Swedish firm Volvo has a reputation for safety, and its latest models are no exception, the Volvo XC60 and Volvo S60 get high tech systems which slow the car automatically if they detect an obstruction.
The Volvo V40 hatchback is an upmarket family car with a wide range of efficient petrol and diesel engines and class-leading levels of safety. It was one of the first cars to have autonomous braking fitted as standard, which automatically applies the brakes to reduce the chance of a minor collision. Comfortable seats and a relaxing interior make the V40 a great long-distance companion, but it's not quite as fun to drive as the BMW 1 Series.
Volvo wants the Volvo S60 to be seen to offer a stylish, sporty alternative to rivals from Audi, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, and it's not too far off. It's a good-looking car on the outside, while the interior oozes the simple, neat Swedish style that defines Volvo's cabins. It's more comfortable than sporty though, even if it does drive better than any Volvo before it. Good pricing and equipment work in its favour, too.
The Volvo V60 is based on the Volvo S60 executive saloon, so it looks stylish inside and out, with the addition of a versatile boot. However, while past Volvo estates have made a name for themselves with their cavernous load areas, the Volvo V60's boot is actually smaller than you'll find in most rivals. As with the saloon, the Volvo V60 is comfortable, well equipped and is competitively priced.
The Volvo V70 proves that Volvo knows a thing or two about building really good estate cars that work in the real world. The Volvo V70 doesn’t feature the biggest boot in the class, but it's still enormous and capable of swallowing virtually anything you throw at it. What's more, the Volvo V70 is superbly comfortable to drive, particularly on the motorway, and the DRIVe version offers fuel bills similar to a small hatchback's.
The Volvo S80 is more like Volvo's older cars. Instead of the sporty look of the new Volvo S60, the Volvo S80 is built for comfort, and makes for a big and relaxing, but rather unexciting, executive saloon. The Volvo S80 is similar to the BMW 5-Series in size, but is priced in line with top-spec Ford Mondeos, so you get a lot of car for your money. It's well made too, and features a large line-up of quiet engines; from the economical DRIVe model all the way up to a five-cylinder diesel luxury model.
The Volvo XC60 offers a pleasing mixture of off-road and estate car styling, which looks less aggressive than rivals like the Land Rover Freelander and BMW X3. The interior looks great, too, and offers a high driving position, comfortable seats and great visibility, plus lots of space for passengers and luggage. The Volvo XC60 drives more like a car than a 4x4, and while there are high-powered diesel engines, the frugal DRIVe version, which has front-wheel drive, returns an impressive 47.1mpg. All cars get City Safety, which is designed to help avoid collisions with pedestrians and other traffic at low speeds.
The Volvo XC70 is based on the proven Volvo V70, which means it doesn’t feature the biggest boot, but it's still enormous and capable of swallowing virtually anything you throw at it. What's more, the Volvo XC70 is superbly comfortable to drive, particularly on the motorway. The Volvo XC70 features jacked-up suspension, four-wheel drive and a rugged bodykit, and is a match for the Audi A6 Allroad when taken off the beaten track.
The original Volvo XC90 was Volvo's first off-roader and helped take big SUVs out of the mud and on to the school run. Now in its second generation, the ability to seat seven in comfort and tranquility shows no signs of slowing. The XC90 feels more upmarket than ever, and has excellent safety credentials as well as a choice of petrol, diesel and hybrid engines. It is now more than a match for the best big SUVs out there, such as the BMW X4, Mercedes M-Class and Audi Q7.