Ford takes Edge in safety tests

Crossover SUV earns top marks in Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's crash tests.

NEW YORK ( -- Ford's new Edge crossover SUV earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's "Top safety pick" award, getting top scores for front, side and rear impact safety.

The rating also applies to the Lincoln MKX, a luxury version of that vehicle.

2007 Ford Edge
2007 Ford Edge

To earn a "Top safety pick" a vehicle must earn the best possible rating of "Good" for all three types of impact and must be available with electronic stability control, a system that helps avoid skids or rollovers during abrupt maneuvers.

A study performed last year by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicated that crash deaths on American roads could be reduced by one third if all vehicles were equipped with electronic stability control.

For front-impact safety, the Institute uses an "offset" test in which the vehicle strikes a barrier with just part of its front bumper, concentrating impact forces.

In its side impact test, the Insurance Institute hits the vehicle with a barrier that resembles the front of a sport utility vehicle or pick-up truck. That type of impact represents a much graver risk of head injury, and therefore a greater risk of death, than an impact from a car.

"Earning a 'Top Safety Pick' is great news because the Insurance Institute's tests are some of the most demanding conducted outside of our own laboratories, and customers are increasingly relying on them when choosing a new vehicle," Sue Cischke, Ford Motor Company vice president for environmental and safety engineering, said in a statement.

The award applies to Edge and MKX SUV's built after January 2007, when Ford modified the vehicles' headrests to provide better protection from whiplash.

Fusion retested

The Insurance Institute also retested the Ford Fusion midsize sedan. In earlier tests that car had earned the second-best rating of "Acceptable" for front impact protection and a "Poor" rating for side protection when not equipped with optional side airbags.

Those ratings also applied to the Mercury Milan, an upgraded version of the Fusion.

After those tests, Ford made changes to the Fusion, including strengthening the car's floor pan, to provide better front-crash protection.

Also, the company made side airbags standard equipment and changed some interior door trim pieces.

These changes have been made to all Fusions and Milans produced after January 2007.

When the Fusion was retested with those changes it earned the top rating of "Good" for both front and side impact protection.

"The Fusion is one of only eight midsize moderately priced car designs that earn good ratings for both front and side crash protection," said Institute president Adrian Lund.

The new side impact results do not affect the Lincoln MKZ, formerly known as the Zephyr, even though it is also based on the Fusion. The MKZ has different door trim pieces and those pieces have not been changed. The MKZ retains an earlier rating of "Acceptable" for side impact protection.

The Edge and Fusion were tested outside the Institute's normal crash test schedule at the request of Ford Motor Co. When companies request crash tests outside the Institute's normal testing schedule, the car company is required to reimburse the Institute for the cost of the vehicles tested.

Review: Ford Edge fails to raise the bar

Review: Lincoln MKZ a good car made great

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