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2020 Volvo XC60, XC90 score high crash-test honors from IIHS

The XC90 picked up Top Safety Pick Plus, while the XC60 garnered the award just below that.

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Passengers and pedestrians alike will appreciate the XC90's standard safety systems.

Craig Cole/Roadshow

Volvo has finally elevated itself. After two previous models picked up the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's penultimate Top Safety Pick award, it was still looking to scoop up the industry body's highest honor. Now, its largest SUV has finally snagged that golden ring on the merry-go-round.

The IIHS announced on Friday that it has bestowed awards upon two Volvo SUVs, the 2020 XC60 and the 2020 XC90. The XC60 scored Top Safety Pick, mirroring the XC40 and S60 that came before it, but the XC90 was awarded Top Safety Pick Plus, the organization's highest honor for vehicle safety.

In order to achieve either award, a vehicle must pass the IIHS' battery of crash tests with flying colors, and both XC models did exactly that, receiving the top score of Good in crash tests covering small overlaps, moderate overlaps, side impacts and roof-strength evaluations. The XC90 received perfect scores in every subcategory as well, with the XC60 nearly reaching that point with just a single Acceptable subcategory rating (side crash, driver torso injury measures).

The IIHS doesn't just smack things into other things. It also evaluates a car's built-in safety systems, and once again, Volvo did very well here, with both models scooping up a top Superior rating for vehicle-to-vehicle forward crash protection. The XC60 and XC90 were also tested on vehicle-to-pedestrian front crash prevention, and both earned the second-best Advanced rating. These driver-assistance systems are standard on both vehicles.

There's one test that manages to catch out a number of cars, and it's what hit the XC60, too: headlights. The XC90 and XC60 each come with two different headlight setups, with the main difference being whether or not the LED's beams are curve-adaptive. Both XC90 headlight variants earned the minimum score of Acceptable required for Top Safety Pick Plus, but the XC60's non-curve-adaptive peepers only won a Marginal rating, enough to prevent the vehicle from garnering the IIHS' top honors. Visibility issues on the right side in straightaways and the left side in curves doomed the XC60 to Top Safety Pick in this case.

Both results are worthy of commendation, because the IIHS' battery of evaluations is far more involved than the five-star crash rating the federal government dishes out, covering far more corners of the vehicle than just the chassis. The XC90 joins several other midsize luxury SUVs on the Top Safety Pick Plus podium, including the 2020 Acura RDX, 2020 Cadillac CT6 and 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class. The 2020 Lexus RX is the only other vehicle in this segment to earn the second-best Top Safety Pick.