"Criteria to win are tough because the award is intended to drive continued safety improvements," the IIHS said in a statement.
Of the three, only the Dodge received the IIHS' top marks in every single category. The Lincoln and Mazda received a handful of "Accpetable" ratings, although their overall evaluations were strong enough to receive the "Top Safety Pick" award.
The Mazda3 was the first from the automaker, aside from the Ford Escape-based Tribute, to qualify for the award. Chrysler picked up its first award earlier this year when the related Chrysler Sebring and Dodge Avenger were rated as Top Safety Picks. Several Lincoln models, including the MKZ, MKS and MKX, have already received the award.