The IIHS praised the MKX for its "across-the-board good crashworthiness ratings and a superior-rated front-crash prevention system."
"The 2016 MKX aced the small overlap test," the Institute said in a statement Thursday.
The test replicates what happens when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object like a tree or utility pole.
To qualify for the award, a vehicle must have "good" ratings in all five IIHS crashworthiness tests and an available front-crash prevention system that earns an "advanced" or "superior" rating.
Standard safety equipment for the MKX includes antilock brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags, integrated blind spot mirrors, a rearview camera and rear parking sensors.
A blind-spot monitoring system (with rear cross-traffic alert) is optional, as are rear parking sensors. The optional Driver Assistance package includes lane-departure warning, lane-departure intervention, forward collision warning, a driver-drowsiness monitor, and the superior-rated forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking and pedestrian detection.
On sale now at Lincoln dealerships, the 2016 MKX also earned the highest five-star overall safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It specifically received five stars in the front and side crash tests and four stars in the rollover crash test.
Edmunds says: Car shoppers keeping score should note that the 2016 Audi Q5 and Lexus RX 350 also earned the highest 2016 Top Safety Pick+ award.