Which Volvos are safest?

Volvos are known for being safe, comfortable, high-tech, practical and cheap to run, but which are safest? We’ve listed the best ones here

Sam Naylor
Dec 14, 2021

Volvo is a brand known for its safety. The brand famously invented the seatbelt and then encouraged all other car makers to use it, such was its importance for car safety. In more recent times, Volvo made a vow that from 2020, there would be no deaths in its cars.

It achieves this by building some of the safest cars it’s possible to buy, packed with safety kit and designed from the outset to protect occupants and third parties in the event of a crash.

Here we’re going to look at the safest Volvo cars, ranked in order with the safest Volvo at the top. It’s not exactly possible to directly compare all of Volvo’s cars, and we’ll explain why that is in a second, but our list includes all the safest Volvos.

Our safety data comes from the experts at Euro NCAP, an organisation that rigorously tests new cars via crash tests to find out the safest models on sale. Not all cars have been tested, and many tests for recent models have been pushed back by the impact of the pandemic, but all of Volvo’s current range has been under the microscope, from the giant XC90 SUV to the newest XC40.

Euro NCAP gives scores in four categories: adult protection, child protection, pedestrian protection and safety assist. The rankings from these are then compiled and put into a final score out of five, and all Volvos score five stars - they’re as safe as it gets.

The reason we can’t directly compare them is because Euro NCAP changes its test and scoring system regularly to keep up with modern technology and increasing standards. This means that older cars may have higher ratings because they were considered safer in the year when they were tested than other models available at the time.

As safety standards are always increasing, we’ve put the newest models at the top because they all scored very highly despite being tested under stricter conditions, so their five-star scores were harder to achieve.

The safest Volvo cars

1. Volvo XC40

Safest Volvo for small families

Adult protection 97% Child protection 87% Pedestrian protection 71% Safety assist 76%
Used deals from £19,000
Monthly finance from £419*

The Volvo XC40 is the newest car in the Volvo range, and it’s available with petrol and diesel engines, as well as plug-in hybrid and electric options. It’s a crossover with enough room for families and a decent boot, but with a high-up driving position that makes it easy to drive. It’s the smallest car in the Volvo range for now, offering small families a model that brings the luxury and technology of the larger SUVs in the Swedish maker’s range to a more affordable model.

It scored very well in its Euro NCAP crash tests, with a fantastic 97% score for adult protection. It could have scored higher on safety assist technology, but its lower price point means that lower-spec models do without some of the sophisticated safety kit that’s fitted to higher-spec cars, such as blind-spot assist.

The XC40 stands out from other SUVs of its type with its chunky looks, but the interior is a highlight. It’s smartly designed and minimalist without being sparse, plus the materials feel very good quality for the most part. The central touchscreen media system is easy to use and works well with the sat-nav and smartphone connectivity options fitted to most cars.

The electric version is the most expensive, but it offers stunning acceleration and ultra-low running costs, so that’s to be expected. The plug-in hybrid versions are excellent for those looking to sample electric power with the ability to cover short urban journeys on electric power alone - provided you charge it beforehand - with the backup of a petrol engine for longer trips, while the diesel and small petrol versions are good all-round options for those after a more affordable option.

We’d aim for a model with an automatic gearbox fitted, as this is smooth and makes the car more relaxing to drive, which is one of its strong points. The manual gearboxes are fine but they are a bit unpleasant to use and don’t suit the character of the car.


2. Volvo S60 and V60

Safest Volvo for everyday driving

Adult protection 96% Child protection 84% Pedestrian protection 74% Safety assist 76%

Used deals from £23,390
Monthly finance from £0*
Used deals from £14,175
Monthly finance from £496*

The Volvo V60 and S60 are two different models, but they share a Euro NCAP rating because they are so closely related. The V60 is an estate car version - it has a hatchback boot door and a long, flat roofline - and the S60 is a saloon version with a separate cabin and boot.

They both scored very highly for occupant protection, and they have a good amount of safety kit included as well. These models are great for a wide range of drivers, from families looking for a comfy and practical model to commuters or those seeking a car to do long trips with ease. Both drive very similarly, as they use the same mechanical parts and engines.

There are petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid versions of both, although the choices are fairly limited. The engines aren’t a strong point next to rivals such as the BMW 3 Series, but the Volvos do offer excellent comfort and long-distance cruising abilities. They are both practical too, though the V60 is a better option if you need boot space as it’s easier to access the load area and there’s more total space inside as well.

The rear seats in both models are roomy and comfortable for passengers, and the interior is good quality with lots of tech including a large touchscreen media system that’s easy to use and packed with features. The smart exterior looks mean that both models stand out from the crowd, too.

3. Volvo XC60

Safest Volvo for practicality

Adult protection 98% Child protection 87% Pedestrian protection 76% Safety assist 95%
Used deals from £24,000
Monthly finance from £391*

The Volvo XC60 is the most popular model in the Volvo range and it’s easy to see why. It offers everything most people need from a car; smart looks, comfort, technology, safety and practicality. It’s also one of the safest Volvos ever, like all the cars in this list, though it’s particularly notable for its score of 98% in the adult protection category, which is one of the highest scores ever.

The XC60 is a mid-sized premium SUV, though most people in the UK would class it as a large car overall. It’s really roomy inside as a result, and like the V60 and S60, it has a high-quality interior with all the tech you could need and comfortable seats both front and back.

There are petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid options here too, with the latter being particularly popular with company car drivers because of the low tax. The XC60’s engines are not hugely impressive when it comes to performance or smoothness, but they are all relatively small four-cylinder units so they are quite economical for the size of car.

The XC60 has a big boot, so it’s really practical overall and will suit families who like to carry loads of stuff around with them. The rear doors open nice and wide too, so it’s a really easy car to live with. The high driving position means visibility is good and there is lots of safety tech to help you with parking and staying in your lane on the motorway.


4. Volvo S90 and V90

Safest Volvo for long trips

Adult protection 95% Child protection 80% Pedestrian protection 76% Safety assist 93%

Used deals from £18,490
Monthly finance from £0*
Used deals from £18,290
Monthly finance from £619*

The Volvo S90 and V90 go together in our list just like the V60 and S60 above, because once again these are just the saloon and estate versions of the same car. They have the same diesel, petrol and plug-in hybrid engine lineup and get the same Euro NCAP crash score, so you just need to decide whether you need the extra practicality of the V90 estate or the separate boot of the S90 saloon.

Both of these models are older and were tested in 2017 under a different set of rules, so you can’t compare them directly with Volvos tested more recently, but in their time they were incredibly safe models and still are today. They get loads of safety tech and scored highly for adult protection, like all the Volvos here, so you can have peace of mind while driving.

The S90 and V90 are excellent to drive, with very comfortable suspension that soaks up lumps and bumps in the road. The engines are a little gruff but performance is fine and the automatic gearbox is smooth and easy to use. They are sensitive to the larger wheels fitted to high-spec models, though, as these versions aren’t as comfortable - with more metal and less rubber between you and the road.

The interiors of all S90 and V90 models are superb, with high-quality materials throughout, lots of tech including a large touchscreen media system that’s easy to use and digital dials. The seats are comfortable and these are very relaxing cars to drive, especially on long trips. The diesel engines are great for this kind of drive, with low running costs and punchy performance for motorway overtaking.

5. Volvo XC90

Safest Volvo for luxury

Adult protection 97% Child protection 87% Pedestrian protection 72% Safety assist 94%
Used deals from £18,750
Monthly finance from £689*

The Volvo XC90 was the first model in the current Volvo range to launch and it was incredibly impressive in 2015 when Euro NCAP first tested it. It’s been updated since then with more safety kit, so newer models are even safer - but the 94% score for safety assist shows that the XC90 was packed with equipment even back then. It also scored very highly for adult protection, so even the cheapest used examples are incredibly safe

The XC90 is the ultimate Volvo for luxury and comfort. It’s a very practical family car, with a roomy cabin and a huge boot, but the XC90’s best aspect is its interior. It’s very well-made, using excellent materials and with a good amount of technology including the same touchscreen media system that you get in the S90 and V90 that includes loads of useful features.

The plug-in hybrid T8 version is a great all-rounder, providing quiet and low-cost running at low speeds when using the electric motor, but strong performance and lots of driving range when using the petrol engine. It’s not the best option for a lot of long trips, though; a diesel is better-suited to that and you'll need to charge the batteries regularly to maximise the amount of time you spend driving on electric power and minimise the amount of petrol you burn.

The seats are really comfy and the XC90 is smooth over bumps and very quiet inside. The engines could be smoother, as rival cars such as the BMW X5 have larger six-cylinder options that are very luxurious to use and offer greater refinement, but the XC90's motors do get the job done and are relatively economical for such a big car.


*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

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