Historically, Volvo has been a brand content with blending into the background. However, a good number of vital safety technology features that the more flamboyant brands boast about even today were developed by this self-effacing Swedish brand, and quite generously shared with the rest of the industry.
So, when a brand with such a remarkable heritage and commitment to safety comes out with a statement promising that no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by the year 2020, you can’t but sit up and take notice; however far-fetched the goal might appear. The XC90 is the first step towards achieving this seemingly implausible objective.
A look at just a couple of features in the flagship SUV is enough to demonstrate the level of attention paid by the brand’s safety engineers to minimise injuries. The seats in the XC90, which are incidentally among the most comfortable in any car, are the result of seven long years of research. As a result, if the vehicle veers off the road and falls into a ditch, the deformable material under the seats absorbs the vertical load from the impact, thus minimising spinal injuries for the occupants. Another feature that validates the obsession with detail when it comes to safety is the collapsible brake pedal, which drops away when a collision is detected. This prevents the energy from the impact being transferred to the driver’s knee, reducing chances of an incapacitating joint injury.
Add to these the fact that the XC90 also embodies the brand’s commitment to efficiency and emissions control, as it is the only SUV in its segment that does not offer either a V6 or a V8. You can only buy the XC90 with a clean 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, which is turbocharged and supercharged to produce a decent 316bhp and 400Nm of torque.
The XC90 heralds a bold new era for Volvo, with a slew of technologically advanced models set to follow suit until 2018, by when this SUV will be the oldest model in the Scandinavian carmaker’s line-up.
While all the other winners from our list of awardees are outstanding cars in their own right, the XC90 not only sets new standards in safety and efficiency, it is also a peek into the future of family cars. And for that reason it is our 2016 Car of the Year.