2019 Mercedes S-Class vs. 2019 Volvo S90

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The rear seatbelts optional on the S-Class inflate when a collision is detected, helping to spread crash forces over a much larger area of the body and limiting head and neck movement. This can help prevent spinal and internal injuries. The S90 doesn’t offer inflatable seatbelts.

An active infrared night vision system optional on the S-Class helps the driver to more easily detect people, animals or other objects in front of the vehicle at night. Using an infrared camera and near-infrared lights to detect heat, the system then displays the image on a monitor in the dashboard. The S90 doesn’t offer a night vision system.

Both the S-Class and the S90 have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front and rear side-impact airbags, driver knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front and rear seatbelt pretensioners, height adjustable front shoulder belts, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, blind spot warning systems, rearview cameras, driver alert monitors, available all wheel drive, around view monitors and rear cross-path warning.

Warranty

There are over 28 percent more Mercedes dealers than there are Volvo dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the S-Class’ warranty.

Reliability

A reliable vehicle saves its owner time, money and trouble. Nobody wants to be stranded or have to be without a vehicle while it’s being repaired. Consumer Reports rates the S-Class’ reliability 33 points higher than the S90.

J.D. Power and Associates rated the S-Class third among large premium cars in their 2018 Initial Quality Study. The S90 isn’t in the top three in its category.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that Mercedes vehicles are better in initial quality than Volvo vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 14th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 30 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 Mercedes vehicles are more reliable than Volvo vehicles. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 15th in reliability. With 15 more problems per 100 vehicles, Volvo is ranked 22nd.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ December 2018 Auto Issue reports that Mercedes vehicles are more reliable than Volvo vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks Mercedes 12 places higher in reliability than Volvo.

Engine

The S-Class has more powerful engines than the S90:

 

Horsepower

Torque

S 450 3.0 turbo V6

362 HP

369 lbs.-ft.

S 560 4.0 turbo V8

463 HP

516 lbs.-ft.

AMG S 63 4.0 turbo V8

603 HP

664 lbs.-ft.

AMG S 65/Maybach S 650 6.0 turbo V12

621 HP

738 lbs.-ft.

S90 T5 2.0 turbo 4 cyl.

250 HP

258 lbs.-ft.

S90 T6 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl.

316 HP

295 lbs.-ft.

S90 T8 2.0 DOHC 4 cyl. hybrid

400 HP

472 lbs.-ft.

As tested in Consumer Reports the S 560 is faster than the S90 T6:

 

S-Class

S90

Zero to 30 MPH

2.3 sec

2.9 sec

Zero to 60 MPH

5.1 sec

7.2 sec

45 to 65 MPH Passing

3.5 sec

4.7 sec

Quarter Mile

13.5 sec

15.4 sec

Speed in 1/4 Mile

109.4 MPH

98 MPH

Fuel Economy and Range

An engine control system that can shut down half of the engine’s cylinders helps improve the S-Class 560/63’s fuel efficiency. The S90 doesn’t offer a system that can shut down part of the engine.

The S-Class’ standard fuel tank has 7.9 gallons more fuel capacity than the S90 T8 Plug-In Hybrid’s standard fuel tank (21.1 vs. 13.2 gallons), for longer range between fill-ups. The S-Class’ standard fuel tank has 6.6 gallons more fuel capacity than the S90 T5’s standard fuel tank (21.1 vs. 14.5 gallons). The S-Class V12’s standard fuel tank has 8.7 gallons more fuel capacity than the S90 T6’s standard fuel tank (24.6 vs. 15.9 gallons).

Transmission

A nine-speed automatic is available on the Mercedes S-Class, for better acceleration and lower engine speed on the highway. Only an eight-speed automatic is available for the S90.

The S-Class 63/65’s launch control uses engine electronics to hold engine RPM’s precisely in order to provide the most stable and rapid acceleration possible, using all of the available traction. The S90 doesn’t offer launch control.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the S-Class’ brake rotors are larger than those on the S90:

 

S 450/560

S 63/65

S90 T5

S90 T6/T8

Front Rotors

14.6 inches

16.5 inches

12.7 inches

13.6 inches

Rear Rotors

14.2 inches

14.2 inches

11.9 inches

12.6 inches

The S-Class S 63/65 offers optional heat-treated ceramic brake rotors, which last ten to twenty times as long as conventional cast iron rotors, don’t rust, don’t fade during repeated high speed braking, and their lighter weight contribute to better braking, handling and acceleration. The S90 doesn’t offer ceramic brake rotors.

The S-Class stops shorter than the S90:

 

S-Class

S90

 

60 to 0 MPH

128 feet

130 feet

Consumer Reports

60 to 0 MPH (Wet)

138 feet

142 feet

Consumer Reports

Tires and Wheels

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires available on the S-Class can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The S90 doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

The front and rear suspension of the S-Class uses air springs for a smoother, controlled ride than the S90, which uses coil springs in front and transverse leafs springs in the rear. Air springs maintain proper ride height and ride more smoothly.

The S-Class offers an available adjustable active suspension system, which counteracts cornering forces actively, limiting body roll and improving handling and stability. Volvo doesn’t offer an active suspension on the S90.

The S-Class has a standard automatic front and rear load leveling suspension to keep ride height level with a heavy load or when towing. The S90 doesn’t offer a load leveling suspension.

The S-Class’ drift compensation steering can automatically compensate for road conditions which would cause the vehicle to drift from side to side, helping the driver to keep the vehicle straight more easily. The S90 doesn’t offer drift compensation steering.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the S-Class’ wheelbase is 4.1 inches longer than on the S90 (124.6 inches vs. 120.5 inches). The Maybach S-Class’ wheelbase is 12 inches longer than on the S90 (132.5 inches vs. 120.5 inches).

The S 600 handles at .90 G’s, while the S90 T6 Inscription pulls only .88 G’s of cornering force in a Motor Trend skidpad test.

The S 600 executes Motor Trend’s “Figure Eight” maneuver quicker than the S90 T6 Inscription (25.8 seconds @ .75 average G’s vs. 26.3 seconds @ .68 average G’s).

For better maneuverability, the S AMG S 65’s turning circle is .6 feet tighter than the S90 18” wheels’ (38.1 feet vs. 38.7 feet).

Passenger Space

Because it has more passenger and cargo room, the EPA rates the S-Class a Large car, while the S90 is rated a Mid-size.

The S-Class has 10 cubic feet more passenger volume than the S90 (112 vs. 102).

The S-Class has 1.9 inches more front headroom, 2.2 inches more front shoulder room and 3.7 inches more rear shoulder room than the S90.

For enhanced passenger comfort on long trips the S-Class’ available rear seats recline. The S90’s rear seats don’t recline.

Cargo Capacity

The S-Class has a much larger trunk than the S90 (16.3 vs. 13.5 cubic feet).

Servicing Ease

The engine in the S-Class is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the S90. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.

An ASSYST PLUS is standard on the S-Class to save the owner time and money by calculating maintenance intervals based on odometer mileage. This takes the guesswork out of keeping your vehicle in top condition and helps it last longer. Volvo doesn’t offer a maintenance reminder on the S90.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that Mercedes service is better than Volvo. J.D. Power ranks Mercedes 6th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 26% lower rating, Volvo is ranked 14th.

Ergonomics

The S-Class’ standard easy entry system raises the steering wheel and glides the driver’s seat back, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The S90 doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

Heated windshield washer fluid is standard on the S-Class to defrost the washer nozzles and quickly clear ice and frost from the windshield without scraping. The S90 doesn’t offer heated windshield washer fluid. Its standard heated washer nozzles will defrost the washer fluid but not the windshield.

To better shield the driver and front passenger’s vision, the S-Class has standard dual-element sun visors that can block glare from two directions simultaneously. The S90 doesn’t offer secondary sun visors.

Model Availability

The Mercedes S-Class comes in coupe, convertible and sedan bodystyles; the Volvo S90 isn’t available as a coupe or convertible.

Recommendations

Consumer Reports® recommends the Mercedes S-Class, based on reliability, safety and performance. The Volvo S90 isn't recommended.

The Mercedes S-Class outsold the Volvo 90 Series by 33% during the 2018 model year.

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

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