— The 2006 Ford Five Hundred and Mercury Montego were rated "Top Safety Pick-Gold" recently by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The Five Hundred and Montego earned IIHS' highest accolade for achieving the best available safety performance in rear, side and frontal collisions. Only by achieving the highest ratings in all three categories can vehicles win entry into what IIHS president Brian O'Neill calls "an elite fraction of the car market." The sedans also earned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's highest available five-star crash-test ratings. The "Top Safety Pick" is a newly developed rating system for the IIHS, which is updating its rating system in order to recognize early adoption of state-of-the-art safety technology. The "Top Safety Pick" rating, which has a Gold and Silver category, is harder to achieve because vehicles now have to receive a "good" rating in frontal, side and rear crash tests. Silver indicates a "good" rating in frontal and side crash-worthiness, and an "acceptable" rating in rear collisions. The IIHS earlier presented both sedans with its highest frontal offset technical rating and a "Best Pick" because their innovative structures and restraint systems provide an effective balance between their ability to absorb crash energy and control the forces on occupants. The Institute also gave both vehicles its highest rear-impact rating for offering effective protection against neck injuries, and its highest side impact rating for their ability to withstand intrusion into occupant compartments.