Volvo is not content with providing world-class protection in the event of a crash – now it aims to stop collisions happening in the first place.

Last year the XC60, the second generation of the Swedish car maker’s mid-size sports utility vehicle, gained the highest overall score in crash tests run by car safety experts Euro NCAP, but its real brilliance lies in the systems that can avoid impacts.

So in comes the same combined camera and radar crash detection system as the Volvo S90 saloon and V90 estate, which is capable of detecting cyclists and the only one that can detect large animals.

Smarter still, the XC60 can detect the edge of the road and prevent run-off-road accidents by steering the car back. It can even detect an imminent head-on crash and steer out of danger. Another exclusive feature is a driver monitoring system that will pull the car over if the driver has fallen asleep, or become ill.

All this impressive technology is matched by an elegantly designed, luxurious Scandinavian interior that blends high-quality materials with a clean look, largely made possible by the large touchscreen control system that rids the dashboard of most buttons and switches.

The screen operates more like a smartphone or tablet with swipe, pinch and zoom functions and its infra-red technology means it works even when you’re wearing gloves.

The screen works in tandem with a voice-activated control system that allows you to change the radio station, input an address in the sat-nav or change the cabin temperature, all without moving your eyes from the road.

Capacious and versatile, the five-seater XC60 is a superb long-distance cruiser and despite its considerable size it is controllable, predictable and supremely comfortable.

Small wonder it was voted 2018 World Car of the Year and UK Car of the Year, described by judges as ‘all-round brilliant’ and winning praise for its ‘magnificent quality, comfort and space’.

Priced from about £37,000, every XC60 is well equipped as standard, and comes with all-wheel drive and an automatic gearbox.

Power on the test car came from the 190 horsepower version of the pair of diesel engines on offer, which offers the possibility of 50mpg+ fuel consumption in day-to-day use. A petrol unit and a potent petrol-electric plug-in hybrid complete the range.

Externally, the XC60 has more striking looks with T-shaped daytime running lights that now extend right to the edge of the front grille. The doors also have a heavily sculpted lower section and a pronounced ridge that runs backwards from just above the rear door handles.

Every XC60 also comes with a power-operated tailgate, which can be raised or lowered at the touch of a button. An optional hands-free tailgate allows you to open and close the tailgate by simply putting your foot beneath the rear bumper – perfect for when you have your hands full.

But it is inside where the comfort for driver and passengers excels. The test car came with heated leather seats, heated front and rear screens and no fewer than three heat settings for the leather-trimmed steering wheel.

A choice of five ‘drive mode’ settings allows you to alter certain dynamic functions and convenience features of the car – including the responses of the engine, gearbox, steering, brakes, stability control and even the operation of the climate control system.

The driver is treated to a full digital dashboard display complete with a traffic sign read-out, which warns not only the current speed limit but also of the next one to come. It also displays an alert as you approach a school and if you stray even 1mph above the speed limit, a warning sign flashes in the instrument panel.

Volvo has always put safety at the heart of its offer to drivers, but the XC60 graphically demonstrates how it is upping its game.

Auto facts

Model: Volvo XC60 D4 AWD R-Design

Price: £43,930 as tested

Insurance group: 30E (1-50)

Fuel consumption (combined): 55.4mpg

Top speed: 127mph

Length: 464.4cm/182.3in

Width: 189.1cm/74.5in

Luggage capacity: 17.5 cu ft

Fuel tank capacity: 13.2 gallons/60 litres

CO2 emissions: 136g/km

Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles