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. Thu, 18 Dec 2014 19:02:27 +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/ NHTSA Ready To Force Nationwide Takata Airbag Recall http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/nhtsa-ready-force-nationwide-takata-airbag-recall/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/nhtsa-ready-force-nationwide-takata-airbag-recall/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 14:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962073 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is ready to force Takata and three of its clients into a nationwide recall over the catastrophic failure of the supplier’s airbags. The Detroit News reports the agency will bring Ford, FCA US and BMW to court if necessary, compelling the automakers to recall 5 million affected vehicles in […]

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is ready to force Takata and three of its clients into a nationwide recall over the catastrophic failure of the supplier’s airbags.

The Detroit News reports the agency will bring Ford, FCA US and BMW to court if necessary, compelling the automakers to recall 5 million affected vehicles in addition to those already recalled.

The first act in bringing the named parties to trial will be a formal demand letter issued to all concerned. Upon refusal, the NHTSA will file a suit against each party in U.S. District Court, a process that could last for months, if not years.

The die was cast when Takata rebuffed the agency’s request earlier this month to expand its recall efforts beyond high-humidity locations in warm climates around the United States, including Florida and Hawaii.

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Seven Finalists Announced For Europe’s 2015 Car of the Year http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/seven-finalists-announced-europes-2015-car-year/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/seven-finalists-announced-europes-2015-car-year/#comments Wed, 17 Dec 2014 11:00:29 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961993 After months of deliberation, Europe’s Car of the Year panel has narrowed down the field of 31 to seven finalists. Autoblog reports the panel has chosen the following nominees for the 2015 Car of the Year: BMW 2 Series Active Tourer Citroën C4 Cactus Ford Mondeo Mercedes-Benz C-Class Nissan Qashqai Renault Twingo Volkswagen Passat The […]

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After months of deliberation, Europe’s Car of the Year panel has narrowed down the field of 31 to seven finalists.

Autoblog reports the panel has chosen the following nominees for the 2015 Car of the Year:

  • BMW 2 Series Active Tourer
  • Citroën C4 Cactus
  • Ford Mondeo
  • Mercedes-Benz C-Class
  • Nissan Qashqai
  • Renault Twingo
  • Volkswagen Passat

The winner will be announced during the 2015 Geneva Auto Show this coming March. Previous winners include the Peugeot 308, Volkswagen Golf and Opel Ampera, with the first title awarded 50 years ago to the 1964 Rover 2000.

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Trucks, SUVs Best Premium Sedans In Over $50K US Segment http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/trucks-suvs-best-premium-sedans-50k-us-segment/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/trucks-suvs-best-premium-sedans-50k-us-segment/#comments Mon, 15 Dec 2014 14:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=961313 Keep those Benzes, BMWs and Audis in the garage, son: $50,000-plus trucks and SUVs are where it’s at for the ballers and players these days. TrueCar says trucks and SUVs account for six of the top 10 best-selling vehicles in the United States market, specifically the segment where transaction prices of $50,000-plus are the norm. […]

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Keep those Benzes, BMWs and Audis in the garage, son: $50,000-plus trucks and SUVs are where it’s at for the ballers and players these days.

TrueCar says trucks and SUVs account for six of the top 10 best-selling vehicles in the United States market, specifically the segment where transaction prices of $50,000-plus are the norm.

The biggest of them all? The Ford F-150, whose projected 2014 volume of 189,776 “will likely surpass total U.S. volume of luxury car benchmarks including BMW’s combined 3, 5 and 7 Series sales or total deliveries for the Audi brand this year.” The Blue Oval will see revenue of $10.8 billion from those high transactions, making up a third of an estimated $33.2 billion for the overall F-Series portfolio.

The demand for looking California and feeling Minnesota is helped in part by a recovering U.S. economy, improved vehicle quality, and a growing supply of cheap gasoline, which is helping the $50,000-plus transaction segment, as well: approximately 8.1 percent of total 2014 sales will transact at that level, up from 6.6 percent in 2013.

Finishing out the podium per TrueCar is Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Ram truck lineup, with sales of 76,266 at the $50,000 transaction level, Mercedes taking third with its E-Class at 67,006.

TrueCar 2014 50K USD Transaction Table

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Ford Kills MyFordTouch, Introduces SYNC 3 Connected-Vehicle System http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/ford-kills-myfordtouch-introduces-sync-3-connected-vehicle-system/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/ford-kills-myfordtouch-introduces-sync-3-connected-vehicle-system/#comments Fri, 12 Dec 2014 12:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=959081 Joy to the world, MyFordTouch is dead. In its place, Ford introduced Thursday its new SYNC 3 connected-vehicle system. Pulling from suggestions and comments from 22,000 consumers, in combination with clinics and surveys, the QNX-based SYNC 3 aims to be more intuitive than the outgoing technology, delivering an interface similar to those found on smartphones […]

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SYNC 3

Joy to the world, MyFordTouch is dead. In its place, Ford introduced Thursday its new SYNC 3 connected-vehicle system.

Pulling from suggestions and comments from 22,000 consumers, in combination with clinics and surveys, the QNX-based SYNC 3 aims to be more intuitive than the outgoing technology, delivering an interface similar to those found on smartphones and tablets. The system also offers day and night settings, reduced complexity, and better voice recognition.

Speaking of smartphones, users can connect theirs via SYNC 3’s AppLink, allowing them to control their smartphones through voice commands. The latest version of AppLink can automatically discover music and news apps such as Spotify, iHeartRadio Auto and NPR One.

Software updates can now be achieved via Wi-Fi: once a user links the system to their home network, updates can happen while the car is parked in the garage or on the driveway.

Finally, users can dial 911 via the subscription-free 911 Assist service, which uses a Bluetooth-connected phone to call first responders in the event of an accident, and providing detailed information location, whether airbags were deployed, how many seat belts were used, and the type of crash that occurred.

Owners can expect SYNC 3 to arrive in the 2016 model year, with full replacement by New Year’s Eve 2016. Lincoln will have a slightly touched-up version for its customers, as well.

SYNC 3 SYNC 3 SYNC 3 SYNC 3 SYNC 3 SYNC 3 SYNC 3 SYNC 3 SYNC 3 SYNC 3 SYNC 3 SYNC 3 SYNC 3 SYNC 3

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Nair: Ford Considering CVTs For Future Applications http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/nair-ford-considering-cvts-future-applications/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/nair-ford-considering-cvts-future-applications/#comments Tue, 09 Dec 2014 11:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=957306 Ford is considering giving the B&B’s least favorite transmission type another go for future applications. Automotive News reports global product development boss Raj Nair said as much during a media event in Detroit. Though Ford hasn’t had much success with CVTs in the past — the last models to use the transmission were the Five […]

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Ford is considering giving the B&B’s least favorite transmission type another go for future applications.

Automotive News reports global product development boss Raj Nair said as much during a media event in Detroit. Though Ford hasn’t had much success with CVTs in the past — the last models to use the transmission were the Five Hundred, Freestyle and Mercury Montego back in 2007 — the automaker is “taking another look, particularly in low torque applications” such as the Fiesta SFE, whose 1-liter EcoBoost is only available with a manual transmission.

As for where Ford will get its new CVTs, Nair didn’t say if the transmission type would be made in-house or obtained from a supplier, as was the case with ZF Friedrichshafen AG in 2007.

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Nair: Ford Hard At Work On F-150 Hybrid http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/nair-ford-hard-work-f-150-hybrid/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/nair-ford-hard-work-f-150-hybrid/#comments Fri, 05 Dec 2014 12:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=955650 Losing 700 pounds may not be enough in the fuel economy for the 2015 Ford F-150, as plans are being made to add hybridization to the mix. Detroit Free Press reports global product development boss Raj Nair stated the automaker was “working very hard” on the hybrid system for the F-150, but that it was […]

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2015 Ford F-150

Losing 700 pounds may not be enough in the fuel economy for the 2015 Ford F-150, as plans are being made to add hybridization to the mix.

Detroit Free Press reports global product development boss Raj Nair stated the automaker was “working very hard” on the hybrid system for the F-150, but that it was too soon to go into detail on when it would hit showrooms or how the system functioned.

Regarding diesel, Nair said that fuel prices — already falling below $2/gallon in a few spots in the United States — are making such a thing tough to bring about, that even a hybrid system would pay for itself long before a diesel F-150 could. That said, if the demand is there, Nair believes Ford could tap into its diesel portfolio to make that model happen.

Speaking of fuel prices, truck marketing chief Doug Scott said he didn’t think sales of EcoBoost models would be dampened by cheap fuel, citing customers’ choice to buy an EcoBoost F-150 for the performance as well as fuel economy.

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Aluminum Mainstreaming May Mean More Dent & Ding Policies http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/aluminum-mainstreaming-may-mean-dent-ding-policies/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/aluminum-mainstreaming-may-mean-dent-ding-policies/#comments Thu, 04 Dec 2014 14:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=955409 Planning to buy a new 2015 Ford F-150 soon? You might be purchasing a dent-and-ding policy for your ride, too. Automotive News reports the aluminum pickup has created an opportunity for F&I departments to sell dent-and-ding polices, playing on the notion that the metal isn’t as tough as steel when it comes to such things. […]

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Planning to buy a new 2015 Ford F-150 soon? You might be purchasing a dent-and-ding policy for your ride, too.

Automotive News reports the aluminum pickup has created an opportunity for F&I departments to sell dent-and-ding polices, playing on the notion that the metal isn’t as tough as steel when it comes to such things. Ford begs to differ, as the F-150’s “high-strength, military-grade, aluminum-alloy body is more dent and ding resistant” than the outgoing steel-paneled model, per representative Mike Levine.

However, the increased use of aluminum would mean those polices would cost a pretty penny. EFG Cos. executive vice president Cliff Eller says repairing the panels with paintless dent removal would be more labor-intensive and time-consuming than doing the same for steel panels, with the aforementioned increase likely to push the cost of an average claim upward.

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Ford: Market Share Declines Will Continue Near-Term http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/ford-market-share-declines-will-continue-near-term/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/ford-market-share-declines-will-continue-near-term/#comments Wed, 03 Dec 2014 13:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=955033 Things are rough for Ford on Truck Mountain, with ground lost for the fourth consecutive month in November in a market-share situation that isn’t about to improve any time soon. Automotive News reports sales fell 2 percent last month compared to the same time in 2013, with its market share in the United States diving […]

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Things are rough for Ford on Truck Mountain, with ground lost for the fourth consecutive month in November in a market-share situation that isn’t about to improve any time soon.

Automotive News reports sales fell 2 percent last month compared to the same time in 2013, with its market share in the United States diving to 14.3 percent from 15.3 percent in November 2013. The 2014 average holds at 15 percent, compared to 2013’s 15.9 percent through the first 11 months, while Ford experienced declines year over year every month this year except July.

One of the hardest-hit models was the F-150, which is undergoing its transition to aluminum, and affecting market share in so doing. 2015 models began shipping the week prior to Thanksgiving, with a handful arriving garages thus far. Vice president for U.S. marketing John Felice says inventory of the outgoing model remains sufficient, but adds that the company is maintaining a “delicate balance” with incentives until enough of the new trucks arrive on the lot. Overall inventory is at 79 days, down from 88 in October, and 89 in November 2013.

Throughout the range, every car model posted a decline in November except for the Mustang, whose sales jumped 62 percent that month, and the Police Interceptor Sedan. SUV sales fared better, with a 15 percent increase, while Lincoln posted a 21 percent boost, linked completely to the success of the MKC. Finally, the Transit reclaimed Flower Shop Lane this month, moving 373 more units over the Chevrolet Express.

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2015 Ford F-150 Pulls 22 MPG Combined, 12,000 Pounds Of Boat http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/2015-ford-f-150-pulls-22-mpg-combined-12000-pounds-boat/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/2015-ford-f-150-pulls-22-mpg-combined-12000-pounds-boat/#comments Mon, 24 Nov 2014 14:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=950017 So, how many miles per gallon did the 2015 Ford F-150 gain for the trouble of losing 700 pounds by gaining an aluminum body? How does 22 mpg combined sound? The 4×2 model with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost delivers 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. The 19/26/22 rating bests the 2008 […]

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2015 Ford F-150

So, how many miles per gallon did the 2015 Ford F-150 gain for the trouble of losing 700 pounds by gaining an aluminum body? How does 22 mpg combined sound?

The 4×2 model with the 2.7-liter EcoBoost delivers 19 mpg in the city and 26 mpg on the highway. The 19/26/22 rating bests the 2008 model with the 4.6-liter V8, which brought a rating of 14/19/16 to the party.

Aside from the 2.7-liter mill, the F-150 can be had with a standard 3.5-liter Ti-VCT V6, 3.5-liter EcoBoost, or 5-liter Ti-VCT V8. Horsepower ranges from 282 for the V6, to 385 for the V8, while torque comes at 253 lb-ft for the former, 420 lb-ft for the 3.5-liter EcoBoost.

As far as towing boats and hay are concerned, the larger EcoBoost 4×2 pulls the most at 12,200 pounds, whereas the 5-liter V8 edges out the EcoBoost with a max payload of 3,300 to 3,270.

Per Ford, new models are being shipped to dealers now, though special orders will be delayed until February.

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Farley, Odell Exchange Roles In Ford Exec Shuffle http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/farley-odell-exchange-roles-ford-exec-shuffle/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/11/farley-odell-exchange-roles-ford-exec-shuffle/#comments Mon, 10 Nov 2014 11:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=943409 Two Ford execs are about to have their passports stamped, as marketing chief Jim Farley and Ford of Europe general Stephen Odell are switching roles and addresses, effective on New Year’s Day 2015. Both execs will continue to report to Ford CEO Mark Fields, who had this to say on this exchanging of executives: We […]

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Jim Farley, Ford Executive Vice President of Global Marketing, Sa

Two Ford execs are about to have their passports stamped, as marketing chief Jim Farley and Ford of Europe general Stephen Odell are switching roles and addresses, effective on New Year’s Day 2015.

Both execs will continue to report to Ford CEO Mark Fields, who had this to say on this exchanging of executives:

We are excited to see Jim and Stephen take on these new roles as they bring unique skills, experience and fresh perspectives to these critical positions. These moves also underscore our commitment to develop our senior leaders through deep experience within both our business units and our global skill teams.

Farley has been in his current role since 2007, having come over to the Blue Oval after a decade of leading Toyota’s marketing efforts. Come January, he’ll be tasked with executing the One Ford plan in Europe “to achieve profitable growth through an unprecedented focus on new products, a strong brand and increased cost efficiency.”

Odell held down the fort since 2010, and was Volvo’s CEO and president from 2008 to 2010. He’s also been with the company for 34 years, and will work on building Ford’s and Lincoln’s global presence “through innovative new digital communications and transforming the retail experience for customers.”

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Spotlight Shines Brighter On Takata Airbag Failures http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/spotlight-shines-brighter-takata-airbag-failures/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/spotlight-shines-brighter-takata-airbag-failures/#comments Fri, 31 Oct 2014 13:00:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=938913 Investigators unearth more reports of deaths and injuries linked to catastrophic detonations of Takata’s airbags; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sets a deadline for the supplier to submit related documents; and attorneys urge a U.S. district judge to act quickly on a class action against Takata and four of its client automakers. Automotive News […]

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Investigators unearth more reports of deaths and injuries linked to catastrophic detonations of Takata’s airbags; the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sets a deadline for the supplier to submit related documents; and attorneys urge a U.S. district judge to act quickly on a class action against Takata and four of its client automakers.

Automotive News reports a number of cases linked to Takata airbags are coming to the surface as investigators begin their probes into the supplier. A common thread through the cases — such as an incident in Atlanta that left a woman with a speech disorder, as well as caused a number of strokes and one seizure, as a result of a piece of shrapnel from the unit slicing through her carotid artery — is settlement. Most of the cases are being settled out-of-court, just before prosecutors can gather the evidence needed to go after Takata, and just before such cases enter the public eye.

Over in the Beltway, Reuters says the NHTSA has set a deadline of December 1 for Takata to submit documents and answers to questions under oath as part of the agency’s probe into the defects. The order also cites an October 17 report by the news organization about manufacturing issues at the supplier’s Mexico facility, particularly a reference to an email written in March of 2011 that proclaimed “a part that is not welded = one life less,” as well as the discovery of chewing gum in a unit. The agency also wants a list of every death and injury caused by the airbags.

Finally, attorneys representing their clients in a class action suit against the supplier have asked Miami-based U.S. District Judge James Lawrence King to move their case quickly forward. One of the attorneys, Peter Prieto, stated the urging was necessary due to the danger the airbags create among the public. Eighteen plaintiffs in 10 states are involved in the suit, which also names Toyota, Ford, BMW and Honda as defendants. The next hearing will be on December 8.

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Ford Brings Telematics To Law Enforcement For Greater Safety, Transparency http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/ford-brings-telematics-law-enforcement-greater-safety-transparency/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/ford-brings-telematics-law-enforcement-greater-safety-transparency/#comments Wed, 29 Oct 2014 14:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=937850 To further transparency and improve safety, Ford and Telogis have debuted a system that will gather information on a given police officer’s driving practices. The Detroit News reports the system — having debuted in both Explorer- and Taurus-based Police Interceptors last week — can track speed, when lights are switched on, whether an officer is […]

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Chicago PD Ford Explorer Interceptor

To further transparency and improve safety, Ford and Telogis have debuted a system that will gather information on a given police officer’s driving practices.

The Detroit News reports the system — having debuted in both Explorer- and Taurus-based Police Interceptors last week — can track speed, when lights are switched on, whether an officer is wearing their seat belt et al, all in real time from its place under the dashboard.

The goal? For agencies to use the information to improve how their officers drive, and to have detailed records linked to any crashes that may occur in the line of duty. Ford’s manager of business and product development, Bill Frykman, explains:

Vehicle accidents are the leading cause of officer fatalities, and even the slightest improvements in driver training and behavior within law enforcement organizations can potentially save lives. Whether in emergency operation or not, vehicle data from this technology, in context with different driving situations will help illustrate to police organizations where changes can be made that will have a profound effect on officer safety.

The telematics technology originated in Ford’s line of commercial fleet models back in 2009, with Telogis coming in to help the automaker bring the system to the law enforcement market. Ford has no access to whatever is recorded, with the data secured between the vehicle and the agency that owns it.

The Los Angeles Police Department will be the first to implement the system, with other agencies coming on-board in early 2015.

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Consumer Reports: Infotainment System Woes Mark 2014 Reliability Survey http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/consumer-reports-infotainment-system-woes-mark-2014-reliability-survey/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/consumer-reports-infotainment-system-woes-mark-2014-reliability-survey/#comments Tue, 28 Oct 2014 10:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=936826 Consumer Reports released its Annual Reliability Survey for this year, focusing some of the attention on the woes experienced by a handful of infotainment systems. According to the publication, the absolute worse of the pack in 2014 was Infiniti’s InTouch system in the new Q50, with over one in five owners wanting to take a […]

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Infiniti InTouch - Infiniti Q50

Consumer Reports released its Annual Reliability Survey for this year, focusing some of the attention on the woes experienced by a handful of infotainment systems.

According to the publication, the absolute worse of the pack in 2014 was Infiniti’s InTouch system in the new Q50, with over one in five owners wanting to take a crowbar to the whole thing. The brand itself took a beating, dropping 14 points to 20th out of 28 as a result of the Q50’s issues, as well as the overall reliability issues in the QX60. Other infotainment systems ironing out the bugs included Ford’s MyTouch, Honda’s HondaLink and Fiat Chrysler Automobile’s UConnect.

Concerning overall reliability, Lexus once again took the top of the podium, while Toyota and Mazda respectively brought home silver and bronze, and Honda finished in fourth. Buick, meanwhile, was the only brand among the Detroit Three to place in the top 10, jumping from 16th to sixth on the strength of its entire portfolio.

As for why the other Detroit brands failed to reach the top 10, Consumer Reports says domestic small and compact cars, along with full-size trucks, are holding everyone back. Tesla also didn’t make the list, but that was due to criteria than low quality: the publication only rates brands with a minimum of two models, a situation that will be remedied when the Model X rolls out next year.

Finally, Audi took fifth behind the Japanese makes, while Porsche took ninth ahead of Kia. BMW and Volvo remained within the top 20. Only Mercedes-Benz took a hit among the Europeans this year, falling 11 spots to 24th thanks to the new CLA and S classes.

The Consumer Reports 2014 reliability survey obtained its information from 1.1 million vehicles, the largest survey of its kind in the publication’s history.

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Koesters: Ford May Build PHEV For Europe Should Demand Rise http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/koesters-ford-may-build-phev-europe-demand-rise/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/koesters-ford-may-build-phev-europe-demand-rise/#comments Mon, 20 Oct 2014 11:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=933746 While U.S. consumers can opt for a PHEV version of the Fusion or C-Max, European customers have had to look elsewhere. This could change soon, however. Automotive News reports Ford is “actively considering” bringing over a PHEV to go up against offerings from Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Volvo, according to vehicle line director for large […]

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2015 Ford C-Max Energi

While U.S. consumers can opt for a PHEV version of the Fusion or C-Max, European customers have had to look elsewhere.

This could change soon, however.

Automotive News reports Ford is “actively considering” bringing over a PHEV to go up against offerings from Volkswagen, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Volvo, according to vehicle line director for large cars in Europe, Uli Koesters.

The reason the Blue Oval hadn’t planned on playing the game? Low demand in Europe for PHEVs overall. Koesters could immediately bring a PHEV to market, such as one based upon the Fusion’s European cousin, the Mondeo, but only if the interest is there:

I believe the plug-in take-up in Europe is not quite as ready as some people would like to think, but it is clearly a technology that can do a lot better at significantly reducing fuel consumption and that is why we are actively looking at it.

At the moment, the most popular PHEV is the Mitsubishi Outlander, with 8,953 units sold in H1 2014. Volvo, meanwhile, sold the fewest PHEVs in the same period, moving only 3,233 V60s.

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Projects In Germany, US Closer To Low-Cost Carbon Fiber Manufacturing http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/projects-germany-us-closer-low-cost-carbon-fiber-manufacturing/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/projects-germany-us-closer-low-cost-carbon-fiber-manufacturing/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 10:00:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931938 Though carbon fiber is being used more extensively in new vehicles, the high costs associated with building a vehicle out of the material have kept it to the likes of the Lexus LFA and BMW i Series. This could soon change, however. Bloomberg reports MAI Carbon Cluster Management GmbH, with financial backing from BMW, Audi, […]

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2014 BMW i8 04

Though carbon fiber is being used more extensively in new vehicles, the high costs associated with building a vehicle out of the material have kept it to the likes of the Lexus LFA and BMW i Series. This could soon change, however.

Bloomberg reports MAI Carbon Cluster Management GmbH, with financial backing from BMW, Audi, Airbus, Siemens and around 70 other manufacturers, have made progress on reducing the cost of carbon fiber, with the goal of slashing 90 percent of the total cost. Klaus Drechler, head of the €80 million ($102 million USD) project, as well as professor at the Technical University of Munich, explains:

We’ve certainly reached a halfway point on our cost-cutting target for suitable carbon-fiber parts. We’ll see a lot more carbon-fiber use in the next generation of cars. The key is to really drive automation [in production]. There are different scenarios about how carmakers can use carbon fiber — extensively like BMW, with a carbon-fiber chassis, or with smaller components.

Similar cost-reduction efforts are being carried out in the United States at the Oak Ridge Carbon Fiber Composites Consortium in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The consortium, established in 2011, has partnered with Ford, Dow Chemical and other companies in developing lower-cost carbon fiber materials.

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Ford Hires 850 To Build New F-150 Ahead Of 2015 UAW Negotiations http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/ford-hires-850-build-new-f-150-ahead-2015-uaw-negotiations/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/ford-hires-850-build-new-f-150-ahead-2015-uaw-negotiations/#comments Tue, 14 Oct 2014 11:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=930842 In anticipation of high demand for the 2015 Ford F-150 — as well as covering its bases ahead of negotiations with the United Auto Workers in 2015 — the Blue Oval is hiring 850 employees to help assemble the reborn king of Truck Mountain at the automaker’s Dearborn, Mich. plant. Bloomberg reports the new hires […]

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In anticipation of high demand for the 2015 Ford F-150 — as well as covering its bases ahead of negotiations with the United Auto Workers in 2015 — the Blue Oval is hiring 850 employees to help assemble the reborn king of Truck Mountain at the automaker’s Dearborn, Mich. plant.

Bloomberg reports the new hires bring the total of hourly employees brought into the fold since 2011 to 14,000, 2,000 more than pledged to the UAW three years ago, when it promised to hire 12,000 by 2015. The 850 will be split up, with 500 headed for assembly, nearly 300 to stamping, and over 50 allocated to Dearborn Diversified.

The hiring spree is in part due to the two-tier system put into place seven years ago, with new Ford employees making just over half of the $27/hour wage veteran employees are paid. The system will likely be on the table when the UAW begins negotiations with the Detroit Two and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles next year.

The total number of employees working for Ford stand at 84,000 in North America, up from 75,000 in 2011, when the pledge was made.

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Deep Dive: Ford 1.0L Ecoboost http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/deep-dive-ford-1-0l-ecoboost/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/deep-dive-ford-1-0l-ecoboost/#comments Mon, 06 Oct 2014 18:35:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=926729 Brown paint isn’t available from the factory and adding diesel would require pumping out its fuel system, but Ford’s Fiesta SFE is practically built for the Internet. Though sales projection for the turbocharged, direct-injected three cylinder subcompact are modest, the car is at least proving popular to discuss. TTAC has already triple-teamed the basics through […]

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Brown paint isn’t available from the factory and adding diesel would require pumping out its fuel system, but Ford’s Fiesta SFE is practically built for the Internet. Though sales projection for the turbocharged, direct-injected three cylinder subcompact are modest, the car is at least proving popular to discuss. TTAC has already triple-teamed the basics through capsule reviews – it is more composed than sporty, more mature than it is hoonish, and the selling proposition is a bit of a mystery. Ford sent me the car for a week’s evaluation as well. What’s left to be said?

Quite a bit actually, as long as you are interested in FoMoCo’s smallest production engine. This ain’t the paint shaker you’ve experienced in the Mitsubishi Mirage or other triples. If anything, it’s a sign of things to come.

Most North Americans associate three cylinder engines with improved fuel economy, reduced power and added vibration. In spite of this, Ford boldly suggests you spend an extra $995 to get the three cylinder over than the standard inline four. Horsepower (123) only improves by a modest three geldings over the 1.6 Sigma four, but 148 lb. ft. of torque (an improvement of 36) will get the driver’s attention. Fuel economy, at 31 city/43 highway/36 combined, is up by 3/7/5 versus the Sigma. While arranging for the loan, Ford also insisted that the 1.0L EcoBoost was a qualitative improvement too. That’s a bold claim, but 450 miles of driving convinced me that Ford pulled it off.

Vibration is inherent in three cylinder engines – an odd number of cylinders means there are no “equal but opposite” actions happening across the engine block to calm things down. Left to their own devices, triples tend to move around on their mounts and often make booming resonances. OEMs generally respond by adding counterrotating balance shafts. This minimizes vibration at the expense of fuel economy and power output, which isn’t much of a sales pitch.

Ford chose a different path. As seen in the below video, fore-and-aft motion was dealt with by intentionally unbalancing the flywheel and accessory pulley. The increased lateral motion was then handled via careful tuning of the engine mounts and their placement. They aren’t active mounts like some publications have reported, but they generally do the job. Startup is a touch rougher than a well-tuned inline four and buzz sometimes passes through the steering wheel at idle, but my passengers suspected nothing unusual ahead of the firewall. So far, so good.

Click here to view the embedded video.

An iron block allows for compact overall dimensions and cylinder walls of just 6 millimeters. The thin walls and dual cooling circuits in the engine (one for the block, one for the aluminum head) both aid warm-up times and improve efficiency. The oil pump is a variable-displacement unit and particularly improves efficiency at higher rpm. The crankshaft is also offset to reduce friction along the pistons. Some early press reports indicated that the Fiesta SFE features regenerative brakes as well. Don’t go looking for any additional batteries or electric motors – the car only features a “smart” alternator that cycles during deceleration to avoid unnecessary taxing of the engine. Start-stop isn’t offered in the US, but Ford said this was only due to market acceptance (the option is available with this engine in Europe).

Interestingly, the exhaust manifold is water-cooled and integrates directly into the cylinder head. (The upcoming 2.7L EcoBoost engine also features this construction). This water-cooling negates the need to dump extra fuel to cool the turbo at high rpm. Speaking of turbos, this specimen is of the small, low-inertia sort and spins up to 248,000 rpm. A vacuum-actuated wastegate keeps the turbo spooled when freewheeling to reduce lag. At least on paper, power and efficiency are both accounted for then.

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Power and efficiency were both accounted for during my driving as well. The gearing stops it from feeling Fiesta ST-fast, but 125 lb. ft. of torque at 2,500 rpm is plenty sufficient for city maneuvers if you don’t write for Car & Driver. Interstate performance was also among the best I’ve met in a subcompact – 70 mph equates to a peaceable 2,500 rpm, yet passing power is intact. My daily drive is a 40/40/20 split of highway/country/city driving. The overall result after 450 miles was 42.8 miles per gallon (I took one final Interstate drive before snapping the above picture). Driven like I owned it, I’m sure the Fiesta would yield at least a couple more mpg.

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So far, we’ve established that this is a high-feature engine that happens to be small. Does it require high-end maintenance then? Not according to Ford’s published schedule. Some competing small displacement turbocharged engines require unusual oil weights, but the 5W-20 Ford calls for should be an easy find at your local autoparts store. The side-mounted oil filter will be messy, but at least the entire underside of the engine bay isn’t totally shrouded in plastic (I’M LOOKING AT YOU, FORD ESCAPE 1.6!). The top of the engine resembles a spaghetti-monster of plumbing at first glance, but accessory belts, spark plugs and the other DIY maintenance items are all accessible. The shade tree mechanic isn’t obsolete yet then… depending how you feel about the timing belt. As with some of Ford’s other recent small engine implementations, the belt is sealed and immersed in oil to reduce friction, reduce noise and increase the service interval. An inspection is called for at 150,000 miles, but Ford expects the belt to last the life of the engine. That’s great if they are right, but the replacement will be exceptionally complex if they are wrong.

Quibbles aside, 450 miles was enough to convince me that the 1.0L EcoBoost is both a qualitative and quantitative improvement over the 1.6 Sigma. Those who consider the Fiesta too small may be more interested in the upcoming application in the Focus. Ford is currently mum on whether the Focus will be tuned for more output in North America, but these variants already exist in Europe – the 1.0L EcoBoost has achieved 160 hp with just software tweaks and 200 hp with hardware upgrades. Whether this particular engine sells in meaningful volumes in North America will probably hinge on the ability to pair the engine with an automatic transmission in the upcoming Focus, but the 1.0L Ecoboost is undoubtably a sign of the times. And I know at least 42.8 reasons why that isn’t a bad thing.

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Paris 2014: Revised 2015 Ford C-Max Debuts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/paris-2014-revised-2015-ford-c-max-debuts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/paris-2014-revised-2015-ford-c-max-debuts/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 19:30:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=924529 The Astonization of Ford continues, this time with the newly revised 2015 C-Max, bowing at the 2014 Paris Auto Show. Along with the new face, the compact MPV boasts new tail lamps, revised hatch, new alloy wheels, two new shades of color — Red Rush and Caribou — and an updated center console with fewer […]

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The Astonization of Ford continues, this time with the newly revised 2015 C-Max, bowing at the 2014 Paris Auto Show.

Along with the new face, the compact MPV boasts new tail lamps, revised hatch, new alloy wheels, two new shades of color — Red Rush and Caribou — and an updated center console with fewer buttons and less stitching for a cleaner look.

Safety features for the C-Max include parking assist, cross-traffic alert, the new Park-Out Assist — allowing the crossover to unpark itself from tight spaces — and adaptive cruise control.

Under the hood, a 1.5-liter turbo-four is now available, while European customers also receive a variety of engines, from a 2-liter turbodiesel, to a 1-liter EcoBoost.

Speaking of Europe, the above reflect what can be had in the market, with no word as of yet regarding if any of the changes will cross the Atlantic.

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Paris 2014: 2015 Ford Focus ST Diesel Debuts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/paris-2014-2015-ford-focus-st-diesel-debuts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/paris-2014-2015-ford-focus-st-diesel-debuts/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 17:00:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=923785 European customers will soon have another option on the table, as the 2015 Ford Focus ST turned up at the 2014 Paris Auto Show with diesel power. In addition to the 2-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine — capable of 252 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque — the hot hatch will have the 2-liter TDCi turbodiesel […]

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European customers will soon have another option on the table, as the 2015 Ford Focus ST turned up at the 2014 Paris Auto Show with diesel power.

In addition to the 2-liter EcoBoost gasoline engine — capable of 252 horsepower and 270 lb-ft of torque — the hot hatch will have the 2-liter TDCi turbodiesel under the bonnet. The TDCi is the ST’s first-ever diesel powerplant, and will deliver 182 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque to the front through the same six-speed manual as the EcoBoost.

Performance-wise, the turbodiesel moves the ST from nil to 62 mph in 8.1 seconds, and visits the fuel station less often with an average of 67.3 mpg on the European cycle. Stop-start is available for both engines, as well, improving fuel economy by 6 percent.

The Focus ST will arrive in European showrooms starting next year.

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Next-Gen Ford Super Duty To Receive Aluminum Bodies http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/next-gen-ford-super-duty-receive-aluminum-bodies/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/next-gen-ford-super-duty-receive-aluminum-bodies/#comments Wed, 01 Oct 2014 11:00:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=922353 The King of Truck Mountain’s royal guard will soon be outfitted in aluminum, thanks to Ford’s vision for the next-gen Super Duty. The Detroit News reports product development boss Raj Nair made the announcement during Ford’s investor day Monday. Though details were scarce, it’s likely the first aluminum-bodied Super Dutys will leave Louisville, Ky. in […]

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2015 Ford F-250 Super Duty King Ranch FX4

The King of Truck Mountain’s royal guard will soon be outfitted in aluminum, thanks to Ford’s vision for the next-gen Super Duty.

The Detroit News reports product development boss Raj Nair made the announcement during Ford’s investor day Monday. Though details were scarce, it’s likely the first aluminum-bodied Super Dutys will leave Louisville, Ky. in 2015 as 2016 models, in keeping with the bigger trucks following the F-150 down the upgrade trail.

As for the aluminum F-150, president of the Americas Joe Hinrichs said the Dearborn Truck Plant has completed the month-long changeover needed to make the new truck, with aluminum sheets running through the plant starting this week. The new F-150 is expected in showrooms by the end of the year, so long as nothing fancy is needed.

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Capsule Comparison: BMW X1 S-Drive vs Ford Fiesta ST http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-comparison-bmw-x1-s-drive-vs-ford-fiesta-st/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-comparison-bmw-x1-s-drive-vs-ford-fiesta-st/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 12:49:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=798050 Much has been written about the narrowing performance and luxury gap between supercars and everyday pedestrian offerings. Even as supercars have introduced even wilder styling, interiors and technology the beige lemming wagon that fills your company’s management lot puts out 240 hp, sports bluetooth integration and can hit 60 in less than 8 seconds. But […]

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Much has been written about the narrowing performance and luxury gap between supercars and everyday pedestrian offerings. Even as supercars have introduced even wilder styling, interiors and technology the beige lemming wagon that fills your company’s management lot puts out 240 hp, sports bluetooth integration and can hit 60 in less than 8 seconds. But contained within the scale of Versa to Aventador, there exist smaller comparisons. Transpose that discussion onto one about buying a brand name versus value and you can have a thoughtful discussion about what exactly are you getting for your money.

On the surface, you might object to the idea of a Ford Fiesta and BMW X1. Certainly the X1 leans more to the SUV side of the scale, but if you put the preconceived notions of their respective mission aside, they aren’t that far apart.

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On the outside, the BMW X1 is just under 6 feet wide, 14 feet long and a tad over 5 feet tall. The Fiesta ST is not even 3 inches narrower, has 8 inches less nose to tail and is 3 inches shorter. The wheelbase for the X1 is a hair over 9 feet while the ST is a scant 10 inches less. The front and rear wheel track of both vehicles is within 4 inches. But side by side, the BMW appears to tower over the Ford.

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Inside, the difference is narrower in numbers and feel. The Fiesta is within 3 inches of the Bimmer in almost every measurement save one; The X1 has 2.5 times the interior cargo room and with the seats folded, the BMW more than doubles the ST ‘s 26 cubic feet of cargo space with 56 cubic feet.

In contrast the BMW is the porker of the two in almost every sense, especially price. This 2-wheel drive X1 stickered at $38,790. That’s with leather and the x-line package. The ST came with every available option, including the Recaro package, and stickered at $26,000. But this particular 2014 Fiesta ST came off the lot for $24.5 with 0% financing. While the X1 was almost a stripper model without GPS and the Ford was loaded to the gills, the price difference is still a decent optioned Nissan Versa sedan.

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So, what does the almost $13,000 extra get you? To try and find out, I met up with a fellow racer, friend and owner of the ST, Chris Mills early on a Sunday morning and headed to Oklahoma’s best kept secret; Talimena drive.

It was still dark when we met and filled the tanks. The forecast was mid 40s with a high of 50 and rain all day. This gave us an opportunity to experience how each of the respective makes dealt with the drive dynamics of their vehicle.

As previously mentioned, these cars are not as different as they seem.  BMW markets the X1 as a Sports Activity Vehicle, probably to delineate it from the bloated SUV image. Ford is unapologetic in the presentation of the Fiesta ST as a hot hatch. But they are still small 5-door cars and under the skin, both are motivated by 4 cylinder turbos. The X1’s 2.0L engine puts 240 horses to the rear wheels and the ST’s 1.6 sends 197 to the front. The Fiesta might be down on power but only needs to haul 2,720 lbs., while the Bimmer has to contend with 3,527. It takes the X1 6.3 seconds to hit 60. For a sizable price increase, you can trim that 0-60 down a full second with the 300 hp inline 6. The fully optioned Fiesta ST will hit 60 in 6.7.

It’s 6 AM, overcast and dark out. The sky warns of impending rain as we drive through rolling hills and light sweepers. The BMW is in its element and its grand touring roots are showing. The BMW interior is 77db at speed and the ST reads 80db.

At 7 AM on OK-3 just outside of Stonewall, it begins to drizzle. We have been traveling for an hour and via our Bluetooth phone conversation we trade some data. We are averaging 60.7 miles per hour; the BMW in with the auto trans in “sport” mode is yielding 29.4 miles per gallon but the Ford is much better at 30.4 mpg.

By 7:20 it’s finally raining. In Shamrock Oklahoma we swap vehicles.

There is no ambiguity in that the ST’s mission. I’m 6 foot, just under 200 pounds with a runners build and I have to force myself into the ST’s narrow Recaros. The only transmission available is the 6 speed manual, which falls readily to hand and the ergonomics are very purposeful. Ford’s maligned SYNC infotainment and phone integration is still miles beyond the BMW. The little things highlight the difference between the two. The Ford seat is all manual adjustment vs the BMW’s electric controls. The Fiesta seat warmer has one temperature while the BMW has three. The BMW smells of leather and the Fiesta still smells like a new car.

Even in the rain, this car is ready to go, now, anywhere. It will not let you be inattentive. The BMW is like an older golden retriever; calm, soothing and comfortable. The ST is a hyperactive border collie pulling on the end of its leash; smart, energetic and if you ignore it for too long, it will do bad things.

It is not uncomfortable to drive, but the seats are not conducive to a slacker seating position. The tires dart at every patch of standing water and the turbo keeps calling you to misbehave. Even in 6th gear, the slightest prod of the gas will grab some whoosh.

When we stop at Sardis Lake, the rain has abated. While grabbing some photos, we notice a semi-curvy road below the dam. We take to it, and for the first time I get restricted by the Fiesta’s stability control. I am actually impressed. The Ford employs a McNamara tactic of gradual intervention rather than absolute cut off. But unlike McNamara, the Fiesta’s system works, and I am able to hoon very effectively through the short parking area. Too much throttle? No problem. The ST will just even out that output to match the traction and the car pulls smoothly out of the corner. The rear wheel drive BMW is a bit hairier for my partner, pulling back onto the main road he notes the road was “a lot narrower that it looked from the top.”

We arrive in Talihina, OK at the base of OK-1 and grab breakfast at Pam’s Hatefull Hussy Diner on Main Street. Breakfast for two and a souvenir coffee mug is less than $15. If you are in town, it is highly recommended.

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While there we discuss the driving impressions. Chris’s first observation was that in the rear view mirror BMW doesn’t even look like a BMW. I think about that for a while, he’s right. The other unexpected observation is the BMW is more spartan inside. The ST has all the bells and whistles up front and available. The X1 tends to be more subtle. While the ST is always at the ready, the BMW chassis tended to adjust over bumps rather than transmit them. He used the word float, but immediately corrected because it wasn’t a negative feeling, as the car stayed planted. He also took the transmission out of “sport” mode and noticed an immediate MPG improvement.

After our bargain breakfast, we head up the mountain to the entrance of OK-1. It’s a great slice of pavement without the hype of the Tail of the Dragon. Our early arrival and wet weather ensures it will be free of the open pipe biker crowd and we won’t be dodging the knee draggers either. In fact, we get the entire 60 miles to ourselves. We don’t encounter another vehicle in our direction until just outside of Mena Arkansas.

As it turns out, BMW likes to push on the rough wet pavement. Given the damp and sometimes rainy conditions, we both left the stability control on. While not as smooth as the Ford, the BMW also has effective intervention. On paper, the BMW might be the faster selection of the duo, but the ST is at home here. It attacks the mountain range and opens a huge gap without trying. We weren’t racing, but it was a spirited drive and the Fiesta is the right tool for the job. The X1 is no slacker and can reel in the ST on the open sections, but when it’s tight, the Fiesta is gone.

When we get to the Arkansas side, we encounter a lot of fog which slows our progress. But it’s still a lovely drive. As we get into Mena we are both at just over a ¼ tank. The pumps tell the tale; 10.4 gallons top off the ST’s tank, 11.09 for the BMW. The ST’s 1.6 liter is a miser, even when pushed, vs the BMW’s 2.0 powerplant.

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We head back up the road. As it turns out the rear wheel drive X1 is more comfortable leading than following. I was always worried that the Ford was going to be able to correct a mistake and the BMW would slip up behind it. This was surprising, because the Fiesta is more high strung. I kept expecting the rear to step out, but the X1 would push first, then the stability control would intervene.

Having already been exposed to the road, we quicken our pace just slightly on the return. The storm that was dogging us inbound is breaking up in the hills and several times we find ourselves above the heavy dark clouds, and then descending through them.

We return to flatter surface roads and weave our way westerly back to Oklahoma City. The majority of the roads are two lanes and with the weather cleared, Sunday afternoon traffic is starting to build. In both cars, passing on the open dotted lines is effortless. You can downshift the manual ST to the redline or the auto stick in the X1 if more drama is needed, but in almost every case, just a little more throttle and a dose of turbo make the pass safely and quickly.

In Seminole we stop at another OK standard; Braum’s for a malt shake and final overview. Over the course of the trip we have covered 418 miles. The Fiesta yielded 25.4 mpg and the X1 24.7. The X1 could have done better if I had left the transmission in standard drive for the highway portions.

So back to the original question; what does the BMW deliver for the extra money? By the numbers it gives you some things; an extra year on the bumper to bumper warranty, 4 for the BMW vs 3 for the Ford.  Drivetrain is identical at 60,000 miles. BMW Maintenance included for 5 years. There is extra cargo room and a few inches for your head and shoulders. It can run with the hot hatch ST all day but never get away from it. Aside from two extra heat settings on the seats and leather, everything BMW offers is available on the Ford for less. What does $13,000 get you? Honestly, not much. The Fiesta ST is a great car, and despite being the X1 being my wife’s car, I’m calling the Ford the clear winner.

Click here to view the embedded video.

The same problem with the expensive supercar vs the performance sedan is magnified as the numbers get smaller. The “little” things cost a lot more. For the money, the Fiesta is a bargain, even if you aren’t a sports car person. The drivability, options and value of the Fiesta make the justification of the X1s price difficult and I can’t see the decision getting easier with an option more targeted to the hot hatch crowd, like the Mazdaspeed 3 or Mini Cooper.

But as I headed home, I was happier to have the more larger, if less supportive seats, automatic transmission and relaxed composure of the X1. After all, it was another 50 miles, it was still cold, still wet and I wanted to be comfortable.

Neither Ford or BMW provided demo vehicles or gas. These are both privately purchased cars. Thanks to Chris for giving up his Sunday and letting me use his car.

W. Christian Mental Ward has owned over 70 cars and destroyed most of them. He is a graduate of Panoz Racing School, loves cartoons and once exceeded the speed of sound. Married to the most patient woman in the world; he has three dogs, a Philosophy degree and a gift for making Derek wonder if English is actually his first language.

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Capsule Review: 2014 Ford Fiesta 1.0L EcoBoost SFE http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-review-2014-ford-fiesta-1-0l-ecoboost-sfe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-review-2014-ford-fiesta-1-0l-ecoboost-sfe/#comments Tue, 23 Sep 2014 14:06:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=916258 Back in June when Ford delivered a conventionally-powered 2014 Ford Fiesta to our driveway for a week-long visit, I realized that, “The subcompact buyer who wants to chase fast cars on twisty roads must move the Fiesta to the top of the list.”  With its direct and interactive steering, back-road handling chops, and surprising ride […]

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2014 Ford Fiesta SFE EcoBoost 1.0LBack in June when Ford delivered a conventionally-powered 2014 Ford Fiesta to our driveway for a week-long visit, I realized that, “The subcompact buyer who wants to chase fast cars on twisty roads must move the Fiesta to the top of the list.” 

With its direct and interactive steering, back-road handling chops, and surprising ride quality, the 1.6L-powered Fiesta   was really rather entertaining despite its underhood shortcomings. The Fiesta easily proved why it’s used as the foundation for a genuine hot hatchback, the Fiesta ST.

Unfortunately, that which is found under the hood of the vast majority of Fiestas is a true disappointment. On paper, there’s 120 horsepower. In action, the 1.6L doesn’t want to rev. You’ll always want a lower gear, yet you’ll never find yourselves smack dab in the centre of a powerband. No subcompact should be forced to fight with such a grumpy mill.

Even with that disappointment of an engine, I had plenty of fun in the Fiesta SE in June. Fortunately, Ford Canada lent us a more appetizing Fiesta last week for an EcoBoost exercise. I never thought I would recommend paying $995 more for a three-cylinder engine, but regardless of what this bite-sized powerplant achieves on the Eco front, a strong performance from the Boost side of the equation provides a strong value-conscious answer, at least in terms of pitting Fiesta against Fiesta.

After all, besides its base engine, the Fiesta still has a number of significant deficiencies which limit the car in this increasingly competent segment. The rear seat is not up to snuff in comparison with America’s segment leader, the Nissan Versa. The cargo area and the flexibility of the cargo area – it’s impinged upon by seat brackets and large chunks of plastic inside the rear bumper – is laughable when one considers the Honda Fit’s knack for hauling.

Fiesta SFE Ecoboost logosShifting this manual trans-equipped car (that’s the only way the EcoBoost 1.0L comes) into second or fourth mandates an elbow/front-of-armrest conflict. The front door armrests don’t extend as far rearward as is necessary. The driver’s side door in our test car never sounded as though it was closed, not at the moment of attempted closure; nor in motion on the highway, when all the noises crept inside like a crane fly enters your basement on a September’s night.

The radio sucks. I don’t want to know what that headliner is made out of. The shifter’s throws require reaches from one zip code into another. The seats squeezed me where I didn’t want to be squeezed and ignored me when I wanted to be held.

These frustrating traits arose in numerous conversations all week, as onlookers noticed the extensive badging: not just EcoBoost but SFE, too! Hooray!

“Would you recommend this over an Accent, Versa, or Fit?” they’d ask. “That depends,” I’d respond, “How much do you like to drive?”

And how much do you like to row your own gears? How much do you enjoy just sticking it in third, thereby allowing a wave of torque to cope with virtually every on-road scenario? How much do you like the idea of a car that sounds like half a 911?  Do you want to be tempted into using second gear to crack the 60 mph barrier every time you hit an on-ramp? To what extent do you appreciate an instantly familiar clutch?

Oh, and can you cope with a little bit of turbo lag, some strange and pervasive vibrations at low revs, an upfront price penalty that might just take decades to earn back, and those wheels?

The lag and NVH issues are one thing. Well, actually they’re two things.

The price you’ll pay for a non-ST EcoBoost Fiesta must be seen as a performance upgrade, however, as the opportunities for economic advancement are not significant, even in our best-case scenario. (With limited highway time, we saw 29 mpg with the 1.6L. With plenty of highway driving, we did 39 mpg with the 1.0L.)

Add to that the limited availability of the 1.0L in the Fiesta lineup – SE only, no automatic, these wheel covers – doesn’t make for an attractive package for every potentially willing buyer. Then there’s the actual limited availability of the car on the whole. Only six of the 34 Fiestas at my three local Ford dealers are fitted with the 1.0L. In Cars.com’s inventory, only 336, just 3%, of the 11,546 Fiestas at U.S. dealers come with the 1.0L.

Ford Fiesta interiorIn the late 90s, perhaps even more recently, this kind of power would have been appropriate for an SVT Fiesta in North America, undercutting the 170-bhp Focus SVT by 47 horsepower and a few thousand dollars. We want our intentionally hot hatchbacks to be more aggressive these days, with less body roll, stickier tires, and wheel covers that weren’t borrowed from a 1988 Fiat Uno Turbo.

That doesn’t take away from the Fiesta’s remarkable ability to provide a genuinely fun experience at downright legal speeds, nor does it deny the Fiesta’s ability to remain poised beyond the legal limit. But it’s not the best subcompact in 2014, not more than four years after going on sale, and I suspect no engine would change that.

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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Capsule Review: 2015 Ford Escape Titanium http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-review-2015-ford-escape-titanium/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/capsule-review-2015-ford-escape-titanium/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 12:00:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=914362 Today’s cute compact crossovers are slowly replacing mid-size sedans as the most popular vehicle on the market, and with good reason too. They have smaller footprints, are easier to drive, are more versatile, more economical, and AWD systems provide a piece of mind during foul weather. Is the Escape a…wait for it…game changer?   The […]

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2015 ford escape titanium ecoboost side

Today’s cute compact crossovers are slowly replacing mid-size sedans as the most popular vehicle on the market, and with good reason too. They have smaller footprints, are easier to drive, are more versatile, more economical, and AWD systems provide a piece of mind during foul weather. Is the Escape a…wait for it…game changer?

 

2015 ford escape titanium ecoboost dash interior

The interior is unmistakably Ford, with clear analog gauges and the MyFord Touch system high and center. The seats are very comfortable, heated in the front, and the angle of the headrests is adjustable so they will not press against the back of your head like some other Fords. The rear seat is best for two passengers but three adult butts or three booster seats will fit. The rear bench folds flat and is split 60:40. The dash is made of at least four different types of materials which do not always complement one another or match up perfectly, such as where the A-pillar meets the dash. HVAC controls and other buttons are small, low in the dash, and obscured by the shifter. At night the interior ambiance lighting can be adjusted in color and intensity to match your mood.

The MyFord Touch system received a slew of upgrades over the years and is now actually usable by a novice. Some of the touch-screen buttons are small and shorter drivers may need to stretch to touch the screen. Those truly adventurous can opt to shout at the system to get it to do what they want. The system easily connected to my phone and offers a ton of options and features which will likely go unused by most buyers. An Audi or Lexus-like knob would make this one of the best systems on the market.

2015 ford escape titanium ecoboost interior details

The previous generation had large square windows but this one, like the rest of the auto industry, has smaller windows all around. Despite that, visibility in all directions remains surprisingly good. Doors are large and open wide, making the chore of loading kids into the car a task that won’t break your back. Auto up and down on all windows, as opposed to just the driver’s window, is a nice touch. The rear bumper height is low, making loading and unloading easy. The big rear power hatch can be opened by waving your foot under the bumper, but it is slower in operation than other cars.

The top engine choice is a 240hp and 270lb-ft 2.0-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder which is very nicely matched to the vehicle; smooth, quick, and responsive. The six-speed automatic has two driving modes, D and S. In S it downshifts sooner and holds the gears longer, but not too long, where it becomes annoying. The ride is smooth and when tossed into a highway ramp, the Escpape remains neutral and composed, if a bit top-heavy. In this 4WD configuration, the EPA rates the Escape at 21mpg city and 28mpg on the highway. When equipped with a Class II trailer tow package, the little Escape can tow a 3500lb trailer.

2015 ford escape titanium ecoboost exterior details

The 2015 Ford Escape starts at $22,610 for the base SE model with a 2.5-liter naturally aspirated engine and 2WD. Those wanting 4WD need to step up to the SE with the 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine (178hp/184tq) which starts at $26,810. Our Titanium model, with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost ($1195 over the 1.6-liter), starts at $31,965. Equipment Group 301A adds HID headlights, blind-spot detection, automatic wipers, and parking sensors for $1735. Navigation system is $795 and destination charges are $895 for a total MSRP of $35,150. At the time of this writing there was a $750 factory incentive.

The Escape is a nice vehicle overall, but aside from the peppy engine it does not bring anything new to the market. While none of its competitors feel more exciting in any comparable way, it feels like Ford decided to make just another vehicle to fill the market niche. The powerful engine is nice, but this is a price driven category where competitors offer one engine at a much lower overall price.

2015 ford escape titanium ecoboost rear side

Kamil Kaluski is the East Coast Editor for Hooniverse.com. His ramblings on Eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous automotive stuff can be found there. 

Ford provided the vehicle for this review.

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The Mustang Embargo Is Done http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/mustang-embargo-done/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/mustang-embargo-done/#comments Wed, 17 Sep 2014 18:42:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=913850 Ah, it’s the sad truth that the only way I’ll ever be on the cover of anything is if I’m wearing a helmet. So it is here, as I drag a loaner-helmet-wearing passenger around the Motown Mile. So. What do you want to know about the Mustang? A collection of PCOTY Mustang impressions can be […]

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Ah, it’s the sad truth that the only way I’ll ever be on the cover of anything is if I’m wearing a helmet. So it is here, as I drag a loaner-helmet-wearing passenger around the Motown Mile.

So. What do you want to know about the Mustang?

A collection of PCOTY Mustang impressions can be found on the R&T site as of an hour ago. To what I’ve written there, I’ll add the following: This Mustang is a step beyond its competition into the bigger world of RWD performance sedans like the 3-Series BMW and its competitors. No, it’s not as space-efficient as something like an Infiniti Q50, but it offers a significant power advantage over those cars at an equally significant price savings.

On a fast back road, the Mustang really comes alive. It works with you everywhere you need it to. Even the brakes are better than they used to be — although if you really want to track the thing you’ll want to invest some of that price differential into a set of real six-piston stoppers. It’s a winner in every sense of the term. The wait is over, and it’s justified.

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Ford Debuting Self-Unparking Technology In 2015 Edge http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/ford-debuting-self-unparking-technology-2015-edge/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/ford-debuting-self-unparking-technology-2015-edge/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 11:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=910658 Though Ford, Lincoln, BMW and others have mastered the art of parallel parking in tight spaces for their customers, it turns out the systems used do it too well, prompting Ford to give “unparking” a go. Automotive News reports the 2015 Edge will include an improved automated parking system that will not only allow the […]

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Though Ford, Lincoln, BMW and others have mastered the art of parallel parking in tight spaces for their customers, it turns out the systems used do it too well, prompting Ford to give “unparking” a go.

Automotive News reports the 2015 Edge will include an improved automated parking system that will not only allow the crossover to parallel-park in those tight spaces, but be able to pull itself out. The system can also do perpendicular parking, such as the sort found at your nearest supermarket. An array of sensors — four up front, six in back — use echolocation to find objects and obstacles, allowing the crossover to calculate how best to get itself out of a rock and a hard place.

In addition, the Edge will have lane-keeping technology and adaptive cruise control, both using a combination of cameras and radar to safely guide the crossover from the house to the office and back.

All of the above will be available to consumers when the new Edge arrives in showrooms next March.

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