The Volvo SUV was among 13 vehicles earning TOP SAFETY PICK awards for 2007 announced by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). This award recognizes vehicles that do the best job of protecting people in front, side, and rear crashes based on ratings in IIHS tests.
"Our crash tests cover the most common kinds of real-world collisions," says Institute president Adrian Lund. "Designating TOP SAFETY PICK winners based on the tests makes it easier for consumers to identify vehicles that afford the best overall protection without sifting through multiple sets of comparative test results."
A new requirement for 2007 is that the winning vehicles must offer electronic stability control, or ESC. This addition is based on Institute research indicating that ESC significantly reduces crash risk, especially the risk of fatal single-vehicle crashes, by helping drivers maintain control of their vehicles during emergency maneuvers. It is notable that the Volvo XC90's Roll Stability Control (RSC) was an industry first.
"Integrated safety technology has set the XC90 apart since its introduction, and it's part of Volvo DNA to focus of real-world safety," says Anne Bélec, president & CEO, Volvo Cars of North America. "An award like this validates Volvo's commitment, and explains why customers have made the XC90 the best-selling European SUV in the United States."
The IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor based on performance in high-speed front and side crash tests plus evaluations of seat/head restraints for protection against neck injuries in rear impacts. The first requirement for a vehicle to become a TOP SAFETY PICK is to earn good ratings in all three Institute tests. The Volvo XC90 achieved "Good" in each of the three crash tests.
SUVs weren't eligible to win in 2006 because the Institute hadn't evaluated the side crashworthiness of many of them. Now more SUVs have been rated, and 2007 winners reflect the safety improvements manufacturers have been making to these vehicles.
The criteria for selecting winners included: The Institute's frontal crashworthiness evaluations are based on results of frontal offset crash tests at 40 mph. Each vehicle's overall evaluation is based on measurements of intrusion into the occupant compartment, injury measures from a Hybrid III dummy in the driver seat, and analysis of slow-motion film to assess how well the restraint system controlled dummy movement during the test.
Each vehicle's overall side evaluation is based on performance in a crash test in which the side of the vehicle is struck by a barrier moving at 31 mph that represents the front end of a pickup or SUV. Ratings reflect injury measures recorded on two instrument-equipped dummies, assessment of head protection countermeasures, and the vehicle's structural performance during the impact. Injury measures obtained from the two dummies, one in the driver seat and the other in the back seat behind the driver, are used to determine the likelihood that a driver and/or passenger in a real-world crash would have sustained serious injury. The movements and contacts of the dummies' heads during the crash also are evaluated. Structural performance is based on measurements indicating the amount of B-pillar intrusion into the occupant compartment.
Rear crash protection is rated according to a two-step procedure. Starting points for the ratings are measurements of head restraint geometry - the height of a restraint and its horizontal distance behind the back of the head of an average-size man. Seats with good or acceptable restraint geometry are tested dynamically using a dummy that measures forces on the neck. This test simulates a collision in which a stationary vehicle is struck in the rear at 20 mph. Seats without good or acceptable geometry are rated poor overall because they can't be positioned to protect many people.