In 2014, Volvo made a pledge: from 2020 onwards, nobody would be involved in a fatal accident in one of their new cars. It aimed to achieve this by introducing the latest high-tech safety gear to all of its models, preventing potential accidents rather than simply mitigating them.
The first big step towards this goal comes in the form of the XC90. Volvo believes the new-for-2015 SUV is the safest of its type on sale – which to us seems like a highly plausible claim. The Swedish brand has constructed its own Safety Centre in Gothenburg, which allows the brand to crash test its latest models more thoroughly than even the stern examination that Euro NCAP subject upon new cars.
Here we take an in-depth look at some of the kit available in the XC90, which will eventually filter down to the rest of the Volvo range – and likely other manufacturers’ cars, too.
The XC90 features two brand-new safety features: Auto Brakes at Intersection, and Run Off Road Protection. To prevent accidents at busy junctions, the former is able to brake the car automatically if the driver attempts to pull out in front of oncoming traffic – particularly useful at blind junctions, where edging out into the road might be dangerous.
The second feature is Run Off-Road Protection. During bumpy driving, the seat belts are tightened to hold occupants more firmly in place, and a special energy absorbing material between the seat and the seat frame dampens the forces that may travel through a driver’s spine when the vehicle is subjected to a hard landing. Whether anyone ever takes their XC90 far enough road to test this functionality is another thing altogether, but it’s also nice to think that if you have an unexpected diversion from the tarmac into a field, you’ll be OK. Check the video below to see the sort of test that Volvo does to check you’ll be OK if you take a trip off the road.
Beyond these two pioneering systems, the XC90 is loaded with much more. As with the intersection function, there are several other functions which involve automatic emergency braking, which are now dubbed ‘City Safety’ by the brand. Through the use of sensors and cameras dotted about the extremities of the car, the XC90 can detect other cars, cyclists, and even other pedestrians with the ability to bring the car to a complete stop to avoid accidents. If you’re a cyclist, and wear a safety helmet developed by Volvo, POC and Ericsson, the XC90 can even communicate with you to provide a two-way visible and audible warning as a further preventative measure.
The external sensors are also able to warn the driver of unintended veering from motorway lanes, detect vehicles that might be hidden in a blind spot, while the (optionally available) active cruise control is able to regulate the car’s speed relative to the vehicle ahead.
Sensors in the cabin are able to detect drowsiness in the driver, recommending a break if appears that the driver is due to doze off in the near future. It seems that Volvo have really thought of everything, and if they can live up to their bold targets, it surely won’t be long before other manufacturers can achieve the same.
The new XC90 doesn’t just have safety going for it – it’s stylish, comfortable, and practical, too. Take a look at our full review for more information, or configure yours on the carwow configurator to see how much you could save from the UK’s leading dealers.