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Safest of the safe: Volvo XC60

Safest of the safe: Volvo XC60

The XC60 is the smallest crossover from Volvo. CNET Networks

Volvo is making bold claims about its new XC60 crossover. The mini-Ute was touted as "the safest Volvo ever" as it was driven out to make its world debut here today at the 2008 Geneva auto show. Volvo justifies this claim with a new active safety technology called City Safety, which is designed to avoid and mitigate the effects of front impacts at low speeds and comes as standard on the XC60. The system uses forward-looking radar sensor mounted in the rear-view mirror to determine the distance to the car ahead and the XC60's speed relative to that car. As long as the host car is traveling at less than 30 kmh and the difference in speed is less than 15 kmh, the City Safety system will intervene in a two-stage process if it detects that a collision is imminent.

The XC60 features a host of new tech, including an in-dash navigations system. CNET Networks

First, it precharges the brakes to make sudden braking by the driver more effective. If the system detects that an impact is likely (more often at higher speeds) it works to mitigate the impact by applying the brakes itself through hydraulic pump activation. At higher speeds, the system sounds a warning and flashes a light if it detects that an impact is imminent. The XC60 also features some of Volvo's other recent safety-tech innovations, including blind-spot detection warning, lane-departure warning, and Driver Alert Control, which monitors the car's driving pattern and notifies the driver if it is erratic or uncontrolled. Other tech highlights include a welcome departure from Volvo's pop-up navigation systems in the form of an in-dash LCD screen. The all-wheel-drive XC60 will be available with a choice of a 285-horsepower six-cylinder turbo or a five-cylinder diesel engine when it goes on sale in Europe later this year. Expect it to come to the States some time in 2009.

Click here for our coverage of the 2008 Geneva auto show.