Headlights Hold Back 2019 Volvo XC90, S90 From Highest Safety Honor

Volvo-XC90-crash-test Volvo XC90 crash test | IIHS image

Volvo’s biggest SUV and sedan — the 2019 XC90 and 2019 S90 — have earned Top Safety Pick awards from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. That extends Volvo’s safety awards for its five 2019 models rated so far to three Top Safety Picks and one Top Safety Pick Plus award (the Plus designates IIHS’ top crash-test honor).

Related: Your Next Uber X Could Be an XC90 as Volvo Deploys New Self-Driving SUV

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2019 Volvo XC90 T6 Momentum
33,800 mi.
2019 Volvo XC90 T5 Momentum
56,429 mi.

The latest two Volvos to be tested fell short of the top IIHS award because their best headlight systems were rated acceptable rather than the required good. That also was true of the XC60 compact SUV, while the XC40 snatched the top award with all top marks. The 2019 S60 sedan did not get an award due to marginal headlight performance.

Both the XC90 and S90 earned top marks in all crashworthiness tests by IIHS, which toughened for 2019 with the added requirement for Top Safety Pick of an acceptable or good score (out of good, acceptable, marginal or poor) in the insurance-industry-backed automotive safety advocates’ new passenger-side small overlap frontal crash test.

Both also got the top score of superior (out of superior, advanced, basic or none) for their  standard Volvo City Safety front crash prevention system with forward collision warning and automatic emergency braking. The system in each vehicle avoided frontal collisions from 12 mph and 25 mph in IIHS track testing.

The XC90 earned an acceptable score for both its base and optional adaptive headlight systems. The S90 was rated acceptable with the base headlights but fell short with a marginal rating for its premium curve-adapted LED reflectors with high-beam assist due to inadequate visibility for both low and high beams in several of the test scenarios.

171081_Half_profile_Volvo_S90_Mussel_Blue.jpg 2019 Volvo S90 | Manufacturer image

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See how the XC90 stacks up against other mid-size luxury SUVs in IIHS testing here and how the S90 fares against other large luxury sedans here. Several luxury-brand rivals, including the Mercedes-Benz GLE and BMW X5 earned a Top Safety Pick Plus when equipped with their best-available headlights. Several S90 rival sedans earned Top Safety Pick Plus with their best-available headlights, including the Audi A6, Genesis G90, Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW 5 Series.’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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Former D.C. Bureau Chief Fred Meier, who lives every day with Washington gridlock, has an un-American love of small wagons and hatchbacks. Email Fred Meier

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