Home » The Volvo EX90 Excellence Is The Latest In A Long Line Of Underappreciated Volvo Swagger-Mobiles

The Volvo EX90 Excellence Is The Latest In A Long Line Of Underappreciated Volvo Swagger-Mobiles

Volvo Ex90 Excellence Topshot
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The Volvo EX90 Excellence is a strange beast on first glance. When Mercedes-Maybach takes a couple of seats out of a GLS, installs two plush thrones, and sells it as an executive vehicle, people don’t bat an eye. However, a Volvo badge isn’t nearly the same conspicuous signifier of wealth as a Maybach emblem, so you have to wonder who would buy an EX90 Excellence. Well, Volvo has some good proof that more than zero people would pop for it as the Swedish brand has offered executive models for decades. Let’s take a look at this posh electric crossover and see where it stands in the greater scheme of history.

First, a little bit about the regular Volvo EX90. This all-electric crossover is the flagship for the next generation of Volvos. With huge power, built-in LIDAR, sumptuous appointments, and a massive battery pack, it’s promising a lot for a starting price of around $80,000. It sounds like a great base for a chauffeured executive model, and that’s exactly what Volvo has planned.

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Volvo Ex90 Excellence Rear Seats

Instead of five rear seats for all the people in your life, the EX90 Excellence gets two individual thrones in back, making this EX90 exclusively a four-seater. Unusually, none of the seats are upholstered in leather – owners will have to choose between tailored wool and a sustainable recycled textile. Of course, the rear seats recline with proper footrests, and rear passengers get treated to neck pillows like in a top-shelf executive sedan. However, that’s only the start of things.

Volvo Ex90 Excellence

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In between the seats sits a fridge that Volvo claims can keep your fancy water of choice “ice-cold,” and two crystal glasses for when you don’t want to sip directly from a bottle. Capacitive-touch switches on the rear console let you cycle through five individual massage functions for the rear seats. However, the most insane switch on the rear console is a giant piece of Orrefors crystal used to control in-cabin scent. You can load in up to three fragrances you’d like to smell in your EX90 Excellence, then cycle through them at your choosing. You don’t see that in many SUVs.

Volvo Ex90 Excellence

On the outside, the EX90 Excellence gets 22-inch forged wheels, two-tone paint, and that’s it. No crazy chrome, no obnoxious branding, just a few bold yet restrained touches that let others know this Volvo is something special.

Volvo Ex90 Excellence

While an ultra-luxury Volvo designed to be driven around in sounds a bit strange, Volvo has a long and illustrious history of special executive models. Hell, some of them even made it to America where they’re rare sights today. Care to take a walk back through time?

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Volvo Xc90 Excellence

Let’s start with the most recent ultra-lux Volvo. The Swedish marque tried out the Excellence nameplate before with the XC90 Excellence, an ultra-luxurious XC90 for people who wanted something sumptuous yet low-key. Believe it or not, this thing made it to America, although I’d assume that most dealerships had no idea what to do with it.

Volvo Xc90 Excellence Interior

Like the EX90 Excellence, the XC90 Excellence was a four-seater with individual rear thrones, a fridge, and Orrefors crystal champagne flutes. It even had a partition between the rear seats and the cargo area to insulate noise, which meant it was the only XC90 to get an emergency escape handle on the inside of the liftgate. If you can find one of these up for sale as a certified pre-owned model, I recommend picking one up. Volvo USA has an insane optional extended warranty program on CPO cars that’s good for up to ten years and unlimited mileage.

13307 Volvo S80 Executive

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Go back to the 2000s, and you’ll discover the S80 Executive, a very rare artifact of the Volvo range. While some Volvo owners may have seen S80 limousines if they opted for European delivery in the 2000s, those were coachbuilt by an outside company. Volvo supplied Swedish firm Nilsson Special Vehicles with S80 sedans which were then cut and lengthened to create seriously long vehicles. In contrast, the S80 Executive was more of what we’ve seen in the EX90 Excellence and XC90 Excellence — a standard Volvo with a modified interior meant to be driven around in.

13311 Volvo S80 Executive

On the inside, the S80 Executive got yards of plush Swedish aniline leather on surfaces like the seats and door cards. Like the others, it also gained a fridge between the rear seats and crystal glasses, this time from Bertil Vallien. Curiously, the S80 Executive was a five-seater, but it also featured a sound system with an incredible mish-mash of names. The amplifier was built by Alpine but featured Bang & Olufsen signal processing, then Dolby surround sound was heaped on top of that before signal got pumped to Dynaudio speakers.

Volvo 960 Executive

In fact, Nilsson enjoyed a special relationship with Volvo dating back quite a while. The 960 Executive was a Volvo 960 stretched by Nilsson, but it could be bought through Volvo’s official sales channels. Here’s one that came up for auction on Cars & Bids earlier this year. Granted, you had to be someone pretty special to buy a 960 Executive, but you got a lot in return.

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Volvo 960 Executive Rear Seat

The 960 Executive wasn’t altered nearly as much as the S80 limousines, but it feels more in-keeping with the modern XC90 Excellence and EX90 Excellence. A blanked-out C-pillar made for a little bit more privacy than in a standard 960, while the rear bench adopted a suitably premium form factor with a mini console replacing the middle seat. Obviously, each place on the rear bench moved individually, and heating elements also came standard. Keep in mind, this was the 1990s, so don’t expect any crazy toys in the back. Just a little bit more space for dignitaries to stretch out.

Volvo 264 TE

Oh, but the lineage of Volvo limos doesn’t end there. In fact, we can go back even earlier with the Volvo 264 TE, a stretched PRV V6-powered 200-series built for political figures to be driven around in. These were outsourced to Bertone of all companies, which explains why the conversion looks surprisingly good. The greenhouse is cohesive, the D-pillars are free of excess bulk, and the gorgeous shoulderline of the 200-series is maintained well on these limousines.

Volvo 264 Te

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Unsurprisingly, because of the type of client the 264 TE was aiming to please and Sweden’s neutral status as a country, several 264 TEs ended up behind the iron curtain. East German leadership loved the 264 TE, and I’d imagine it to be quite a stark contrast from the Trabants and Wartburgs roaming the streets of East Germany. In fact, so many East German officials were driven around in 264 TEs that the private neighborhood Waldsiedlung was sometimes referred to as Volvograd, as per the Associated Press. Gated communities, tight security, stretched Volvo sedans. All symbols of inequality in one way or another.

Although you probably won’t see banking executives ditching their S-Classes for Volvos anytime soon, Volvo has always accommodated the niche of low-key high luxury. While we don’t know yet if the Volvo EX90 Excellence will make it to America, I’m hoping it does. Even if it may only sell in tiny numbers, it would make the roads that much more interesting.

(Photo credits: Volvo Cars, Cars & Bids)

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Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
10 months ago

Gosh, I love those blue velour seats. (At least I hope that’s velour. I love velour! Bring back velour seats!)

JumboG
JumboG
10 months ago

Bertone had a relationship with Volvo on other models, so it’s no surprise to me that they penned the limo.

ProfPlum
ProfPlum
10 months ago

The seat material resembles the tailored wool I have in my Volvo. It’s warm in the winter (I haven’t needed to use the seat warmers in northern New England), and it breathes nicely in the summer.

OrigamiSensei
OrigamiSensei
10 months ago

So, we’re up to 22s on production cars and it’s no longer unusual, huh? I would have to think that the ride in a luxury car would benefit from a bit more sidewall and compliance.

Slower Louder
Slower Louder
10 months ago

Velour! That’s what I’m talking about!

Dan Manwich
Dan Manwich
10 months ago

I’ve always heard no one’s ever died in a Volvo XC90 which is a super impressive fact that I’ve never been able to verify. I hope it’s true.

Maymar
Maymar
10 months ago

Is it too late to get my hypothetical Nilsson 960 with tailored wood seats?

Alexander Moore
Alexander Moore
10 months ago

East German leadership loved the 264 TE, and I’d imagine it to be quite a stark contrast from the Trabants and Wartburgs roaming the streets of East Germany.

To be fair, it’s not just East German heads of state that used Volvos; IIRC Sweden, Denmark, Israel, and the Netherlands all still use Nilsson S80s whereas others (like Norway) have since updated to ’90 series cars. Anyway, the new EX90 Excellence is a miss for me, I’m afraid. The two-tone and LIDAR bump make it look especially like its stable-mate LEVC TX5. I do think it’s cool and unique that Volvo are going the Toyota Century route with discontinuing leather and leatherette in favor of textiles.

Harvey Park
Harvey Park
10 months ago

Those are made up, right?

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
10 months ago

Yeah, well, my 1976 Volvo 66 is the GL (Grand Luxe) version instead of merely the DL (De Luxe) version, which means it has the 1.3 instead of the 1.1 liter engine and it has built-in driving lights. It came standard without a radio, though, as that would simply be garish.

Petter hjalmarsson
Petter hjalmarsson
10 months ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

My dad was given a baby shit green volvo 66 when I was a kid. It was mint, 100% rust free, parked in a heated garage for all its life, only driven on special sundays, you name it.

He tried to sell it for next to nothing as we had too many cars but 66’s were so unwanted at that time that he couldnt even give it away.

Sadly it went to the scrappers when he got bored of it but I wish he just put in a barn instead, oh well , spillt milk…

TOSSABL
TOSSABL
10 months ago

I bet these sell fairly well on the continent-especially Germany. We used to read stories of people downgrading their badges, or just taking them off as a form of reverse-ostentation. This is simple and classy, imo.
I especially like the front badge with the diagonal. Understated sometimes says the most.

Chronometric
Chronometric
10 months ago

Those are so classy and understated. If I were a CEO, that is what I would ride in.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
10 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

That’s why all the cool ones drive A8s.

Gee See
Gee See
10 months ago
Reply to  Chronometric

In North America, it is more common they get chauffeured in variants of Escalades. From a stock holder perspective, better for them not to think about car choices.

Nlpnt
Nlpnt
10 months ago
Reply to  Gee See

I would expect that most corporations contract out their VIP executive transport, and I’m surprised Cadillac doesn’t offer a “car service” model of the Escalade with a lo-po LS, maybe a mild hybrid option to cut on idling in city traffic, 2wd and the simple live-axle suspension from a Silverado 1500 W/T.

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