Ford Motor Company announced that the 2005 Ford Five Hundred and Mercury Montego have received NHTSA's top five-star crash-test rating for front- and side-impacts. The 2005 models are the only passenger cars tested to achieve this performance without the optional side air bags, according to Ford. Ford says the Five Hundred's extensive safety engineering resulted in NHTSA's top crash-test rating. Safety features include a structure with crush zones designed into impact areas, collapsible steering column, cross-car beam with "Space Architecture," front bumper plate and dual-stage front air bags. A two-row Safety Canopy side air bag system with rollover sensor is available and provides additional protection not only in certain side collisions, but in rollover events as well. Ford's new D3 car architecture, which is shared with the Ford Freestyle, Mercury Montego and a forthcoming crossover vehicle from Mercury, is engineered to offer a structure with crush zones designed into impact areas. Excess energy is transferred around the passenger compartment into a high-strength safety cage. A patent-pending new design tailors the steering column's collapse to the driver's size and safety-belt use for enhanced protection, Ford says.Ford says its rear-impact performance is so advanced that it is designed to meet proposed future federal crash standards. Frontal impact performance will meet the new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208, which requires the restraints system to automatically adjust to the size of the front-seat passenger.