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. Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:25:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 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 Galhotra Takes The Reins As Lincoln’s New President http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/galhotra-takes-the-reins-as-lincolns-new-president/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/galhotra-takes-the-reins-as-lincolns-new-president/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 12:00:04 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871938 ashwani-kumar-galhotra.img.1375822969106

As one of his first major moves since becoming CEO, Ford’s Mark Fields named vice president of engineering Kumar Galhotra as president of Lincoln, effective September 1.

Automotive News reports Galhotra, who will report directly to the new CEO, will be the premium brand’s first president since Al Giombetti left the post in 2007. The move will also reduce executive vice president of global sales, service and marketing Jim Farley’s role with Lincoln, which will be focused on marketing the brand once Galhotra takes over.

The new president — an engineer and product executive who has worked with Lincoln, Ford and Mazda in the past — will bring his marketing experience to the table as Lincoln prepares to launch in China later in 2014; he headed Ford’s Asia Pacific division from 2009 to 2013, and helped bring about the new Ranger pickup to market.

Speaking of the division, engineering director Jim Holland will move from there to replace Galhotra as Ford’s vice president of engineering, reporting to global product development chief Raj Nair.

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Daimler To Enter FCV Market In 2017 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/daimler-to-enter-fcv-market-in-2017/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/daimler-to-enter-fcv-market-in-2017/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 11:00:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871914 Mercedes Blue Efficiency

While Japanese and Korean automakers like Toyota and Hyundai are jumping into the hydrogen game, Daimler plans to begin its own journey in 2017.

Automotive News interviewed Daimler head of corporate research Herbert Kohler about his employer’s hydrogen plans. Kohler briefly reflected on how Daimler were questioned on focusing upon fuel-cell technology before everyone else, stating that if an automaker wasn’t now at least considering the game, it would have to ask itself “some uncomfortable questions.”

As for the timetable of releasing an FCV by 2017, he states that while Daimler had planned to do so by 2015 at the latest, its joint partnership with Nissan and Ford to develop the technology will give all three time to bring the tech’s high costs down amid increasing volumes by the time 2017 rolls around.

Finally, when asked how much Daimler would charge for their FCV — in light of the $68,000 price tag for the 2015 Toyota FCV — Kohler says his employer’s goal is to price its FCV on par with “the hybrid version of a comparable model.”

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Ford Announces 2.7L Ecoboost Powertrain Details http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-announces-2-7l-ecoboost-powertrain-details/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-announces-2-7l-ecoboost-powertrain-details/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 16:24:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=871610 15FordF150_04

Ford has announced power figures for the 2.7L Ecoboost engine powering the new F-150 – and later on, other Ford models – while also announcing a sub-5,000lb curb weight.

The new 2.7L engine makes 325 horsepower and 375 lb-ft of torque, with a maximum tow rating of 8,500 lbs and a 2,250 lb payload capacity. The venerable 3.7L V6 will be dropped for a 3.5L version that makes 283 horsepower and 255 lb-ft of torque. Towing capacity is up 900 lbs from the 3.7L to 7,600 lbs while payload capacity sits at 1,910 lbs.

Curb weight for the new trucks should sneak it at under 5,000 lbs, with the new Lariat trim shedding 732 lbs versus the 2014 truck. According to Ford, a 2015 Lariat will weight 4,942 lbs, though the actual fuel economy numbers weren’t announced alongside these figures, nor was any indication given regarding the power figures for the 3.5L Ecoboost or 5.0L V8.

All in all, we still don’t know a lot about specific weights, trim levels, engine options, axle ratios or fuel economy numbers. Without that data, it will be hard to make cross-comparisons between the new F-150 and competitor trucks. As it is, some GM trucks also weigh less than 5,000 lbs, so Ford’s PR boast is a bit meaningless without the proper context. But without more information, all we have to go on right now is Ford’s corporate messaging.

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2016 Ford Mustang GT350 Will Get Even More Hardcore Track Model http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2016-ford-mustang-gt350-will-get-even-more-hardcore-track-model/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2016-ford-mustang-gt350-will-get-even-more-hardcore-track-model/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 11:30:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=870434 450x298xMustang-SVT--450x298.jpg.pagespeed.ic.TcgSm69vlE

With recent spyshots of the Ford Mustang GT350 hitting the web, we contacted our Ford sources for more info, and got a few more tidbits about the car.

Our sources tell us that a magnetic shock absorber system is under development, along with an even more hardcore, track-focused model. Details on this were scant, but better brake cooling and “cooling pump ports” for the transmission. If so, this would echo the last-generation Boss 302 and the Laguna Seca model, which went even further in its performance-focused mission by doing away with the back seats and adding additional bracing.

One notable absence on the new GT350: an engine cover. Ford has apparently decided to show off the all-new 5.2L Ti-VCT naturally aspirated motor, without any plastic adorning the engine bay. What a relief.

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2016 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor Spied http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2016-ford-f150-svt-raptor-spied/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2016-ford-f150-svt-raptor-spied/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 11:00:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=870330 2016-2017-ford-raptor-spy-photos-04

We don’t even know power or fuel economy figures for the next-generation Ford F-150, but these spy shots of the next-generation Raptor have emerged.

All we know so far is that the Raptor will appear as a 2016 model year. No word on powertrains or technical details – maybe we’ll see an Ecoboost version this time around?

2016-2017-ford-raptor-spy-photos-01_001 2016-2017-ford-raptor-spy-photos-02 2016-2017-ford-raptor-spy-photos-03 2016-2017-ford-raptor-spy-photos-04 2016-2017-ford-raptor-spy-photos-05 2016-2017-ford-raptor-spy-photos-06 2016-2017-ford-raptor-spy-photos-07 2016-2017-ford-raptor-spy-photos-08 2016-2017-ford-raptor-spy-photos-09 2016-2017-ford-raptor-spy-photos-10 2016-2017-ford-raptor-spy-photos-11 ]]>
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Piston Slap: SHO me My Next Car? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-sho-me-the-new-car/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-sho-me-the-new-car/#comments Mon, 21 Jul 2014 12:01:42 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=869874 (photo courtesy: http://www.reocities.com)

(photo courtesy: http://www.reocities.com)

Bob writes:

Sajeev,

Thanks for all the wasted ti…,er reading enjoyment you and TTAC provide. My Q has to do with “plan on keeping, or start looking for a replacement?”

Bought my ’93 SHO in 1996, a 5-sp w/28k miles. It just rolled over 140,000 (I’m an over-the-road truck driver). Has been a great, fun car. Only major problem was a radiator leak & attendant CPS failure.

Downers: Headliner and driver’s seat uph need replacing. Clearcoat peeling. Worried about parts avail, transmission (no problems so far, but “maintenance-free ATF?”). Still has original clutch. Car is 22 yrs old. Etc…

Upside: Just had front susp renewed, doesn’t burn oil, still drives great. Etc…

So: used Crown Vic, or used Miata, when the time comes?

Sorry this is so wordy/rambling, but hate to think of you & that cymbal.

Sajeev answers:

Oh yes! The Edelbrock cymbal is still on my drum rack, but I’ve had no time to “work” on it.  And that’s thanks to folks like you!

You have a two-part question, and the first answer is you need a newer car.  While an SHO has a tricky motor (timing belt and valve lash work every 60,000 miles IIRC), any old Taurus won’t be relaxing and reliable: it will always need work, even if it may never leave you stranded without days/weeks/months of advance notice.  You’ll shell out big bucks on the paint and clutch alone.

About your next ride: some will consider the Miata vs. Crown Vic suggestion as insane, but I get it. The SHO is almost halfway between in size, number of cylinders, etc.  And when you’ve already done the middle ground, it’s now time to go to the extreme!

Question is, which extreme?

I’d go for the Miata if you can keep the SHO around to carry people/cargo.  Depending on where you live, a FWD sedan with a solid roof helps in bad rain/snow. If you go Crown Vic, the SHO is pointless.  Which is a problem.

Think about it: the SHO is essentially worthless and the next owner is likely to kill it.  I reckon it will be Chinese scrap metal less than a year after the sale.  Not cool: cars with intrinsically fantastic yet obscure design like the Taurus SHO deserve to live. Having owned this car for almost 20 years now, are you dumb enough to see it my way? To restore this future classic?

If so, you will also be dumb enough to buy a Crown Vic to make a collection of cool yet understated American sedans!  And for those that find this notion silly, I suggest watching this video about 10 times.

Click here to view the embedded video.

What was that about not wanting a collection of Ford sedans? #pantherlove

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.

 

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GM Plans Ford Raptor-Fighter With Upcoming Colorado http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/gm-plans-ford-raptor-fighter-with-upcoming-colorado/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/gm-plans-ford-raptor-fighter-with-upcoming-colorado/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 11:30:48 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=868258 2011-chevrolet-colorado-rally-concept-7
When the next generation Chevrolet Colorado was announced last fall, it was heralded as the start of a new era in mid-size trucks in the US. Aside from the diesel engine and manual gearbox we were promised, the Colorado might also get a Ford SVT Raptor-rivaling off-road variant.

SVT thoroughly redesigned the F150′s suspension to make a capable “pre-runner” style truck. Up front, new control arms and revised geometry gave an impressive 11.2″ of travel, controlled by a triple-bypass FOX Racing shock. In rear, revised leaf springs, a reinforced rear axle housing, and more FOX Racing shocks allowed for just over 12″ of travel. The entire suspension package also widened the track width by seven inches, for increased roll stability, and raised the suspension about two inches over a standard 4×4 F150. Composite bodywork wrapped the widened suspension up nicely, and changes were made to the F150′s stability control to allow for more curious use of the new capabilities, though when toying with one at a friendly local rallycross track down here in San Marcos, Texas, we found that the stability systems would still nag during modest maneuvers. But the package was downright impressive, where SVT made the package work was in the suspension tuning, especially with the triple-bypass FOX Racing shocks, something typically reserved for desert prerunner and race trucks.

A bypass shock has a series of “bypass valves” along the shock piston’s travel, which bypass shock oil around the piston and through a valve that controls the rate of flow, with each bypass allowing for a different rate of flow. This allows different amounts of damping at different points of a shock’s travel, where as a standard shock has the same damping over its entire length of travel, by allowing fluid to bypass the shock piston and flow through the different bypass valves at set locations along the piston’s travel. More information and detailed photos of an external bypass shock can be seen here.

This gives the Raptor its secret sauce: soft dampening at lesser lengths of travel allow for the suspension to quickly absorb small bumps at speed — gravel, ruts and other minor deformations — while still being able to slow the compression travel of the shock as the truck lands larger hits and jumps, preventing the suspension from bottoming out. Perhaps the only weakness of the SVT Raptor was its size, and more noticeably, its weight.
923164_10151491688758579_346778137_n
This is where the upcoming Colorado can make a difference. While offroad packages are no stranger to compact trucks, with Toyota’s TRD package standing out in the Tacoma, most really only equip you for mild jeep-trails. The emphasis on travel and suspension dampening are unique to the Raptor. But where the F150′s size and weight are ultimately weaknesses, the Colorado’s compact size and relatively low weight would make the platform a great choice for the Prerunner suspension design used in the Raptor. Less weight translates into better handling, better braking, lower center of gravity, and less of the suspension travel being used to absorb the energy of the vehicles body weight as it inevitably attempts to land a 75 mile per hour jump at a motocross track.

GM also refreshed the trademarks on the ZR2 moniker, not long ago. S10 fanatics will remember the ZR2 as a healthy offroad package for the second generation S10, including 1″ wider track, 3″ taller ride height, upgraded front differential and rear axle, and a few other additions. It would make sense that the ZR2 moniker could return with the Colorado and Canyon should this Raptor-fighter appear.

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Torque Steer? What’s Torque Steer? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/torque-steer-whats-torque-steer/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/torque-steer-whats-torque-steer/#comments Fri, 18 Jul 2014 11:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=868770 XOcNQbG

 

How quaint it all seems, looking back 10 years and remembering how the enthusiast public was fretting about the Dodge Neon SRT-4 and its half-shaft threatening 250 lb-ft of torque.  How could a front-drive car put such twist through the front wheels? Well, now we’re dealing with Fusions and Sonatas putting down similar figures, and the newest crop of turbocharged front-drive hatchbacks are putting down some staggering numbers.

Having just driven a 2015 Volkswagen GTI, I was sure that the 210 horsepower/250 lb-ft figure quoted by VW was a bit underrated. Turns out that’s what it really makes at the wheels, which works out to about 241 horsepower and 287 lb-ft of torque. My car didn’t have the Performance Pack and its mechanical LSD, but I didn’t think torque steer was anything to fret about.

But if I got the APR Stage 1 ECU reflash, I’d re-consider that. The 291 horsepower figure is Golf R territory, but the most astonishing number is the 367 lb-ft at the wheels. That’s as much torque as a 2004 Mustang Cobra “Terminator”, arguably one of the fiercest performance cars of the mid 2000′s, was putting down.

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Ford Neuters V6 Mustang To Help Ecoboost Reproduce http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-neuters-v6-mustang-to-help-ecoboost-reproduce/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/ford-neuters-v6-mustang-to-help-ecoboost-reproduce/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 17:49:49 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=867674 IMG_0271-550x400

Power and weight figures for the 2015 Ford Mustang have been released, and while the 5.0L Coyote V8 gets a nice bump in power, the V6 gets dialed back a bit, to help put some distance between it and the new Ecoboost 2.3L engine.

For 2015, the Mustang will get

  • A 3.7L V6 making 300 horsepower/280 lb-ft V6 (-5hp). Curb weight is 3526(+30 lbs)/3530 lbs (+12lbs) for the manual and automatic.
  • A 5.0L V8 making 435 horsepower/400 lb-ft (+15hp/+10 lb-ft). Curb weight is 3705/3729 (+87lbs/+54lbs).
  • A 2.3L Ecoboost 4-cylinder making 310 horsepower/320 lb-ft. Curb weight is 3532/3524.

While the V6 Mustang was a darling of the cheap performance car crowd, the Ecoboost is going to be positioned above the V6 as a premium engine option. Will it be like the old SVO Stang of the 1980′s, where it was the true performance option, or is it just a play for people who have a fondness for boosted 4-bangers?

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A Pair Of Loud Americans Invade The Burgerkingring http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/a-pair-of-loud-americans-invade-the-burgerkingring/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/a-pair-of-loud-americans-invade-the-burgerkingring/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 19:22:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=866474 Mustang-SVT-

Germany must be a popular holiday destination for residents of the Motor City if today’s activity at the Nurburgring is any indication. Both Ford and General Motors were out in full force with their latest high-performance wares.

Both the upcoming 2016 Ford Shelby GT350 and the Cadillac ATS-V sedan were spied lapping the famous racetrack. The ‘Stang and the Caddy are entirely different performance propositions, with the ATS-V rumored to be adopting a twin turbo V6 engine to leave room for the CTS-V, which has traditionally had 8 cylinders.

The GT350 appears to be bucking the trend of forced induction, opting for a higher-reving naturally aspirated V8 – our sources say that a supercharger won’t fit under the new, pedestran-safety-oriented front end.

Mustang-SVT- Mustang-SVT-1 Mustang-SVT-4 Mustang-SVT-6 SVTring_cdauto_71514_6 ]]>
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Piston Slap: The Express’ New Mission? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-2/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/piston-slap-2/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 12:12:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=866114

(photo courtesy: http://www.truckinweb.com/features/1304tr_2006_chevy_express_3500/)

TTAC commentator Celebrity 208 writes:

Sajeev,

I have been sitting on this draft message for a couple weeks now and I just saw your call for questions so here you go. I just bought a ’05 (Chevrolet) Express 3500 12 Passenger Van with 185kmi. It was owned by a Catholic Mission College where they maintained it as part of their van fleet and the maint. history is pretty clean. It was a good deal even if I have to do something dramatic like replace the transmission.

I’m going to use it for towing a boat (w/ trailer it’s 6500+lbs and the runs are ~15mi round trip), delivering kegs to Pamela Elsinore’s birthday party (“at the bottom of the big hill”), hauling visiting family and friends around when visiting (I live in DC which is a vacation destination for some weird reason), and likely Christmas road trips back to Cleveland because my mother goes hog wild with large Little Tikes stuff.

I have seen some of the B&B suggest that renting would be the best solution for these needs but, rental trucks/vans 1) don’t have the towing capacity, 2) usually explicitly forbid towing, 3) aren’t fitted with hitches & 4) are not always available on a whim/at my convenience.

To be sure I don’t use it a lot and hence that’s why I bought one that is 9yrs old and hi mileage. If I wanted new then renting might have met the bill for everything minus towing. At this point you should be laughing. Don’t. This is a step up for me as it is replacing my rusty ’88 G30 Sport van which had 78kmi, or 178kmi, or278kmi, or… (No 100,000 mile digit in the odometer). The ’88 G30 was a beater. It towed ok but it looked like crap and couldn’t be used as a backup daily driver b/c there’s no place to put two+ car seats whereas the ’05 does. The new one has the LQ4 6.0L v8 and the 4L80e trans. So, to my questions:

  1. When I finally get it home what service do you suggest I perform (oil change, trans fluid change etc., timing chain replacement, shocks, 3+ cans of sea foam, etc.)?
  2. What are your and the B&B’s opinions on towing and loaded and unloaded ride performance improvements such as: rear sway bar [this makes sense to me and it's on my to-do list], Roadmaster Active Suspension [this product seems like a gimmick], air suspension kits [I understand how these would increase my load capacity but unless I remove a leaf spring I can't see an air kit improving my unloaded ride quality and allowing me to raise or lower the rear end i.e. adjust the spring rate]?
  3. What are your an the B&B’s opinions on slippery ramp performance improvements such as replacing the open diff with a locker or limited slip [what type? ARB Air, OX Mech, Limited Slip, eLocker, etc.]?

I’m a GM guy but props to the Panther love and props to the site. You guys kick ass. You’re a multiple times a day refresh for me. You keep it up and I’ll keep clicking on some of the ads.

Thanks,

Celebrity208
(Note: I’m not really a narcissist; a Celebrity 208 cc was my first boat.)

Sajeev answers:

Thanks for the kind words, I always admire and appreciate the diverse backgrounds, attitudes, styles, etc of our Best and Brightest.  It’s been the cornerstone of this site’s longevity for more years than I can remember. No doubt, your new van is light years ahead of the old G30, and having a two-time Chevy vanner such as yourself amongst our ranks…well, it’s an honor.

Definitely someone like you should never rent a van, this is the perfect spare vehicle for your lifestyle.

Question 1: Changing all fluids (and the usual worn rubber belts, hoses, vacuum lines, tires, etc) is a great idea, even if we’ve spilled a ton of digital ink over the utility of high mileage ATF service in any transmission.  If the fluid is fresh and the transmission shifts fine, don’t bother changing.  Even if it has a factory tranny cooler, consider putting the biggest aftermarket cooler instead: certainly not a pleasant task, but it’ll be worth it.

Question 2: That Roadmaster kit always intrigued me, just never enough to buy and try.  Definitely get a rear swaybar if that’s an easy swap using junkyard bits from another GM product.  But honestly, all you need are fresh shocks of the high performance variety to get an amazing bang for the buck.  Oh, and replace whatever else in the suspension is worn out after all those miles.  Your eyeballs and basic tools are your guide.

Question 3: There are superior limited slip differentials from the aftermarket, but they are brutally difficult (or expensive) to install.  Why go through all that when–with a little researching–I betcha there’s a complete GM axle assembly in the junkyard with fewer miles and a posi that you can swap in an afternoon?  That said, I couldn’t find a suitable swap candidate, but what the hell do I know?  I’m a Lincoln-Mercury Fanboi.

Perhaps a suitable axle lies in a nearby junkyard, complete with a rear swaybar?  And perhaps addressing the normal wear items and switching to premium shocks will make this van cool enough for even the most jaded reader ’round these parts.

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.

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Cain’s Segments, July 2014: Muscle Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/cains-segments-july-2014-muscle-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/cains-segments-july-2014-muscle-cars/#comments Mon, 14 Jul 2014 13:31:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=865873 TTAC_Muscle-Car-sales-chart-June-2014

It feels like we’ve known a lot about the 2015 Ford Mustang for years. There have been stories on its alleged weight gain, then stories that suggested the gain wasn’t nearly so bad. Its independent rear suspension makes the idea of serving global markets so much more tenable. Its turbocharged four-cylinder should, on paper, offer a new blend of performance and efficiency.

But it’s not here, and it won’t be sitting at the forefront of dealer lots (alongside The Used Car Deal Of The Day! Call Tom @ 555-4321! and its accompanying neon sign) for a few months yet.

It was therefore not surprising to see that Mustang sales in the United States dropped sharply in June 2014, even though sales of the venerable Ford had reported improved sales on a year-over-year basis in January, February, March, and May of this year. Could Ford really maintain a high level of interest in a departing pony car?

In a word, no. And yet, with 7631 sales in the sixth month of 2014, one could argue that Ford did, in fact, maintain a high level of interest in the Mustang, as they always do. Naturally, deals on an outgoing car improve as it ages. Some who perhaps thought they may want to wait for the new car have decided they prefer the current car. But 7600 units for a relatively impractical rear-wheel-drive muscle car, is actually a very high figure, if not for the Mustang itself than for cars which compete in a performance-oriented corner of the market.

Volkswagen announced a terrific GTI sales month: 1927 were sold. Subaru sold 2065 copies of their WRX and STi. Jaguar sold 428 F-Types. Aside from the Countryman and Paceman, Mini sold just 3238 cars in June.

The Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and even the Dodge Challenger aren’t low-volume cars. They attract lifestyle buyers – whoever they are, whatever it is they do – as well as performance car buyers. And they most certainly attract loyalists, the kind of buyers who, while acknowledging that these three cars are direct competitors, wouldn’t actually cross-shop.

After consecutive years with declining sales in 2012 and 2013, Camaro sales are up by 4360 units through the first half of 2014. If this sales pace holds, General Motors could see Camaro volume rise to a 2011-besting level, the highest since the nameplate returned in 2009. In this three-car category, the Camaro’s market share has risen from 36.7% during the first half of 2013 to 39.8% so far this year.

Since the Dodge Challenger nameplate returned in 2008, sales have always risen, doubling between 2009 and 2013, when 51,462 were sold. That streak is in danger in 2014: could the improved 2015 Challenger arrive in time for the year end results to improve from the current pace which would see fewer than 46,000 sold?

Even with its decreased volume and its third-place status in the category, the Challenger highlights the high-volume nature of this trio. FCA has sold more Challengers than Chrysler 300s this year; more Challengers than total Fiats.

The Viper, on the other hand, has clearly struggled in its latest form. June volume slid 63% to just 36 units. As for the Chevrolet Corvette, sales are booming, with 2723 sold in June and 17,744 in the first half, making it more popular than the Audi TT, BMW Z4, Jaguar F-Type, Mercedes-Benz SLK, Porsche Boxster, Porsche Cayman, and Porsche 911 combined.

Auto
June
2014
June
2013
%
Change
6 mos.
2014
6 mos.
2013
%
Change
Chevrolet Camaro
7721 7236 +6.7% 46,672 42,312 +10.3%
Dodge Challenger
4377 5101 -14.2% 26,281 29,982 -12.3%
Ford Mustang
7631 9243 -17.4% 44,231 43,111 +2.6%
Total
19,729
21,580 -8.6% 117,184 115,405 +1.5%
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Want A Ford Fusion 6-Speed Manual? Too Late. http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/want-a-ford-fusion-6-speed-manual-too-late/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/want-a-ford-fusion-6-speed-manual-too-late/#comments Fri, 11 Jul 2014 14:37:55 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=863457 412x550ximage_2-412x550.jpeg.pagespeed.ic.bR00leczoj

Ford’s confusing strategy of pairing a 6-speed manual 1.6L Ecoboost and a 1.5L Ecoboost automatic on the Fusion just got a bit easier to understand. There’s only one choice now.

Reports say that the three-pedal Fusion is now dead, with the 1.5L engine the sole option for the Fusion’s smaller Ecoboost trim levels. Given what must be an absurdly low take rate, this is hardly surprising.

Last year, Bark M managed to take one for what may be our first Reader Ride Review. It might be the only independent account you’ll ever see of this car.

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Capsule Review: 2014 Ford Fiesta SE 1.0 liter EcoBoost http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/capsule-review-2014-ford-fiesta-se-1-0-liter-ecoboost/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/capsule-review-2014-ford-fiesta-se-1-0-liter-ecoboost/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 12:30:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=861409 2015 ford fiesta se ecoboost front 34

Enthusiasts, rejoice! Ford has what you have been asking for – a low-priced economical vehicle with a proper manual transmission (it’s the only choice!) and turbo power. Those two important features are in a car that is not completely stripped down, either! Yes, you can stream music from your fancy phone and open the windows by pressing buttons. But does this combination make the 3-cylinder Fiesta a game changer?

2015 ford fiesta se ecoboost engine

For an extra $995 over the regular 1.6-liter 4-cylinder, the Fiesta SE gives you a 1.0-liter 3-cylinder EcoBoost (marketing term for a direct-injection and turbo/intercooler) engine. That engine produces three more horsepower and 13 more torques for a total 123hp and 125 lb-ft. Not surprisingly, the fuel economy increases to 31mpg in the city and 43mpg on the highway. While those are good numbers, they are certainly not changing any games. For comparison 2015 Honda Fit gets 31/41mpg, Toyota Yaris 30/37, Nissan Versa Note 31/40, and the Mitsubishi Mirage 37/44.

Even with the improved fuel economy, it is unlikely that the additional cost of the engine would make sense to most casual buyers. Furthermore, the lack of an available automatic transmission is likely to keep most buyers away, which leaves two kinds of potential buyers: cheapskates and enthusiasts. Cheapskates are out, they’ll just buy the Fiesta S. That leaves you, the enthusiasts who are reading this.

2015 ford fiesta se ecoboost details

This is a slow car, yet the engine begs to be red-lined in every gear. You can drive it like a total hooligan and not get into an ounce of trouble. While this may have an adverse effect on the fuel economy, it is fun and perfect for those who treat the accelerator like an on/off switch. The shifter is smooth and the clutch pedal is light – if you stall out in this car you should just quit saving the manuals.

That said, the Romanian-built cast iron motor in this Mexican-built car is very slow reving, as if someone intentionally bolted up a heavy flywheel to it. Get caught in the wrong gear, especially around slow city turns where downshifts into first gear may be required, and you’ll be inching along with your foot to the floor. On the highway it is surprisingly frisky, but still requiring a lot of shifting.

Common sense would dictate that a vehicle designed with the enthusiast in mind would come with perhaps a sport tuned suspension, but that is not the case here. While the engine is not overpowering the chassis, there is nothing sporty about this car’s handling. Further confusing the potential enthusiast buyer is the fact that this engine cannot be combined with the upscale versions of SYNC (Aux and USB audio inputs are there), aluminum wheels, or an upgraded interior trim which is available on the four-banger SE. This should have you scratching your head.

2015 ford fiesta se ecoboost interior dash

The interior, even without the mentioned features, is surprisingly nice. All materials are pleasing to the eyes and to touch, the seats are well padded and generally very comfortable. There is plenty of room in the front but those over six feet tall will, not surprisingly, complain when seated in the back seat. The rear seats folds down, 60:40 split, but the opening to the trunk is rather small so only flat parcels will fit. There are some typical Ford-esque ergonomic issues with the Euro-flavored dash, specifically the tiny diamond-shaped radio buttons. The center radio display and its controls seem pretty dated, too.

The SE sedan starts at $15,580. This test vehicle had the SE EcoBoost engine for $995, comfort package (heated seats, mirrors, clime control) for $290, special Green Envy paint job at $595, and a destination charge of $825. The total comes to $18,285 but at the time of this writing Ford was offering a $750 incentive which brought the total price to $17,535.

2015 ford fiesta se ecoboost rear 34

After spending a few days with this car, I could not figure out who this car was for. If I was a cheapskate I would buy the entry-level model. If I was someone who just wanted an appliance I would get the four cylinder. A true enthusiast would spend a little more and get the superb Fiesta ST for only three grand more. And that car, my friends, is a game changer.

Kamil Kaluski is the east coast editor for Hooniverse.com. Read his ramblings on eastern European cars, $500 racers, and other miscellaneous car stuff can be found there. 

Ford provided the vehicle for this review.

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Detroit Three Cutting Summer Breaks Amid High Truck, SUV Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/detroit-three-cutting-summer-breaks-amid-high-truck-suv-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/detroit-three-cutting-summer-breaks-amid-high-truck-suv-sales/#comments Tue, 08 Jul 2014 11:00:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=861513 The Chrysler Toledo Assembly Complex used to produce Jeep Cherokee in Toledo

Thanks to high consumer demand for SUVs and light trucks, a number of Detroit Three plants are either shortening their summer breaks or eliminating them altogether.

Automotive News reports Ford cut its summer break in half at four of its plants in Chicago, Louisville, Ky. and Kansas City, Mo., all four back online this week to pump out more F-Series Super Dutys, Navigators and Escapes. Its Dearborn, Mich. plant will shut down for the majority of September in preparation for the upcoming aluminum F-150.

Over at Auburn Hills, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is foregoing summer break at both its Jefferson North and Sterling Heights plants, where the Jeep Grand Cherokee boasted its highest-selling May in 2014, 14 years after its previous best. Overall May 2014 sales for the Italo-American automaker charged up 17 percent, followed by a 9 percent increase last month, all on the back of the Grand Cherokee, Dodge Durango and Chrysler 200.

Finally, General Motors will keep a third of its factories online this month. Though the beleaguered manufacturer kept its list of open factories close to its chest, the publication found four who had not reported any summer shutdowns in Arlington, Texas; Flint, Mich.; and Bowling Green, Ky.

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2015 Ford Escort Goes Sunbathing Months Before Showroom Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2015-ford-escort-goes-sunbathing-months-before-showroom-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/2015-ford-escort-goes-sunbathing-months-before-showroom-debut/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 13:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=860817 ford-escort-china-1

The last time the Chinese-market Ford Escort was seen, it had made its world debut during the 2014 Beijing Auto Show. Over the weekend, however, new official photos had surfaced.

CarNewsChina reports the Escort, originally due in showrooms Q4 2014, will instead arrive in January 2015. The new compact will retail between ¥90,000 and ¥120,000 ($14,510 – $19,347 USD), and will come with a 1.5-liter I4 driving 110 horsepower and 81 ft-lb of torque to the front through either a five-speed manual or six-speed automatic.

The Escort is underpinned by the current China-made Focus Classic, which in turn is based upon the second-gen Focus riding on the C1 platform. It will replace the Focus Classic, and slot under the current third-gen Focus.

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Lincoln Nearly Axed By Mullaly, Saved By Fields http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/lincoln-nearly-axed-by-mullaly-saved-by-fields/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/07/lincoln-nearly-axed-by-mullaly-saved-by-fields/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 11:00:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=856513 2015 Lincoln MKC

Today marks the day Mark Fields becomes CEO of Ford, taking up where now-former CEO Alan Mullaly leaves off. This day may also mark the day Lincoln begins its slow climb back from the brink, especially when Mullaly once considered killing the brand before Fields became its champion.

Bloomberg reports Lincoln, then struggling to find footing after years of assimilating Fords upmarket with no unique product in sight, would have gone the way of Mercury had not Fields and global marketing chief Jim Farley convinced Mullaly that the brand was worth saving. Now that he is CEO, Fields will be leading the effort to bring Lincoln up to fighting trim.

The first product of this effort is the MKC, which shares its mechanical base with the Ford Escape and its 2.3-liter EcoBoost turbo-four with the upcoming Ford Mustang. However, the crossover’s design is 85 percent unique to itself, and has premium features on par with its competitors — BMW X3, Audi Q5, Acura RDX — including soft-touch leather and parallel-parking technology. The crossover follows the MKZ — whose delayed roll-out over technical gremlins prompted the debate over Lincoln’s fate — and will be later joined by a redesigned MKX and the replacement for the MKS.

The MKC will be aimed at drawing buyers from premium brands like Cadillac and Lexus, Ford owners wanting to move up, as well as young first-time buyers and empty nesters looking to downsize. The road back to the top will be long, however; though U.S. sales climbed 21 percent during the first half of 2014 with 37,251 models leaving the showroom, annual sales are 65 percent down from the brand’s peak in 1990.

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Slow Roll-Out For The Lincoln MKC http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/slow-roll-out-for-the-lincoln-mkc/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/slow-roll-out-for-the-lincoln-mkc/#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 15:53:20 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=855961 2015-Lincoln-MKC-Main-2

Over the past week, two separate readers have emailed regarding the Lincoln MKC. “How can the most important Lincoln in years be hitting dealer lots,” asks one reader “and yet there’s zero marketing behind it?”

The most obvious answer seems to be a lack of supply. Automotive News shows just 300 units nationwide (or 12 days of supply) for the MKC. Industry sources I talked to suggest that Lincoln doesn’t want a marketing push that will get consumers excited for the car, only to have them show up at a dealer and find exactly zero units on hand to look at.

The other alternative theory being floated is that a last minute part change has led to unexpected delays – but our generally trustworthy sources have given no indication that this is the case.

Edit: From our colleagues at Autoblog comes this story. It seems that Lincoln is looking to avoid the same mistakes they made with the MKZ, where early advertising and a delayed roll-out led to less than desirable results. 

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Fast Ford Onslaught To Continue, Focus RS Coming To America http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/fast-ford-onslaught-to-continue-focus-rs-coming-to-america/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/fast-ford-onslaught-to-continue-focus-rs-coming-to-america/#comments Sat, 28 Jun 2014 17:57:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=853249 Ford Focus RS 2

The term “Fast Ford” means something very different outside of North America. In the rest of the world, a Fast Ford wasn’t a V8 muscle car, but a light, nimble hatchback with a hot engine and a well-sorted chassis. We’ve been getting a few Fast Fords in dribs and drabs (the Focus SVT, followed by the latest ST models), but the 2016 Focus RS will be our first true RS product.

The new model will debut as a 2016.5, and reportedly be sold in limited quantities. The 2.3L Ecoboost engine will be shoved under the hood, making well in excess of 300 horsepower. No word on all-wheel drive, but our Ford sources promise us more information in the coming months.

Thanks to AutoGuide.com for the spy photos.

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Vellum Venom Vignette: World Industrial Design Day http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/vellum-venom-vignette-world-industrial-design-day/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/vellum-venom-vignette-world-industrial-design-day/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 11:37:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=852745

This Sunday is World Industrial Design Day, a day when the ID Community brings awareness of this profession’s value. Though I left The College for Creative Studies with my tail between my legs, ID’s blending of business/entrepreneurship, art and science still charms me.  So let’s examine two ignition keys that owe their existence to the craft known as industrial design.

The BMW i8 is a revolutionary piece of Transportation Design. The i8′s key is no slouch in the Industrial Design department. Without rehashing what others say, it’s clear that Industrial Designers took the best attributes of the i8, the smart phone and today’s latest ignition keys to make something stunning.

i8-craddle

Not to mention the i8′s key fob has a style that looks great in your hand and (sorta) blends into the assertive wedge forms present on the i8 console.  It’s a great piece of Industrial Design that forces you to consider how an Industrial Designer enriched your automotive hobby/career.

Take this “utility” key for example:

In some respects the Ford Pinto was an underrated piece of Engineering and Industrial Design. Sure, it needed that rubber pad to protect the gas tank from the rear axle.  But when it comes to simple, durable and honest Design, the Pinto worked.

Certainly not VW Beetle stylish nor Honda Civic enlightened, but dig this key: once cut for your ignition this baby gapped spark plugs, screwed down anything under the hood, let you crack open a beer and then fire up the beast so you can drive with a cold brew in your hand while you keep on truckin!!! 

Perhaps I got that last part wrong, so I am ready for the Best and Brightest to correct my weak Nixon Era Ford knowledge. But the Pinto utility key looks like the coolest gadget to have in your pocket in the early 1970s.  What the hell is an Apple iPhone anyway?  Sounds like gibberish talk of those nattering nabobs of negativism!

Just make sure you know which gap on the gapping tool is the right one for your engine.

Nice job integrating the Pinto logo and patriotic color scheme on a tool that elegantly and cheaply combines many things into a small hunk of metal. And that’s the heart of Industrial design: it plays a crucial role in dreaming, engineering (in theory) and producing exceptional products. The bottle opener is a bizarre feature by today’s standards, but it proves yesteryear was a simpler and stupider time.

And the Pinto/i8 keys do show how Industrial Design advanced over the decades. So to you, dear reader, Happy World Industrial Design Day!

Thank you for reading and have a fantastic weekend.

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Ford’s Got A (Focus) ST-D http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/fords-got-a-focus-st-d/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/fords-got-a-focus-st-d/#comments Fri, 27 Jun 2014 01:33:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=853993 forfoc100

 

Ford’s Focus lineup has got an ST-D. D for diesel, that is.

The Focus ST Diesel gets a 2.0 diesel making 182 horsepower and an 295 lb-ft of torque. On the European cycle, it gets 64.2 mpg and emits 114 grams per km of CO2. 60 mph comes up in 8.1 seconds, compared to 7.5 seconds for the VW Golf GTD.

The gasoline powered Focus ST gets a new start-stop system, while both cars get an updated interior with Ford’s revised SYNC system.

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Ford Will Market Long-Wheelbase Edge In China http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/ford-will-market-long-wheelbase-edge-in-china/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/ford-will-market-long-wheelbase-edge-in-china/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 13:34:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=853057 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Our friends at Autos.ca are reporting that China will get a long-wheelbase version of the 2015 Ford Edge.

According to the site, the Edge will get longer rear doors, while retaining much of the same sheetmetal. The Edge will be built in Oakville, Ontario for global markets, but due to China’s restrictive tariffs on imported cars, there will presumably be a Chinese assembly site as well.

Long-wheelbase versions of sedans are highly popular with Chinese consumers, who value rear passenger space as an attribute of luxury vehicles. Being driven by a chauffeur is also a sign of wealth among affluent Chinese consumers, and a long-wheelbase crossover neatly capitalizes on these trends.

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Event Review: Ford EcoBoost Challenge http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/event-review-ford-ecoboost-challenge/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/event-review-ford-ecoboost-challenge/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 13:02:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=852353 ecoboost-5

You may have noticed that Ford has been advertising its EcoBoost line of engines everywhere lately. Where I live ads for their EcoBoost Challenge event seemed to be on TV every commercial break. You’d know if you have seen one of these ads if you have heard any of the following lines:
“The Escape blew my mind. Yee Haw!”
“I love love love love it.”
“I don’t know when Ford went out and just like got awesome.”
“I felt like I was driving my mom’s car when I was in the Camry.”
“The Rav4 feels outdated. Feels like, hmm, maybe 20 years ago this could have been great.”
“Does this car also un-park itself?”
“If I had to choose between the Fusion and the Lamborghini Aventador, I’d take the Fusion.”

Sadly, I only made up one of those quotes, the rest actually aired on real Ford commercials. The fact is, Ford is putting EcoBoost engines into everything these days and want the general public to know. The public is invited to experience them at an event they call the EcoBoost Challenge. They have done this for the last few years now, and I decided to check it out and report back so  the readers of TTAC know if they should attend in the future.

The EcoBoost challenge is presented at 13 cities (there are still 2 remaining if you are near San Francisco or Indianapolis). They tend to move it around to different locations each year.

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First off, you will want to pre-register. I signed up for the first time slot available, 9am, arrived at 8:45, and they were already letting people in. The main feature is the three distinct driving areas. These range from a leisurely electric vehicle economy challenge, to a direct comparison test drive, and lastly to a quick-lap time competition. The areas were designed to collectively convey the range of capabilities Ford wants you to think of with their latest series of EcoBoost engines.

THE COURSES

The EcoBoost Challenge Course gives you the opportunity to compare the Ford Fusion to the Toyota Camry, the Escape to the CR-V, and the F-150 to the Silverado. We were told to drive at least one Ford vehicle and its competition, but were allowed to do all three if interested. Before you drive there is a 10-minute informational session you have to listen to.

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The instructor was very knowledgeable and able to answer some technical questions. Specs on the cars we would drive were on the board. Noticeably absent were fuel economy numers. In fact during the entire time I was there no one once mentioned fuel mileage. This did not seem to be on accident after the recent news about over-estimated mileage.

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At times during his talk I felt like he was either oversimplifying things, or just plain lying. He would point at the Fusion stats and say emphatically, “EcoBoost is NEW technology!” Then point the Camry numbers and say, “V-6’s are old technology!” Followed by repeatedly saying “New… Old… New… Old” while pointing back and forth. I wanted to be that guy that points out turbo charged engines were used in Renaults by the French in World War I (and probably lots of older applications), so not really all that “new”. I really wanted to be that guy who points out that Ford has even already had a turbo powered 4 cylinder engine in the Mustang… over 30 years ago. But I’m smarter than that and decided against it. Even though I wasn’t there with the media, I figured they would somehow find out I was with The Truth About Cars and remember our review of the Lincoln MKZ and ban me from driving their cars.

Another bold statement was when he spoke about how the rpms an engine runs at determines the wear and tear on a motor. “Lots of wear and tear at 4100 rpms in the Chevy, but very little wear and tear in the Ford at 2500 rpms. Which would you choose?” I began to raise my hand to ask why my friend’s 2013 Escape had been recalled 9 times, 5 of which involve the engine, but stopped myself. The course itself has a straight line acceleration section where they encourage you to floor it, followed by a 180 degree turn and a couple “S” curves through some cones.

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Before I go any further, I must say I respect Ford a lot for doing this. I remember a few years ago Saturn offering test-drives in their top competitor’s car at the Saturn dealership. I went to take advantage of this program and was very disappointed to find them trying to have me compare a fully loaded V6 Aura with a base level four cylinder Camry and Accord. That was not the case with the EcoBoost Challenge. I drove a similarly trimmed Fusion Titanium and Camry XLE. Other Ford vehicles also had competitive vehicles that were similarly matched in terms of options. Well-played Ford. Compare your top trim with their top trim and let the best car win. They even left the all-wheel drive Fusion at home since there wasn’t a similar Toyota or Honda to compare it to.

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As cool as it was to drive cars back-to-back, you’re still only driving the car for at most 30 seconds. I won’t bore you with a review of each vehicle because I don’t believe you can review a car in that short of time. You will absolutely need to more time behind the wheel than these test-drives if you are considering a purchase. You can however form an initial impression in that time. For whatever it’s worth, here’s my 30-second impression formed after driving each vehicle:

Fusion: Better styling inside and out than the Toyota, has a very soft comfortable ride, and nice lateral seat support.
Camry: Has a sportier feel, with tighter handling than the Fusion.

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F-150: A modern interior layout, very soft suspension, and it took full steering lock to make one of the turns.
Silverado: Although a newer model, interior layout feels old; good tight feel to steering, easier to get around turns.

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CR-V: Comfortable, predictable, good visibility, with everything right where you’d expect it.
Escape: Quicker in a straight line, edgier design, felt lower to the ground.

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The point of the Hypermile Challenge Course was to complete a variable speed course with the highest overall gas mileage reading possible. Here people were comparing the C-Max Hybrid and Prius V. Unfortunately the line was too long for me to experience these so I skipped right on over to the ST Performance Academy Course. Besides, does it seem too gimmicky to anyone else to see how high mileage you can get a ¼ mile course? What’s the point?

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The ST Performance Academy gives visitors the chance to drive the Ford Fiesta ST on an autocross style course as hard as they can. No instructors in the car, just you against the clock. This makes the whole event worthwhile.

You begin by pretending you are listening to the instructor’s warnings and tips for 10 minutes. In reality, everyone has their eyes on the scoring board to see what kind of times others in the previous group are getting. Correct that, all the guys were watching the board, a couple of the women were commenting on which color Fiesta they hoped to get to drive. The rules are to get into 2nd gear within a few feet of taking off, leave it there the whole course, and don’t turn traction control off. Hit a cone and 2 seconds are added to your time. Hit 2 cones and you have to go home. There was one Focus ST there as well, which was used by a “professional” driver for ride-a-longs.

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I reviewed the Fiesta ST last year for TTAC and I still find the Recaro seats appropriately snug, the rest of the car too small, but the driving experience a total blast. Three laps were all you got. The track record from that morning as well as the previous day was 24.859. Other than driving a NASCAR once I have a total of zero experience racing anything outside of Gran Turismo. My goal was to get within 3 seconds of the record. I’m no Jack Baruth, but I figured I had some sort of reputation of TTAC to uphold.

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The track layout suited the Fiesta well. I was disappointed to learn we had to leave it in 2nd gear, but to be honest; it was perfect for the car. The turbo felt strong throughout most of the track and the traction control never cut in. Lap one was a 26.1 for me. I was shocked. I came in at a 25.2 on my second lap. Perhaps I should have followed my dream of being the next Ayrton Senna?

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Lap three… and I get distracted and blow it. Just kidding. I set a new track record with a time of 24.5 and backpedaled away from the car like a freakin boss. In my mind I’m pretty sure I’m some sort of driving phenom. I was told to come back in an hour and there would be a race against the driver with 2nd best time for prizes. “No one’s getting close to that time,” I was told.

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That was the proudest moment of my life, which is to say if there was a video I’d put it on YouTube and make my kids watch it over and over 20 years from now. With an hour to kill, I took a ride along in the Focus ST with a “professional” driver (who had been driving the track all day and did a 23.9). Although it was fun, the Fiesta actually felt quicker off the line to me.

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Watching other competitor’s times I was feeling pretty confident. Ok, cocky. I should have put I was feeling cocky. No one was within a second of me, until the very last driver went and did a 24.9. The one lap race was set. The announcer called people over to watch and introduced us.

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Since I had the quicker time I got to go last. This meant my competition was able to get right back into the Fiesta and do another lap while everything was fresh in his mind (read: excuse #1). 24.6. Crap. Suddenly it became very apparent to me that I hadn’t seen the track in an hour and couldn’t remember the route. With everyone watching I start out great and feel even faster than before. Then, unfortunately, I remember a turn along the backstretch that wasn’t actually there. I hit the brakes hard before I realized I could have kept it floored. The rest of the lap I put the Fiesta up on 2 wheels (not really) and did what I could to recover. As I cross the finish line I turn back to see the clock flash 24.8. Although I still had the track record, I didn’t win. The winner was presented with a Go-Pro and diecast of a Focus ST to which he said, “Cool. I have a Focus ST as my daily driver,” (read: excuse #2). I walked away with a $300 pair of Sony headphones.

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If you are OK with hiring a 2nd place finisher, I am available for hire to race. I specialize in very short autocross courses where shifting isn’t necessary. Since I didn’t get a trophy, I’ll probably just put the headphones up on display in my house.

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As always, since this is The Truth About Cars, I need to point out a complaint as well. The TV ads for the event show people ride along as a Fusion parallel parks itself using park assist, be amazed at the foot activated lift gate, experience blind spot demonstrations, and learn all the cool features of Sync. That all sounds great, except that none of that actually happen at the EcoBoost Challenge (at least the one I was at).

As I look back, it is neat to see all Ford can do with slight variations of almost the same EcoBoost engine. Driving the Fiesta makes me feel a little better about what seems to be the trend in the auto industry of getting rid of big engines. Last year over 28,000 people participated in these EcoBoost Challenge events and I can see why. The event was more fun than I anticipated. Sony also had a display where guests were invited to sit in an Explorer and give opinions on different audio settings they are experimenting with. Sony rewards the feedback with a nice set of earbuds. Goodyear had a display; other Ford models were being shown, plus the usual free t-shirts and trinkets and trash were given out. Driving away I had a more positive view of Ford and their current models… and I guess that is probably the point. Thanks Ford, for getting regular people behind the wheel of some of your cars.

http://www.ecoboostdrive.com/

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Mullaly Sticking Close To Ford Upon Stepping Down http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/mullaly-sticking-close-to-ford-upon-stepping-down/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/mullaly-sticking-close-to-ford-upon-stepping-down/#comments Wed, 25 Jun 2014 13:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=852265 Alan Mullaly

Outgoing Ford CEO Alan Mullaly may be heading out the door, but he does plan to help his successor when needed.

Bloomberg reports Mullaly will act in an advisory role to upcoming CEO Mark Fields, and plans to remain close to Ford for the foreseeable future. Beyond this, the outgoing CEO has held his post-Ford plans close to the vest, though sources claim Mullaly may be lining up a board director or chair position somewhere.

Since his arrival from Boeing in 2006, Mullaly has been credited for turning around Ford’s fortunes, establishing a collaborative environment from senior management down. After losing $30.1 billion from 2006 through 2008, the Blue Oval gained $42.3 billion between 2009 and 2013. On the sales front, its home market saw an 11 percent boost in 2013, thanks to the F-Series, Fusion and Escape, and trounced Toyota in China.

As for what Mullaly sees Fields’ Ford accomplishing, he sees the company tackling economic development, congestion and pollution:

We’re going to continue to see a very large migration into the larger cities worldwide. Personal mobility and integrated transportations [sic] systems, I think that’s going to continue to be very, very important. And Ford, as a transportation technology company, has such a great opportunity to serve in that way.

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Capsule Review: 2014 Ford Fiesta ST http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/capsule-review-2014-ford-fiesta-st/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/06/capsule-review-2014-ford-fiesta-st/#comments Wed, 25 Jun 2014 12:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=850314 IMG_6826

Cheap. Fast. Reliable. Pick two. This is a conundrum that plagues enthusiasts of vast dreams and scant means. There’s very little out there that fulfills the requirement for an economical performance car that also works when you need it to. A garage-built tuner vehicle fulfills the first two criteria, but you can’t be sure it will start every time. Cheap and reliable will get you to work…and that’s about it. Fast and reliable? Yeah, maybe if you’re one of the lucky few who can afford a fancy sports car, and the associated running costs (insurance, tires and the now-astronomical price of premium gasoline).

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Some of you have paid off homes, well-funded retirement accounts and jobs that pay handsomely, and can also afford something fun and exciting. I have precisely none of these, and thus my desire for automotive thrills has to be balanced with having the financial means to assemble the trappings of an adult life. In that light, a Mustang GT, a 370Z and even a new WRX (which loves to imbibe pricey 91 octane) start to look like options that would leave me endorphin-rich but cash poor (and also living at home well into my 30′s).

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On the other hand, most entry-level performance cars still leave something to be desired: the Fiat 500 Abarth has but three doors (I’d prefer a second set) and sounds a lot faster than it really is. The all-new Volkswagen GTI is for a more mature crowd. The Honda Civic Si is a shadow of its former self. And the Ford Focus ST has just been made redundant by this car.

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Yes, the Fiesta ST is a bit slower than its big brother. It makes 197 horsepower and hits 60 mph in 7 seconds flat. You would swear that those performance figures would be doubled and halved respectively. It might be fun to drive a slow car fast. It’s even more fun to drive a fairly quick, fairly small and fairly light (2,700 lbs) at a breakneck pace.

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The boosted 1.6L mill feels heroically powerful in such a tiny package. You would have no idea that this is the same engine that struggles to motivate the Fusion and Escape, while drinking dino juice at a prodigious rate. Previous tests of the 1.6L engine have yielded subpar fuel economy, even on the highway. On our 800 mile drive through the Canadian Rockies on the way to Montana, the Fiesta returned as high as 40 mpg on relatively flat stretches of road. As the elevation climbed, the turns got sharper and the turbo worked harder, fuel consumption dipped into the high 20′s, but it’s hard to fault the car in those conditions.

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The ST also has a way of preventing you from keeping your foot out of the throttle on said roads. Turbo lag is slightly perceptible below 1500 rpm, but once the turbo starts spooling up (which you can audibly detect with the windows down), power is delivered in a linear fashion all the way to the 6500 rpm redline. In the lower gears, torque steer is still present, but not nearly as much as the Focus ST – credit to Ford’s chassis engineers for somehow taming the 214 lb-ft worth of torque being delivered through the front wheels. Even so, this isn’t a car that will let you safely pass on a two-lane road by shifting from 6th to 5th, but the tall sixth ratio more than pays for itself given the excellent highway fuel economy.

But focusing on straight-line speed misses the point completely. Handling is the Fiesta’s forte, with Ford handing this car off to SVT to help liven the 5-door chassis for North American tastes (Europe gets a three-door version). The twisty mountain passes near Whitefish, Montana let us sample the full capabilities of the ST, and it soon became evident that this is a special car. Steering is direct and quick, but like most electric systems, it doesn’t provide the purity of feedback that hot hatch fans might expect. Initial turn-in is quick, with tenacious grip and only truly ham-fisted driving seems to invoke any semblance of understeer. The brakes are firm, scrubbing off speed quickly, at the expense of immense amount of brake dust (which you’ll notice even with the optional gunmetal wheels). The one flaw in the driving experience is the shifter, which has somewhat long throws and a bit of a vague feel. As far as I’m concerned, it’s a small price to pay for an otherwise thrilling package.

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Inside, the Fiesta ST’s interior looks a lot like a regular Fiesta, save for the portion-controlled nav screen with MyFord Touch. If you’d never seen the full-size version, you wouldn’t think that there was anything wrong with the system, but it’s fairly small, and hitting the right keys on the touchscreen can be a bit challenging. The optional Recaros fit me just fine, but anyone with a stocky build might find them challenging. The thick shells of the seat backs also render the rear seats more suitable for objects than people, and you can forget about putting child seats in a Recaro equipped Fiesta.

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Altogether may sound like hyperbolic praise for the smallest Fast Ford, but the team at SVT (and our own Tresmonos) have managed to assemble an astounding package: one that is quick, practical, efficient and affordable. It’s one of the most exciting cars I’ve driven at any price, and even though I have a paid off car, access to the press fleet and no real need for a new car, I’m seriously considering spending my own, hard-earned dollars to make this the next TTAC long-term test car. Who says young people don’t care about cars anymore?

N.B. Yes, the main image is a homage to our own Bigtruckseriesreview@youtube, who without fail, manages to leave the first comment on nearly every single article.

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