Volvo’s XC90 Proves It’s Still at the Top of the Safety Game

Put this in the file ‘Things That Are Not At All Surprising.” In the latest battery of tests performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Volvo’s new XC90 SUV walked away with the highest award it offers, a Top Safety Pick+.

This isn’t surprising because Volvo has long been the standard bearer of new safety tech and features — it was the first company to serve up three-point harness seat belts as standard. Today, they’re required by law.

Because of its focus on safety, Volvo soon developed a reputation as the frumpy Mom-mobiles that soon dotted suburban neighborhoods worldwide. Losing the gorgeous P1800 sports car and emphasizing safe, conservative sedans and wagons in the 1980s and 1990s didn’t help. After a stint of being owned by Ford, Volvo took a nosedive — but since re-emerging under ownership of China’s Geely, the company has been reborn.

But through it all, Volvo’s one constant was safety. It still is. Now that it fields one of the most gorgeous SUVs on the market, which will hold its own against the old guard of BMW, Mercedes, and Audi SUVs, Volvo is showing that it hasn’t lost its knack for keeping its occupants out of harm’s way. Its safety chops are compounded with new safety features like automatic braking and front crash prevention systems that weren’t available on the previous model.

Source: Volvo

Watch that video on the previous page again. You’ll notice that despite the shower of debris thrown in all directions, the Volvo does an exceptional job of moving the passenger cell away from the point of impact, while marshmallowy airbags keep the driver safe. This is the small front overlap test — one built to simulate hitting a tree, telephone pole, or another vehicle with a portion of the front end. Historically, it’s one of the hardest tests to master, though the XC90 makes it look easy.

“In the small overlap test, the most challenging of the IIHS evaluations, the driver space held up very well, with intrusion of less than 2 inches at all measured points in the driver’s seating space,” IIHS said in its findings. “The dummy’s movement was well-controlled, and the front and side curtain airbags worked well together to protect the head. Measures taken from the dummy showed a low risk of any significant injuries in a crash of this severity.”

Overall, the XC90 took home “good” ratings in all five of the IIHS’s crashworthiness tests. Autoblog noted that Joe Nolan, IIHS senior vice president for vehicle research, said “I’ll give kudos to Volvo for a number of things. The old XC90 aced all the crash tests as well, but without the forward-collision aspect. So now they’re going above and beyond and deserve the accolades.”

Can’t expect much more from Volvo — always on the forefront of safety in its quest for zero fatalities in its vehicles by 2020. Looks like it’s off to a strong start, and now looking as sexy as ever. The P1800 should be proud.

Like classics? It’s always Throwback Thursday somewhere.