2010 Volvo XC60: intelligent enough to stop rear enders

February 14, 2009/Steve Tackett


With the introduction of the XC60, Volvo expands its line up and leaps into the fast-growing premium small crossover market segment. Within the next few years, buyers in that segment will have at least 10 crossover models to choose from — and competition will be fierce.
According to Volvo, to succeed in that business climate, you have to create a vehicle that stands out from the crowd. The new 2010 Volvo XC60 bases its unique appeal on a combination of sporty design and a remarkable range of intelligent safety systems that help the driver avoid accidents.
From front or rear, the XC60 is easily identified as a Volvo, but from the side, its sleek, yet muscular design disguises a configuration that is based on structural elements from the V70, XC70, and S80. The interior is classic Volvo with a focus on the automaker’s clever S-shaped center console that allows storage of small items behind it.
With an overall length of 182.2 inches, the XC60 is 8.3 inches shorter than the XC70, and has a 1.6-inch shorter wheelbase at 109.2 inches. However, it is 1.1 inches wider and 4.3 inches taller, mostly because it has 9.1 inches of ground clearance. That’s more clearance than its competitors in this class, including the Acura RDX, BMW X3, Land Rover LR2 and Volkswagen Tiguan.
Producing 281 horsepower and 295 lbs.-ft. of torque, the XC60’s 3.0-liter, inline-six turbo is more than adequate for its 4,200 pounds and the six-speed automatic makes the most of that power. Acceleration to 60 mph takes about 6.8 seconds, but fuel economy is a disappointing 15 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. Maximum towing capacity is 3,300 pounds.
Volvo is well known as a leader in safety system development, and the all-new 2010 XC60 features a variety of intelligent safety systems. Most noteworthy is City Safety. The standard-equipped City Safety was developed to combat the all-to-prevalent “rear-ender”.
Surveys indicate that 75 percent of all reported collisions take place at speeds of up to 19 mph.

XC60_City Safety

In half of these cases the driver has not braked at all before the collision, mainly due to distraction. In these cases, City Safety could make a crucial difference. City Safety automatically applies the brakes if the driver is about to drive into the vehicle in front. A collision may be entirely avoided, or if not possible, the damage to cars and people can be reduced.
City Safety operates at speeds of up to 19 mph. If the vehicle ahead brakes suddenly and City Safety determines that a collision is likely, the brakes are pre-charged. If the driver fails to respond, the car slams on the brakes automatically. If the closing speed between the two vehicles is less than 9 mph, then City Safety can help the driver to entirely avoid the collision.
Between 9 and 19 mph the focus is on reducing speed as much as possible prior to the impact. A laser sensor at the top of the windshield watches traffic ahead and can detect objects up to 18 feet in front of the XC60’s bumper. Using distance and speed, the system determines what braking force and time are needed to avoid a collision. If the calculated braking force and time exceed a certain level without the driver responding, the system hits the brakes.
Volvo is extending its safety offerings with two new functions that stabilize the car in critical situations. Volvo’s Dynamic Stability and Traction Control function has been further developed in the new XC60 to provide even more stable driving. DSTC registers deviations between the driver’s intended direction and the vehicle’s actual direction. The enhanced DSTC function registers the car’s roll rate as well, giving the opportunity to detect slowly built up skids.
A new Trailer Stability Assist function dampens the oscillation tendency that can occur when towing a trailer. Under certain conditions, the car and trailer might start “snaking,” making it difficult for the driver to regain control. TSA operates to stabilize the situation by braking one or more wheels and reducing engine torque.
With a starting price of just $37,200, plus $825 for destination, buyers can have it all: Class-leading safety, stunning design and great driving dynamics. The 2010 Volvo XC60 goes on sale in March.

Copyright, Motor Matters, 2009