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First, I agree its a v safe car and did well in the tests. I'm seriously considering buying one.

But it is really really disappointing to me that Volvo allowed a weakness in the Side test in the torso. IIHS gave it a yellow acceptable. There are now many cars that get all green, including the Q7 and my XC60.

This torso issue is also evident in the EuroNCAP testing where once again the Q7 is all green and the XC90 has a yellow part on the pole side test. (My XC60 actually got a marginal score on this - something I just wouldn't expect from Volvo)

Think the facts are pretty indisputable, my question is why? Is there something Volvo knows that these tests don't? (are they making some kind of safety tradeoff that the tests don't account for yet) Or is it the more disappointing answer that they just messed up here?

I own two Volvos so would really like to believe the former but can't imagine why they've had this issue for so long and haven't addressed it in their flagship redesign.

Any ideas?

FYI...the MDX also achieved the 'all green', which just makes it more perplexing why Volvo didn't.

Between this and the lack of dual built in booster seats as on my XC60, its getting harder to justify changing.
 

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If you look at the raw data on the IIHS test the numbers are not that much different on the side impact torso measurements between the xc90 and the MDX. It looks like volvo put more effort in the small overlap test as the forces on the dummy during that test are much lower than the MDX. I was a little perplexed about the rating too, but the raw numbers don't show much of a difference do I doubt it effects the risk of injury or survivability by much all things considered.
 

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The simple reason is because despite all the Volvo hashish shared throughout the forums here, Volvo actually *doesn't* hold the monopoly on safety. Plenty of other manufacturers pay attention to safety, and in a number of cases, do it as well or better than Volvo.

To answer your question, no, there isn't something Volvo knows that these tests don't; they just gambled that their torso scores would fall within the IIHS' "good" threshold, and they didn't. This happens with manufacturers all the time when they make major design changes, whether for functional or aesthetic reasons, and neglect some elements due to overfocus on others. Check out the current gen Dodge Durango. It's an amazingly safe vehicle, just as are most new SUVs, cars, and minivans, but Dodge didn't pay attention to the side torso design, and as a result, also got dinged with an "acceptable" torso subscore. They also had a marginal small overlap score, but that wasn't surprising, seeing as many manufacturers have been caught flat-footed in that area lately, including Dodge, Toyota, Ford, and more.
 

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The simple reason is because despite all the Volvo hashish shared throughout the forums here, Volvo actually *doesn't* hold the monopoly on safety. Plenty of other manufacturers pay attention to safety, and in a number of cases, do it as well or better than Volvo.

To answer your question, no, there isn't something Volvo knows that these tests don't; they just gambled that their torso scores would fall within the IIHS' "good" threshold, and they didn't. This happens with manufacturers all the time when they make major design changes, whether for functional or aesthetic reasons, and neglect some elements due to overfocus on others. Check out the current gen Dodge Durango. It's an amazingly safe vehicle, just as are most new SUVs, cars, and minivans, but Dodge didn't pay attention to the side torso design, and as a result, also got dinged with an "acceptable" torso subscore. They also had a marginal small overlap score, but that wasn't surprising, seeing as many manufacturers have been caught flat-footed in that area lately, including Dodge, Toyota, Ford, and more.
Just don't get knocked off the road and absorb 10Gs on your spinal column. None of these SUVs have the G-absorbing features of the XC90s seats. And no, Volvos do not score better at all points in safety testing than everybody else. That would would be impossible, but tiny little Volvo often leads the Bloated Car Behemoths into new safety areas.

If you look at the raw data on the IIHS test the numbers are not that much different on the side impact torso measurements between the xc90 and the MDX. It looks like volvo put more effort in the small overlap test as the forces on the dummy during that test are much lower than the MDX. I was a little perplexed about the rating too, but the raw numbers don't show much of a difference do I doubt it effects the risk of injury or survivability by much all things considered.
I guess IIHS didn't read your post about the insignificant difference in the side impact score between these models.
 

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The simple reason is because despite all the Volvo hashish shared throughout the forums here, Volvo actually *doesn't* hold the monopoly on safety. Plenty of other manufacturers pay attention to safety, and in a number of cases, do it as well or better than Volvo.

To answer your question, no, there isn't something Volvo knows that these tests don't; they just gambled that their torso scores would fall within the IIHS' "good" threshold, and they didn't. This happens with manufacturers all the time when they make major design changes, whether for functional or aesthetic reasons, and neglect some elements due to overfocus on others. Check out the current gen Dodge Durango. It's an amazingly safe vehicle, just as are most new SUVs, cars, and minivans, but Dodge didn't pay attention to the side torso design, and as a result, also got dinged with an "acceptable" torso subscore. They also had a marginal small overlap score, but that wasn't surprising, seeing as many manufacturers have been caught flat-footed in that area lately, including Dodge, Toyota, Ford, and more.
As I have addressed you, in the past (and on numerous occasions), if you had a choice heading into ANY sort of accident, you can choose to stay in your Toyota and I will stay in my Volvo...I think my survival chances will be quite enhanced vs. yours.

By the way, how do the other SUVs hold up when they roll over? The reason I am asking is that ever since the first XC90 was subjected to the infamous rollover (documented in a video widely available on YouTube) in the summer of 2002, I have yet to see another manufacturer dare do the same to its SUVs, large or small. Of course, the same was repeated with the new XC90.

Does Volvo know something that the others do not (or are not willing to show)?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Grecian, would really welcome any of your thoughts on my original "why" question. Am trying to understand if there is possibly some tradeoff involved? Is there anyone at Volvo who could reliably comment on that? Thanks
 

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Grecian, would really welcome any of your thoughts on my original "why" question. Am trying to understand if there is possibly some tradeoff involved? Is there anyone at Volvo who could reliably comment on that? Thanks
XC90 Torso ratings:
Torso
Maximum deflection (mm) 39
Average deflection (mm) 36
Maximum deflection rate (m/s) 3.73
Maximum viscous criterion (m/s) 0.60

According to IIHS 34mm Average deflection is the borderline between Good and Acceptable.
 

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XC90 Torso ratings:
Torso
Maximum deflection (mm) 39
Average deflection (mm) 36
Maximum deflection rate (m/s) 3.73
Maximum viscous criterion (m/s) 0.60

According to IIHS 34mm Average deflection is the borderline between Good and Acceptable.
Thank you, this was the point I was trying to get across. Less than a 10% difference in torso deflection from a "good" deflection and what the xc90 scored. I am not sure how relevant this is when looking at the whole picture at how safe the vehicle is. In other measurements the xc90 far exceeds the minimum requirements for a good rating and beats its competitors by a good margin (is small overlap). I am not going to worry too much about it because it still remains one of the safest if not thr safest cars on the planet when you account for the active safety mechanisms.
 

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Thank you, this was the point I was trying to get across. Less than a 10% difference in torso deflection from a "good" deflection and what the xc90 scored. I am not sure how relevant this is when looking at the whole picture at how safe the vehicle is. In other measurements the xc90 far exceeds the minimum requirements for a good rating and beats its competitors by a good margin (is small overlap). I am not going to worry too much about it because it still remains one of the safest if not thr safest cars on the planet when you account for the active safety mechanisms.
I'm no scientist, but my reading of the IIHS' test protocol suggests that "10%" difference is far more significant than the number itself would suggest.

Torso – average deflection: If the maximum thoracic and abdominal rib deflections are less than or
equal to 50 mm, the deflection criteria is based on the average of the peak deflections from each rib. An
average peak rib deflection less than or equal to 34 mm marks the border between good and acceptable.
In the absence of an excessively high single rib deflection, the average rib deflection is used to better
correlate with the existing biomechanical test data where large regions of the thorax or abdomen were
compressed equally to obtain the human tolerance limits. This deflection also is the single rib IARV used
for side airbag out-of-position testing with SID-IIs. The out-of-position reference value was obtained by
scaling the BioSID (50th percentile male side impact dummy) IARV of 42 mm (Mertz, 1993). According
to injury risk curves that have been scaled for a 5th percentile female, 34 mm of deflection corresponds to
a 21-27 percent risk of serious thoracic injuries (Pintar et al., 1997; Viano et al., 1995).


In other words, anything at or above that 34 mm deflection already suggests a 25% risk of serious thoracic injuries (i.e., things that can kill you by crushing your heart, lungs, or tearing open arteries). The acceptable/marginal threshold is 42 mm, while the marginal/poor threshold is 50 mm, where the risk of serious rib fractures is 80%. I imagine the risk of serious thoracic injuries increases significantly with each mm past 34.
 

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I think the bigger story here on the side impact results is a much worse score on the HIC-15 side impact score than on the old XC90. I would like an explanation from from Volvo on why and what they are going to do about it. HIC is the head injury criterion -- very important -- arguably more important than the score on the torso. May be it can be fixed by a software update? Perhaps the air bags or deploying too soon or too late? Come on Volvo -- come clean and give us an answer.
 

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I think the bigger story here on the side impact results is a much worse score on the HIC-15 side impact score than on the old XC90. I would like an explanation from from Volvo on why and what they are going to do about it. HIC is the head injury criterion -- very important -- arguably more important than the score on the torso. May be it can be fixed by a software update? Perhaps the air bags or deploying too soon or too late? Come on Volvo -- come clean and give us an answer.
I wouldn't hold my breath. I would assume its some kind of tradeoff, and I would definately choose to be in the newest volvo than in any other vehicle in any kind of crash, were it possible of course.
 

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A good question, though one which may elicit more heat than light here. While I do not believe Volvo is perfect regarding safety, I am VERY impressed by the video of the Q7's roof collapsing in the side pole test while the XC90's roof remains very much intact. It seems test scores do not quite reflect reality in that regard.

All single speed, single situation tests can and will be gamed. Hence I concern myself more with the overall history and philosophy of a manufacturer. As the wise old saying goes, there are lies, then damned lies, and then statistics. He who relies on statistics learns the price of everything but the value of nothing.

And, like GV, I would love to see any other carmaker roll their vehicles over the way Volvo did with both the XC90s.
 

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Just don't get knocked off the road and absorb 10Gs on your spinal column. None of these SUVs have the G-absorbing features of the XC90s seats.
When IIHS performs these test, do they have the G-absorbing Volvo seats in place? You would think it would help with the measures taken from the dummy.
 

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When IIHS performs these test, do they have the G-absorbing Volvo seats in place? You would think it would help with the measures taken from the dummy.
No doubt the answer is yes, since standard cars are used and all new XC90s use such front seats. But neither the IIHS nor any other official crash test deals with the vertical impacts caused by running off the road.
 

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I think the bigger story here on the side impact results is a much worse score on the HIC-15 side impact score than on the old XC90. I would like an explanation from from Volvo on why and what they are going to do about it. HIC is the head injury criterion -- very important -- arguably more important than the score on the torso. May be it can be fixed by a software update? Perhaps the air bags or deploying too soon or too late? Come on Volvo -- come clean and give us an answer.
Your framing is like asking, "When did you stop beating your wife?"

The difference in HIC-15 values isn't that important. A HIC-15 value of 779 is estimated to represent a 5% chance of serious injury for a 5th percentile female and 663 is the maximum for a good rating. Both the old and new XC90 scored far below that value; i.e, 61 and 82 respectively.

In side impacts of cars without airbags the risk of serious injury is greatest for the thorax, followed by the pelvis and then the head.
 

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^ The new XC90 actually scored 233; 82 is the rear passenger score, but the 61 you referenced is the driver score. That said, I do agree that it's within the good rating range.

On the other hand, one of the more frequent arguments used here about Volvos being safer than other cars even when they have the same overall ratings is that they do much better than the competition when you drill down to the detailed numbers. This is not the case here.

This argument is also paired with the assumption that Volvos would stand up better in more severe crashes than those tested by crash testing agencies. Given the fact that the head injury scores are worse than a number of its competitors in a 31 mph collision, I doubt they would suddenly become better in a higher speed / force collision.

In this case, the new XC90 (233) measured demonstrably worse than the old XC90 (61), which suggests it would slip into the acceptable / marginal / poor ranges sooner than the previous XC90. It also performed worse than the XC60 (85), MDX (180), Highlander (167), X5 (107), Q7 (105), Durango (118), Pilot (147), M-Class (52-64), Equinox (166), Outback (110), and many, many more SUVs and cars.
 

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Your framing is like asking, "When did you stop beating your wife?"

The difference in HIC-15 values isn't that important. A HIC-15 value of 779 is estimated to represent a 5% chance of serious injury for a 5th percentile female and 663 is the maximum for a good rating. Both the old and new XC90 scored far below that value; i.e, 61 and 82 respectively.

In side impacts of cars without airbags the risk of serious injury is greatest for the thorax, followed by the pelvis and then the head.
Also if you compaire the side impact tests from IIHS versus the NCAP testing there is some variablility in regards to the xc90. On the NCAP side impact vehicle test the xc90 scores all greens. I assume this is the most equivalent to the IIHS side impact test. it is true that the Audi Q7 has less torso forces during the pole test. Conversely when you look at the NCAP testing on thefull frontal and frontal offset the volvo does very well compaired to other 5 star vehicles. I could not not find a 5 star vehicle in its class with better scores on those two.
 

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Also if you compaire the side impact tests from IIHS versus the NCAP testing there is some variablility in regards to the xc90. On the NCAP side impact vehicle test the xc90 scores all greens. I assume this is the most equivalent to the IIHS side impact test. it is true that the Audi Q7 has less torso forces during the pole test. Conversely when you look at the NCAP testing on thefull frontal and frontal offset the volvo does very well compaired to other 5 star vehicles. I could not not find a 5 star vehicle in its class with better scores on those two.
Would the type of seat matter? I believe IIHS tested in a Momentum which doesn't have seats with as much side support as the sport or inscription seats. I do recall that the Inscription's side support can also adjust inwards to really give additional side stability. Not sure if that would matter. Would be nice to see it tested.
 

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This argument is also paired with the assumption that Volvos would stand up better in more severe crashes than those tested by crash testing agencies. Given the fact that the head injury scores are worse than a number of its competitors in a 31 mph collision, I doubt they would suddenly become better in a higher speed / force collision.

In this case, the new XC90 (233) measured demonstrably worse than the old XC90 (61), which suggests it would slip into the acceptable / marginal / poor ranges sooner than the previous XC90. It also performed worse than the XC60 (85), MDX (180), Highlander (167), X5 (107), Q7 (105), Durango (118), Pilot (147), M-Class (52-64), Equinox (166), Outback (110), and many, many more SUVs and cars.
Crash test scores/injury measures cannot be extrapolated to other speeds or scenarios, except in special circumstances such as structural failure. Car structures and safety systems are complex. It's not reasonable to assume that deformation, energy absorption and injury measures will increase at the same rate with speed for any two cars the way the length of a simple coiled wire spring increases with load.

Vehicle A may perform better at a given speed than Vehicle B, yet have steeper drop in performance with increasing speed, and earlier structural failure.
 
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