Photo of Lincoln MKZ courtesy of Lincoln.

Photo of Lincoln MKZ courtesy of Lincoln.

The 2017 model-year Lincoln MKZ has captured the Top Safety Pick+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, thanks largely to modifications to the car's front-end structure and an improved front crash prevention system.

The MKZ, a mid-size luxury car, shares a platform with the Ford Fusion, whose Top Safety Pick+ designation was previously announced. Both cars had their front ends and bumpers modified to improve protection in frontal crashes.

“They now earn a good rating in the small overlap test, compared with an acceptable rating for earlier models,” IIHS said in a released statement about the award.

Like the 2017 Fusion, the 2017 MKZ is available with an optional front crash prevention system that earned a “superior” rating from IIHS. In IIHS track tests, the MKZ avoided collisions at 12 mph and 25 mph. The vehicle also has a forward collision warning component that meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration criteria.

To qualify for Top Safety Pick+, the highest award from IIHS, a vehicle must have “good” ratings in the small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraint tests. The vehicle also must have an available front crash prevention system that earns an “advanced” or “superior” rating.

The 2017 Lincoln MKZ is available with a suite of driver-assist technologies. Its Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection uses camera and radar technology to monitor the vehicle’s proximity to other vehicles and pedestrians. If a potential collision is detected, the system can alert the driver with visible and audible warnings and, if needed, pre-charge the brakes and increase brake sensitivity to help provide full responsiveness.

The lane-keeping system uses a forward-facing camera to detect lane markings. It can apply steering wheel torque and alert the driver with a steering wheel vibration should sensors detect drifting.

Finally, BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with cross-traffic alert uses radar sensors to warn drivers with lights in their side-view mirrors if another vehicle is detected in the Lincoln MKZ’s blind spots. When drivers are backing up, the system can detect a vehicle approaching from either side, notifying drivers with a warning light and an audible tone.