear seat up (27.5 vs. 25.5 cubic feet). The 3 Series Sports Wagon has a much larger trunk with its rear seat folded than the V90 with its rear seat folded (61.5 vs. 53.9 cubic feet).

The 3 Series Sports Wagon’s rear cargo window opens separately from the rest of the liftgate door to allow quicker loading of small packages. The V90’s rear cargo window doesn’t open.

Servicing Ease

The engine in the 3 Series Sports Wagon is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the V90. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that BMW service is better than Volvo. J.D. Power ranks BMW 8th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 15% lower rating, Volvo is ranked 14th.

Model Availability

The BMW 3 Series comes in sedan, four door hatchback and station wagon bodystyles; the Volvo V90 isn’t available as a sedan or four door hatchback.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the 3 Series Sports Wagon owner. The Complete Car Cost Guide estimates that insurance for the 3 Series Sports Wagon will cost $535 to $3620 less than the V90 over a five-year period.

The 3 Series Sports Wagon will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the 3 Series Sports Wagon will retain 54.53% to 55.45% of its original price after five years, while the V90 only retains 38.69% to 39.61%.

IntelliChoice estimates that five-year ownership costs (depreciation, financing, insurance, fuel, fees, repairs and maintenance) for the BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon will be $13747 to $22152 less than for the Volvo V90.

Recommendations

The BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

 

3 Series

V90

Consumer Reports® Recommends

TRUE

n/a

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

n/a

The 3 Series was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 20 of the last 24 years. The V90 has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

The BMW 3 Series outsold the Volvo 90 Series by over five to one during 2017.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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