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. Sat, 28 Feb 2015 13:17:37 +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 Williams: UAW Must Balance Member, Corporate Demands In Detroit Three Talks http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/williams-uaw-must-balance-member-corporate-demands-detroit-three-talks/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/williams-uaw-must-balance-member-corporate-demands-detroit-three-talks/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 14:00:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1006346 Though the UAW would like to see wages go up as part of its upcoming talks with the Detroit Three, it also wants for the automakers to remain competitive. UAW president Dennis Williams said as much during an interview with Reuters last week, when he discussed what the union has in store when it comes […]

The post Williams: UAW Must Balance Member, Corporate Demands In Detroit Three Talks appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
UAW-logo-outside-Union-Solidarity-House

Though the UAW would like to see wages go up as part of its upcoming talks with the Detroit Three, it also wants for the automakers to remain competitive.

UAW president Dennis Williams said as much during an interview with Reuters last week, when he discussed what the union has in store when it comes time to sit down with the management at Ford, FCA US and General Motors this summer.

The main issue will be the two-tier wage system that has been in place since 2007, just before the start of the Great Recession. The policy has been applied at varying rates since the division took hold, with 42 percent of FCA US’ UAW workers — 35,720 — being paid at the second-tier rate of $15.78 to $19.28 an hour; second-tier workers at Ford and GM make up 28 and 20 percent of their respective 50,700 and 49,900 represented employees.

While the union is facing pressure to get as much for its membership as it can, it also has to make sure the Detroit Three remains viable over the long-term. With GM in particular, the UAW has a major political and institutional stake in the automaker’s well-being, as the union is its largest shareholder via its retiree health care trusts.

That said, should push come to shove, Williams says his membership is ready to strike, following in the footsteps of workers at oil refineries and those along the West Coast ports. The UAW hasn’t conducted a major industrial action since the 1990s, and were barred from striking at all at GM and Chrysler as a result of the agreements made in 2009.

The post Williams: UAW Must Balance Member, Corporate Demands In Detroit Three Talks appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/williams-uaw-must-balance-member-corporate-demands-detroit-three-talks/feed/ 16
Review: 2015 RAM ProMaster City (with video) http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/review-2015-ram-promaster-city-video/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/review-2015-ram-promaster-city-video/#comments Mon, 23 Feb 2015 14:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=999922 Please welcome back Alex Dykes as our Road Test editor. Alex will be contributing reviews and video reviews at our re-launched YouTube channel. Click here to subscribe. Everyone has been talking about the Dodge Caravan being sent out to pasture soon, but there is a third badge-engineered Chrysler minivan heading into the sunset as well: […]

The post Review: 2015 RAM ProMaster City (with video) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015 RAM ProMaster City Front-001

Please welcome back Alex Dykes as our Road Test editor. Alex will be contributing reviews and video reviews at our re-launched YouTube channel. Click here to subscribe.

Everyone has been talking about the Dodge Caravan being sent out to pasture soon, but there is a third badge-engineered Chrysler minivan heading into the sunset as well: the 2015 RAM C/V. Behold the replacement: the 2015 RAM ProMaster City. With industry boffins calculating that the class 1 cargo-hauler segment will explode by over 300% in the coming few years, Chrysler is getting in on the commercial action with another Euro model. While the larger ProMaster van is based on the Fiat Ducato, the smaller ProMaster City is an Americanization of the Fiat Doblo. Does the recently formed Fiat Chrysler conglomerate have with it takes to compete with the all-new and all-sexy Transit Connect?

Exterior

Outside it is hard to tell the Doblo and the ProMaster City apart. Both have dual sliding doors and rear 60/40 barn doors that open to near 180 degrees but most of the sheetmetal is shared. New DOT compliant tail lamps and headlights were fitted and the RAM logo and cross-hair grille were grafted to the long nose. Let’s be frank, the ProMaster City isn’t as attractive as the new Transit Connect which wears strong lines and Ford’s new corporate grille. The ProMaster on the other hand goes for rounded corners and a function-over-form front end. RAM boasts that the unpainted black bumpers can be easily replaced without a quote from the paint shop. Shoppers should note that top end models ditch this repair savings for body-colored parts. Style is usually a low priority for most commercial shoppers and the PMC’s funky looks are unlikely to be a turn off. The wagon version may be a different matter.

2015 RAM ProMaster City Interior.CR2-005

Interior

Speaking of wagons, the ProMaster City Wagon exists mainly as a “why not?” statement. You see, every PMC starts life as a passenger wagon built by TOFAS (a sort-of contract manufacturer) in Turkey. The completed vans are then shipped to Maryland for “conversion” where the “cargo” vans lose their rear seats and gain a load floor. This is essentially the same process Ford uses to bring the Transit Connect to our shores and avoid paying the dreaded “Chicken Tax.” Because the vans are imported with 5-seats, why not sell a few on the side? That’s the version I had for a week.

It is best to think of the wagon as a utilitarian people and cargo hauler for the avid mountain biking family than a replacement for the American minivan. The difference between the PMC and the Sedona, Sienna, Caravan and Odyssey is stark. You won’t find a third row, fold-int0-the-floor seats, squishy plastics, rear entertainment systems, snazzy audio systems or leather rear captains chars with ottomans. Instead we have a commercial grade Euro-funky interior cast in shades of black and grey. The hard plastic dash and doors will withstand years of abuse and are easy to clean, but not as nice to touch as what you find in Ford’s redesigned Transit Connect.

2015 RAM ProMaster City Interior.CR2

Most of the PMC’s dashboard is lifted directly from the Doblo except for a new steering wheel with audio controls on the back, a new shifter and a touchscreen infotainment system. The gauge cluster is easy to read but the trip computer is unintuitive. Similarly the door release handles also function as the door locks and the electric door lock controls. That took some getting used to. Storage pockets abound but the cupholder count of two is decidedly European.

The Ford is more comfortable as a people hauler because it has a dual mission. You see, the PMC doesn’t need to compete with the Sedona or Sienna, because that’s what Chrysler has the Caravan and Town & Country for. Want a minivan? Go to the Chrysler dealer. Want to haul your portable poodle washing system? Visit the RAM dealer. Ford on the other hand is using the Transit Connect to compete in both worlds, for better or worse.

2015 RAM ProMaster City Cargo Area.CR2

Cargo Hauling

For commercial haulers and the “active families” manufacturers are courting, cargo capacity is king. This is area where the baby RAM starts to shine. With 131.7 cubic feet of widget-moving space in the rear this easily beats the Nissan NV200 and Chevy City Express and barely eeks out a win over the long wheelbase Transit Connect. The RAM also manages to haul longer items thanks to a slightly longer box swallowing 11-foot items from the windshield to the rear doors, 9-foot items from the dash to the doors (after removing the front passenger seat) and 7-foot items from the front seat backs to the rear doors. You’ll notice something missing, there’s no 8-foot measure, and that is the area where every vehicle in this segment let me down, you can’t put a 4×8 sheet of anything in these vans. If you want to haul plywood, you’ll need a Caravan for that once the RAM C/V dies next year.

Loading a widget that’s 4-feet by 4-feet by 5-feet long with a forklift is a cinch thanks to the bi-folding doors, something that the larger C/V has lacked for a while. Sadly you’ll find the payload, although class leading at 1,883 pounds, is not any higher in real terms than the Caravan. This leaves a huge payload gap between the ProMaster City and the 3,922 pound payload of the base model ProMaster. In an interesting twist, the PMC uses an independent rear suspension and coil springs while delivering a higher load capacity than the NV200’s more truck-like rear end.

2015 RAM ProMaster City uConnect 5.0.CR2-001

Infotainment

Although uConnect 5.0 sounds like it would be a smaller version of uConnect 8.4 (the systems found in most Dodge and RAM models) it is actually an entirely different system. Based on a Microsoft O/S and not the UNIX-like QNX that runs the larger system, this software was almost entirely designed by Fiat. It started its life back in 2006 as Fiat’s Blue & Me system found in Europe but Fiat re-designed it to look like the larger uConnect system in 2013 and we’re starting to see it offered as Chrysler’s base infotainment unit. With available TomTom navigation, Bluetooth speaker phone integration and USB media / iDevice support, uConnect 5.0 is a perfectly serviceable head unit. It lacks the smartphone and voice command  functionality you find in the larger uConnect and upcoming revision of MyFord Touch, but it is snappy and easy to use.

Base PMC models skip the touchscreen infotainment system for a basic AM/FM unit with a USB port and four-speakers. Jumping up to the SLT trim adds the touchscreen as standard equipment and makes a 6-speaker package available. That limitation goes for the wagon model as well, in base form you get the speaker grilles but no speakers in the cargo area.

2015 Ram ProMaster City 2.4-liter Tigershark engine with 9-speed, Courtesy of Chrysler

Powertrain

Thankfully RAM chose not to raid Dodge’s compact sedan for the powertrain as Nissan did with the NV200, instead opting for the same 2.4L “Tigershark” engine found in the Chrysler 200. The four-cylinder mill produces 178 horsepower and 172 lb-ft of twist which easily outclasses the NV200 and compares well with the Ford 2.5L naturally aspirated and 1.6L turbo engines. Unfortunately this does not compare terribly well with the average American minivan like Chrysler’s own Town & Country at 283 horsepower. Admittedly the Town & Country is heavier, but the power to weight ratio is still better at the Chrysler dealer.

Helping make up for some of the power defect is a ZF-designed, Chrysler built, 9-speed automatic. (If you want to know more about the 9HP and why it behaves the way it does, check out ZF’s 9HP Transmission Puts Dog Clutches On the Leash.) The 9-speed auto gives the PMC the lowest starting ratio in the segment and the highest final drive making the bulbous RAM the fastest to 30 MPH and the most efficient at 75 MPH. The result is an EPA rating of 21/29/24 MPG (City / Highway / Combined). Should you live in state with higher speed limits the tall 9th gear is a serious advantage. I averaged an impressive 31 MPG on a 70-mile one-way trip with the A/C blowing, cruise control set to 76 MPH and 800 lbs of cement blocks in the rear. If however you commute is in the city, expect that number to drop to the teens.

2015 RAM ProMaster City Wheel

Drive

When you compare the ProMaster City and the Grand Caravan, you’ll notice that the baby-RAM trades 850lbs of curb weight and 105 horsepower for 50% more gears in the transmission. The trade means higher fuel economy as I said, but notably slower acceleration with the RAM taking 9.55 seconds to buzz its way to 60 MPH. That’s Prius territory. Add a thousand pounds and any of these “class 1″ cargo vehicles will feel slow, but the turbocharger on Ford’s 1.6L engine helps it scoot to 60 nearly a second faster. The RAM still bests the 2.5L Ford engine and the Nissan and Chevy.

If you’re after exciting dynamics, you’re looking inside the wrong white box. The RAM has a better feel behind the wheel than the Ford, but raw grip is better over at the Blue Oval. The NV200’s leaf springs and wheezy 2.0L engine are the least exciting of the bunch, but the trade is truly the best city fuel economy. The better dynamics in the Transit Connect are not surprising since it is competing both in the cargo hauler and minivan segments. Is the RAM exciting? No. Is there steering feel? No. Can it out handle the Caravan in the left lane? No. But it can out handle a Prius on your mountain bagel delivery route.

2015 RAM ProMaster City Side View-001

And now we must address the glaring problem that hit me when I looked at the price tag. At $23,130 the Tradesman trim of the City is $1,735 more than the 2015 Grand Caravan AVP, aka the cheapest minivan in America. The Caravan isn’t the freshest minivan on the market, but the interior is still several steps above the ProMaster City. Dodge gives you a 283 horse V6 standard, it can swallow a 4×8 sheet of plywood, the factory payload is just 154lbs lower and it will tow 1,600lbs more. FCA does plan on fixing this, but the fix is killing off the AVP instead of lowering the ProMaster City’s price. This value problem is not unique to the RAM however as the Transit is also more expensive than the AVP. Admittedly suggesting the passenger version of the Caravan over the ProMaster City is “missing the point” a little, but the wagon variant we tested widens the gap to nearly $3,000. If your cash is on the line, my best advice is to skip both the ProMaster City and the Transit Connect and get a Caravan AVP while you can. As long as you don’t need the barn doors in the back or don’t mind a DIY conversion, the discount Dodge is the most compelling option.

 

Chrysler provided the vehicle, insurance and one tank of gas for this review

Specifications as tested

0-30: 3.8 Seconds

0-60: 9.55 Seconds

Average economy: 24.3 MPG over 486 miles

 

2015 RAM ProMaster City Cargo Area.CR2 2015 RAM ProMaster City Cargo Area 2015 RAM ProMaster City Front 3 4 view 2015 RAM ProMaster City Front 3 4 view-001 2015 RAM ProMaster City Front.CR2 2015 RAM ProMaster City Front 2015 RAM ProMaster City Front-001 2015 RAM ProMaster City Gauges 2015 RAM ProMaster City Interior.CR2 2015 RAM ProMaster City Interior.CR2-001 2015 RAM ProMaster City Interior.CR2-002 2015 RAM ProMaster City Interior.CR2-003 2015 RAM ProMaster City Interior.CR2-004 2015 RAM ProMaster City Interior.CR2-005 2015 RAM ProMaster City Interior.CR2-006 2015 RAM ProMaster City Interior.CR2-007 2015 RAM ProMaster City Interior.CR2-008 2015 RAM ProMaster City Interior 2015 RAM ProMaster City Interior-001 2015 RAM ProMaster City Interior-002 2015 RAM ProMaster City Rear Doors 2015 RAM ProMaster City Rear.CR2 2015 RAM ProMaster City Rear.CR2-001 2015 RAM ProMaster City Rear.CR2-002 2015 RAM ProMaster City Rear 2015 RAM ProMaster City Rear-001 2015 RAM ProMaster City Side View 2015 RAM ProMaster City Side View-001 2015 RAM ProMaster City uConnect 5.0.CR2 2015 RAM ProMaster City uConnect 5.0.CR2-001 2015 RAM ProMaster City uConnect 5.0 2015 RAM ProMaster City uConnect 5.0-001 2015 RAM ProMaster City Wheel.CR2 2015 RAM ProMaster City Wheel

The post Review: 2015 RAM ProMaster City (with video) appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/review-2015-ram-promaster-city-video/feed/ 29
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 […]

The post Ford Cuts $900 From Fusion Hybrid, Energi Price Tags appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
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.

The post Ford Cuts $900 From Fusion Hybrid, Energi Price Tags appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/ford-cuts-900-fusion-hybrid-energi-price-tags/feed/ 8
Bark’s Bites: Welcome to Our 24-Month Long Fiesta http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/barks-bites-welcome-24-month-long-fiesta/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/barks-bites-welcome-24-month-long-fiesta/#comments Mon, 16 Feb 2015 17:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1001274 When we last saw our hero, he was debating between keeping his Boss 302 or selling it and downsizing to a little pocket-rocket Fiesta ST for a year or so until the Shelby GT350 hits the showrooms. Wait, let’s leave that writing-in-third-person nonsense to NFL wide receivers and people with delusions of grandeur. Reset. I spent much […]

The post Bark’s Bites: Welcome to Our 24-Month Long Fiesta appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
057

When we last saw our hero, he was debating between keeping his Boss 302 or selling it and downsizing to a little pocket-rocket Fiesta ST for a year or so until the Shelby GT350 hits the showrooms. Wait, let’s leave that writing-in-third-person nonsense to NFL wide receivers and people with delusions of grandeur. Reset.

I spent much of last week crunching numbers and trying to figure out what I wanted to do. Like our fearless leader (Obama, not Derek)—to those of you who voted in the comments section, I heard you. For those of you didn’t vote, I heard you, too. I read all of the reasoned opinions. I calculated. I planned. I schemed.

And then I said, Eff it. Let’s do both.

. 068

The more visually astute of you will notice that the above is a picture of my driveway/garage. You’ll also notice that this driveway/garage has both a Fiesta ST and a Boss 302 residing in it (the Flex steadfastly refused to vacate its well-earned spot on the other side of the garage, as did the mountain of children’s toys and Cozy Coupes). Dafuq happened? Sit back, relax, adjust the resolution on your monitor on this Monday morning, and let me spin a yarn of excess for you.

I had been in communication with the Internet Manager at Paul Miller Ford in Lexington, Kentucky all week, explaining to him that I would coming in that Friday to look at the Fiesta ST that they had on their lot, which was the only one in Kentucky dealer inventory at the time. The terms of the deal I laid out were easy—I wanted $37K for my car, and I would gladly pay X Plan minus rebates for theirs.

It wasn’t exactly the car I wanted—it was Performance Blue, and I wanted Molten Orange. It had full SYNC navigation/entertainment and a roof, neither of which I was particularly excited to pay for. My dream Fiesta would have had neither of those options, but would have had Recaro seats. One of the commenters in last week’s post said something about Baruth boys being, ahem, plus-sized. As Gershwin would have told you, it ain’t necessarily so. I’m scraping the botton of 5’9″ and I tip the scales just south of 160 pounds, so the Recaros are no problem for me.

However, I was prepared to drive the Fiesta they had and order the Fiesta that I wanted. When I arrived at the dealership on Friday, I was surprised to see it totally swamped by sub-prime customers wearing Kentucky blue. Turned out that Julius Randle, the former UK Wildcat and current resident of the Los Angeles Lakers’ injured reserve list, was in the house to sign autographs. Much to the chagrin of the sales manager on duty, Randle rolled up in an A8 to the dealership, not an Expedition. The circus-like atmosphere of the store made it a little difficult to conduct business, but that was fine with me. I just wanted to drive the little hatch and be on my way.

There was one small snag—I was coming directly from the airport, so I wasn’t driving my Boss. I rolled up in my Legacy Wagon, which impressed exactly nobody at the dealership.

“So, uh, what’s that car you’re driving? Is that a Subaru?” asked the new car manager upon greeting me, undoubtedly trying to see if his only sales prospect of the day was a 520 beacon score waiting to happen.

“That’s my airport car. No worries, dude. I work for (redacted).”

“Oh, okay.” He was visibly relieved. “Let’s go find that great little car!”

He introduced me to the Internet Manager, who introduced me to the salesman. As per usual, the salesman knew next to nothing about the car, but that was okay by me—I actually prefer it. I’d much rather spend my test drive focusing on the driving dynamics of the car, not hearing about crumple zones and airbags.

The test drive loop wasn’t exactly the Grand Prix Monaco course. I didn’t have too many opportunities to scare the salesman—he only asked me to slow down three times. But what a car. The statement I’m wanting to make may seem a tad ridiculous out of context, so I’m going to save it for a tad later in this post. Instead, I’m going to focus on some of the complaints that people have about the Fiesta, namely the interior.

First of all, if you’re complaining about the interior materials of this car, you’re an idiot. You’re completely missing the point of the Fiesta. The interior is more than adequate—in fact, it’s a major upgrade from a Boss 302. The SYNC MyFordTouch system is exactly the same one that you’d get in a Flex Titanium, complete with 2 USB ports, SD card reader, and audio input jack in the center console. It synced up easily with my iPhone 5s, no questions asked. The Sony eight-speaker sound system is quite acceptable. I wouldn’t call it “good,” but neither is it terrible. Again, I’m coming from a Boss 302 most days, so I’m easy to please. I much prefer the spooling turbo whine that is pumped into the cabin from the sound symposer, anyway.

The test drive was more than enough to convince me that I wanted the car. A few questions remained, however.

  • Should I do a 60 month buy at 0%, or a 24 month lease?
  • Should I order exactly the car I want and wait three months, or get it today?
  • What the hell am I going to do with my Boss?

Taking them one at a time:

  • The sales manager was likely staring at a terrible February. The weather in Kentucky, like everywhere, has been awful for car sales. On a 24 month lease, he was willing to do X Plan plus all rebates plus a little bit more, and then also give me 12K miles for the same price as 10,500. Done.
  • I suck at being patient. The discounts pretty much wiped out the additional cost of the navigation system, which meant that for the next two years I wouldn’t have to do the dreaded “I HAVE TO HANG UP ON YOU RIGHT NOW BECAUSE I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE I’M GOING AND I’M USING MY PHONE FOR GPS” that I often have to do in unfamiliar cities. And I had been driving a yellow car for 32 months—maybe a subtle color wouldn’t be so bad for once.
  • Fuck it. I ‘m keeping the Boss.

The last one was the tough one. In order to explain, let me introduce you to Kevy.

015

Kevy is the little boy on the left in this picture, standing proudly next to his little sister. He’s a smart, talented, warm-hearted kid. He’s a pretty good goalkeeper. Most importantly, he also happens to be my son.

Kevy loves the Boss 302. He asks to be picked up in it from school daily. He brags to his friends about it. He tells them that his daddy’s car is the fastest car in the parking lot, and that Daddy will beat any of their daddies in a race. The day I bought the Boss, on June 9th, 2012, Kevy asked to pose for pictures with it all day. As you can see in the picture, his favorite color is now Yellow, because Daddy’s Boss is yellow. He loves it. How could I disappoint him?

After I figured out that I could afford to have both cars in the driveway, it was a no-brainer. The Boss has entered a realm known as the “993 Zone,” where depreciation no longer has any real meaning. Case in point: The Boss stickered for $45,240 32 months ago. It now sells privately with 30,000 miles on it for at least $38k. That’s insane. My financing rate is good enough that I’m essentially paying 98% principal with every payment, so I will likely get back nearly every dollar I pay on it for at least the next twelve months. One could make the case that the Boss will be devalued by the launch of the GT350, certainly, but one could also make the case that the Boss could become more popular as people realize that the additional dealer markup on the Shelby isn’t going to go away any time soon. There’s also this: neither the Boss nor the Fiesta can do what the other can do. Neither is a replacement for the other. If you love one, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll love the other.

So I signed some papers, left the Subaru in the dealership parking lot overnight, and immediately went canyon carving.

There’s a stretch of road in Kentucky that’s a favorite among the buff books for road tests. Route 52 from Richmond to Morehead, as well as some of the lesser arteries that wind off of it, is one of the best driver’s roads in America. The Fiesta ST is perfectly suited for just such a jaunt,  stretching out its 202 lb-ft of torque and power-to-weight ratio of an E30 M3 along the banks of the Kentucky river, making elevation changes of a nearly a hundred feet around every corner.

It’s one thing to hoon around in a press car. It’s entirely another to do it in a car that you just signed paperwork for less than an hour ago. In some ways, it’s more confidence inspiring. In others, much less so. Nevertheless, on this Friday afternoon, the Fiesta and I became one as we traversed the hills of the Bluegrass.

Every turn was perfect. Each gearshift executed perfectly, the gearbox easily the best I’ve ever driven. The tires never slipped. The wickedly short wheelbase meant that the nose never plowed. I nearly forgot that I was driving a FWD car. The turbo never lagged. The torque-curve never flattened. I simply couldn’t push the car hard enough—each time I thought I had reached a limit, the Fiesta nudged me. Come on, Bark. We can go faster. We can turn harder. We can tempt fate on this next blind hill. It will all turn out okay. And you know what? It always did.

Journos throw around the term “usable speed” somewhat casually, normally in reference to some slow car that’s supposed to be fun to drive “at the limit.” Most journalists would piss themselves “at the limit.”  In my mildly capable hands, the Fiesta’s limits are almost unreachable on a public road. Every ounce of its speed is not only usable, it’s capable. As I closed the gap between myself and other cars on the road, occasionally a Fox Mustang or Miata out for a spirited drive would attempt to keep me from overtaking. It was an exercise in futility. The Fiesta artfully absorbed them, lifting a rear wheel almost as if to wave goodbye on the next corner entry. The fingers extended by my fellow road-goers wasn’t a middle finger—it was a hearty thumbs up.

Road tests seem to suggest that the Fiesta does zero-to-sixty in roughly seven seconds. I suggest it doesn’t fucking matter. No more fun can be had for this amount of money. No more fun can be had for twice as much money. So here’s the ridiculous statement that I wanted to make earlier:

The Fiesta is the best car I’ve ever driven.

Maybe not the best car for sitting in or for taking to a dragstrip or for showing off how much money you make, but for driving? No question. It manages to do the impossible—it inspires nearly endless confidence while keeping the nannies and electronics out of the way.  My only wish would be for a slightly higher rev limiter—it’s quite easy to find yourself bouncing off it.

As I flew along State Route 388 up towards Fort Boonesborough State Park, I finally came to a rest at the intersection of 388 and 627, where the hooning would be forced to subside as the road became a straight line all the way home to Winchester. I could smell a little tire and a little brake, but I mostly just sensed pure driving nirvana.

So stick with me for the next 24 months. We’ll see if the driving dynamics of the Fiesta manage to keep the snarling Boss in the garage, or if my lust for power eventually proves unquenchable. But for now, let’s do both.

 

056 057 058 059 060 061 062 063 070

 

The post Bark’s Bites: Welcome to Our 24-Month Long Fiesta appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/barks-bites-welcome-24-month-long-fiesta/feed/ 133
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 […]

The post Capsule Review: Ford SVT Raptor – United States Border Patrol Edition appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Raptor 6

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.

 

Raptor 3

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.

Drowned

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.

Raptor 1

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.

Raptor 5

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.

Raptor 4

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?

F250 Raptor 1 Raptor 4 Raptor 5 Raptor 6 Drowned Raptor 3

The post Capsule Review: Ford SVT Raptor – United States Border Patrol Edition appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-ford-svt-raptor-united-states-border-patrol-edition/feed/ 68
Dispatches do Brasil: 1975 Ford Corcel Luxo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/dispatches-brasil-1975-ford-corcel-luxo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/dispatches-brasil-1975-ford-corcel-luxo/#comments Fri, 13 Feb 2015 18:33:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=999306 The year was 1968 and it was a good one for Brazilian motorists. GM launched its Opala and Volkswagen its 1600 (sedan). Meanwhile, Ford launched its first car aimed at a broader swath of the market, the Corcel. Up until that time Ford aimed at better off consumers and commercial applications. Its only car was […]

The post Dispatches do Brasil: 1975 Ford Corcel Luxo appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Ford Brasil LtdaCorcel I e II

The year was 1968 and it was a good one for Brazilian motorists. GM launched its Opala and Volkswagen its 1600 (sedan). Meanwhile, Ford launched its first car aimed at a broader swath of the market, the Corcel. Up until that time Ford aimed at better off consumers and commercial applications. Its only car was the Galaxie 500 and F100 pickup besides medium and large trucks. It signaled the future direction of the market in Brazil as this Ford was in reality a Renault…

Ford had acquired Willys Overland do Brasil in 1967. Besides such cars and trucks as the Aero Willys and Itamarati and Rural and Jeep (not to mention Renault Dauphines and Gordinis), Willys had been developing internally what was known as Project M. According to William Max Pearce, then Ford Brazil president, that Project was a very large part of the reason why Ford bought Willys out. He said that two prototypes were taken to Detroit and extensively tested before the Americans green lighted the purchase and as such, instrumental to the decision.

Renault-12-1

Willys had a history of working with Renault in Brazil. They built and sold here French products and worked together with them to adapt those cars to Brazilian conditions. When Willys started looking for a buyer, that Project was almost ready. Curiously, while it was launched here in 1968, Renault would only launch their final version in 1970. It was the R12 and lived on until recently having been well sold in Europe and elsewhere. It had a long career. Dacia, then an independent East-bloc automaker from Romania had close ties with the French and kept building the model until the present century (2004).

Ford purportedly did some work on the car though how much is anybody’s guess. Supposedly they beefed up the suspension and increased its course. Most of the mechanicals however were in fact developed during the Willys-Renault cooperation. The engine for example was all French. The Corcel was an important launch in Brazil as it showcased many technologies for the first time in Brazil. It offered such things as front wheel drive, five engine bushings, sealed cooling system, and an early version of a collapsible steering wheel. It was a small car, but partly because of the front wheel drive system it offered internal space of a medium car from back then. The trunk was large and finishing and decorations depended greatly on version, coming from quite simple, but correct, to almost sophisticated and sporty.

For Ford it also marked greater cooperation between the local and corporate units. To launch this car Ford invested in the local engineering team and a large degree of autonomy was granted. The car was well received in the market and got off to a good start.

Oon however, trouble struck. The Corcel gained a reputation of being impossible to align and incapable of going up hills, especially those paved with cobblestones (then so common) and in the rain many would park their cars and wait for things to dry out. This was due to the gutless but economic engine (68 hp according to the metrics then, about 55 today, and given more power over time) and distrust of front wheel drive (though DKW-Vemag had sold FWD cars in Brazil for more than a while). As such, sales took a major hit and the car was looking like a flop. This made the car a star of another first in Brazil.

renault_12_tl_6-600x342

In 1970, Ford did the first official recall in Brazilian auto history. All owners were called upon to head to the dealer and receive their free fix. The problem was that due to its unique setup, the front suspension looked like a traditional McPherson, but it was not. What Ford did was simple. They fixed the steering system at a predetermined point and called it good. The original Renault system was more sophisticated and varied that point according to how high the car was sitting. To get it right, some calculation and care was required and the after market and even the dealers were just not prepared for it.

manual characteristics

The Corcel in its original form lived on until 1978, when a more modern looking one, the Corcel II, was launched. About 600 000 cars of this vintage were sold, taking into account all versions, coupe, sedan and station wagon. They are still a relatively common site on Brazilian streets, often terribly rusted and gutted. However, due to the many firsts and luxury versions it has always been a favorite of well-heeled collectors. Recently, Brazilians have experienced some prosperity and the car collection bug has started biting more middle class members. The numbers of well-kept Corcels and other cars of its time has increased on the streets. Though rarer than 80s cars, I see some of the 70s specials driven about.

orange corcel

Now I have had a chance to drive one. A kid I know bought one from his uncle. It is a 1975 Corcel Luxo. It has an improved 72 hp 1.4 CHT engine. I love the orange paint job and the interior is in good shape. The lines are crisp and slightly sporty. This is the coupe and it helps with the impression of sportiness. The back lights are different from what is done today and seems to me the part most stuck in the 60s. The front had the revised less chrome-y grill and looks quite nice. The greenhouse is tall and the beltline low, hinting of great visibility that I would later confirm. It is a tidy package that though dated is a timeless design.

This car was bought in 2007 and has been slowly been recovered over this time. They young man who bought it has been involved with the resuscitation since the start and plans on a making yet a few more changes to make it reliable. He intends to put it to use as his daily driver, driving it to university and his job and in his nightlife soon.

engine bay

The car is on its original engine and marks a little over 90 000 km. The owner is sure that has turned over at least once, but they opened up the engine and changed all the parts to get it back to standard. They did a good job because the car fires up the first time you turn the key and runs smoothly and surely.

back

Getting on the go takes a bit of effort. The car does not have hydraulic steering so its necessary to muscle it a bit. The oversized (for today) steering wheel helps the effort and it not too bad as the wheels are just 13 inches and the tires have a nice sidewall. A note on those wheels, the Corcel might be the only three lugged Ford in history (yes, due to its French inheritance).

The gear box is the only non-original change made to the car. This orange Corcel uses a Ford Del Rey 5 speed box from the 80s. The original 4 speed was broken and hard to get when the time came to change it. The engagements are nice and crisp and can be done relatively fast. The seating position is correct with pedals, wheel and seats (though they do not recline) well-aligned. There is a surprising amount of space in the front though in the back space is at a premium. People must have been smaller back then as this car did fill family duty.

inside (1)

The ride is very soft. It absorbs the imperfections well and goes straight without the need for constant corrections. The steering once at speed is light, too, and very communicative. This all harks back to more pristine time and the driver does feel more in synch with the machine. None of the modern creature comforts are available and the car is not isolated from the driver. It is also relatively quiet too, with no overbearing noise from the finishing. The engine does intrude though, very much the faster you go. Of course, this has to do with the lack of air conditioning. As such, I drove about with the windows open to try to refresh some in this very hot Brazilian summer.

Because of the soft suspension and weak engine, this car is not a canyon carver. On curves it inclines more that any more modern cars I’ve driven. I was aware of this characteristic and thus looked out for it, but it will surprise those used to modern suspension set ups. Allowing for this and anticipating it, curves can be taken at speed. It helps that the brakes are relatively modern. This one sports front disk brakes and braking power and characteristics are similar to modern small Brazilian cars.

fuel gauge

The interior is dark. Almost everything is black. Instrumentation is a delight and quite complete however. The design language used in this car is no longer in vogue and there are quite a few surprises on how the various knobs and commands function. Nonetheless, they are easy to use and for the most part visible, though not that intuitive for a modern driver. It also helps they are all very light to operate.

To me driving this car was surprising. I expected a more primitive experience, but it wasn’t except for the lights which were just awful and did a terrible job of illuminating. Maybe because this was a modern car from the get go with its front wheel drive and disk brakes. Maybe because so many Brazilian cars make use of small 1.0 engines that have (slightly) better performance. The Corcel did prove to me that it would be a fun daily companion.

The Ford Corcel. A French Ford. A purveyor of many firsts in this country. Now a kid’s first car. May it go on pleasing its owner for a long time as it has undoubtedly has many other owners since it was built 1975.

back engine bay front (1) front (2) front grill front seats (1) front seats front fuel gauge (1) fuel gauge inside (1) inside interior jumping keys lights out manual characteristics orange corcel Ford Brasil LtdaCorcel I e II renault_12_tl_6-600x342 Renault-12-1 side speed gauge

The post Dispatches do Brasil: 1975 Ford Corcel Luxo appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/dispatches-brasil-1975-ford-corcel-luxo/feed/ 23
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 […]

The post Chicago 2015: Ford GT Presents Its Canadian Passport appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Ford-GT-2

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.

Ford-GT-10 Ford-GT-1 Ford-GT-2 Ford-GT-3 Ford-GT-4 Ford-GT-5 Ford-GT-6

The post Chicago 2015: Ford GT Presents Its Canadian Passport appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/chicago-2015-ford-gt-presents-canadian-passport/feed/ 14
Generation Why: I Want My S16 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/generation-want-s16/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/generation-want-s16/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 16:25:08 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=996778 Driving a rear-drive, turbocharged car in the winter is usually an exercise in gentle throttle control coupled with self-restraint. And it’s tough when you lack both of those traits. Past experiences with this kind of car tend to follow a typical pattern. Enter a turn, lift the throttle to unsettle the rear of the car, […]

The post Generation Why: I Want My S16 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015-ford-Mustang-coty-nominee

Driving a rear-drive, turbocharged car in the winter is usually an exercise in gentle throttle control coupled with self-restraint. And it’s tough when you lack both of those traits.

Past experiences with this kind of car tend to follow a typical pattern. Enter a turn, lift the throttle to unsettle the rear of the car, get back on the gas. Wait, wait, wait for the turbo to spool up (if you’re in something like a Volvo 700 or 900-Series wagon) and then *BAM*, get hit with a fist-full of boost. No wonder Gordon Murray always championed the naturally aspirated engine.

But it looks like things have changed.

This week, we’ve got a brand new 2015 Ford Mustang Ecoboost, in the exact same spec as the one pictured above. A spell of crappy weather and a lack of plowed side streets has let me explore the dynamics of a boosted RWD car without really trying. The 2.3L turbocharged four-cylinder is impossibly smooth. Too smooth in fact. There’s virtually zero perceptible turbo lag. Like most small-displacement four-cylinder turbo motors, it pulls strongly through the low end of the rev range, but runs out of breath towards the top. It feels quick, but not that quick, even though it would probably show its tail lights to a Mod Motor SN95. To me at least, it doesn’t really feel like a Mustang.

What it does feel like is the best Audi A5, BMW 228i, 428i, Hyundai Genesis Coupe, Nissan 370Z or 240SX you’ve ever driven. The seating position and sightlines no longer feel like the “large and in charge” Mustangs of yesterday, where you’re sitting bolt upright over a big, blocky hood, grasping a bent shifter and a yacht-like steering wheel.

The chassis is tighter than a yoga instructor’s glutes, the ride is *too* firm, the Brembo brakes are brilliant and the electric steering’s got plenty of feedback and feel even in “normal” mode. But when you mash the throttle, it sounds like a Focus SE. The automatic transmission in our car may be hampering some of the performance, but even sound clips where the car has an upgraded exhaust still sound…off. Like hearing Radu Marian sing an aria when you’re expecting a tenor. I’m sure that with the new Ford Racing ProCal and an uncorked exhaust system, this thing will be an absolute riot on the street at a significant discount to the five-point-oh.

But that’s not good enough for me. If I’m buying a pony car, I want the full pony car experience, and that means 8 cylinders of unholy torque and the soundtrack to match. As petty and vain as it may be, I would never be happy not having the “5.0” badge, the NASCAR soundtrack and not having to explain to everyone that “it’s a 4-cylinder, but it’s actually lighter and better balanced and Immakingexcusesfornotgettingthebigboymustang”.

Well, not quite. If I lived in Calgary or Denver or somewhere at altitude, I could see how a tuned-up Ecoboost would be a hell of a car on a brisk drive through the mountains. When the V8 would be huffing and puffing its way up the mountain, the 2.3L would be whistling a sweet turbo tune. A barely audible one at that.

The Speedhunters blog recently compared the Mustang EB to the never-produced S16 version of the Nissan Silvia, one of Japan’s most iconic cars. I’d have to agree. It’s got all the right elements to the successor to one of the best sport compacts of all time. The only problem is, it’s a pony car.

The post Generation Why: I Want My S16 appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/generation-want-s16/feed/ 135
Bark’s Bites: Viva La Fiesta! http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/barks-bites-viva-la-fiesta/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/barks-bites-viva-la-fiesta/#comments Wed, 11 Feb 2015 15:35:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=996706 I may have lost my damned mind, but here it goes: I think I want to trade my Boss 302 for a Fiesta ST. Not straight up, mind you. But the financials of the Boss 302 no longer make sense for a car that I’m not totally jacked to drive every day (this is the […]

The post Bark’s Bites: Viva La Fiesta! appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
fiestast
I may have lost my damned mind, but here it goes:

I think I want to trade my Boss 302 for a Fiesta ST.

Not straight up, mind you. But the financials of the Boss 302 no longer make sense for a car that I’m not totally jacked to drive every day (this is the part where you, the Internet Millionaire, can deride me for financing a new car). For two and a half years, I didn’t mind writing the massive check to Ford Credit for it every month.

And then, this month, I did.

I don’t think I love the 302 anymore. It’s not you, Boss. It’s me. I suppose that it makes sense for my emotional break-up to have happened in the winter months. I have barely let it out of the garage during this Kentucky winter, choosing to endure the snow and ice with my Subaru Legacy wagon. It probably needs new tires and brake pads, which is a relatively massive expense. I’m sure that the release of the GT350 has had something to do with my desire to wander a bit, too. I no longer have the baddest ‘Stang out there (yes, I’m aware of the GT500. I still like the Boss more).

However, I can’t have that Mustang yet. So, here’s the dilemma—do I continue to pay for a car I don’t really love anymore, or do I cut my payments by more than half and buy a Fiesta ST to bide my time until the GT350 is available at a reasonable, non-dealer-adjusted price? The ST is widely loved by everybody who’s driven it, including people like Alex Nunez, Matt Farah and our own Derek Kreindler. Plus, I’ve had a little lust in my heart for it ever since it came out—I’ve always wanted a hot hatch, even if my age makes me more of a Corvette candidate. Does this idea make ANY sense at all?

Well, I’m going to find out. Thanks to my decision to submit a lead through AutoTrader’s Trade-In Marketplace tool, I have been relentlessly pursued by my local Ford store, who can’t wait to try to steal my Boss from me. I have an appointment on Saturday to go drive a Fiesta ST in that gorgeous blue. Part of me is afraid that I won’t like it. Part of me is afraid that I’ll love it.

Have at it, B&B.

The post Bark’s Bites: Viva La Fiesta! appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/barks-bites-viva-la-fiesta/feed/ 92
Capsule Review: 2015 Ford Escape Titanium AWD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-2015-ford-escape-titanium-awd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-2015-ford-escape-titanium-awd/#comments Tue, 10 Feb 2015 15:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=994690 After only one brief stint in last week’s 2015 Ford Escape tester, I was already angry with this heavily optioned Titanium AWD specimen. The anger had nothing to do with our first drive to the other side of Halifax. And I wasn’t even in the Escape, let alone driving it, when my resentment blossomed. I […]

The post Capsule Review: 2015 Ford Escape Titanium AWD appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
2015 Ford Escape Titanium AWD redAfter only one brief stint in last week’s 2015 Ford Escape tester, I was already angry with this heavily optioned Titanium AWD specimen.

The anger had nothing to do with our first drive to the other side of Halifax. And I wasn’t even in the Escape, let alone driving it, when my resentment blossomed. I was shovelling our driveway during a lull in the blizzard that left New York in peace, hammered Boston, and slathered Nova Scotia’s capital with ice after a few inches of snow fell. With four vehicles jammed into our small driveway to avoid the on-street winter parking ban, the Escape’s tailgate insisted on opening of its own accord with frustrating frequency.


• USD As-Tested Price: $38,075

• Horsepower: 231 @ 5500 rpm

• Torque: 270 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm

• Observed Fuel Economy: 19 mpg


Armful of groceries? Yes, hands-free tailgate opening might then be useful, if you can maintain your balance while holding the grocery load in your right hand, perching the 15-month-old child on your left hip, and doing the jitterbug under the rear bumper.

But when you’re engaged in clearing a driveway of snow and a tailgate opens again and again and again… and again, allowing a large amount of blowing snow into the car, a shovel-activated tailgate becomes the worst bit of kit ever fitted to a modern car. As memory recalls, when a waving foot called upon the hands-free tailgate to open in our Ford C-Max test car two winters ago, it typically refused. Now, when I’m shovelling in a winter storm with keys to multiple cars in my pocket, the Escape’s tailgate becomes overzealous. What must the neighbours think?

2015 Ford Escape Titanium AWD red rearThankfully, during the week we spent with a 2015 Escape supplied to us by Ford Canada, nothing else spawned such irritability.

The Escape, now in the third model year of its second-generation, is not without lingering faults. MyFordTouch doesn’t really bother me, but needing to reach and turn my wrist into a Spiderman-like shape to use the lower portion of the screen isn’t cool. The upgraded Sony stereo never impressed. A number of interior bits, including the “leather-wrapped” steering wheel and the column-mounted stalks, are downmarket items appropriate for cars in another price spectrum, as are the levels of noise and vibration which make their way into the cabin. The defroster is painfully slow. 240 horsepower (231 on regular fuel) doesn’t feel as special as you thought 240 horsepower would feel in a small SUV because the horses are saddled with nearly 3800 pounds. Real-world fuel efficiency measured a disheartening 19 miles per gallon, hindered by the freshness of our Escape which travelled from the factory to our door. (The Escape is rated at 21 mpg in the city; 28 on the highway.) Worst among the Escape’s letdowns, overall interior space doesn’t come close to matching the Honda CR-V in which we sprawled earlier in January.

But a week of driving the 2015 Escape, with its torquey 2.0L turbocharged four-cylinder and Euro Ford dynamics, made it easy to see why this is consistently America’s second-best-selling utility vehicle. To actually drive the Escape – not just to reside in it, but to engage yourself in the process – is to realize that pleasing on-road behaviour can be found in a high-riding crossover, even one that’s not made by a premium brand.

2015 Ford Escape Titanium AWD front boatThe ride/handling balance is wonderfully fine-tuned. The suspension, even on 19-inch wheels, masks the impact of harsh road imperfections while remaining sufficiently communicative for the driver to feel confident on a twisty road. It’s more nimble and tossable than the CR-V, but its hefty curb weight holds the Escape back from the eager feel of the Mazda CX-5, the last version of which we tested tipped the scales with 233 fewer pounds than this Ford. Steering feel is mostly absent, as it is in almost every new car on sale today, but the Escape’s rack is quick and consistent. Braking would be aided by a slightly more progressive pedal, and the 6-speed automatic could stand to sacrifice some of its smooth slushiness for more rapid shifts.

The Ford still ranks among the keen driver’s best choices in the small SUV/crossover category, even if the EcoBoost 2.0L doesn’t turn the small Escape into a pocket rocket.

At $38,075 as-tested (Titanium AWD Escapes start at $33,085), it’s also among the pricier candidates, though our example was certainly laden with tech gear. Ford’s Active Park Assist needs to work perfectly without fail, and it always has in my hands, or rather, free from my hands. Blind spot monitoring, cross traffic alert, proximity access, navigation, panoramic sunroof: it’s all here. The problem with an Escape that’s this loaded is the broad range of SUVs and crossovers available for the same money, many of which will suffer from an equipment standpoint but will more than make up for their poorer spec with extra usable space.

2015 Ford Escape Titanium interiorBut how many of them will drive more sweetly? If the space is sufficient for you – and it clearly is acceptable to hundreds of thousands of buyers each year – then the knowledge that other small SUVs offer more space for people and cargo is not terribly pertinent.

In that case, the Escape 2.0L EcoBoost is a charming device, especially if it possesses a lower level of equipment that wouldn’t cause it to be compared with its upmarket sibling, the Lincoln MKC. Especially if its tailgate remains firmly secured in the midst of a January nor’easter.

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

The post Capsule Review: 2015 Ford Escape Titanium AWD appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/capsule-review-2015-ford-escape-titanium-awd/feed/ 165
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 […]

The post Rental Review: 2014 Ford Fusion appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
DSC_0216

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.

DSC_0201

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.

DSC_0196

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.

DSC_0218

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.

DSC_0209

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.

DSC_0198

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.

DSC_0205

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.

 

DSC_0209 DSC_0205 DSC_0201 DSC_0198 DSC_0196 DSC_0197 DSC_0218 DSC_0216

The post Rental Review: 2014 Ford Fusion appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/rental-review-2014-ford-fusion/feed/ 113
Junkyard Find: 1977 Ford LTD II Station Wagon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1977-ford-ltd-ii-station-wagon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1977-ford-ltd-ii-station-wagon/#comments Fri, 06 Feb 2015 14:00:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=992610 In one of those confusing branding moves that’s up there with the baffling Toyota Corolla Tercel, Ford decided to name a Torino-based midsize car the LTD II while keeping the regular full-sized LTD. This went on for the 1977 and 1978 model years, and then for 1979 the “big” LTD went to the Panther platform […]

The post Junkyard Find: 1977 Ford LTD II Station Wagon appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
08 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIn one of those confusing branding moves that’s up there with the baffling Toyota Corolla Tercel, Ford decided to name a Torino-based midsize car the LTD II while keeping the regular full-sized LTD. This went on for the 1977 and 1978 model years, and then for 1979 the “big” LTD went to the Panther platform and sold alongside LTD IIs for that year. Why? Well, that’s like asking why Henry Ford II refused Soichiro Honda’s offer of cheap CVCC engines for the Fiesta a few years before! Anyway, here’s an extremely green first-year LTD II wagon (not a Country Squire, which was based on the larger “regular” LTD) that I spotted in Northern California a couple weeks back.
03 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinDo you like green interiors, and by that I mean large expanses of petrochemical-residue-exhaling I Can Totally Believe It’s Not Leather™ vinyl that still looks good and vivid after nearly 40 years of California sun?
02 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis car has you covered! This car’s seats would make nice garage couches.
13 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinFord sent out 23 million of these recall-evading stickers, thanks to the generosity of Ronald Reagan, and thus didn’t go bankrupt in the early 1980s. Most owners didn’t apply them, but this car’s circa-1982 owner did.
04 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe engine compartment had a bit of a fire problem.
19 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWe can assume this car was earning its keep until the day of the fire.

Ford didn’t hesitate to pitch the big LTD as more car for the money. Look, bigger than a Cadillac, yet cheaper!

As for the LTD II: if you’re a sporty guy with a sporty mustache, the “trimmer” LTD II is for you!

01 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1977 Ford LTD wagon Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The post Junkyard Find: 1977 Ford LTD II Station Wagon appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1977-ford-ltd-ii-station-wagon/feed/ 114
Junkyard Find: 1993 Ford Probe http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1993-ford-probe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1993-ford-probe/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 14:00:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=992026 I’ve noticed that you don’t see many Grateful Dead stickers on stereotypical hippie-type vehicles in junkyards. No, you see such stickers all over stuff like big ol’ GMC pickups (though I did find this thoroughly Steal Your Face-ized Vanagon a couple years back). Last week, while looking for a suitable speedometer for the Kustom Korona, […]

The post Junkyard Find: 1993 Ford Probe appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
01 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI’ve noticed that you don’t see many Grateful Dead stickers on stereotypical hippie-type vehicles in junkyards. No, you see such stickers all over stuff like big ol’ GMC pickups (though I did find this thoroughly Steal Your Face-ized Vanagon a couple years back). Last week, while looking for a suitable speedometer for the Kustom Korona, I spotted this Deadheaded-up Ford Probe, complete with this intensely Coloradic dab-themed SYF image that you wouldn’t want to take across the state line into Nebraska or Kansas.
23 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Probe was going to be the new Mustang, but that would have resulted in hundreds of thousands of Mustang fanatics burning Dearborn to the ground and then doing burnouts on the ashes in their properly rear-wheel-drive ponies.
05 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinInterestingly, I’ve found that a well-driven Probe will be quicker around a road course than just about any other crapcan racer. If Probes didn’t have such problems with exploding powertrains in LeMons races, they’d have won more than just the couple victories they’ve notched over the years. In any case, if you see a Probe and a similar-vintage Mustang going wheel-to-wheel in such a race, bet on the Probe (Fox Mustangs are even less reliable in low-buck endurance racing).
06 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe driver of this car probably didn’t care much about the Probe’s nearly-Mustang backstory, though.
16 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe Grateful Dead broke up in 1995, when Jerry Garcia died, and so it’s possible that this Probe brought its owner to some of the band’s final shows. Some of the stickers appear to be of 1990s or earlier vintage, though it’s hard to tell with such things.
27 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinIt’s even a 5-speed. Too bad this car couldn’t have ended up as a racer.

01 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 19 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 20 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 21 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 22 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 23 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 24 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 25 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 26 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 27 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 28 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 29 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 30 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 31 - 1993 Ford Probe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The post Junkyard Find: 1993 Ford Probe appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/junkyard-find-1993-ford-probe/feed/ 41
Piston Slap: Doesn’t Panther Love do Everything? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/piston-slap-doesnt-panther-love-everything/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/piston-slap-doesnt-panther-love-everything/#comments Wed, 04 Feb 2015 13:44:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=993298 Max writes: Sajeev, After following your and TTAC’s collective wisdom regarding Panthers, I have enjoyed four and a half years of somewhat trouble-free $1000 police-auction 2001 Crown Victoria ownership. The Crown Vic is a wonderful first car and I love it dearly, despite – or maybe especially – because it taught me a lot about […]

The post Piston Slap: Doesn’t Panther Love do Everything? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Click here to view the embedded video.

Max writes:

Sajeev,
After following your and TTAC’s collective wisdom regarding Panthers, I have enjoyed four and a half years of somewhat trouble-free $1000 police-auction 2001 Crown Victoria ownership. The Crown Vic is a wonderful first car and I love it dearly, despite – or maybe especially – because it taught me a lot about the finer points of its drive train, front end etc. as I eventually ended up parking-lot and shade-tree repairing or replacing just about every major component other than the exhaust and transmission. However, it might now be time to look into a successor for my trusty ride.

More specifically, I am looking for a vehicle around $5500 or so that 1). Is generally known to be reliable and have low operating expenses, 2). Gets good highway mileage (let’s set the baseline at upper teens) and is comfortable to drive cross-country – my job periodically entails eating up a lot of miles on the road- 3). Has a four wheel drive or is otherwise off road capable– I need to drive up poorly-maintained remote service roads for work – 4). can tow a small camper cross-country, or a livestock or horse trailer ( for low-speed short-haul work), and can stand up to general farmwork – haul or tow a couple dozen bales of hay or more, manure, rolls of fencing, chickens, calves, half a cord of wood, etc. Ease-of repair and cheap parts are a plus. 5). Is comfortable to sleep in, if need be- also a work possibility- and 6). Front bench seat, and stick shift are preferred.

Even though a pickup might be a good fit, I’m trying to stay open-minded and would appreciate any advice: I am not stuck on any one brand or type of vehicle.

Or maybe I could listen to Sanjeev’s advice and go Mad-Maxize the Crown Vic with a 6″ lift and self-leveling kit, transmission intercooler, towing package, 30” offroad tires and roll cage and keep it forever – what’re your two cents?

Thanks for all of your advice over the years!

Sajeev answers:

Thank you for reading all these years. It’s both exciting and horrifying to hear you’ve taken my our advice to heart!

That said, what kind of Lover considers open-mindedness regarding Panther Love? You, as a Crown Victoria owner, are a stubborn traditionalist with a nearly xenophobic reaction to non body-on-frame platforms.  You remain as “unmodified” as the Panther since 1979: toe the autojourno’s line!

Let’s be serious: anyone needing something for “general farmwork” with a career driving on rural roads needs a body-on-frame vehicle to handle the beating and the towing.  Keyword: Towing.  The truck is almost mandatory, but $5500 makes it hard to get one that isn’t beat to shit, packed with a ton of miles or well over a decade old. Good thing you can get your hands dirty, vehicles at this price need something. Always.

What’s the right move?  Get the cleanest, most well maintained V6 Toyota Tacoma, Chevy S-10/Colorado or Ford Ranger in your price ranger (oops). Good luck finding one with a stick, or lose efficiency and get a full sizer (small V8, automatic) from any of the Big Three for the same price.

The full-size is ideal since you might sleep in there: I slept in my Ranger once, next time I’ll splurge for a hotel.

Click here to view the embedded video.

BUT…there’s nothing like taking a nap in the back of Panther Love. Maybe these YouTube videos are right: stick with your current Crown Vic until you can afford a newer truck with all the things you need (for safe and reliable transport to work) and want (for your hobbies, farm duties, etc).

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

The post Piston Slap: Doesn’t Panther Love do Everything? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/piston-slap-doesnt-panther-love-everything/feed/ 37
Ford Introduces German-Made Focus RS For U.S. Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/ford-introduces-german-made-focus-rs-u-s-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/ford-introduces-german-made-focus-rs-u-s-market/#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 15:17:35 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=993026 Ford is finally giving the North American market a Focus RS. It will be the first Focus RS to have all-wheel drive, and it won’t be built Stateside. Just as TTAC predicted, our North American Focus RS will be imported from Germany. According to our sources, the Michigan Assembly Plant that builds the rest of the Focus […]

The post Ford Introduces German-Made Focus RS For U.S. Market appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
fordfocusrs-01-1

Ford is finally giving the North American market a Focus RS. It will be the first Focus RS to have all-wheel drive, and it won’t be built Stateside.

Just as TTAC predicted, our North American Focus RS will be imported from Germany. According to our sources, the Michigan Assembly Plant that builds the rest of the Focus lineup cannot physically fit the RS down its assembly line.

The RS will use the 2.3L Ecoboost 4-cylinder, expected to make 315 horsepower. Two-mode dampers and an all-wheel drive system that can send 70 percent of power to the rear wheels are also on tap. A 6-speed manual is the only transmission choice.

fordfocusrs-01-1 fordfocusrs-05-1 fordfocusrs-03-1 fordfocusrs-04-1

The post Ford Introduces German-Made Focus RS For U.S. Market appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/ford-introduces-german-made-focus-rs-u-s-market/feed/ 91
General Motors Suspends Russian Production Amid Weak Ruble http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/general-motors-suspends-russian-production-amid-weak-ruble/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/general-motors-suspends-russian-production-amid-weak-ruble/#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 14:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=992914 Amid a weakening, unstable ruble, General Motors will suspend production at its St. Petersburg, Russia plant from mid-March through mid-May 2015. Automotive News reports the automaker will also raise prices in response to the currency challenge. Per Russian daily publication Kommersant, GM has already begun to do so, with models like the Opel Astra and […]

The post General Motors Suspends Russian Production Amid Weak Ruble appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
gm-avtovaz-500000th-chevrolet-niva

Amid a weakening, unstable ruble, General Motors will suspend production at its St. Petersburg, Russia plant from mid-March through mid-May 2015.

Automotive News reports the automaker will also raise prices in response to the currency challenge. Per Russian daily publication Kommersant, GM has already begun to do so, with models like the Opel Astra and Chevrolet Cruze — both built in St. Petersburg — seeing a 20 percent increase in pricing.

Meanwhile, Ford lowered expectations for its European business in 2015 as a result of the ruble, forecasting a loss wider than the $250 million the automaker thought it would lose this year.

Overall, sales in Russia are projected to fall to 1.89 million this year, down from 2.49 million in 2014. That said, most automakers see the 2015 figure as overly optimistic at best.

The post General Motors Suspends Russian Production Amid Weak Ruble appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/general-motors-suspends-russian-production-amid-weak-ruble/feed/ 4
2016 Ford Focus RS Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/2016-ford-focus-rs-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/2016-ford-focus-rs-revealed/#comments Tue, 03 Feb 2015 03:30:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=992778 Thanks to our friends at Jalopnik. Let’s see if our source was right about it being AWD and not built in the USA.

The post 2016 Ford Focus RS Revealed appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
islgs3lzozpcq4pdxhmk

Thanks to our friends at Jalopnik. Let’s see if our source was right about it being AWD and not built in the USA.

The post 2016 Ford Focus RS Revealed appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/2016-ford-focus-rs-revealed/feed/ 13
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 […]

The post Ford Elevating 55 To First-Tier Pay After Hitting Second-Tier Cap appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
Ford Louisville Assembly Plant + Ford Escape

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.

The post Ford Elevating 55 To First-Tier Pay After Hitting Second-Tier Cap appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/ford-elevating-55-first-tier-pay-hitting-second-tier-cap/feed/ 12
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 […]

The post Rental Review: 2013 Ford Focus SE appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
DSC_0193

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.

DSC_0195

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.

DSC_0191

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.

DSC_0185

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.

DSC_0188

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.

DSC_0181 DSC_0185 DSC_0188 DSC_0191 DSC_0193 DSC_0195

The post Rental Review: 2013 Ford Focus SE appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/rental-review-2013-ford-focus-se/feed/ 89
Dispatches do Brasil: Volkswagen’s Inferno and the Gol’s Fall from Grace http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/dispatches-brasil-volkswagens-inferno-gols-fall-grace/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/dispatches-brasil-volkswagens-inferno-gols-fall-grace/#comments Tue, 27 Jan 2015 18:27:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989258 How much is first place worth? How much difference would it make to you as an automaker to see a decades old tradition die? How much would you do to try to keep first place and how much would it hurt to see it all go away? Those are the questions Volkswagen do Brasil is […]

The post Dispatches do Brasil: Volkswagen’s Inferno and the Gol’s Fall from Grace appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
unnamed

How much is first place worth? How much difference would it make to you as an automaker to see a decades old tradition die? How much would you do to try to keep first place and how much would it hurt to see it all go away?

Those are the questions Volkswagen do Brasil is facing. Not being Brazilians’ favorite brand for 13 years now, falling away to third place, watching General Motors taking second and Fiat pulling away ever more in first, VW must now confront the reality it cannot even claim the most sold car title either. Costing them it is, after all the Brazilian press is having a field day analyzing Volkswagen’s fall from grace. It must also smart that the Palio edged the Gol by a little under 400 cars, while GM managed just 2,000 more sales overall than the Germans.

After 27 years as the most sold car in Brazil, the Volkswagen Gol ceded the crown to its main rival, the Fiat Palio. Not only that, the German company saw its participation shrink more than the others who make up the Brazilian Big 4 (Fiat, GM, VW and Ford). In traditional fashion, not recognizing their mistakes, Volkswagen do Brasil released a statement trying to explain:

“the Gol is a winner, having been the favorite of Brazilians for 27 years in a row. It is the most produced (more then 7.5 million units), sold and exported (more than 1.2 million units to 66 countries) car in the history of Brazil. Even in 2014, the model was chosen by 183,367 clients, a difference of only 0.2% (even with the exit of the G4 version from the market) in relation to its competitor (that is still maintains two versions of the car under the same name in its line: the old and the new one.”

This statement hides as much as it reveals. With the beginning of 2014, all cars in Brazil had to be sold with double frontal airbags and ABS. As such, all companies had to revise their strategies and Volkswagen started the year confident that the new up! would be more than enough to buoy the brand and take sales from the Uno, while the Gol would go head-to-head with the Palio. Fiat meanwhile took a different route, being that the old Palio Fire was a much more modern car than the its own old Uno Mille and VW’s Gol G4, it decided to go on building the old Palio with the mandated equipment, dressed it up in it pseudo-off road aventureiro decorations. It also revamped the new Uno, especially in its interior.

While both companies lost sales in a declining market, Volkswagen lost market faster than Fiat. While critically acclaimed, including by yours truly, the up! could not maintain the same fleet sales as the old G4. Fleet buyers became increasingly interested in the Palio Fire as it sported the same basic architecture as it always had and made use of time honored engines. VW meanwhile was launching a new three-cylinder engine with the up! and fleet buyers showed hesitation to fully embrace the new engine, as recent VW engine launches have been fraught with trouble.

Private buyers also balked at the new VW launch. The up!’s design was deigned to dainty for a Volkswagen and while it brought some conquest sales surely, VW-loyalists rejected the car.

Just as importantly, Volkswagen, making use again of their own time-honored tradition of not heeding to the market and not learning from the mistakes of the past, refused to acknowledge the emergence of the new Brazilian consumer who rejects entry-level cars. Aiming straight at that new figure, Chevy’s Onix and Ford’s Ka had a very big year and seemingly took more sales from the Gol than the Palio. They did so by offering more equipment for the same price and putting in some wow-me technology, equipment and better finished interiors (all of which is optional on ups!).

Fiat was quick to acknowledge this new reality. The Uno got a pretty thorough re-design on the outside and a completely new and better interior, not to mention new equipment and technologies as standard, leading the model to have a year of growth. The Palio did likewise, and in the new Palio line, extra equipment was added without raised prices, while the old Palio Fire got a new interior, some new exterior touches, and the all-important aventureiro dressing (plastic cladding, an extra inch or two of height, bigger wheels and tires, stickers, etc.).

As the year of 2014 progressed, the market increasingly saw Volkswagen in trouble. The up! was off to a slow start. The Gol’s redesign seemingly didn’t work (as VW should have known it wouldn’t if they were paying attention) because what the market was buying was equipment. The Palio was growing month over month. The Uno reclaiming its traditional top spots. Even better for Fiat the Strada was having a banner year taking the sales crown in February (the first time ever a pickup achieved this in Brazil) and finished the year in third place, the highest place a pickup has ever managed in the history of Brazil.

After the middle of the year the race between Gol and Palio reached a fevered pitch, with the Palio winning every month and outpacing the Gol’s sales by ever larger margins. As November ended, the Palio had managed a YTD advantage over the Gol of over 1,800 units. In a desperate measure and going against previously revealed plans for the nameplate, VW launched the Gol Special, special in its 2-door nothingness. Stripped to its utter bare bones to entice back fleet buyers, the Gol Special is in effect VW’s Palio Fire model.

In December, an orgiastic climax was reached. Volkswagen pulled no stops. As the first fortnight of that month ended, sales numbers revealed the Gol was edging out the Palio again. This was done with non-stop production at VW factories, writing off cars to dealerships as sold, huge discounts for fleet buyers of Gol G6 and Special models, exceptional financing opportunities to consumers and cash on the hood offers. Fiat reacted, and made use of much of the same tactics to defend the Palio’s lead. Both Fiat and Volkswagen have huge distribution channels in Brazil and both pumped out the cars in ever increasing numbers, saturating the market with officially sold cars that languished at dealers.

On December 31, 2014, the race ended. When the numbers were tallied a couple of days later, December went down into the history books as the third best selling month in the history of the automobile in Brazil. So much so that in a market that was plummeting by a little over 9% throughout the year, finished with a softer loss of 6%. More importantly, the Palio, old and new, had sold 183,744 cars. Volkswagen’s Gol moved 183,366. A difference of 378 cars. 378.

Overall, Fiat finished in first with 21% of the market and a total of 698,255 sales. Volkswagen had a participation of 17.3% and 576,635 units moved, which was good for only third place. General Motors managed second place on the strength of it almost all knew GM Korea line and sold 2,167 more cars than VW and had a market participation 0.1% greater than the Germans’.

As 2015 begins, January’s first fortnight numbers are available. The Palio, now that the market is cleansing itself of the dirty tactics of the last month of the previous year is kicking the Gol’s ass. It outsold the Gol by a large margin (7,600 to 4,500 in a very bad month), as did the Onix, second this month, the Strada in third, even Hyundai’s HB20 beat the Gol and is in fourth. The mighty, 27-years-in-a-row-leader Gol managed just fifth this month.

The week started off with Fiat announcing that the Uno and Palio will all offer air-conditioning in all versions, besides power steering, power locks and of course the mandated equipment, making them even more attractive to the more discerning Brazilian consumer. General Motors is pumping out the Onix and Onix-derived Prisma sedan in high number and is enjoying seeing its sedan outselling both Fiat’s Siena and VW’s Voyage. Ford is tweaking the Ka and watching its sales grow, planning for extra production capacity as the Ka gains more and more participation. Volkswagen is busy explaining the Gol’s demise and claiming no errors.

2015 will surely be fun. Except maybe for the Germans.

The post Dispatches do Brasil: Volkswagen’s Inferno and the Gol’s Fall from Grace appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/dispatches-brasil-volkswagens-inferno-gols-fall-grace/feed/ 47
2017 Ford Raptor Makes 450 Horsepower http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/2017-ford-raptor-makes-450-horsepower/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/2017-ford-raptor-makes-450-horsepower/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 17:56:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=988834 From our friends at Jalopnik comes news that the 3.5L Ecoboost V6 in the all-new Ford Raptor will make 450 horsepower (and weigh 500 lbs less). How about dropping it in the Mustang while we’re at it?

The post 2017 Ford Raptor Makes 450 Horsepower appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
17FordRaptor_12_HR

From our friends at Jalopnik comes news that the 3.5L Ecoboost V6 in the all-new Ford Raptor will make 450 horsepower (and weigh 500 lbs less). How about dropping it in the Mustang while we’re at it?

The post 2017 Ford Raptor Makes 450 Horsepower appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/2017-ford-raptor-makes-450-horsepower/feed/ 71
Junkyard Find: 1982 Ford Fairmont Futura Two-Door Sedan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/junkyard-find-1982-ford-fairmont-futura-two-door-sedan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/junkyard-find-1982-ford-fairmont-futura-two-door-sedan/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 14:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=988082 I see so many Fox Mustangs in wrecking yards that I don’t pay attention to them unless they’re especially egregious Malaise Era abominations, but what about the other Foxes? Well, I’ll shoot a Fox Capri or Fox Thunderbird if I see one, and of course the Fairmont and its Mercury Zephyr sibling are sort of […]

The post Junkyard Find: 1982 Ford Fairmont Futura Two-Door Sedan appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
12 - 1982 Ford Fairmont Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI see so many Fox Mustangs in wrecking yards that I don’t pay attention to them unless they’re especially egregious Malaise Era abominations, but what about the other Foxes? Well, I’ll shoot a Fox Capri or Fox Thunderbird if I see one, and of course the Fairmont and its Mercury Zephyr sibling are sort of interesting. We’ve seen this snazzy-looking beige-over-gold ’82 Zephyr coupe and equallly snazzy-looking ’80 Fairmont Futura coupe in this series, and I spotted this red ’82 Fairmont Futura two-door at a Northern California yard a few months ago.
13 - 1982 Ford Fairmont Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe two-door sedan version of the Fairmont Futura didn’t sell so well, because if you were willing to put up with the inconvenience of two doors, why not get the groovy coupe with the cool-looking rear glass?
01 - 1982 Ford Fairmont Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI probably shouldn’t have attempted any online research on Foxtaur Racing, because it led right to some super-creepy Furry-related stuff. However, I ran into this page showing what may be the same car; the junkyard one doesn’t have a vinyl top, but the Foxtaur Racing stickers are in the same locations. I’m sure that Crab Spirits will explore this theme further.
07 - 1982 Ford Fairmont Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWhen you can’t find the correct-colored interior parts for your car, you make do with what you can find.
09 - 1982 Ford Fairmont Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYes, that’s a Pinto 2300 under the hood.
05 - 1982 Ford Fairmont Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis was made when Detroit didn’t worry too much about extremely phony-looking “wood” interior trim.

01 - 1982 Ford Fairmont Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 02 - 1982 Ford Fairmont Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1982 Ford Fairmont Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1982 Ford Fairmont Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1982 Ford Fairmont Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1982 Ford Fairmont Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1982 Ford Fairmont Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1982 Ford Fairmont Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1982 Ford Fairmont Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1982 Ford Fairmont Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1982 Ford Fairmont Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1982 Ford Fairmont Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1982 Ford Fairmont Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1982 Ford Fairmont Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1982 Ford Fairmont Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1982 Ford Fairmont Coupe Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The post Junkyard Find: 1982 Ford Fairmont Futura Two-Door Sedan appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/junkyard-find-1982-ford-fairmont-futura-two-door-sedan/feed/ 68
Piston Slap: A Fusion of Moonroof Drainage Problems? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/piston-slap-fusion-moonroof-drainage-problems/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/piston-slap-fusion-moonroof-drainage-problems/#comments Mon, 26 Jan 2015 13:24:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=988290   Matt writes: Hi Sajeev, I’m a long time lurker on the truth about cars, it’s probably of my favorite car website‎! The problem I’m having is with my 2010 Ford Fusion SEL, I bought it brand new back in May 2009 and now with 175,000KM (Canadian!) it’s been a great car until this recent […]

The post Piston Slap: A Fusion of Moonroof Drainage Problems? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
 

2012_ford_fusion_sunroof_spoiler_8600062416271215145

The Sun, Moon and Stains? (Photo courtesy: car.mitula.us)

Matt writes:

Hi Sajeev,

I’m a long time lurker on the truth about cars, it’s probably of my favorite car website‎!

The problem I’m having is with my 2010 Ford Fusion SEL, I bought it brand new back in May 2009 and now with 175,000KM (Canadian!) it’s been a great car until this recent issue has popped up and neither I or a glass shop or a Ford Dealer can figure it out. I’m getting water in the car on the passenger side A pillar where the plastic trim meats the headliner, the water doesn’t gush in, the floor is never wet just that corner gets wet during heavy rain.

The Fusion is equipped with a moonroof but I’ve had the drains cleaned and even went as far as pouring water down the drain tube that runs along that part of the car and it stayed dry inside, I thought it might have been the corner of the windshield but after using some heaving duty caulking along the top of the windshield it’s still getting wet inside.‎ I checked the moonroof drip tray when the headliner was wet but it has very little water inside the drip tray, I thought it might be the passenger side door seal leaking but it’s also dry inside when the headliner is wet. I can’t seem to figure out where it’s coming from, every time I think I’ve pinpointed it, it gets wet again. I have also noticed that it seems to stay dry most of the time when parked on a flat surface but when parked on any sort of incline it seems to get wet and of course my driveway is inclined. There is these long black plastic trim that runs along the roof on both sides, I always thought it was held down with adhesive but is it possible there are holes underneath that trim?

I’m feeling extremely frustrated at the moment with it, I am?! don’t want to trade it in, I love my Fusion I’ve got the 3.0 litre V6 which gets good mileage and is quick, it’s comfortable and has been reliable only needing one repair under warranty to replace the shifter because the switch for manual mode died, so any help you and the best and brightest can provide would be greatly appreciated.

Sajeev answers:

Thanks for no longer being a lurker! Woot!

I’m thinking the moonroof is the problem, the alternatives are not likely. Bad door weatherstripping? That normally causes leaks further south, as water runs down to the carpet.  A leaky windshield isn’t likely considering today’s bonding process at the factory. Remove that caulking you crammed in there, it’s only lowering the Fusion’s resale value and curb appeal.

Plus, if the windshield was the fault, I reckon it’d also be a howling nightmare in stiff cross winds at highway speeds.

The plastic rain gutters are often held with nuts/bolts, but it isn’t a likely defect. Wait just one second! Remember what our friend from the UK, Mr. Edd China, did to find a water leak?

Click here to view the embedded video.

The smoke machine is a brilliant idea, but I suspect it couldn’t find a leaky rain gutter: those are probably sealed away from the headliner quite well.

I keep going back to moonroof drainage for multiple reasons. Put another way, A Fusion of Moonroof Drainage Problems:

  • Glass is out of adjustment, allowing for excessive amounts of water when parked at an angle.
  • Drain tubes are slightly crimped/blocked which exacerbates the problem.
  • The glass’ rubber seal is dirty; dirt reduces the seal’s effectiveness.

A tough problem for sure.  I’d clean the seal, clean the moonroof gutters, have someone make sure the glass is adjusted correctly and hope for the best. If not, time to drop the headliner and go for a closer look. No fun, but certainly not impossible.

 

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

The post Piston Slap: A Fusion of Moonroof Drainage Problems? appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/piston-slap-fusion-moonroof-drainage-problems/feed/ 52
Junkyard Find: 1989 Merkur Scorpio Touring Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/junkyard-find-1989-merkur-scorpio-touring-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/junkyard-find-1989-merkur-scorpio-touring-edition/#comments Fri, 23 Jan 2015 14:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=987346 Now here’s a rare one: a 1989 Merkur Scorpio. While the Merkur XR4Ti (a rebadged Ford Sierra XR4i) sold well enough that most of us have seen one, the other Merkur— a rebadged Ford Scorpio— flopped miserably and sank without leaving much of a trace. This ’89, which I found on Half Price Day in […]

The post Junkyard Find: 1989 Merkur Scorpio Touring Edition appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
17 - 1989 Merkur Scorpio Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNow here’s a rare one: a 1989 Merkur Scorpio. While the Merkur XR4Ti (a rebadged Ford Sierra XR4i) sold well enough that most of us have seen one, the other Merkur— a rebadged Ford Scorpio— flopped miserably and sank without leaving much of a trace. This ’89, which I found on Half Price Day in a Denver yard, is the first Scorpio I’ve seen anywhere in at least five years.
06 - 1989 Merkur Scorpio Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinNearly 100,000 miles on the odometer.
03 - 1989 Merkur Scorpio Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe leather is a bit cracked, but otherwise the interior is in nice shape.
11 - 1989 Merkur Scorpio Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinI couldn’t get the hood open, but the sight of a Cologne V6 is nothing to get excited over.
18 - 1989 Merkur Scorpio Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThis is the 209th Touring Edition.
16 - 1989 Merkur Scorpio Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinLots of good stuff left on this car, but will there be any parts bought before the car gets crushed?

I think the Scorpio would have sold better in America if Ford had used this song in the advertising.

Instead, they had Jackie Stewart reclining in the rear seat.

In Taiwan, the Scorpio got hooned a bit more in the ads.

02 - 1989 Merkur Scorpio Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 03 - 1989 Merkur Scorpio Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 04 - 1989 Merkur Scorpio Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 05 - 1989 Merkur Scorpio Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 06 - 1989 Merkur Scorpio Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 07 - 1989 Merkur Scorpio Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 08 - 1989 Merkur Scorpio Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 09 - 1989 Merkur Scorpio Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 10 - 1989 Merkur Scorpio Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 11 - 1989 Merkur Scorpio Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 12 - 1989 Merkur Scorpio Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 13 - 1989 Merkur Scorpio Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 14 - 1989 Merkur Scorpio Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 15 - 1989 Merkur Scorpio Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 16 - 1989 Merkur Scorpio Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 17 - 1989 Merkur Scorpio Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin 18 - 1989 Merkur Scorpio Down On the Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee Martin

The post Junkyard Find: 1989 Merkur Scorpio Touring Edition appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/junkyard-find-1989-merkur-scorpio-touring-edition/feed/ 67
Ur-Turn: In Defense Of The Ford GT http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/ur-turn-defense-ford-gt/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/ur-turn-defense-ford-gt/#comments Fri, 16 Jan 2015 14:00:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=984425 A Ford engineer responds to our last piece on the Ford GT. In “Ur-Turn: The Hater’s Guide to the Ford GT”, we get a glimpse into the Ford product development cycle for high-volume vehicles.  The authors, who humbly claim that it was a broad overview, give a rather complete account of the roles, responsibilities, and […]

The post Ur-Turn: In Defense Of The Ford GT appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
All-NewFordGT_01_HR

A Ford engineer responds to our last piece on the Ford GT.

In “Ur-Turn: The Hater’s Guide to the Ford GT”, we get a glimpse into the Ford product development cycle for high-volume vehicles.  The authors, who humbly claim that it was a broad overview, give a rather complete account of the roles, responsibilities, and procedures behind nearly every Ford product that comes to market.  It’s a fascinating process, and it occurs every day at virtually every OEM and supplier.  But what happens when a particular design or system defies convention?  How do you validate something that is unlike anything your company has ever produced?  What happens when you push the product development envelope so far, that you enter a completely new and unfamiliar design space?  This is where we’ll find the Ford GT.

The GPDS framework that the authors describe is a rigorous process, combining elements of classical engineering disciplines, statistical analysis, and historical lessons-learned.  Every high-volume OEM and supplier uses something like it.  The people behind GPDS and other, similar processes are the reason for today’s automotive landscape of massively complex cars that are safer, more efficient, and more advanced than ever.

As robust and comprehensive as GPDS is, it can be inflexible.  New technology and processes sometimes don’t fit into the framework.  If a body control D&R has never worked with active aerodynamic elements, how will he know what acceptable performance looks like on the GT, or how to test it?  If the STA has never dealt with a carbon fiber monocoque, how can he point out faults in the assembly process?  If the engine calibrator has never tried to achieve the cylinder pressure required to wring 600 horsepower out of 3.5L, how will he know how much fuel to dial in without blowing the head apart?  What about the APQP engineer who depends on Weibull analysis to predict full-life durability, but the sample size needed for a good analysis is about the same as the entire production run?

The Ford GT is unlike anything that Ford has ever built, so the paradigms that work for nearly every Ford product may not work here.  Technology must be developed outside the GPDS framework.  The Ford Research and Advanced Engineering group does just this, using GTDS (Global Technology Development System).  Unlike GPDS, which is focused on execution and quality, the GTDS process attempts to clearly define a problem and systematically identify and explore promising solutions.  The outcome of the GTDS process is a technology that is ready for use in a vehicle, and accompanied by a complete set of requirements and validation methods as well as a list of potential suppliers.  Often a GTDS technology is so complex that transferring knowledge to a production team would be prohibitively time-consuming, so an R&A engineer will accompany the technology through to production.

This is the true skunkworks.  It’s not in a secret basement, its right out in the open, just a short walk from the folks cranking through GPDS documentation.  As for the contention that non-GPDS projects will have a “questionable pedigree in production and quality operating systems”, the people at Ford R&A have a better understanding of the operating environment and system behavior than anybody else in the company and sometimes the entire industry, as well as the manufacturing methods and quality issues associated with them.  The evaluation of technology is obsessively comprehensive, even if it doesn’t follow the GPDS framework.  There is nothing “slap-dash” about it.

The authors accurately point out that the GT is essentially a marketing exercise, not a money maker.  Doing all the development work in-house would take precious resources away from profitable production programs. So the build will be contracted to an outside company like Multimatic.  Dyno testing and calibration will probably be done by a company like Roush.  Chassis development will likely be performed by Ford drivers and engineers, though with a much narrower scope of testing than high-volume vehicles get.  But Ford will own every part of the design and development process.  It just won’t be the same people who put F-150s on the showroom floor.  Instead it will fall to a group whose job it is to bring new technology to life and make it available to a discriminating customer.  There will be no clear path to follow.  And that’s just how they like it.

The post Ur-Turn: In Defense Of The Ford GT appeared first on The Truth About Cars.

]]>
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/ur-turn-defense-ford-gt/feed/ 51