Volvo beefs up its crash-prevention features in XC90

It's getting harder to hurt yourself in it

This vehicle had us at CarPlay. Every carmaker these days knows the importance of including high-tech toys and features in its cars, and Volvo has taken the right step in making all this amazing tech available in the XC90. The iPhone-linked interface is a nifty addition to the already advanced SUV.

A few weeks ago, we attended the "Volvo XC90 Lifestyle Experience," an event designed to make us motoring journalists get a feel for how the Swedish carmaker’s clients spend their day. There was no long drive scheduled, just a chauffeured ride in the XC90 and a cruise on a swanky yacht. The men also got to try their hand at sailing à la Volvo Ocean Race--understandably, it was not as hardcore as the actual race, but it did bring out the competitive streak among the participants. We opted out of the sailing, so we got extended seat time with the XC90.

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Although we were obviously still enamored with the CarPlay, something else piqued our curiosity. During a product presentation at the event, we learned that two world-first safety features were making their debut in this new-generation XC90: run-off road protection and auto braking at intersections. Volvo, the carmaker that’s most associated with safety, raises its standards even higher with this luxury cruiser.

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This, of course, is in keeping with the carmaker's vision “that no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020.” That’s a tall order since 2020 is just four years away, but it looks like Volvo is truly working to achieve its goal.

So what do these safety features do? Simply put, run-off road protection safeguards the vehicle’s passengers through a series of measures that are activated once the system detects that the car leaves the road. For example, the driver loses control of the vehicle, and it veers off the highway and moves toward a ditch or cliff. The following steps will ensue:

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1. The vehicle senses its departure from the road;

2. The electrical belt is retracted;

3. The spine-protecting element on the seats gets activated;

4. The belt continues to retract;

5. The vehicle offsets the crash;

6. The airbags are deployed; and

7. The brake pedal retracts to prevent further injury.

Meanwhile auto braking at intersections builds on Volvo’s City Safety technology. You might remember that the carmaker introduced City Safety in 2008. This version is a vast improvement on this feature. Now, the XC90’s auto brake function will kick in even at busy city or highway crossings to prevent accidents.

It’s also good to know that City Safety, which used to be able to prevent accidents at speeds of only 30kph, can now do so up to 50kph.

These safety features come standard in both D5 and T6 variants of the XC90.

On our team, print associate editor Paulo Subido got familiar with City Safety when he drove the XC90 to Rizal, but he found it a tad startling. We're sure those who will be driving the XC90 and are unaware of this technology will be quite surprised as well. Perhaps Volvo should calibrate these safety add-ons to suit our third-world streets, where abrupt stops and jostling at intersections are, sadly, common occurrences.

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Just the same, we think it’s good to know that these safety features are available in such a handsome European SUV. They should work well with pedestrian safety, lane-keeping aid, and collision warning system, which are also available in the XC90. If you have more than P6 million (P6.495 million for the D5 variant and P6.895 million for the T6, to be exact) to shell out, wouldn’t you want to own a vehicle that could keep you completely safe? We know we would.

Photos by Stephanie Asi-de Castro

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PHOTO: Stephanie Asi-de Castro
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