Safety Features

Safety Features  - 2009 Volvo S80 Review - Reviews - Volvo S80

The S80 excels at safety. Before the little bubble above your head fills with the word "Duh," let me add that this Volvo has some breakthrough safety gizmos we hadn't seen until very recently. The new S80 also earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick, meaning it scored the highest possible rating in front, side and rear crash tests. No other luxury cars in the segment managed that feat.

Optional safety gadgets include cameras mounted to each side mirror that tell the car's computer when a car is in your blind spot. When a car is in that spot, a dull orange light (so as to not overly distract you) illuminates in the bottom corner of the window, on whichever side the intruding car is on. The nice thing is you can turn this feature off if it starts to annoy you. I found the system so unobtrusive that I left it on all the time, and I don't generally like nanny-ing devices. I was also impressed that the system seemed to know when a semi was next to you and didn't illuminate when its trailer extended into your blind spot. This option costs $695.

The other relatively new safety feature is a collision warning system that alerts you when a car ahead of you has slowed down and an impact is imminent. A row of red lights illuminates in front of the driver, right at the edge of the dashboard, so the lights reflect off the windshield. Think this would be annoying in bumper-to-bumper traffic? It wasn't. This thing is smart; I repeatedly tried to get it to go off during a commute by tailgating and waiting until the last second to brake, but it was no good. How do I know it works if I couldn't simulate a near-impact? A few Chicago drivers gave me a hand.

I was stuck in traffic while driving home from the office one stormy night Ч by the way, if someone can tell me why people freak out when it rains, let me know Ч and there were a number of cars trying to merge into four lanes of traffic. One driver cut off the Mercedes-Benz in front of me, causing its driver to brake suddenly. The Volvo's lights went red, flashed, and I slammed on the brakes. The system actually assisted me by preparing the brakes to be more effective for my reactionary Ч and more aggressive Ч stomp on the pedal. I guess that's the reason Volvo doesn't want you trying to fool the system. This feature comes packaged with adaptive cruise control at a hefty $1,495 option price, and I'm still unsure whether I'd add it if given the choice. Of course, it probably costs more than that to repair a bumper, so the collision system may be worth the investment.

The optional all-wheel drive and standard stability system are useful when driving in inclement weather, and there are an abundance of airbags and reinforced doors to protect you in case anything does go wrong. They all obviously do their jobs just fine to garner that top safety rating.

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