Each time the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety announces a new round of award winners, there’s usually a caveat: Often only models with upgraded headlights qualify. It’s the same story for the 2020 Volvo S60. IIHS says the luxury sedan earned the Top Safety Pick Plus award, its highest designation, but only when equipped with optional curve-adaptive headlights.
The sedan earned good ratings (out of good, acceptable, marginal or poor) in all of IIHS’ crash tests: driver-side small overlap front, passenger-side small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, seating and head restraints, and roof strength. The S60’s standard front-crash prevention system also earned a superior rating (out of superior, advanced, basic or none), avoiding a crash in the 12-mph test, and reducing impact speed by 22 mph in the agency’s 25-mph test.
In headlight ratings, however, things are less clear. The sedan’s optional curve-adaptive LED headlights earned a good rating, but only vehicles built after May 2019 have the improved headlights. (Automakers typically print the month a car was manufactured on a sticker in the driver’s doorjamb.) Prior to that, the same headlights earned a marginal rating. That’s the same rating the S60’s base headlights (which aren’t curve adaptive) get, precluding such versions from the award.
IIHS also subjected the S60 to its new tests of pedestrian-detection provisions within automatic emergency braking, and the sedan’s scores were anything but pedestrian. Volvo earned the top score, superior, for the S60’s standard pedestrian-detection system. Such results will factor into IIHS’ awards come 2020, IIHS says. (If you’re confused why the 2020 S60 earned a 2019 award, IIHS awards follow calendar years, which align often but not always with model years.)
The 2020 S60 goes up against luxury sedans like the Audi A4, which is a Top Safety Pick, and the BMW 3 Series, which is a Top Safety Pick Plus. Both rivals, like the S60, receive their respective awards only when equipped with specific headlights.
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