The refreshed 2017 Ford Fusion’s sharper styling makes the sedan more handsome, but underneath the good looks the new one is also a much safer vehicle. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety just gave the upgraded four-door the agency’s Top Safety Pick+ award for the highest possible ratings across all of its crash tests.

The updated front end performs significantly better in a crash, and the Fusion now scores the IIHS’ top Good score in the often difficult small overlap front crash test ­­– up from Acceptable for the pre-refresh model. The structural changes allow just two inches of intrusion into the cabin versus six inches previously. The airbags and seatbelts in the upgraded sedan also now control the dummy’s movement better than before.

The 2017 Fusion also sees its front crash prevention rating jump to Superior, which is the highest possible score, from Basic, which is the lowest. The high grade comes from the sedan’s optional automatic braking system that can successfully avoid collisions from 12 and 25 miles per hour. The Ford’s forward-collision warning also meets the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s requirements.

The refreshed Fusion has more available power and luxury to go with the sedan's improved safety. The new Sport model puts a biturbo 2.7-liter V6 under the hood with 325 horsepower and a brawny 380 pound-feet of torque, and the power gets to the ground through an all-wheel drive system. The Platinum trim also packs on the amenities, including upgraded leather, 19-inch wheels, and a unique grille with Magnetic paint.

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Gallery: 2017 Ford Fusion IIHS Crash Test

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Ford Fusion earns top award from IIHS after improvements

ARLINGTON, Va. — A modified front-end structure and a new optional automatic braking system help the 2017 Ford Fusion qualify for a TOP SAFETY PICK+ award from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The beefed-up front end improved the Fusion’s performance in the small overlap front test from acceptable to good. Before the changes, the Fusion had maximum intrusion of 6 inches in the test, and the dummy’s head barely contacted the front airbag before sliding off. In contrast, maximum intrusion in the 2017 model was less than 2 inches, and the airbags and safety belt worked well together to control the dummy’s movement.

Like earlier Fusions, the 2017 model earns good ratings in the Institute’s four other crashworthiness tests — moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints.

The midsize car’s front crash prevention rating improved from basic to superior with the addition of autobrake. In track tests at 12 mph and 25 mph, the Fusion avoided collisions. The optional system also includes a forward collision warning component that meets National Highway Traffic Safety Administration criteria.

To qualify for TOP SAFETY PICK+, a vehicle must earn good ratings in all five crashworthiness tests and have an available front crash prevention system that earns an advanced or superior rating.

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is an independent, nonprofit scientific and educational organization dedicated to reducing the losses — deaths, injuries and property damage — from crashes on the nation's roads. The Institute is wholly supported by auto insurers.