The Truth About Cars » Ford http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 29 Mar 2015 18:57:33 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Ford http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/reviews/ford/ 2015 Ford S-Max Can Drive 55 Via Intelligent Speed Limiter http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/2015-ford-s-max-can-drive-55-via-intelligent-speed-limiter/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/2015-ford-s-max-can-drive-55-via-intelligent-speed-limiter/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 14:00:31 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1028945 Can’t drive 55? If you’re behind the wheel of a 2015 Ford S-Max, you’ll have no choice, thanks to its Intelligent Speed Limiter. Ford of Europe says its limiter, being first offered on the seven-seat crossover, can allow drivers to set a maximum speed manually that can be dialed up or down in 5 kph […]

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2015 Ford S-Max Intelligent Speed Limiter - TTAC Zaibatsu Style

Can’t drive 55? If you’re behind the wheel of a 2015 Ford S-Max, you’ll have no choice, thanks to its Intelligent Speed Limiter.

Ford of Europe says its limiter, being first offered on the seven-seat crossover, can allow drivers to set a maximum speed manually that can be dialed up or down in 5 kph (5 mph) increments, as well as doing all the work for the driver.

The latter is accomplished through traffic-sign recognition technology, which provides the driver with speed limit information, cancellation signs and overtaking restrictions via the S-Max’s instrument cluster. Functionality begins at 30 kph (20 mph), and ends at 200 kph (120 mph), and drivers can set a speed tolerance of 5 kph above the limit.

Active safety chief Stefan Knappes says the system is meant to remove “one of the stresses of driving, helping ensure customers remain within the legal speed limit,” explaining that drivers sometimes aren’t aware of their speed until an accident or a fine occurs. The system will hit the road in Europe this summer, when the first S-Max deliveries begin.

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Long-term Tester Update: Fiesta ST vs. The Family of Four http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/long-term-tester-update-fiesta-st-vs-family-four/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/long-term-tester-update-fiesta-st-vs-family-four/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 14:02:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1027521 I’m approximately one month and seven hundred eighty miles into my twenty-four month lease of my 2015 Ford Fiesta ST. I have no desire to make TTAC my own personal blog about my car (I mean, who doesn’t have a blog nowadays?), but I do wish to keep y’all updated on what it’s like to own […]

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I’m approximately one month and seven hundred eighty miles into my twenty-four month lease of my 2015 Ford Fiesta ST. I have no desire to make TTAC my own personal blog about my car (I mean, who doesn’t have a blog nowadays?), but I do wish to keep y’all updated on what it’s like to own or lease one of the hottest cars on the enthusiast landscape today.

Today’s installment focuses on what it’s like to have the Fiesta ST as a family car. For the sake of this discussion, let’s pretend like there isn’t a Ford Flex hiding behind the white garage door in the picture above, and that I have to use the Fiesta for my daily driver for my four-person family. I did my best to simulate those conditions during my first month of leasership, but this happened:

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For the first couple of weeks, the Fiesta ST (or as I like to call him, Zippy) spent a good deal of time in my driveway, underneath big brother Boss’ car cover. In retrospect, I think seeing the Boss in the garage and the Fiesta underneath the car cover may have inspired the SuBaruth (RIP) to commit suicide. Since I have yet to acquire any snow tires or steel wheels for Zippy, he sat like this about two weeks. Next winter, since I won’t have the Lego wagon anymore, I’ll be able to give you a little bit better perspective on how the Fiesta fares in the snow.

But, for now, let’s focus on what it’s been like since all the powder melted away in the grand Commonwealth of Kentucky. Well, let me put it to you this way—the above picture was the only time that the Boss has left the garage since I acquired the Fiesta. I haven’t had any need or desire to drive it, because the ST is simply that good.

However, we’re going to save the driving dynamics for another time. Most importantly, how has it fared as a family truckster?

Well, the suspension is tuned pretty stiffly. The potholes that appeared in the highways as a result of the winter weather are downright deadly for the Fiesta. The kids feel each and every bump when seated in the back. Mrs. Bark remarked that it was remarkably similar to riding in my old RX-8 when it was prepared for SCCA B Stock Autocross on revalved Koni Yellows.

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Despite the bumpy ride, the kids love riding in it. As you can see, there’s plenty of room for a seven-year-old in a booster seat. Even though it lacks the pure volume of the Boss 302’s Coyote-powered roar, the turbo whine that is pumped into the cabin by the sound symposer makes them laugh and command Dad to go faster. Kevin still prefers that I pick him up from school in the Mustang, but he’s a fan of Zippy, as well.

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How about for daily tasks like buying groceries for a family of four? As you can see above, $170 of groceries fits just fine into the cargo area, provided that you move the floor down to its lowest position (yes, we go through a lot of toilet paper). Other items that the Fiesta has swallowed quite comfortably under the hatch include my 27″ suitcase (although the carry-on has to go in the back seat—there’s no additional room), Kevin’s tri-fold posterboard for his science project, and the vast amount of materials required when one adopts a cat.

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Complaints from a family hauler perspective? The rear windshield is small. Like, super small. When two kiddos have their heads elevated by their car seats, it becomes pretty difficult to see out of the back.

The side impact safety rating for the rear seats is two stars—in other words, it’s dismal. It causes Ford to have to place an asterisk on the Monroney sticker, which indicates an “area of concern.” I don’t mind putting the kids back there for 25 MPH trips to school and the grocery store, but I’d feel a bit worried about having them back there at highway speeds for any length of time.

Along those same lines, I’m simply not used to being in such a small car on the highway. Sometimes I have found myself unexpectedly making an emergency evasive maneuver simply because a larger SUV or semi didn’t see me.

The stereo is not so great. While the MyFordTouch has worked flawlessly so far, the tinny sound of the speakers makes listening to the “Frozen” soundtrack even more annoying than usual.

Could you live with a Fiesta ST as your only car with a young family of four? You could, but I probably wouldn’t recommend it, if only because of the safety concerns. It’s the sort of thing that a childless Bark wouldn’t have even thought about ten years ago, but especially after the accident that Jack had last year, in which his son and my nephew (does that clarify things a bit?) was miraculously unharmed, I can’t ignore it.

Next week, we will do a little comparison with another B segment car from an American automaker with a young lady from whom we haven’t heard in quite some time…be prepared, TTAC faithful.

 

 

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Rental Review: 2015 Ford Taurus Limited http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/review-2015-taurus-limited/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/review-2015-taurus-limited/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 12:00:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1027185 The plan: to drive nine hundred and seventy-two miles between 8PM Friday night and 1AM Sunday morning. The purpose: for me and my music partner Patrick, familiar to my blog readers from our indefensible habit of trying to arrange, learn, and perform new songs in a two-hour window, to spend Saturday afternoon at Wooten Woods, […]

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Wooten 017 (Custom)

The plan: to drive nine hundred and seventy-two miles between 8PM Friday night and 1AM Sunday morning. The purpose: for me and my music partner Patrick, familiar to my blog readers from our indefensible habit of trying to arrange, learn, and perform new songs in a two-hour window, to spend Saturday afternoon at Wooten Woods, a “Bass (pronounced “base”) and Nature Camp” sixty miles west of Nashville, TN, jamming with Victor Wooten. The loadout: two six-foot-two men, five guitars, two bass guitars, a Two-Rock Gain Master 35 amplifier, plus clothing and accessories. The available rental candidates: Chrysler 200, VW Passat, Ford Taurus.

Well, duh.

trunk1

I’d have chosen the Taurus on the basis of the trunk alone; even after the 2010-model-year restyling, Ford’s biggest sedan retained a truly impressive amount of trunk space. There are very few cars on the market where you can put guitar cases in as shown above, and that includes my old Lincoln Town Car. But the Taurus has more to offer than a spacious trunk. Nearly six years ago, I attended the press preview for this car and was impressed at how quiet and composed the Taurus was on the freeway. “Ninety-five percent of the Lincoln MKS experience for about sixty percent of the price” was my verdict. As a car with which to burn serious freeway mileage in a short amount of time, the Taurus truly excels.

The problem, if there was going to be one, would be in what has traditionally happened to the Taurus during the mid-cycle refresh. The 1986 Taurus impressed everybody from the buff books to the buyers with its materials and quality — but in 1992, Ford took a hatchet to the thing and cut costs everywhere from the dashboard to the deletion of the center rear armrest. The new-for-1996 model was stylish and expensive-looking, but Ford cut features just eighteen months after its introduction. (Halfway through 1996, Ford introduced the “Taurus G”, a bare-bones, low-price stopgap to get Taurus base prices under nineteen grand. I was a Ford salesman at the time and I suggested to customers that the Taurus G was the “choice of discriminating, or discriminated-against, gangsters.”) The 2000 Taurus was an even more egregiously poverty-spec approach to the 1996 platform, featuring drum brakes and interior fabric that would have shamed an ’82 Escort.

Wooten 019 (Custom)

The possibility was distinct, therefore, that when the teenaged Enterprise “manager” brought my 2015 Taurus Limited around I would find it to be a de-contented shadow of its former self. The fact that Ford has struggled to maintain sales volume for the model ever since 2011 did not reassure me on the subject.

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First impressions were good. The 2013 facelift was both minor and tasteful. As is always the case with Ford D-platform automobiles, I’m never really aware of just how large the Taurus is until it’s parked next to something else. It’s 202 inches long on a 112-inch wheelbase and it’s nearly 61 inches high against a width of 76 inches; closer to an S-Class than an E-class in the overall scheme of things. The odd proportions and high seating position are mostly to blame here. It’s just not shaped the same way that most sedans are.

Wooten 054 (Custom)

In creating this car from the bones of the old Five Hundred, Ford rolled the dice on a fashion-forward interior design that was rendered even more impressive by the mid-cycle refresh. No costs cut in here; to the contrary, everything from the center console to the door-mounted window switches feels distinctly premium and a clear cut above what Honda and Toyota have to offer in this price range. The difficulty is that the Taurus isn’t any more spacious than an Accord. To the contrary, the wide center console and sloping dashboard combine with the low roof to produce the distinct feeling that you, the driver, are being lowered into an extremely long and narrow cockpit. Like it’s an F-104 Starfighter or something. It definitely feels like you’re sitting on top of the Taurus, rather than in it, a feeling that is not helped by the relatively low beltline compared to the high-mounted seats. Very different from everything else in this class; the closest non-CUV analogy that comes to mind is the Rolls-Royce Ghost, which offers a similar ergonomic layout. One minor annoyance, shared with the rest of the Ford D-platform cars, is the Tetris-shaped footwell. I’m sure it’s very good for safety — these are cars that do remarkably well in crash tests — but it can be annoying because there are very few places to just rest one’s foot during long drives.

Wooten 055 (Custom)

As with Lincolns of recent memory, there’s the strange combination of a capacitance-touch center console and the pressure-touch MyFordTouch control screen. The Navigator I tested last year had pressure-switch buttons in place of the old capacitance pads so I’d look for the next Taurus to do the same. Not that there will be a “next Taurus” in the United States, mind you. [Note: We’ve heard that it’s on, then it’s off, then on again. Anyone from the Blue Oval care to chime in? -DK]

Wooten 057 (Custom)

The current generation of MyFordTouch is fast, accurate, and far superior to competing systems in my semi-unbiased opinion. It certainly handles phone integration better than my 2014 Accord does. The re configurable dashboard is nice but without the Track Apps you get in the Mustang it feels very neutered and workaday. The standard-equipment Limited stereo is adequate but not sparkling. There’s an optional Sony system, but if you want stellar sound in this vehicle you’ll need to get the version that says MKS on the trunk.

Wooten 051 (Custom)

The Taurus easily passes the sit-behind-myself test. It’s more spacious for rear-seat passengers than the people up front, because the center console doesn’t intrude. It’s probably very comfortable for criminals; one in six Taurus sales is a Police Interceptor.

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The 288-horsepower 3.5L Duratec is unspectacular but effective in this application and shifts from the 6-speed D-platform automatic are both quiet and unobtrusive. Choosing “S” enables limited and dilatory control of the transmission from a rocker switch on the shifter, but if you need to get ahead of traffic summoning the kickdown will blur the scenery in satisfactory fashion. There’s a two-liter EcoBoost available in the Limited for a little more money but it’s a ridiculous choice unless you’re obsessed with highway fuel economy. Not that you’d buy a Taurus for fuel economy, even with the two-liter. This car weighs over two tons and has the frontal area of an Imperial Star Destroyer. I observed 24.5 average MPG running 80mph through Kentucky and Tennessee and about 22 driving around town. My manual-transmission Accord coupe does better on both counts, as does the Avalon V6.

While handling and braking are both entirely acceptable in the modern Euro-influenced Ford fashion, where this Taurus truly shines is in long-distance driving. I’ve made the Columbus-to-Nashville trip two dozen times in the past four years in machinery ranging from my Porsche 993 to a Chrysler Town&Country, and this Taurus has the whole field beat for comfort and low fatigue. It’s exceptionally quiet, crosswinds don’t bother it, and it tracks exceptionally well on low-quality pavement. It’s easily equal or superior to the mid-luxury Japanese offerings in that respect. It’s much better than my Accord, most notably in the quality and quantity of interior noise.

The Friday night trip from Ohio to Tennessee seemed to fly by. The next day, Patrick and I spent seven hours in a variety of jam sessions. Victor took an interest in me and gave me three important pieces of feedback:

“That’s some good… singing.” (Referring to a song in which I both sang and played guitar.)

“Don’t leave your guitar cases on the table, it’s keeping people from eating their lunch.”

“Do you hear how loud your amp is? I shouldn’t have to tell you to turn down, man. Respect the other musicians.”

He also signed my Fodera YYS, to my immense delight. I think we’re still friends. At one point he nodded approvingly at a Wes-Montgomery-style octave line I played. I think that was because I had my amp turned really low and he wanted to encourage that behavior. I think I’m allowed to come back, although that’s because I negotiated the issue with Victor’s wife and not Victor himself. You have to know where your strengths lie in this world.

Leaving Wooten Woods at 8PM Ohio time, after a day of playing my heart out, didn’t exactly fill me with cheer. Yet the Taurus was a worthy companion on the way back. Few cars are less tiring to operate on long drives. No, it’s not fast and it’s not terribly modern in its packaging but compared to a car that can deserve both of those accolades (like, say, a BMW M4) I’d take this Taurus for a long trip in a heartbeat.

Equipping a 2015 Limited to the standard of our rental car would cost $32,230. For that money you get a reasonably complete equipment package including front seats that are both heated and cooled, but you really want a few options on top of that: the moonroof and the auto-dim driver’s mirror. Another few grand gets you the Sony stereo and laser cruise control but at that point you could also start thinking about a Lincoln MKS. Best to keep the sticker under $35k and shoot for a transaction price of thirty flat. At that price, this is a good car and a good value.

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Autoleaks: 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/autoleaks-2017-ford-f-250-super-duty-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/autoleaks-2017-ford-f-250-super-duty-revealed/#comments Fri, 13 Mar 2015 10:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1020897 This is 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty in all of its glory, with the F-350 and F-450 Super Dutys to look like this when they hit the lot, as well. According to Jalopnik subsidiary Truck Yeah, an anonymous source dropped off the photo with no information about the truck, particularly what’s under the hood. Speculation, […]

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2017 Ford F-250 Aluminum Edition

This is 2017 Ford F-250 Super Duty in all of its glory, with the F-350 and F-450 Super Dutys to look like this when they hit the lot, as well.

According to Jalopnik subsidiary Truck Yeah, an anonymous source dropped off the photo with no information about the truck, particularly what’s under the hood. Speculation, however, points to a revised 6.7-liter Power Stroke diesel and 6.2-liter gas-powered V8 as likely powertrain possibilities.

The only detail set in stone about the heavier-duty pickups thus far is that, like the F-150, aluminum will be used throughout the body.

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Reuss: Low Priority For Ford Raptor Competitor http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/reuss-low-priority-ford-raptor-competitor/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/reuss-low-priority-ford-raptor-competitor/#comments Mon, 09 Mar 2015 14:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1018018 Will there be a Silverado or Sierra ready to battle the Ford Raptor in Baja Valley anytime soon? Not quite, according to General Motors. Edmunds says GM doesn’t have current plans to build a Raptor competitor, despite speculation that Chevrolet and GMC are working on such a beast as of this writing. The brands themselves […]

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Will there be a Silverado or Sierra ready to battle the Ford Raptor in Baja Valley anytime soon? Not quite, according to General Motors.

Edmunds says GM doesn’t have current plans to build a Raptor competitor, despite speculation that Chevrolet and GMC are working on such a beast as of this writing. The brands themselves also won’t confirm if the “Badlands” name filed in February with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is meant for a high-performance full-size off-road pickup.

Per GM global product development boss Mark Reuss, his company has the capital and a lot of priorties on the table, of which a Chevy/GMC Raptor is among the lowest in priority. Reuss added that he would not rule out such a thing, citing the Colorado ZR2 concept from the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show as where GM may go if it so chose.

Meanwhile, Buick-GMC vice president Duncan Aldred had this to say about the “Badlands” name:

When you are looking at terms, or names and phrases, the first thing you do, even if it is a speck of an idea, you trademark the name because it can become a legal mine field. If someone says, “I like that,” you generally go for it and work out if you might use it later. We’ve probably got hundreds, if not thousands, of names (we) don’t use.

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2015 Ford F-150 FX4: Reviewed! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/2015-ford-f-150-fx4-reviewed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/2015-ford-f-150-fx4-reviewed/#comments Mon, 09 Mar 2015 12:50:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1017746 This review begins with a car, a broken car, a miserable broken ungrateful little four-wheeled implement to which I have sunk too much money and too many pulled hairs, both of which I will never recoup. My stupid, silly Mazda Miata has been out of commission since, oh, last May, befallen by a faulty engine […]

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Ford F-150 grey, side

This review begins with a car, a broken car, a miserable broken ungrateful little four-wheeled implement to which I have sunk too much money and too many pulled hairs, both of which I will never recoup.

My stupid, silly Mazda Miata has been out of commission since, oh, last May, befallen by a faulty engine and then, uh, another faulty engine. (The details are sordid: first time was a journal bearing, if anyone’s keeping track, and the second, a failed oil pump. Someday I’ll gather all of my thoughts on this Horrible Misadventure in Transportation Ownership and publish the eight-thousand word screed to any miscreant willing to stomach it.)

The Miata of my obsessions. Sadly.

The Miata of my obsessions. Sadly.

The third engine, as pointed out by snickering colleagues, has got to be the charm. That warm glow of schadenfreude doesn’t feel as good when you’re the poor dumb bastard.

Ford F-150 grey, front

So when an 2015 Ford F-150 FX4 the approximate size, color, horsepower and towing capacity of the USS Ronald Reagan CVN-76 showed up on my driveway with a whomp, I called up Chris Hayes, podcast producer extraordinaire of The Hooniverse Podcast—and we took to the road, heading 60-something miles east to Corona, California, to Keegan Engineering, the somewhat-grandiose self-stylings of one Mike Keegan, to liberate the fruits of my financial mess.

Ford F-150 grey, rear

Make no doubt about it—the F-150 is still huge, and it feels huge. Swearing off any nod to aerodynamics, its front end is as square and brutish as your average Electro-Motive Diesel product. It will eclipse a 2015 Chevrolet Silverado Crew Cab, too—longer by 13 inches, taller by nearly two. And it certainly drives like it: bulky, ponderous, but never bogged down. It might be all that aluminum. It might be the fact that it can hit 60 miles per hour in five point six seconds.

Our EcoBoosted Ford came with the 3.5-liter V6 engine, pumping out 365 horsepower and 420 flubs of torque. It is a hell of a thing. Counting down that red light? Freeway getting crowded? Gotta move over before the on-ramp ends? Get on the gas and watch the nose rise up like a surfacing Red October, followed by the immediate and calamitous shifting of anything in the cargo bed. There’s a hint of turbo lag, but then the truck shoves you back, harder than a V8, I’d reckon, because turbocharger. And if the windows are down, the littlest prod of the accelerator evinces a constant whoosh “like it’s a turbodiesel,” said Hayes.

At one point, I lined up at a stoplight next to a Ferrari F430, equally grey, the ghost of Enzo all yelling “vaffanculo!” from across time and space, and floored it. Then I felt bad. You drive a flashy car like that, everyone’s gonna try to race you in all sorts of inappropriate machinery.

Still, I could’ve had him.

Mike Keegan hoists the new engine into the back of the F-150.

Mike Keegan hoists the new engine into the back of the F-150.

Chris and I recorded an episode of the Hooniverse Podcast on the hour drive to Corona, which you can listen to here, and which we could because the F-150 is dead quiet. Mausoleum-quiet. Which would be a cliché if it weren’t shaped like one.

We pulled into a nondescript neighborhood of two-story homes, washed out in different tans and beiges. A gentle bald bear of a man, Keegan met us in the driveway of his modest suburban home, next to a flat-white Falcon sedan—his wife’s—and in front of a garage that held untold projects and occasional treasures. It was quiet here, he said, and cheaper than Irvine, where he used to run his operations. Hayes and Keegan talked shop, exchanged handshakes, business cards. Trained by Cosworth, experienced through Champ Car, Keegan notably built Edmunds’ money-no-object Miata project as well as the race car motors for 949 Racing, which brought them to victory at Thunderhill, which certainly counts for something. Now, he works on diesels. We asked him if we could get him on the Hoonvierse podcast, and he smiled wistfully and shook his head no. “Too shy,” he said.

Mike Keegan close up

He had wrapped in plastic and strapped it to a pallet. We lifted it with a hoist and pushed it neatly into the bed, nearly filling its width. The F-150, especially with its FX4 off-road package, is so tall that the flip-out tailgate step is the only thing standing between you and your inevitable hamstring hernia. It slides out with a KA-CHUNK, along with corresponding yellow-knobbed pimp cane to climb up, and stepping down from the bed gives even the manliest man the countenance of a prom queen descending a crystal staircase.

The combination probably weighed 330 pounds, according to a snotty Miata.net member. I don’t rely on forums anymore. After spilling my fair share of pathos to bands of the like-minded, I found myself reaffirmed with the inevitable deluge of condescension and bad advice—I was like a vulnerable runaway, looking for support, for sympathy, remembering that I deserved none. From now on, I vowed, I would watch from afar, search and learn. We shook Keegan’s hand, slammed the tailgate shut, and climbed back in for the long drive back to Los Angeles.

The most useful innovation to pickup trucks since the V8 engine.

The most useful innovation to pickup trucks since the V8 engine.

Engine all loaded, we headed for the long journey through traffic.

Progress in the truck world advances so rapidly that an FX4 Off-Road edition is quiet, comfortable and serene. The ride is excellent. Let nobody tell you that leather is the be-all, end-all consumer good of lugg-jury: cloth seats are firm, never too grippy, and certainly easy to clean. Up front: gen-you-wine audio and climate control buttons—glove-friendly, self-explanatory. In back is so much legroom that it could serve as a one-bedroom apartment. The doors, however, slam with a shocking flimsiness, never with the hefty reassurance that justifies the purchase of a big new truck.

Gen-you-wine buttons and knobs!

Gen-you-wine buttons and knobs!

It’s a turbo, so it’s gotta be efficient, right? Well, Chris and I drove from his home in Redondo Beach to downtown LA, to Corona, where winter rains rendered the Chino Hills unto surprising greenery—grabbed the engine, drove up to the San Fernando Valley, another 75 miles, before I finally filled up to the conclusion of 13.2 miles per gallon. After another two days around town and half a tank, the computer readout displayed something like 16 mpg. Ford expects 17 mpg around town, 23 mpg on the freeway, with our engine and the 4×4 drivetrain, for the record.

John from Tripoint Engineering and Chris Hayes unload the engine.

John from Tripoint Engineering and Chris Hayes unload the engine.

And so. A truck is the easiest gadget in the world to justify: you won’t use it every day, but on the days you do, it is as indispensible as your next breath. That’s why Ford sells so many. That’s why so many are headed to the suburbs, where the mulch flows like gold tailings. Few consumer goods in the entirety of human civilization been honed to a knife edge, yet remain steadfastly traditionalist; in a sense, the F-150 makes up for its bold new aluminum experiment by wearing its size boldly, out-hefting its Chevy and Ram brethren. The result is stunning in its effectiveness.

Last year, when my Miata broke for the first time, I hauled it back home along the Central Valley with a Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD. It was my first time towing anything. United with its Ford rival, across time and space and weight classes, by a singular fixed point of broken automobile, I learned that modern-day truck transport has no right to be this comfortable, this smooth, this easy—naw, make them city boys work for it! Make ‘em sweat a lil’ bit!

With the new engine firmly in the hands of competent mechanics, allow me say that I enjoyed my time with the F-150—but I hope to never have to drive another truck, into a forgotten corner of California, on another roadster rescue mission.

Easier to hold the engine up and drive away from it.

Easier to hold the engine up and drive away from it.

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Ford Readying Chevrolet Bolt Rival For Los Angeles Reveal http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/ford-readying-chevrolet-bolt-rival-los-angeles-reveal/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/ford-readying-chevrolet-bolt-rival-los-angeles-reveal/#comments Thu, 05 Mar 2015 13:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1015938 Not one to be left in the dust, Ford is preparing a rival low-cost EV to go after the Chevrolet Bolt for a Los Angeles reveal this year. AutoGuide reports the plug-in EV would be a stand-alone model instead of a repurposed product like a Fiesta or Focus. Ford hopes to beat Chevrolet to the […]

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Not one to be left in the dust, Ford is preparing a rival low-cost EV to go after the Chevrolet Bolt for a Los Angeles reveal this year.

AutoGuide reports the plug-in EV would be a stand-alone model instead of a repurposed product like a Fiesta or Focus. Ford hopes to beat Chevrolet to the punch with a production version before the Bolt hits showrooms in 2017, though both vehicles would likely reach customers before Tesla’s low-cost Model 3 sees the light of day.

Though little else has been found on this project, a concept version of Ford’s Bolt is expected to bow at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show in November.

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Geneva 2015: US-Bound Ford Focus RS Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-us-bound-ford-focus-rs-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/geneva-2015-us-bound-ford-focus-rs-revealed/#comments Tue, 03 Mar 2015 10:16:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1012322 Bound for the U.S. market at last, the Ford Focus RS took the ramp at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show. Under the bonnet, a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder sends 315 horsepower to all four corners through a six-speed manual. Seventy percent of its torque can be directed toward the rear axle, 100 percent toward a single […]

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Bound for the U.S. market at last, the Ford Focus RS took the ramp at the 2015 Geneva Auto Show.

Under the bonnet, a 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder sends 315 horsepower to all four corners through a six-speed manual. Seventy percent of its torque can be directed toward the rear axle, 100 percent toward a single rear wheel, via two electronic clutch packs.

Stiffer springs and bushings, larger anti-roll bars, optional Michelin Pilot Sport Cup2 tires, and Recaro seats are some of the other features onboard the 30th Ford vehicle to wear the RS badge.

Ford-Focus-RS-10 Ford-Focus-RS- Ford-Focus-RS-1 Ford-Focus-RS-9 Ford-Focus-RS-5 Ford-Focus-RS-6 Ford-Focus-RS-7 Ford-Focus-RS-8 Ford-Focus-RS-2 Ford-Focus-RS-4 Ford Focus RS ????????????? Ford Focus RS ?????????????

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Capsule Review: 2015 Ford Mustang V6 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/capsule-review-2015-ford-mustang-v6/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/capsule-review-2015-ford-mustang-v6/#comments Mon, 02 Mar 2015 13:30:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1009458 This is easy. We can skip the introduction. You know what this is, right? Just in case, let’s be clear. This is a V6-engined, sixth-generation Ford Mustang. Newly released for the 2015 model year, all Mustangs have fled their truck-like ways in favour of an independent rear suspension. That’s just one of a number of […]

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2015 Ford Mustang V6 white snowThis is easy. We can skip the introduction. You know what this is, right?

Just in case, let’s be clear. This is a V6-engined, sixth-generation Ford Mustang. Newly released for the 2015 model year, all Mustangs have fled their truck-like ways in favour of an independent rear suspension. That’s just one of a number of factors that cause the new Mustang to feel more like a sports car than a traditional American muscle car, even in this basic form.


• USD Price As-Tested: $27,505

• Horsepower: 300 @ 6500 rpm

• Torque: 280 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm

• Observed Fuel Economy: 19 mpg


Much of the discussion surrounding the arrival of a new Mustang related to the availability of a mid-level four-cylinder EcoBoost engine, a turbocharged 2.3L with 310 horsepower and 320 lb-ft of torque which, when attached to a 6-speed automatic and drinking premium fuel, travels 21 miles per gallon in the city; 32 on the highway. This is not that car.

This 3.7L V6-powered car makes 10 fewer horsepower and generates 40 fewer lb-ft of torque. On regular fuel, it travels 19 miles per gallon in the city and 28 on the highway. In the U.S., upgrading from this engine to the EcoBoost costs $1500. The automatic transmission is an $1195 option.

2015 Ford Mustang V6 side viewBesides the 6-speed auto shifter, this car, loaned to us for a week by Ford Canada, was fitted with a couple grand in options: 18-inch wheels, a power driver’s seat with power lumbar support, a block heater, a security package, and backup sensors. At USD $27,505  as tested, it’s $5620 less than the least costly V8-engined Mustang GT.

In other words, a big monetary leap is required to earn the coveted 5.0 badge, enough of an increase in the initial outlay alone to think that the two ends of the Mustang spectrum – at least until special editions and Shelby models arrive – are scarcely geared toward the same buyer.

2015 Ford Mustang front viewTherefore, resign yourself, as I did, to the fact that the car which showed up to replace a $50,000 minivan and $65,000 Audi in my driveway wasn’t a $40,000 Mustang but rather a $30,000 Mustang.

Was I better off as a result? I won’t go nearly that far, but the basic Mustang has a certain charm, a real-world affability, that rarely left me wanting more. Aside from, you know, a 5.0 badge, the accompanying 135 extra horsepower, and a 6-speed manual transmission.

But only on occasion. When did 300 horsepower become inadequate? A decade ago, one of my first reviews for my local paper’s Wheels section concerned a 4.6L, V8-powered Mustang with, you guessed it, 300 horsepower. Both this V6 and the decade-old V8 accelerate to 60 mph in slightly more than 5 seconds. The new V6 Mustang is less than 50 pounds heavier than that early fifth-gen car, puts its power down more effectively, and makes a fairly decent noise of its own.

2015 Ford Mustang V6 rear viewEverything else about the latest Mustang? Also better. And there’s a part of me that wonders whether much of what makes the new Mustang so outstanding to drive is enhanced in this V6 car. It weighs nearly 200 pounds less than the V8, with much of that weight loss occurring at the front end. Would steering this delicious be so sweet when saddled with extra heft up front? I doubt it.

Keep in mind, the Mustang permits three different steering modes. The lightest Comfort setting is not in keeping with the car’s twisty road capability and the weightiest Sport setting seemed slightly unnatural to me.

Normal mode, on the other hand, is anything but normal: most other modern cars simply don’t offer up this level of connectivity, and while often precise and quick, they rarely allow your hands to comprehend just how precise and how quick their racks really are.

2015 Ford Mustang V6 interiorSo the V6 is likely sufficient and the steering sets the Mustang apart, but does the car live up to its sporty billing? Undeniably. The Mustang V6 may even be aided by its dearth of performance add-ons – the performance packages available for the EcoBoost and GT aren’t even on the options sheet here. The potential degradation of ride quality caused by track-oriented equipment never crops up. Oh, it’s firm, but it’s not busy or crashy or beholden to its unsprung weight. Moreover, the soft 235/50R18 Michelin X-Ice tires are of an aspect ratio too pillowy to cause any harm to the Mustang V6’s ride.

Tied to a stiff structure, this is a suspension that copes with all that a road throws its way while also being tuned to accept inconsistent and even ham-fisted inputs from the driver. This basic Mustang isn’t a track bruiser, but driven in a semi-aggressive style on a great road, it’s engaging and capable enough to encourage further advancement toward its limits.

Dynamically, it’s a positively European-feeling car; not unlike Ford’s Fusion, Focus, and Fiesta in that respect. But there are undertones of American muscle that link this car to its predecessors and its most direct rival from Chevrolet. I give it credit on both accounts.

The 2015 Mustang isn’t perfect. Although the rear seat is decent for a car of this type (we threw in a front-facing Diono Radian RXT child seat with little difficulty) and the driver’s seat sits pleasantly low and is well-bolstered, front seat passengers couldn’t get comfortable because of the bolstering (their arms aren’t extended to a steering wheel but rather squeezed in the wrong places) and the small footwell. This basic Mustang’s SYNC system, while relatively straightforward, doesn’t use a touchscreen and isn’t a paragon of modernity. The screen for the backup camera is tiny. The overall interior design that earned so much initial applause is less whelming in this lesser guise.

2015 Ford Mustang V6 shift paddleWorst of all, the downshift paddle was literally coming apart at the seams. I was the first auto writer this Mustang visited on its press tour and I hardly used the paddles. After all, they only serve to control a 6-speed automatic transmission that doesn’t shift with the swiftness a sporty car deserves. Nevertheless, there it is, splitting in two. The upshift paddle remained in one piece but isn’t made of high quality plastic. I can’t imagine it will last.

Yet by a measure of many miles, I’d prefer to spend time in this Mustang than in a better-built Chevrolet Camaro, if in fact Camaros are more solidly constructed. The Mustang doesn’t have visibility issues; visibility is the Camaro’s achilles heel. The Mustang feels like it totes around 500 fewer pounds; it’s closer to a 200-pound differential. The Camaro handles with grip and sheer force as though handling is work, like a 9-to-5 job. The Mustang handles with the kind of effervescence we typically encounter in lightweight cars with two-thirds the power, as though handling is Friday night fun.

With added refinement and improved dynamics, it’s hard to imagine many ways in which the Mustang’s appeal could be broadened. I suppose they could add all-wheel-drive availability – gasp – but after spending much of my time with the 2015 Mustang V6 on snow-covered roads, I sincerely hope that the Mustang owner base takes advantage of every opportunity for on-demand tail-out action. Eschew traction. Embrace oversteer.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Ford Cuts $900 From Fusion Hybrid, Energi Price Tags http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/ford-cuts-900-fusion-hybrid-energi-price-tags/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/ford-cuts-900-fusion-hybrid-energi-price-tags/#comments Fri, 20 Feb 2015 12:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1004482 Shopping for a Ford hybrid or PHEV? The 2016 Fusion Hybrid and Energi models won’t be as thirsty for your wallet as before. CarsDirect reports both models will see a price drop of $900 across all trim levels, from $26,575 to $25,675 for the Fusion Hybrid S, to $33,900 (from $34,800) for the Fusion Energi […]

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2015 Ford Fusion Energi Titanium

Shopping for a Ford hybrid or PHEV? The 2016 Fusion Hybrid and Energi models won’t be as thirsty for your wallet as before.

CarsDirect reports both models will see a price drop of $900 across all trim levels, from $26,575 to $25,675 for the Fusion Hybrid S, to $33,900 (from $34,800) for the Fusion Energi Luxury SE.

Despite the cuts, no decontenting will occur among the Fusions; the Hybrid, in fact, will have a new driving mode called EcoSelect, which offers more regenerative braking while delivering a softer launch from the light and less intense heating and cooling.

The price drop follows a similar action last year, when Ford chopped up to $1,200 off the price of C-Max Hybrid and Energi models, and is meant to draw interest away from the upcoming redesigned Toyota Prius, set to begin production later in 2015. Both 2016 Fusion models are due in showrooms at around the same time.

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Capsule Review: Ford SVT Raptor – United States Border Patrol Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-ford-svt-raptor-united-states-border-patrol-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-ford-svt-raptor-united-states-border-patrol-edition/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 13:50:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1001114 I’m driving down a narrow dirt track somewhere in a South Texas at a hurried but not unreasonable pace. As I round a bend, the ground arches up into a tall “whoop” just a few meters in front of me. I can’t go around it, and hitting the brakes will only send me skidding into […]

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I’m driving down a narrow dirt track somewhere in a South Texas at a hurried but not unreasonable pace. As I round a bend, the ground arches up into a tall “whoop” just a few meters in front of me. I can’t go around it, and hitting the brakes will only send me skidding into it at nearly the same speed.

Until now, I’ve mostly driven the Ford Super Duty, in F250 or F350 guise, while on patrol. They can be surprisingly capable out here in the desert, but they don’t like to be driven fast on rough terrain. Hitting one of these “Border Patrol speedbumps” at anything above a cautious crawl transforms the cabin into a world of violence as the industrial suspension crashes to the stops and your head crashes into the ceiling. I brace for the inevitable.

Moments later, I’m past it and all is well. My ass never left the seat cushion, and as far as I can tell, my tires never left the ground. Hell, even my water bottle is still resting serenely in the cupholder where I left it. There’s a reason for that. Today I’m not in a Super Duty. Today, I’m in a Raptor.

 

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I wonder if a couple engineers sat down in Dearborn one day and said, “How bout we design the perfect truck for the U.S. Border Patrol?” It wouldn’t be an enviable job. Our trucks are operated in the some of the roughest conditions faced outside of pure military duty, and they have to withstand those conditions every day. They are piloted over steep, rocky mountain roads; across expanses of deep, soft sand that will trap you in place if you apply just a bit too much or too little throttle; through patches of dense, wet clay that wraps itself around your tires in thick, slick layers. They are driven by adrenaline junkies who are not financially liable for their repair or maintenance, and whose supervisors don’t particularly care how much unnecessary abuse is hurled at the chassis so long as you don’t dent the bodywork. We ask a lot, often way too much, of our fleet.

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Our mildly modified Chevrolet Tahoe and Ford Super Duty vehicles can do almost all the things the Ford SVT Raptor is capable of doing. The difference is the ease (and speed) with which the Raptor does them. Where a Tahoe scrabbles up a steep slope, struggling to find purchase in loose rock, the Raptor simply ascends. Where an F350 churns through soft sand, fighting to keep its massive bulk afloat, the Raptor seems to glide over the surface. Our other trucks can be made to work in this environment, but the Raptor is to the manor born.

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Every component on the Raptor is intended to be used this way, under these conditions. Anecdotally at least, this means fewer repairs due to parts being pushed beyond their limits. Even if an agent is not willfully abusive towards his mount, conditions in the desert sometimes require that one drive less than lovingly. Getting across a flooded ditch or a patch of large rocks often requires a bit of momentum going in. I’ve seen this technique result in shattered suspension components, dislodged coolant and/or turbo plumbing, busted oil pans, and dented rims.

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Not with the Raptor. I’ve yet to see a single one sidelined for damage caused by routine overuse. That’s not to say we haven’t “deadlined” a few; if you want to find a product’s limits, give it to a Border Patrol Agent. The Patrol has determined that the Raptor will not float across a running arroyo during monsoon season. Also, if you have too much fun playing with the included inclinometer display, it will roll sideways down a mountain. Yet to my knowledge, not even our wildest/dumbest agents have managed to bend the frame on one.

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We have other trucks that can give the Raptor a run for its money in some circumstances, but none of them do it without significant compromise. The Jeep Wrangler Rubicon’s short wheelbase is a delight when crawling through narrow canyons and up tight switchbacks, but it gets skittish when you have to dial in a bit more speed. The old HMMWV/Hummer H1 can bash its way across any landscape, but it is deeply unpleasant in every other regard and driving them makes me feel sad. Also, every fluid in that venerable military vehicle will boil if it’s hot or hilly, which can be a problem in the Southwest. The Raptor may be outclassed by a particular competitor in that competitor’s one-percent scenario, but you’ll be glad to have the big Ford when you realize 99% of the drive is still ahead of you.

When duty takes us back onto pavement, this off-road savant behaves with polite road manners as well. Pin the throttle coming off a soft shoulder, and the forgiving traction control allows the rear end to kick out a bit as the exhaust plays a thunderous siren song. Disappointingly, the government doesn’t trust us enough to remove the 98 MPH electronic limiter, but the Raptor will get to that limiter in a big damn hurry for such a big damn truck.

Fortunately, the typical smuggler’s vehicle is a circa 1997 Ford Expedition or Chevrolet Suburban loaded well beyond the manufacturer’s recommended GVWR, so 98 is usually fast enough. On an open road, the Raptor will only begrudgingly do anything under 90, the quiet cabin and stable handling cutting your perceived speed about in half. On the rare occasion that the Southwestern hardtop gets twisty, Ford’s desert racer inspires more confidence than most vehicles in the 3-ton+ class. The suspension resists leaning too far into its twelve inches of travel as the 315mm BFGoodrich All-Terrains brace against the pavement and the lateral momentum shifts smoothly from one side to the other. Your average driver will have found his way off the road, through a fence, and into a tree long before a pursuing Raptor hits its limits.

F250

Beyond the apparent savings in repair costs, purchase costs look pretty favorable as well. An F-250 built to standard Border Patrol spec, with the PowerStroke turbodiesel engine and an extended cab, goes for $44,710 according to Ford’s configurator. A base 4×4 Chevy Tahoe stickers over $50,000 nowadays. A 2014 Raptor starts at $44,995, and it requires no additional options for our purposes. Frankly, I’m not sure why the Patrol has purchased anything else since the Raptor arrived in 2010. SVT is taking a hiatus from the OEM off-roader game for the 2015 and 2016 model years, but they’ve already announced the Raptor will return with a lighter, aluminum-clad successor as a MY 2017. The 6.2L V8 will be retired in favor of a tuned 3.5L EcoBoost V6 producing more power and torque than its naturally aspirated ancestor. I can only expect that the price will rise proportionately, I just hope it remains within reach of the U.S. federal government and its humble civil servants like me. Does Uncle Sam qualify for 90 month financing?

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Chicago 2015: Ford GT Presents Its Canadian Passport http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-ford-gt-presents-canadian-passport/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-ford-gt-presents-canadian-passport/#comments Thu, 12 Feb 2015 23:21:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=999058 The Blue Oval has no use for 50 shades of gray, not when two will suffice for the 2015 Chicago Auto Show debut of the Ford GT. Per our friends over at AutoGuide, the big news this time around for the 3.5-liter turbo-six exotic is that it will be assembled in Canada. Multimatic Motorsports in […]

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The Blue Oval has no use for 50 shades of gray, not when two will suffice for the 2015 Chicago Auto Show debut of the Ford GT.

Per our friends over at AutoGuide, the big news this time around for the 3.5-liter turbo-six exotic is that it will be assembled in Canada. Multimatic Motorsports in Markham, Ontario — just north of TTAC Zaibatsu HQ in Toronto — will be in charge of putting together the GT, lending further credibility to the rumor that Ford wants to throwdown at the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans. The group campaigns a pair of Mustang Boss 302Rs in IMSA’s Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.

As for other details about production and pricing since its jaw-dropping world debut in Detroit, analysts believe a few hundred units will leave Multimatic annually, each with a price tag of around $200,000. Ford remains silent about either figure, however.

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Rental Review: 2014 Ford Fusion http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/rental-review-2014-ford-fusion/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/rental-review-2014-ford-fusion/#comments Mon, 09 Feb 2015 14:00:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=994586 Yes, I know. You’re reading yet another article on TTAC about the Ford Fusion. You’ll have to read yet another sentence about the Aston Martin-style front grille, a paragraph about the EcoBoost engine, a passage about what the interior space is like, another sentence about the Aston martin-style front grille, and a remark on how […]

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Yes, I know. You’re reading yet another article on TTAC about the Ford Fusion. You’ll have to read yet another sentence about the Aston Martin-style front grille, a paragraph about the EcoBoost engine, a passage about what the interior space is like, another sentence about the Aston martin-style front grille, and a remark on how the good SYNC voice activation is. But this review isn’t going to be the usual road test you read in your local newspaper, auto magazines, and the usual automotive blogs.

It’s about another kind of Ford Fusion. It’s not going to be about the Hybrid version, or the Energi, or one with the powerful 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine. It doesn’t have the wheels that thieves will steal from the car in your own driveway. It’s about your run-of-the-mill 1.6-liter EcoBoost Ford Fusion SE. Which has over 45,000 miles and is still serving as a rental car, meaning this truly is another kind of Ford Fusion.

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Let’s start with the interior, as most reviewers tend to begin with the outside. The interior is a pleasant place (even after the tremendous amount of use), with black leather seats and some wood and silver-painted trim. All the touch points still felt fine. The power-adjustable driver’s seat had front and back lumbar support; though you couldn’t move the lumbar support up and down. Additionally, sitting in the back was comfortable and there was more than enough legroom, a welcome surprise coming from a Focus. As for the infotainment system, I don’t like the small LCD screen in the dashboard. It must be small to remind me my car doesn’t have the navigation option, but I’d rather have had the extra buttons and the digital screen. Even though I didn’t like the appearance of the infotainment system, the system was very intuitive and it was easy to tune the radio or change the audio settings.

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Storage space wasn’t an issue. It’s a good car for four people going on a weekend road trip. There was plenty of space underneath the front armrest and to put things in the center console. The trunk could fit three full-size suitcases with room for a backpack. As for the spare tire beneath, it’s a space-saver wheel, so be prepared to drive in the right lane slowly in the event of a flat tire.

The powertrain was the now-discontinued 1.6-liter EcoBoost that makes 182 horsepower. (Now it’s the 1.5-liter Ecoboost.) While I had the car, the check engine light was illuminated and the transmission seemed to lazily drop a gear whenever I pressed harder on the accelerator. If the transmission wasn’t shifted into S, I would describe the cars highway performance “lazy.” The handling and steering feel was very good for a front-drive car of the size and weight of the Fusion, even with the smaller 17-inch alloy wheels. This car also had a normal 6-speed automatic, so you don’t hear the sound of clutches attempting to engage like you would in an “automatic” Focus.

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Furthermore, the rental company activated the MyKey system, presumably to prevent me from driving 100 mph without my seatbelt fastened and with the radio turned to full-blast. However, unfortunately for those who wish to know the top speed my rental company set, I have no idea, since my driving was mainly local and there was traffic on the highway. That and I wanted to avoid a potentially awkward conversation at the rental counter if did found out I really did drive 100 mph without my seatbelt on with the radio turned to 11.

I have to include a paragraph about fuel economy, since it happens to be a major selling point of the car. It didn’t help that while I was watching an episode of New Girl on Netflix (on which Ford has an official product placement deal), one of the characters spent a good minute discussing how he cared about furl economy in his new Ford Fusion. The car computer told me it had received a little bit over 27 mpg overall over the life of the car. However, Ford advertised the fuel economy numbers as 23 mpg city and 37 mpg highway, which I found disappointing, but not surprising considering the acceleration habits of rental car drivers, which likely contributed to that low figure.

On the highway, this car was fairly comfortable and it absorbed some fairly nasty bumps, no doubt thanks to those 17-inch wheels. However, mine had a large problem with wind noise (it felt like one of the windows was slightly open, though everything was closed), and I couldn’t isolate where the wind noise was coming from. To ensure I wouldn’t hear that wind noise, I turned up the stereo louder than usual, which would’ve been fine if the speaker system was good, but it wasn’t. Visibility was very good, though it wish it would’ve been possible to sit up higher.

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My rental car company put the Fusion in the “full-size” class, which I thought was for cars like the Taurus and Impala, and I was really looking forward to either of those two. However, when I was getting the rental, I had a choice between the Fusion and the Kia Optima. I chose the Fusion since I wanted to see how one held up to abuse and hit the jackpot when the odometer showed at least 46,000 miles. As I’ve noted before, numerous publications have tested new Ford Fusions, but it’s nice to know how they hold up over time.

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It wouldn’t be a complete review of the Fusion without a discussion about the styling and a mention of the Aston Martin-style grille. I didn’t want to like it, but somehow, after looking at the photos, I don’t think the styling’s become dated, like what happened to the 2010 Hyundai Sonata after one model year. Despite the lower-end 17-inch wheels, I think it manages to look good. In ten years’ time, I think the Fusion’s looks still will be considered relatively modern.

Unlike the Focus, when I ran the VIN of this particular rental car, I didn’t come across any juicy tidbits of information, and the representative checking out the car to me didn’t volunteer anything either. So this car will probably come to rest on the lot of my local rental car company dealership in at least 5,000 miles’ time. The only somewhat intriguing thing I managed to come across was a document which indicated the Fusion might have been part of a “rent-to-own” program for rental cars. Meanwhile, I’m sure running the Carfax or Autocheck wouldn’t have turned up much, similar to my Focus experience.

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Ultimately, this is a great family car and I like it. I can’t envision the design of the Fusion going out of style very soon, and the steering feel is very good. The performance is fine, as long as you stick to the posted speed limit, but put your foot down any further and the fuel economy doesn’t get anywhere near the number you envisioned. After 45,000 miles as a rental car, this Fusion held up better and was more comfortable than expected, though you should still get an inspection if acquiring a Fusion with 45,000 miles, as the EcoBoost engine might not be cheap to fix if it hasn’t been properly maintained.

And please, if you do purchase a Fusion, please don’t say the name of that British automaker that the grille reminds you of. We’ve all heard enough.

Satish Kondapavulur is a writer for Clunkerture, where about a fifth of the articles are about old cars and where his one-time LeMons racing dreams came to an end, once he realized it was impossible to run a Ferrari Mondial. He’s now scared of what the Ford MyKey system will reveal about his driving habits.

 

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Capsule Review: 2015 Ford F150 XLT SuperCrew http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-2015-ford-f150-xlt-supercrew/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-2015-ford-f150-xlt-supercrew/#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 14:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=985258 The stupid beer can analogies are already tired. Yes, the body of the 2015 Ford F150 is aluminum, but it’s not that important. If they didn’t make a big deal about it, you’d never know. It also fails to make the F150 the lightweight Jesus of pickups.   Ford has been crowing about the weight […]

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The stupid beer can analogies are already tired. Yes, the body of the 2015 Ford F150 is aluminum, but it’s not that important. If they didn’t make a big deal about it, you’d never know. It also fails to make the F150 the lightweight Jesus of pickups.

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Ford has been crowing about the weight savings that come from using an aluminum body, but that alone won’t keep the F150 on top. While it’s highly likely the F150 will crack 40 years as the best-selling single model, its competitors have sharpened their daggers lately.

The F150 remains as the F150 has always been – a good truck, sold aggressively, with some weak spots. The areas most in need of improvement have been attended to. That means a better interior, noticeably careful assembly quality, and thoroughly re-imagined powertrain lineup.

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The base engine for is the 3.5 liter V6. It’s just as solidly unremarkable here as it was in the Lincoln MKZ. With 282 hp and 253 lb-ft of torque, the 3.5 is completely overshadowed by a pair of optional EcoBoost V6 choices. The 2.7 liter EcoBoost is the short-money option, costing you $795 to bump up to 325 hp and 375 lb-ft of torque. Spend $1,995 and you’ll get the 3.5 liter EcoBoost. Its 365 hp is just 20 hp shy of the 5.0 liter V8’s 385 hp, but its 420 lb-ft of fat turbo torque will be noticeably stronger and more flexible than the V8’s 387 lb-ft.  Ford prices the V8 right in between the turbo sixes, at $1,595. Either EcoBoost is a hell of an engine, and if you crack a window, you’ll hear the turbos spool.

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With the window up, you won’t hear much at all. It’s quiet inside, but the interior of the F150 is still plagued by the same kind of nonsense that’s afflicted the Mustang for a decade. Rock-hard door panels, tons of greasy-looking, cheap-feeling plastic, and bunch of buttons vomited on the panel. Compared to the MyFordTouch system, though, the HVAC buttons are a paragon of usability. With MFT, there’s a touchscreen with icons that are too tiny, so skip it and be safer on the road. SYNC3 can’t arrive soon enough.

Button-aggro aside, the new F150 is very comfortable to drive. The quiet environment is a pleasant start, the seats are supportive, with enough adjustments to dial in some personalization, and this thing is solid. Even though it’s a pickup, the steering is a tick slow off-center and numb. The EcoBoost 3.5 is ballsy. Very ballsy. Light the tires up like a sports car ballsy. If the underwhelming interior is Bad Mustang, the Truck Nutz are Good Mustang.

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It’s an open secret that pickups look more useful than they often turn out to be. That’s especially true with the 5 1/2 foot bed my F150 had. It’s fine for a weekend warrior, and it keeps the total length down so you’re not trying to turn the Nimitz around in the convenience store parking lot, but it’s a compromise. The SuperCrew is standard with a 6 1/2 foot bed, so you save $315 with the shorter bed. It’s best to think of the SuperCrew F150s as an Expedition with a bed in place of the 3rd row, versus a super-utilitarian pickup. The bed does have LED, the new BoxLink system with adjustable locking tie-downs, and handy D-rings. If you’re going to torture your F150 with real work, get a stripped-down XL, not this $50,000 SuperCrew. The pickup truck arms race leads to some absurdity. There’s a staircase built into the tailgate, which is ridiculous and kind of cumbersome to use. There’s cool stuff, too, like the optional ramps and remote tailgate release.

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The F150 is the truck that does just about everything well. Rams have better interiors and the GM twins are quiet and refined with somewhat better ergonomics – not to mention the small-block V8. The T’s – Nissan Titan and Toyota Tundra – remain non-players, though I’m eager to get my hands on the new Titan. Even with the huge investment to go aluminum for the body, the F150 isn’t a featherweight, but it does wind up strong in every category. The engineering has obviously been obsessed over. The driving experience is tidy and disciplined, and while it doesn’t lead the class in interior quality, there’s been energy put into making it better. Bottom line: The F150 is solid, it has show-stand looks and is comfortable to drive. The interior is a disappointment, and the price can jump into “holy crap!” territory really quickly. The F150 feels light on its feet and is a lot more refined than it used to be. It’s also the most forward-thinking pickup you can buy right now.

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Ford Elevating 55 To First-Tier Pay After Hitting Second-Tier Cap http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/ford-elevating-55-first-tier-pay-hitting-second-tier-cap/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/ford-elevating-55-first-tier-pay-hitting-second-tier-cap/#comments Mon, 02 Feb 2015 15:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=992474 Fifty-five Ford employees will be elevated to first-tier pay status after the automaker exceeded its cap on second-tier hires. Automotive News reports the employees were hired between February and June of 2010, and work at the automaker’s facilities in Kansas City, Chicago and Louisville, Ky., per the announcement by the United Auto Workers. The union […]

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Fifty-five Ford employees will be elevated to first-tier pay status after the automaker exceeded its cap on second-tier hires.

Automotive News reports the employees were hired between February and June of 2010, and work at the automaker’s facilities in Kansas City, Chicago and Louisville, Ky., per the announcement by the United Auto Workers. The union praised the move, considering it a milestone as it presses forward toward the goal of eliminating the two-tier system in its contract with Ford. The contract requires that second-tier employees be promoted to first-tier in order of hiring when the cap on the former is exceeded.

As a result, those 55 employees will see their pay rise from $19/hr. to $28/hr., though benefits will still fall short of those received by employees hired in 2007 and earlier. Currently, 14,200 of the automaker’s 50,400 U.S. employees are on second-tier pay status, and that it was 69 employees away from hitting the cap of 28 percent of all employees for that level of pay. Ford is the only one of the Detroit Three to have a cap in place; General Motors and FCA US had caps of 20 to 25 percent of all employees, which were lifted in 2009 under bankruptcy protection.

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Rental Review: 2013 Ford Focus SE http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/rental-review-2013-ford-focus-se/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/rental-review-2013-ford-focus-se/#comments Thu, 29 Jan 2015 23:12:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989778 You never know what car you’re going to get at the rental counter. Whether you’re at an airport in Anchorage, a Milwaukee suburb, or in Tahiti, you won’t know how you’ll get from Point A to Point B, or if you’ve ever vacationed in Tahiti, Point A to Point A. It could better than your […]

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You never know what car you’re going to get at the rental counter. Whether you’re at an airport in Anchorage, a Milwaukee suburb, or in Tahiti, you won’t know how you’ll get from Point A to Point B, or if you’ve ever vacationed in Tahiti, Point A to Point A. It could better than your usual car, a newer version of your usual car, worse than your usual car, or horribly worse than your usual car, the last category reserved for the Dodge Avenger and Chevy Spark.

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When I was at the counter, my reservation specified a full-size car, so that thankfully meant no Avenger or Spark. The Taurus and Impala, the perennial full-size rentals, have gotten pretty good, so I was really looking forward to one of those. Alas, there were no full-size or even mid-size cars at my Hertz Local Edition. So I was supposed to get a 2013 Corolla. I didn’t want the Corolla, as it looked tired and had Iowa plates, so it a) definitely had plenty of miles on it, and b) the plates were going to make me a target for California law enforcement.

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After asking the rep about all the available cars he had (“How about that Avenger that just came in?”), I ended up with a Tuxedo Black 2013 Ford Focus parked way back in the lot. That’s right. 2013. You might be thinking, “Oh, it probably didn’t have much mileage so Hertz decided to keep it in the fleet.” Well, I can safely write that wasn’t the case. It had 44,594 miles on the odometer. That is not a typo. Hertz seriously does keep cars in their fleet for that long.

On my drive home, many issues made themselves known. The car had obviously sat in the lot of my Hertz Local Edition for such a long time that the interior was stuffy, the air-conditioning blew musty air, the transmission’s clutches weren’t in the best condition, and there was so much static coming from the stereo. Additionally, the transmission never seemed to choose the right gear when climbing up the steep hill to get to my house.

I’m not going to discuss the interior that much since most of you have probably rented the Focus, sat in it at an auto show, bought it, read the brochure, seen the TV ads, made out in the back seat, etc. But I liked it. The gauge cluster and stereo interface were very intuitive. I didn’t notice any large panel gaps like I would’ve in a 2005 Ford Focus after 40,000 miles. The touch points still felt fine. The seats were surprisingly comfortable after that much rental car duty. The only qualm I had was with SYNC addressing me in Spanish since someone named Arturo had plugged in his iPhone at some point.

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I didn’t like the engine. The valve-timing system wasn’t the best, especially when climbing steep hills. 160 horsepower was not enough for this especially in the higher gears. However, if your goal is to travel at the speed limit on local roads and highways, the engine has more than enough strength to hold its own.

More important to discuss than the engine, however, is the transmission. Around town, even if you’re used to dual-clutch transmissions (which is what Ford’s PowerShift transmission is), this car is horrible. The clutches always feel like they’re going to go every time you accelerate from a stoplight. When I got the car, the rep had taken special care to inform me that how the throttle and transmission acted was normal.

I wish Ford would’ve made the gears selectable, instead of giving us the usual PRNDL, which makes most drivers treat the transmission like they would any automatic. As an owner of a 40,000-mile Jetta 2.0T with the DSG, my VW struck me as more refined (though I’m very careful with my footwork in traffic), and I found it interesting Ford doesn’t recommend transmission fluid changes at some of the service intervals.

The handling was something that brought a smile to my face. Ford got the suspension tuning spot-on. On a winding road, I didn’t feel compelled to brake in the bends, and the tires didn’t squeal either. Traction control is incredibly fair, and though the intervention is noticeable, it still lets you enjoy the car. After 40,000 miles worth of rental car abuse, I was amazed at the amount of feel I got through the steering.

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As for trunk space, the area is enough for two to three suitcases, but it probably wouldn’t be able to swallow as much cargo as a Jetta. Thankfully though, the spare tire, housed beneath the trunk, is full-size. Furthermore, rear legroom was fine, but I don’t think most people would be capable of sitting there for more than two hours, like in most compact cars.

Now, I wanted this review to be about what a Focus would be like after 44,000 miles. I wanted to ensure the car had been maintained, wasn’t involved in any accidents, and was loved unconditionally by its owner. Therefore, whoever would be considering a 2013 Focus, or any other 2013 Focus with 40,000 miles, would know what they were getting themselves into.

As a result, I went the extra mile (not that the Focus needed it) and ran the Autocheck on the car to have an idea of what it went through. It gave me no details, except for the car’s initial registration date. After more than 44,000 miles, there were dents all over the car, including a major one on one of the doors (seriously, the inspection form when I signed for the car is marked all over). Also, the car had to have been through a few services, none of which appear on the report. And according to the Hertz rep who signed out the car to me, the windows had been replaced after being smashed with the last renter. I only knew that bit after asking about the pieces on paper in the rear passenger windows. Even those details didn’t show up on the Autocheck report.

But I found even more worrying things when I simply entered the car’s VIN into Google. I managed to discover that Hertz actually had my very car for sale on eBay back in December at around 44,500 miles. I also managed to catch a Google-cached November listing of the car on the Hertz Auto Sales website. By the way, to the surprise of no one by this point, the Autocheck report didn’t catch this too. Meanwhile, Hertz has known for at least the last two months that it needs to get rid of this car!

So how on earth did I end up with a car that Hertz couldn’t sell? My guess is Hertz ended up pulling it from their sales lot once the holiday demand for rental cars happened, and automakers were too busy selling cars to individual customers that they perhaps didn’t have enough inventory to push into fleet sales. As a result, when I looked at the 2013 Ford Focuses on the website of the local Hertz Auto Sales, not one had below 50,000 miles, and some had well above 60,000, demonstrating that rental companies aren’t turning over their fleet as much as they used to.

In the end, should you buy a 2013 Ford Focus SE with over 40,000 miles on the clock?

I don’t think it would be a bad idea, as long as the transmission is inspected, you’ve ensured all recall work is done, and you have an idea of the service history.

But should you buy a high-mileage ex-rental car, particularly one that a rental company was incapable of selling to normal people and one with a questionable dual-clutch transmission?

As my car might’ve told me after hearing my voice commands in broken Spanish, “No way, Jose.

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Bark’s Bites: Two Years With the CUV That Flexes from Long Beach to Texas http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/barks-bites-two-years-with-the-cuv-that-flexes-from-long-beach-to-texas/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/barks-bites-two-years-with-the-cuv-that-flexes-from-long-beach-to-texas/#comments Wed, 21 Jan 2015 19:34:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=985722 “I’m NOT buying that thing. It looks like one of the cars that the Nazis rode around in.” Ah, the Ford Flex. It is one of those cars that all “car people” seem to love, while the general public seems to be slow to adopt—perhaps because it looks like one of those cars the Nazis […]

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“I’m NOT buying that thing. It looks like one of the cars that the Nazis rode around in.”

Ah, the Ford Flex. It is one of those cars that all “car people” seem to love, while the general public seems to be slow to adopt—perhaps because it looks like one of those cars the Nazis rode around in.

At least that’s what Mrs. Bark said in the summer of 2013 when it became painfully obvious that our 2011 Chevrolet Equinox LT was no longer meeting the needs of our expanded family. I did a good deal of comparison test reading as well as renting of larger CUVs in my journeys around the country in those days, anticipating the day when the Equinox would need to go. I drove them all—Pathfinder, Highlander, Pilot, Traverse, and Explorer—but the one that I always loved to see in the Emerald Aisle was the Flex.

National Car has several of them in the Great Lakes area airport fleets, mostly in Limited trim. I enjoyed driving them as rentals, simply because they drove more like a car than any of their lifted competitors. The Explorer and Flex, while nearly identical in most other respects, were simply not comparable in the joy-to-drive category. The Flex never drove as big as it was—from the driver’s seat, it actually felt smaller than our Equinox did.

Also, for those of you who don’t obsess over the personal vehicle purchases of TTAC writers, you may not remember that I’m not the first contributor here to own a Flex. Nope, that honor belongs to Jack, who had a baller two-tone Flex Limited that he used to tow his racing rig around the Midwest. I remember not being a huge fan of the aesthetics of the car (okay, I may have said that it looked like a hearse), but it always seemed like it would have been a great family car.

So, when the day came that a third-row was no longer simply desirable but mandatory, I only seriously considered the Explorer and Flex. In SE trim, each could be had for well under $30K, including all rebates and X-Plan pricing. And when I took Mrs. M. to drive them, even she had to begrudgingly admit that the Flex was the more enjoyable car to drive—which was important, because our Equinox had seen over 25k miles per year of driving through the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. The 2013 refresh of the Flex, which strays from the design language of both the Ford cars and Ford SUVs, improved the looks of the CUV to the point where she relented on her objections to its quadratical form. Of course, once we settled on the Flex, there really was no other color to consider other than “Mineral Gray,” or as TTAC readers might call it, “Brown.”

Well, here we are two and a half years later, and the Flex has over 55k on the clock. How has it fared? What’s the quality been like? Most importantly, would I buy it again, given the chance?

For the TL:DR crowd, the answers are:

Fantastic.
Amazingly good.
Heck to the yes.

Those who would like to know more can continue on.

I think I can describe my Flex ownership most accurately in the following way: I can’t think of any other vehicle that would do what I need it to do nearly as well as the Flex has.

The importance of the Flex’s ride height simply cannot be overstated. Not only can my six and four-year-old children get themselves in and out of the second row easily, so can my sixty-eight year old mother. This is the one area where it outshines every other vehicle in its class. I don’t know why middle-class America has decided that the elevated ride height of CUVs is a feature rather than a detriment, but I think it would only take a week or two behind the wheel of the Flex to change their collective minds. Not only has entry and exit been easier, loading groceries and Black Friday shopping runs into the cargo area is MUCH easier than in any other third-row CUV.

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While the SE doesn’t have all the entertainment options available on higher priced models, that can largely be remedied with a $69 dual-screen DVD player. However, it is missing a feature that I desperately wish I had sprung for—the second-row bucket seats. The SE has the bench seat in the second row. Although my kids like having the middle seat available for stuffed animal and LeapPad storage, it makes getting back to the third row nearly impossible for adults, especially if car seats are installed. I would love a re-do on that buying decision.

Also, the third row seats shouldn’t be used by anybody larger than a non-Jack member of the Baruth family—which is to say, nobody over 5’9″ or 165 lbs should try to sit back there for any length of time. I’ve done it, but I didn’t enjoy it. My son, on the other hand, loves it back there. I think it’s the closest thing to a modern-day rear facing station wagon seat, where children can envelop themselves in their own little worlds of creativity while the adults drone on in the first two rows.

Fuel mileage, you say? Well…it isn’t good. In fact, it’s bad. Granted, Kentucky is not fuel mileage friendly, what with its picturesque rolling hills of blue grass and truckers who are determined to patrol the left lane of highway 64 with extreme prejudice. That being said, I’ve experience about 21 combined MPG from the non-EcoBoost V6. I think drivers who have a flatter commute could realistically expect closer to 24. Meh.

The compromise you make for lackluster fuel mileage is easily justified when power is applied with the right foot. Real-world acceleration has been incredibly good, even when weighed down with kids and luggage. The Flex has never met an on-ramp it didn’t like. While 0-60 might only be in the 7.5 second range, the 5-60 grunt from the torquey sixer means that you’ll never have trouble merging, and the old-school transmission never searches for the right gear (looking at you, Highlander).

No, not everybody loves the looks of it. But those who do really, really do. I field nearly as many questions from fellow motorists about the Flex as I do about my Boss. The 2013 refresh makes for a much more masculine looking ride—I never feel like I’m driving the Mom Taxi when I’m behind the wheel. In fact, when given the choice for daily driving, I pick the Flex far more often than I pick the Mustang. Sacrilege? Not really. The Flex is just an easier car to drive.

The more utilitarian of you might be wondering, “Why not a minivan?” The Flex doesn’t do minivan things as well as a minivan does, for certain. But it does car things much better. You can take a Flex out on the town and not feel like people are wondering why you’re out without your kids. Yes, you can get a base model like mine, but if you were so inclined, you could spend $50K on a murdered-out Limited and have one bad-ass urban assault vehicle.

It’s simply a matter of preference. After thirty months or so of Flex ownership, I can’t give the car anything but the highest marks. Maintenance cost has been limited to oil changes and standard scheduled maintenance. It is still running on the OEM tires and shocks. It’s inexpensive, it’s unique, and it’s wildly functional.

The Flex is also a fantastic example of a car that isn’t a huge seller yet still retains a great deal of its value on the used car market. A quick AutoTrader search reveals that it’s difficult to find one for less than $20K that isn’t either at least four model years old or has over 100k on the clock. So go ahead and take advantage of the fact that some Ford stores have a hard time unloading them and get a new one equipped exactly the way you like.

I anticipate driving my Flex until it hits the 150K mark, myself, and its flawless mechanical performance over the first nearly 60K gives me no reason to think that it won’t easily hit that milestone and beyond. However, when it comes time to replace it, I hope that Ford is still making new examples. Unlike nearly every other car I’ve ever owned, I have no itch to replace it with anything other than another one just like it.

Seems to me like that’s as good of a recommendation as I could make. If you’re in the market for a CUV, you should be in the market for a Flex.

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Capsule Review: 1983 Ford Sierra Ghia 2.0 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/capsule-review-1983-ford-sierra-ghia-2-0/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/capsule-review-1983-ford-sierra-ghia-2-0/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 13:44:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=981897     “Wait! Is that a…” “Are you British?”  “I haven’t seen one of these since I left Venezuela as a teenager, only rich people had Sierras!” Behold random responses from gawkers of TTAC’s Project Car. The surprises continue after several hundred miles under the Ford Sierra’s belt, as life with this fish out of water is […]

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“Wait! Is that a…”

“Are you British?”

 “I haven’t seen one of these since I left Venezuela as a teenager, only rich people had Sierras!”

Behold random responses from gawkers of TTAC’s Project Car. The surprises continue after several hundred miles under the Ford Sierra’s belt, as life with this fish out of water is far from a compromise.

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To see it is to not know it: like most hyper-futuristic designs past their prime, a head turner in conservative 1982 England is a familiar profile in conservative 2015 Texas.  Aside from the steering wheel on the wrong side!

But critical eyes notice the Ghia’s grille-free nose and alien headlights. The conversation’s tenor changes: there’s no better compliment to Mr. Uwe Bahnsen and his gifted team than the subtle and thoughtful reactions a Sierra earns a full thirty-three years after liftoff.

Get behind the wheel and the modern theme continues, because it drives like a newer vehicle.

Reasonable drag coefficient (.34) and almost nothing frontal area aside, the finest late-70s technology helps the Sierra match (or trump) the manners of new vehicles at most (legal) speeds.  Strut front suspension with rack-and-pinion steering is right, even without modern aluminum componentry. The semi-trailing arm rear looks modern-ish with exposed webbing on the differential: credit the beginnings of finite element analysis.

(photo courtesy: Ford Press Release)

At 2500-ish lbs, the ho-hum Ford Sierra is a balanced rear-wheel drive, fully-Germanic chassis on a family car body. Which means that roads normally tortured by flaccid CUVs now tango with something Miata-sized.

Captain Mike, the mastermind of this plan, behind the wheel at the Nürburgring.

Thrills start at the tiller: no power assist means road feel harkens to a dance with a soul mate. Manual steering effort is no chore with 165mm wide tires that rarely lack grip on city streets. Emergency maneuvers are effortless, understeer is progressive with the possibility of gentle, controlled oversteer.

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Go round-abouting and the Sierra hangs tight as speeds near 25mph. Above 25 and the front wheels howl as your grin grows. Add a dab of oppo, scandinavian flicks, badass drifter talk blah-blah-blah: with more go-juice, steering modulation and you could duplicate this:

Fiesta THIS.

Like all Sierras thrashed-then-trashed in Europe, its a joy to drift at low speeds even if hamstringed by saggy, original springs and plush dampers. But it’s a pleasant ride/handling tradeoff.  Potholes disappear with 80-series sidewalls smoothing imperfections to the point the big-rimmed Rolls Royce Phantom hangs its NVH-soaked head in shame. How Britishy!

Too bad about the buzzy powertrain: 105 bigger-than-you-think horses from a 2.0L OHC four-banger (sporting a large 2bbl Weber) means the Sierra rarely struggles, but makes a helluva ruckus.

It’s a wonderful powerband: diesel-like torque from a standstill with a smooth-ish (but L-O-U-D) demeanor all the way to 6000 emissions control free revs. The 3-speed auto schools modern units with an effortless 1-2 upshift and a reassuring push to 3rd at full throttle: all autoboxes should shift this sweet.

Brakes?  Credit the light weight for the Sierra’s discs/drums bringing the machine down from 60mph with the hustle of a modern machine. ABS would help, ditto weight adding life-saving technology like airbags, larger door bars, etc.  I reckon with today’s weight shedding tech (aluminum engines, plastic hoods/intakes, etc) offsetting the safety goodies, the Sierra’s fighting form wouldn’t gain a pound.

In the right place. (photo courtesy: Ford Motor Company)

And Ghia spec Ford Sierras are a nice place for average Americans and most Europeans, aside from the previous owner’s decision to order it sans air conditioning: antique English vehicle shopping FTW, SON MATE!

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Fleet-spec Sierras don’t stand a chance, but the real wood trim and buffet-worthy options list protect Ghias from modern motoring irrelevance. Power windows (front 2 or 4), crank moonroof, adjustable reading lamps and a four-speaker cassette stereo are far from impressive. But heated seats, roll up rear sunshades, headlight washers and a gen-u-wine electronic trip computer are touches you’d pay extra for even today.

Mediocre overall, as integration is the killer app.

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Because 1980s. (photo courtesy: Ford Motor Company)

The dash, less radical than the wraparound polycarbonate bumpers, organizes controls in zones for easy use: one to the right of the gauges, another to the left, a third atop the center stack (dark chocolate) and a 4th in the lighter brown region. It’s charming in a proto-modern, Atari 2600 human factors kind of way.

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The interior bits are from a dumber era in polymer construction, yet texture/fit/finish from the doors, vent registers, levers and switches is pure Germanic craftsmanship. Aside from the (period excellent) brown velour, the interior’s aged well.

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But goodness, those seats are magical.  Don’t let the benign seams fool you: the Ghia sucks you in, cradling you. All passengers get thick, luxurious cushions with brilliant thigh support and Volvo-worthy head restraints. Even the Velcro-like velour provides impressive lateral support for everyone but latex-wearing fetishists.

While the stereo is barely adequate, while the vintage Hitachi deck’s discman input smartphone jack provides turn-by-turn Google navigation and streaming audio, don’t forget the tunes held in a handy hatchback with 42.4 cu-ft of space!

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And the beat goes brown.

Considering fuel economy numbers near 30mpg for highway-skewed driving (no overdrive) the Ford Sierra is an antique you could daily drive. (Just find one with A/C.)

But the original MKI design asks for more. It deserves more. 

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Back on the trailer for big upgrades: more gears, power and period-correct emissions processing for a powertrain worthy of that efficient body.

Yes, this Sierra has the power of contemporary V8s in a superior chassis. And it’s quite the time capsule, even difficult to find in Europe…but at what cost to cutting-edge design?

Next time you see TTAC’s Ford Sierra, prepare for an even larger threat to the notion of a modern car!

 

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Hinrichs: Extensive Use Of Aluminum Only For Truck Lineup http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/hinrichs-extensive-use-aluminum-truck-lineup/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/hinrichs-extensive-use-aluminum-truck-lineup/#comments Thu, 15 Jan 2015 13:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=983793 The King of Truck Mountain may have new aluminum armor these days, but Ford has no plans on fully equipping the rest of its lineup with the metal. According to Automotive News, Ford President of the Americas Joe Hinrichs says other, more cost-effective methods for improved fuel economy take precedence over building an all-aluminum Mustang, […]

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2015 Ford F-150

The King of Truck Mountain may have new aluminum armor these days, but Ford has no plans on fully equipping the rest of its lineup with the metal.

According to Automotive News, Ford President of the Americas Joe Hinrichs says other, more cost-effective methods for improved fuel economy take precedence over building an all-aluminum Mustang, Fusion or Fiesta:

One of the big benefits you get from lightweighting on trucks is you give customers more capability that they want. You can tow more, you can haul more, you can do more of those things by taking the weight out. You don’t get those same benefits to a consumer on a car side. So truck buyers will pay for more capability. Car buyers will pay for better fuel economy, but there’s other ways to get fuel economy in a car.

As far as lightweighting the overall line is concerned, Hinrichs says aluminum may be kept to individual parts such as the hood and doors. Other materials could come into play down the road, however, such as the carbon fiber wheels on the Shelby GT350R that helped the super-pony car shed 52 pounds of unsprung weight.

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NAIAS 2015: Shelby GT350R Mustang Ready For Track Day http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-shelby-gt350r-mustang-ready-track-day/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-shelby-gt350r-mustang-ready-track-day/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 16:30:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=978313 Coming to Canada and the United States later this year is Ford’s “most race-ready road-legal Mustang ever,” the Shelby GT350R. Under the bonnet of this beast is a 5.2-liter DOHC flat-plane V8, whose 500+ horsepower and over 400 lb-ft of torque make the engine the most powerful naturally aspirated unit Ford offers today. An air-to-oil […]

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Coming to Canada and the United States later this year is Ford’s “most race-ready road-legal Mustang ever,” the Shelby GT350R.

Under the bonnet of this beast is a 5.2-liter DOHC flat-plane V8, whose 500+ horsepower and over 400 lb-ft of torque make the engine the most powerful naturally aspirated unit Ford offers today. An air-to-oil cooler for the V8 and a standard cooler for the six-speed manual help the GT350R handle the hardest of track days.

Suspension is composed of revised springs, bushings and jounce bumpers, antiroll bars, a lowered ride height, cross-axis ball joints up front, and a limited-slip differential with a 3.73 axle ratio in the back.

Like its exotic sibling, the Ford GT, the GT350R was optimized for better aerodynamic performance and downforce. Key components include front and rear underbody belly pans, revised front splitter, vented hood and wheel wells, and an aggressive diffuser.

The track-day machine is also lighter than the GT350 Track Pack model by 130 pounds. Whatever Ford could remove, it did, including the rear seats, air conditioning, stereo system, trunk carpeting and floorboard, exhaust resonators, backup camera, and so on. Weight reduction is further enhanced by standard 19-inch carbon fiber wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires.

Those who prefer a little comfort in their GT350R can opt for the Electronics Packages, which includes dual-zone air conditioning and a seven-speaker audio system among its list of features.

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NAIAS 2015: 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor Ready For Return To Baja Valley http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2017-ford-f-150-raptor-ready-return-baja-valley/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-2017-ford-f-150-raptor-ready-return-baja-valley/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 16:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=978161 The King of Truck Mountain is ready for its return to Baja Valley below in its latest Raptor incarnation. The 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor is powered by a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 delivering more power than the outgoing 6.2-liter V8’s 411 horsepower and 434 lb-ft of torque, though just how much more hasn’t been stated. Said […]

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The King of Truck Mountain is ready for its return to Baja Valley below in its latest Raptor incarnation.

The 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor is powered by a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 delivering more power than the outgoing 6.2-liter V8’s 411 horsepower and 434 lb-ft of torque, though just how much more hasn’t been stated. Said power is directed to all corners via a paddle-shifted 10-speed automatic, and managed by a torque-on-demand transfer case. The front pair of wheels also boast a new Torsen front differential for greater off-road prowess.

Supporting the Raptor is standard FOX Racing Shox suspension, which uses custom internal bypass tech to “damp and stiffen suspension travel over rough terrain,” preventing the truck from bottoming out after leaping over a small hill or two. A set of 17-inch wheels mounted in BF Goodrich All-Terrain KO2 tires help cushion the blow as the truck claws its way through the trails.

The body is composed of high-strength military-grade aluminum that weighs 500 pounds less than the outgoing Raptor, and is supported by a purpose-built high-strength steel frame, the strongest frame throughout the entire F-150 range.

Other features include: six driving modes; traction control; stability control; advanced LED lighting and camera tech; roof-mounted auxiliary controls inside the cab; and three color material levels.

The 2017 F-150 Raptor is set to go on sale in the fall of 2016, and will leave for showrooms from the Dearborn Truck Plant in Dearborn, Mich.

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NAIAS 2015: The Return Of The Ford GT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-return-ford-gt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/naias-2015-return-ford-gt/#comments Mon, 12 Jan 2015 15:15:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=978057 We thought this wouldn’t happen, but here it is: The Ford GT has returned. The new GT will begin production late in 2016, and will be sold in select markets around the world in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Ford’s destruction of Ferrari at Le Mans with the GT40. Power for the GT is […]

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We thought this wouldn’t happen, but here it is: The Ford GT has returned.

The new GT will begin production late in 2016, and will be sold in select markets around the world in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Ford’s destruction of Ferrari at Le Mans with the GT40.

Power for the GT is derived from a mid-mounted next-gen twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 producing upwards of 600 horsepower, which is sent to the back via a seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle.

Surrounding the engine and transaxle is bodywork composed of carbon fiber with front and rear aluminum subframes. The body itself is heavily optimized for aero and downforce, and features an active rear spoiler that follows both speed and what the driver desires.

Other features include: adjustable ride height; 20-inch wheels mounted in Michelin Pilot Super Sport Cup 2 tires with a composition made specifically for the GT; upward swinging doors; and Ford’s new SYNC 3 connected-vehicle system.

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European Prices For 2015 Ford Mustang Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/european-prices-2015-ford-mustang-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/european-prices-2015-ford-mustang-revealed/#comments Fri, 09 Jan 2015 12:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=974306 Europeans who are itching to saddle up the new 2015 Ford Mustang now know how much the price of admission will be to do so, and it’s quite the pretty penny. Mustang6G obtained a German market brochure for the pony car in late December, which listed the base prices for the following configurations: 2.3-liter EcoBoost […]

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Europeans who are itching to saddle up the new 2015 Ford Mustang now know how much the price of admission will be to do so, and it’s quite the pretty penny.

Mustang6G obtained a German market brochure for the pony car in late December, which listed the base prices for the following configurations:

  • 2.3-liter EcoBoost Fastback (manual) – €34,000 (~$41,511 USD)
  • 2.3-liter EcoBoost Fastback (auto) – €36,000 (~$43,953)
  • 2.3-liter EcoBoost Convertible (manual) – €38,000 (~$46,394)
  • 2.3-liter EcoBoost Convertible (auto) – €40,000 (~$48,836)
  • 5.0-liter Coyote Fastback (manual) – €39,000 (~$47,615)
  • 5.0-liter Coyote Fastback (auto) – €41,000 (~$50,057)
  • 5.0-liter Coyote Convertible (manual) – €43,000 (~$52,500)
  • 5.0-liter Coyote Convertible (auto) – €45,000 (~$54,941)

Though the European prices are much higher than the $23,800 – $46,170 base range in the United States, the Mustang still fares well against other sport coupes in the market. For example, the BMW 4 Series starts at €36,050 ($42,638), topping out at €48,100 ($56,891) for the 435i. Meanwhile, the Euro-spec Chevrolet Camaro, powered by the SS’ 6.2-liter V8, begins at €39,990 ($47,298), bringing it in line with the 5-liter manual fastback.

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New Apps, Infotainment Systems Turn Up At 2015 CES http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/new-apps-infotainment-systems-turn-2015-ces/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/new-apps-infotainment-systems-turn-2015-ces/#comments Thu, 08 Jan 2015 14:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=973610 Autonomous alien luxury pods and royalty-free hydrogen patents aren’t the only things coming onto the stage during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Today, we’ll show you the latest and greatest from BMW, FCA, Audi and Ford, with the help from our brothers and sisters over at AutoGuide. BMW introduced non-contact gesture controls […]

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FCA Uconnect Access Services

Autonomous alien luxury pods and royalty-free hydrogen patents aren’t the only things coming onto the stage during the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Today, we’ll show you the latest and greatest from BMW, FCA, Audi and Ford, with the help from our brothers and sisters over at AutoGuide.

BMW introduced non-contact gesture controls for its Control Display touchscreen infotainment system, allowing drivers to input a given address with directed gestures made between the instrument panel and gear shift, among other tasks. Another system, Touch Command, will use a standard Samsung tablet to handle all infotainment and comfort functions, and provides wireless access to all onboard electronics for all passengers.

Over at FCA, the automaker debuted new additions to its Uconnect Access suite of apps: Vehicle Finder, Send Destination to Vehicle, Monthly Vehicle Report and Vehicle Health Alert. All four allow owners to keep tabs on their vehicle’s systems, easily navigate to a given destination, and know where their vehicle is at all times. The new suite will debut in H1 2015 on select FCA products equipped with either 8.4A or 8.4AN Uconnect systems.

Audi showed off the new interior of the next-gen Q7 — set to bow in Detroit next week as a 2016 model — to the media in attendance at the 2015 CES. The dashboard arrangement is derived from the TT, featuring a 12.3-inch Audi Virtual Cockpit display with 3D maps and other important information. An additional pop-up central display uses a rotary knob and touch-sensitive pad to operate, while two large, removable, Wi-Fi-enabled tablets mounted in the back of the front headrests provide navigation info and entertainment for those seated in back.

Finally, Ford has added on AccuWeather and Life360 to the AppLink suite of apps on-board the new, QNX-based Sync 3 system. The Life360 Sync 3 app has a special Drive Mode feature that sends text messages to a driver’s friends and family so that they know not to contact the user while driving, with a follow-up text sent upon arrival at the user’s destination. AccuWeather, meanwhile, will use GPS to give minute-by-minute weather forecasts to help drivers better deal with and plan around inclement weather.

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Callum: No ‘Visual Connection Between Lincoln And Ford’ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/callum-no-visual-connection-lincoln-ford/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/callum-no-visual-connection-lincoln-ford/#comments Thu, 08 Jan 2015 13:00:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=973594 For the longest time, there wasn’t much difference between Lincoln and Ford in the design game, consumers hardly seeing much difference between an MKZ and a Fusion despite the former’s premium price. Ford global design boss Moray Callum is drawing a line in the sand as far as that is concerned. In an interview with […]

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Lincoln MKC

For the longest time, there wasn’t much difference between Lincoln and Ford in the design game, consumers hardly seeing much difference between an MKZ and a Fusion despite the former’s premium price. Ford global design boss Moray Callum is drawing a line in the sand as far as that is concerned.

In an interview with Automotive News Callum said that as far as design goes, he didn’t think there should be “a visual connection between Lincoln and Ford.” The decision to have a design studio separate from Ford is part of this goal, citing the cross-pollination among competitors Lexus and Infiniti with their respective parent brands, Toyota and Nissan.

Within Lincoln, the differentiation is beginning to take hold. Callum explained that the MKC and MKZ share no common sheet metal, proportion or stance with its cousins, the Ford Escape and Fusion. That said, the differentiation is not something he has to enforce, nor does he feel a need to do so, proclaiming that it’s a decision both brands are consciously making.

As for Ford’s own premium concerns, Callum states that though the Blue Oval isn’t pretending “to be a premium brand,” he didn’t see any harm in bringing a premium feel to the portfolio, adding that “the premium brands don’t have a monopoly on great design.”

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