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Safety of S70 vs newer cars

Help, Advice and DIY Tutorials on Volvo's extremely popular car line -- Volvo's 1990s "bread and butter" cars -- powered by the ubiquitous and durable Volvo inline 5-cylinder engine.

1992 - 1997 850, 850 R, 850 T5-R, 850 T5, 850 GLT
1997 - 2000 S70, S70 AWD
1997 - 2000 V70, V70 AWD
1997 - 2000 V70-XC
1997 - 2004 C70

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Safety of S70 vs newer cars

Post by iamjason » Fri Jan 11, 2019 6:09 pm

I have been having an informal discussion about this topic and curious to hear what others' thoughts are

The question is -- how much more safe is a new car (take say a 2019 S60, and as an alternative comparison a 2019 Toyota Camry), vs a late-90s S70?

Statistically, I have trouble finding the precise crash test results for a test that I know has remained the same over the same period of time that is a good indication of safety; also, US death-rate records, while available for late-90s S70s, has a wide confidence interval and there are too many other biases and factors that make this useful to compare

Qualitatively, some thoughts I have going through my head:
- at that time, S70s I imagine were more safer than the average car on the market compared with today, so it would be unfair to look at aggregate metrics. (eg; the use of crumple zones, structural and airbag side impact protection, etc)
- one major category of safety feature that didn't exist at that time was in active safety features. I don't know though how much of an overall impact this has on crash or death rates overall; though I will add, while I don't think I am a perfect driver by any means and don't doubt an active safety feature could safe my life, I tend to think of myself as a 'better than average' driver that may be less likely to have one of these kick in. Am I being too naive?
- fuller, 'curtain' side impact airbags are common practice now. It makes the side impact airbags on the S70 look quite dinky, but again I don't know how big of a deal this is (statistically speaking)
- anything else?

Curious to hear your thoughts on this!



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Re: Safety of S70 vs newer cars

Post by BEJinFbk » Fri Jan 11, 2019 7:11 pm

I may be going off on a bit of a tangent here, but I’d prefer the S70.
Color me old school, but I prefer the tactile analog controls and lack
of distracting “features” found in late model vehicles.

In my humble opinion, touch screens are probably one of
the most dangerous OEM additions ever installed in a car.
If more people valued situational awareness on the road
and placed greater value on courtesy and defensive
driving, accidents would be decreased dramatically.
Don’t even get me started on texting...

The older car won’t help you with most of these issues,
but at least it can give you an edge. And structurally,
these are solid rides that have saved a lot of lives.

It’s also much simpler in a number of aspects than
modern cars. Fewer things to go wrong and easier
to deal with if they do. But I’m a simple creature... :mrgreen:


'98 V70 R - Well Equipped for Life Up North... ;)

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Re: Safety of S70 vs newer cars

Post by abscate » Fri Jan 11, 2019 8:49 pm

It's really hard to assign the safety aspect of a " car" to the car itself...Volvo drivers are by nature conservative drivers so the safety of an S70 is a function of the car plus driver.

The 95% confidence bars on the accident rates on most cards are as large as the accident rate itself. Comparing numbers with such large variances doesn't mean too much.

How good a driver are you? If your drive 12000 miles a year, Mr Average Driver will have an accident about once every 15 years. If you have more than this, you bad. Less, you good.


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Re: Safety of S70 vs newer cars

Post by precopster » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:22 pm

What side curtain airbags on the S70 are you talking about? There are none :D

The side bag built into the seat on 1999-2000 S/V70 extended to the lower part of the headrest area and was called a thorax airbag. Models before these years had only side body protection. Head protection was only afforded in a frontal collision courtesy of the steering wheel airbag.

There were no rear curtains on this model so side impact damage to rear seat passengers would be commonplace. The tests NCAP performed in that era didn't include the damage to rear seat passengers in a side impact. The same applies today.

There were no offset crash testing in the days of the S/V70 range either. I doubt yesterday's Volvos could perform as well in these tests, as Volvo has engineered their more recent cars to comply easily.

The same can't be said for all their middle luxury competitors even up until 2016.

Rollover protection on the other hand is performed by Volvo independantly and the videos are commonplace on YouTube.

Of the 5 accidents I've been involved in over my 35 plus year driving career (80% of these were in my first 15years) one of them stood out as the worst. It was 1998 and I was in a Nissan Prairie. A runaway truck (heavy bin disposal truck) with no brake pedal (snapped off) careered down a steep riverside hill toward 7 cars with one of them (a VW beetle) glued to its front end. I was hit 2nd so sustained one of the larger impacts. The Nissan I was driving was shortened by more than 20 inches (the crumple zones doing their work quite well) My seat was bent almost horizontal as I was hit twice from behind and I'm not a heavy person.

Five other cars were hit while the Beetle was the battering ram, still attached to the bumper of the truck . The truck had stayed on top of it for the whole hell ride while pushing the engine into the back seating area and crushing the entire roof structure apart from the driver's cockpit.

There were no casualties; the Gods were smiling on us that day. Driving skill was not a factor. All parties were just along for the ride..........


Current cars:2002 XC70, 2006 Ssangyong Rodius (Stavic), 2006 XC90 2.5T, VW Transporter 2.5TDI

www.precisioncarmodules.com.

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Re: Safety of S70 vs newer cars

Post by j-dawg » Sat Jan 12, 2019 1:10 am

Modern cars are dramatically safer than older cars. Much, much more so. Fatalities per mile in an 850, far and away the best in their time alongside only the Lexus ES300, are considerably better than its contemporaries, and would rank only around average today.

For all the reasons stated above it's hard to draw an easy answer of the numbers. But if I knew I was going to crash, I'd feel better being in a newer Corolla - with its many airbags and well-designed modern structure, with its *newer* airbags and seat belts, etc - than any P80 car.


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Re: Safety of S70 vs newer cars

Post by abscate » Sat Jan 12, 2019 3:12 am

I do cringe at all the peopletravellingin tissue paper thin hybrids at 80 mph. design is important but mass is your friend in physics of collisions, too.


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Re: Safety of S70 vs newer cars

Post by Sommerfeldt » Sat Jan 12, 2019 5:14 am

precopster wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:22 pm
What side curtain airbags on the S70 are you talking about? There are none :D

The side bag built into the seat on 1999-2000 S/V70 extended to the lower part of the headrest area and was called a thorax airbag. Models before these years had only side body protection. Head protection was only afforded in a frontal collision courtesy of the steering wheel airbag.
No one said anything about curtain airbags on the S70.

- S


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Re: Safety of S70 vs newer cars

Post by j-dawg » Sat Jan 12, 2019 9:23 am

abscate wrote:
Sat Jan 12, 2019 3:12 am
I do cringe at all the peopletravellingin tissue paper thin hybrids at 80 mph. design is important but mass is your friend in physics of collisions, too.
All else being equal more mass is better, but an S70 (3100-3200lb, depending on trim) weighs only 2-300 lb more than the aforementioned Corolla. That 10 percent is not a game changer, and it's certainly not going to make up for design and technology improvements. My old Fiesta was about a 2700 lb car, and that's the smallest thing Ford sells. 20 percent lighter than an S70.

Size helps too; the Fiesta is at a disadvantage for having less space for crumple zones and cabin deflection. But by that same token, we often think the P80 cars are bigger than they are. I use the modern Corolla as a point of comparison because it's very similar dimensionally to an 850.

With the popularity of heavy, tall crossovers, we're driving around in lightweight compacts compared to most of our fellow road users. Our cars are exceptionally safe for their age, but probably not better than average compared with their modern equivalents.


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Re: Safety of S70 vs newer cars

Post by WhatAmIDoing » Sat Jan 12, 2019 11:57 am

precopster wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:22 pm
The side bag built into the seat on 1999-2000 S/V70 extended to the lower part of the headrest area and was called a thorax airbag. Models before these years had only side body protection. Head protection was only afforded in a frontal collision courtesy of the steering wheel airbag.
My 1998 US spec S70 has side airbags built in the seat.

Considering how advanced Volvos were safety wise in the 90s, I would think they would still be considered average to above average safety wise today.

I would feel just as safe being in a crash in a 97 850 as a 2019 corolla... assuming it has a safe airbag. Would prefer a Volvo for a front end crash, then i don't have to worry about being decapitated by a taccata airbag, plus that long bonnet to absorb the impact. In a rollover crash, definitely a Volvo.

One thing that hasn't been mentioned, a 90s Volvo has substantially more steel in it than any modern car, steel trumps plastic.

And I think this says a lot: many demolition derbies have actually banned Volvos for being unkillable. Whenever I've seen a Volvo at a demo derby, it was always the last standing and usually survived through multiple rounds. Maybe not a testament to safety, but definitely a testament to structural robustness and strength.
BEJinFbk wrote:
Fri Jan 11, 2019 7:11 pm
In my humble opinion, touch screens are probably one of
the most dangerous OEM additions ever installed in a car.
If more people valued situational awareness on the road
and placed greater value on courtesy and defensive
driving, accidents would be decreased dramatically.
Don’t even get me started on texting...
I have to agree with this. With the shear number of crashes caused by distracted driving, you would think there would have been laws passed concerning the infotainment systems found on many modern cars. All I need is climate control, a basic stereo, and maybe a sat-nav in the center console. Anything else is useless to me.


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'99 S70 "AWD" - 218,000+mi - project
Knows enough to be dangerous :wink:

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Re: Safety of S70 vs newer cars

Post by j-dawg » Sat Jan 12, 2019 1:04 pm

And despite the massively increased distractions and steady population increase, deaths on the road are flat or down. Whatever we think about plastics and mass and rollovers, if they really made us less safe, we'd see more deaths on the road. We don't. I agree about the distractions, but they don't cancel out structural design improvements, passenger protection technologies, and accident-avoidance technologies.

I'm adamant about this because I want us to make decisions based on the right reasons. Buy these cars because you like them, or because you find them economical to maintain, or because the ratio of price to safety is right. Don't buy them because they're safer than modern cars. They're on par at best. It is incorrect to pretend otherwise, and it's harmful to talk ourselves in circles to convince ourselves otherwise.

</rant>


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