The Volvo XC60, XC70, and S80 all score minor technological upgrades for the 2012 model year. Fitting with the company's image of safety, most of the upgrades are focused on avoiding car accidents. They technologies debuted on the new Volvo S60 at last year's Geneva Motor Show.
The first addition is the Volvo Sensus infotainment system, which was first introduced on the S60, and is now spreading to the XC60, XC70, and S80. The basic version has a five-inch touchscreen and lets users manage climate control and the audio system, as well as vehicle settings like adaptive cruise control and locking options. Upgraded audio systems add a seven-inch screen which can show output from DVD players, navigation systems, or backup cameras. As with most similar systems, Sensus can also be operated via buttons on the steering wheel.
On the safety front, the XC70 and S80 receive Pedestrian Safety with Full Auto Brake. The system, which is already offered on the S60 and XC60, uses radar and a camera to monitor for pedestrians in front of the car. If the system detects a wayward pedestrian, it sounds an alert inside the car; if the driver doesn't respond, Pedestrian Detection will apply the car's brakes. At speeds under 20 mph, Volvo says the system can avoid 30 percent of all collisions with pedestrians.
Similarly, the XC60, XC70, and S80 all get Volvo's City Safety feature. It uses a laser sensor to monitor other cars and will automatically apply the brakes if the driver is about to rear-end another vehicle. At speeds below 9 mph, City Safety can avoid such collisions, whereas at speeds between 9 mph and 19 mph it can simply reduce their impact force and severity. (We don't doubt its effectiveness, although the system failed spectacularly in a 2010 demonstration.)
The last addition for the three cars is Adaptive Cruise Control with Queue Assist. As with similar features from other manufacturers, the cruise control automatically slows when approaching slower vehicles. It can even bring the car to a complete stop if necessary, and will accelerate the vehicle once other cars move off again. In theory, a driver could deal with dense stop-and-go traffic without ever touching the car's pedal.
Volvo fans will note several minor trim changes for the XC70 and S80, including redesigned headlights, new wheel designs, a new three-spoke steering wheel, and new interior upholstery colors.