updated 9/18/2006 10:49:10 AM ET 2006-09-18T14:49:10

The 2007 Ford Freestyle and Toyota FJ Cruiser, two midsize 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 and Mercury Grand Marquis, 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 vehicles had received the lowest mark of “poor” in previous side-impact testing without the additional air bags and has earned a frontal rating of “good” since 2003.

The test results released Thursday also found that the 2007 Ford Fusion and 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 vehicle 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 and their corporate twins.

IIHS president Adrian Lund said manufacturers can request a test if they’ve made changes to improve the vehicle’s performance. He said the IIHS encourages it because “it means manufacturers are striving to make their vehicles safer.”

Sue Cischke, Ford’s vice president of environmental and safety engineering, said, “creating safe, high-quality, affordable vehicles for our customers is part of our ongoing commitment to safety innovation.”

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

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