The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has named the 2009 Lincoln MKS a top safety pick in the large luxury category. The mid-size sedan earned the highest rating in its class during front-, side- and rear-impact crash tests, according to the group.
In all, 72 vehicles earned the institute's Top Safety Pick award for 2009. It's more than double the number of 2008 recipients and more than three times the number of 2007 winners. Top Safety Pick recognizes vehicles that do the best job of protecting people in front, side, and rear crashes based on good ratings in institute tests. Winners also have to have electronic stability control (ESC), which research shows significantly reduces crash risk.
For the first time ever, winners represent every class of vehicle the institute tests except microcars. Most car, minivan, and SUV models, midsize convertibles, and small and large pickups are eligible.
"Consumers are the biggest winners," said Adrian Lund, the institute's president. "No matter what kind of vehicle buyers may be considering, now they can walk into just about any dealership and find one that affords the best overall protection in serious crashes."
Front and side impacts are the most common kinds of fatal crashes, killing about three-quarters of the 28,896 passengers who died in 2007. Rear-end crashes usually aren't fatal, but they result in a large proportion of crash injuries. Neck sprain or strain is the most commonly reported injury in two-thirds of insurance claims for injuries in all kinds of crashes.
The institute's frontal crashworthiness evaluations are based on results of 40 mph frontal offset crash tests. Side evaluations are based on performance in a crash test in which the side of a vehicle is struck by a barrier moving at 31 mph.
Rear crash protection is rated according to a two-step procedure. Starting points for the ratings are measurements of head restraint geometry — the height of a restraint and its horizontal distance behind the back of the head of an average-size man. A test then simulates a collision in which a stationary vehicle is struck in the rear at 20 mph.