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New Ford SUVs get top grades in safety tests


The Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX sport utility vehicles earned a "top safety pick" grade today from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which also raised its crash ratings on the Ford Fusion.

In a series of tests sponsored by Ford, the institute awarded both vehicles "good" scores in front- and side-impact crash tests, as well as "good" ratings for whiplash protection, a key concern of insurance companies. The insurance institute gives its top safety pick to vehicles that earn "good" ratings, its highest rating, in all three tests and come standard with electronic stability control.

The Edge and MKX are the first domestic vehicles to win the top rating under the institute's latest standards.

Ford's extensive efforts to win the top marks highlight the influence safety standards have on potential buyers. The insurance institute said its newest award standards apply only to vehicles built after January, when Ford made a change to headrests in the Edge and MKX to earn the whiplash protection score.

For Ford's Fusion, the institute raised its front- and side-impact ratings to "good"; it had scored "acceptable" for frontal impact and "poor" for side impact in models lacking side air bags in tests released in September. To earn the new grades, the institute said Ford revised the Fusion, modifying the door trim and floor pan and making side air bags standard.

The Fusion missed the top safety pick because it was rated "marginal" for whiplash protection and isn't sold with electronic stability control. The same ratings apply to Ford's Milan, which is mechanically identical to the Fusion.

The Lincoln MKZ sedan received the improved frontal crash score but its side-impact grade stayed at "acceptable."

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