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Volvo XC60's City Safety technology dents appeal of other compact SUVs

Volvo XC60′s City Safety technology dents appeal of other compact SUVs
Tristan Honeywill

The City Safety technology fitted as standard in the Volvo XC60 compact SUV has cut accidents by around 15% and reduced whiplash-type claims by around 33% compared to other premium SUVs. The US study by the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) provides solid evidence that Volvo’s low-speed collision avoidance technology is helping to avert crunches and injuries.

“Forward collision systems are preventing common, everyday crashes caused by inattentive drivers or drivers who don’t react quickly enough to emergency situations,” said Matthew Moore, the HLDI vice-president who directed the study.

The data shows you are significantly less likely to be involved in a crash in a Volvo with City Safety than a compact SUV without it. The HLDI researchers compared claims for the XC60 with competitor models, including the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Land Rover Freelander/LR2, Lexus RX350, Saab 9-4X and Mercedes M-Class, controlling the analysis for other geographic and demographic factors that can affect claims.

Volvo's City Safety technology
Volvo’s City Safety system doesn’t warn the driver, it just brakes if they don’t spot the danger in time


City Safety uses a sensor in the windscreen to detect a stationary or slower moving vehicle ahead. If a crash is imminent, the system pre-charges the brakes. If the driver fails to react, there’s no warning, it just hits the brakes hard at the last moment. When the XC60 launched, City Safety only worked at speeds of up to 19mph, but in the latest models it’s good for up to 31mph.

The technology is fitted to other Volvo models, but as the first the XC60 has more data. The reductions are more modest than initial figures released by HLDI in 2011. The Institute says that the effect of City Safety is “robust” with the S60, launched after the XC60, already showing similar reductions in claims.

Volvo’s best-selling model is starting to make cars without the crash avoidance technology look bad. Of course it could be that drivers are choosing to buy a car with City Safety because they are more concerned about safety or have experienced a front-to-rear crash and particularly want to avoid another. Even so, the latest version of the XC60 has been given a more confident look and it seems apt.

To find out more, read the article in the HLDI’s April Status Report publication.

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