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Ford, Toyota SUVs Top Crash Ratings

The Freestyle and the FJ Cruiser perform the best among four vehicles tested. The other two models improve after air bags are added.

September 16, 2006|From the Associated Press

The 2007 Ford Freestyle and Toyota FJ Cruiser, two mid-size sport utility vehicles, earned top ratings in front- and side-impact crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The 2007 Ford Crown Victoria, with optional front combination head and torso side air bags, received a "marginal" rating, the second-lowest mark, in side-impact tests and the top rating of "good" in front-impact tests. The Crown Victoria is also sold as the Mercury Grand Marquis.

The two had received the lowest mark of "poor" in previous side-impact testing without the additional air bags. They have earned a frontal rating of "good" since 2003.

The test results released Thursday also found that the 2007 Ford Fusion -- also sold as the Mercury Milan -- received the second-highest score of "acceptable" in front- and side-impact tests. It was an improvement over the 2006 version of the vehicles without side air bags, which received a "poor" rating in side-impact tests.

The 2006 Fusion and Milan received an "acceptable" rating in frontal crash tests.

2007 Fusion and Milan vehicles have standard head curtain and front torso side air bags. The Freestyle will have standard side air bags in 2007 models built after September.

Ford Motor Co. requested the additional tests for the Fusion and the Crown Victoria.

Adrian Lund, president of the safety institute, said manufacturers could request a test if they had made changes to improve the vehicle's performance.

He said the institute encouraged testing requests because "it means manufacturers are striving to make their vehicles safer."

The FJ Cruiser, which debuted this year, was tested with optional head curtain and front torso side air bags.

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