Is Volvo still the safest car manufacturer?

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If there’s any manufacturer most associated with safety, it’s Volvo – and rightly so. The Swedish brand has always been at the forefront of the road safety movement, its genius engineers developing many of the life-saving devices we now take for granted.

The three-point seatbelt? A Volvo design from 1959. Booster seats for kids? Volvo again, 1978. Side impact protection? Another Volvo innovation from ‘91. What about side curtain airbags? Yep, you guessed it, Volvo – this time from 1998.

There’s no doubt the company has an illustrious history when it comes to safety tech, but enough about the past: what about the present? Is it still leading the way, or have other manufacturers gone for the overtake? 

How does it perform in 2022?

Volvo’s cars are still among the safest around, and they probably always will be. However, data from Euro NCAP – Europe’s leading independent vehicle safety organisation – suggests they might not be leading the pack any more.

Euro NCAP crash tests practically every new car model that reaches the market, aside from low-volume supercars and the like. From superminis to SUVs, its facility analyses the safety of all of the common models you’ll see in car showrooms. If it’s on sale in Europe on a large scale, chances are that Euro NCAP has tested it. 

Each car is put through a series of demanding trials to evaluate its performance, from head-on crashes at 40 mph through to collisions with pedestrians and side impact evaluations. At the end of it all, each model is awarded a score, which also takes into account the number (and quality) of factory-fit safety systems (like blind spot monitoring and automatic emergency braking, for instance). The closer to 100% a car receives, the safer it is. 

The manufacturer sitting pretty at the top of the table isn’t Volvo, but its electric vehicle (EV) sub-brand, Polestar. With an 87% score, Polestar is joint first with Tesla, another EV-only car maker.

 

So, where’s Volvo? It still performs admirably, placing fifth behind Lexus and Genesis. The full rankings, assembled by Vanarama, are as follows: 

  1. Polestar (87%)
  2. Tesla (87%)
  3. Lexus (86%)
  4. Genesis (85%)
  5. Volvo (85%)
  6. Subaru (83%)
  7. BMW (82%)
  8. Cupra (82%)
  9. Jaguar (82%)
  10. Mazda (82%)
  11. Mitsubishi (82%)
  12. Mercedes-Benz (82%)
  13. Audi (81%)
  14. Isuzu (81%)
  15. Land Rover (81%)
  16. Volkswagen (81%)
  17. Renault (80%)
  18. Honda (79%)
  19. Nissan (79%)
  20. Skoda (79%)

Should you still buy a Volvo?

Even though they may not top the table any more, they’re damn close – a few percentage points here or there makes very little difference to how a car would perform in an accident. The difference between those at the top of the table and those at the bottom is more pronounced though, so if safety is a top priority for you, it may be worth sticking with one of the top five manufacturers. 

The Euro NCAP website allows you to easily home in on the safest new cars in each class, from city cars to family SUVs. And if you’re planning on buying a used Volvo car, you can look at test results from previous years; some even date back to the 1990s. 

Overall, if you’re on the fence about whether or not to get a Volvo based on safety, we say go for it!