ARLINGTON, VA --- The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said that the Mercedes R class SUV and the Lincoln MKZ midsize luxury car are the institute's newest 2009 Top Safety Pick award winners. 

The Top Safety Pick designation applies to 2009 R class models built after September 2008, and 2010 MKZ models. 

To qualify for Top Safety Pick, a vehicle must earn the highest rating of "good" in the institute's front, side and rear crash tests and be equipped with electronic stability control. 

Criteria to win are tough, the institute said, because the award is intended to drive continued safety improvements. 

"Recognizing vehicles at the head of the class for safety helps consumers distinguish the best overall choices without having to sort through multiple test results," said Institute President Adrian Lund.