By on April 17, 2015

120

“Whoa, hold on. A car hauler is actively trying to run me off the road.”

Yesterday, I was talking to my older brother via Bluetooth while driving home from Louisville when, for the third time in approximately ninety miles of highway driving, a trucker was moving over on me in a way that clearly indicated that he hadn’t seen me. Not in the passive aggressive way that truckers normally do, when they put on a blinker and start moving slowly in expectation that you’ll just get out of their way—no, this was a straight-up swing out into what he perceived to be an empty lane. I quickly checked my mirrors and accelerated into the adjacent lane.

“You in the FiST?” my brother asked.

“But of course!” I replied.

Such is the danger of driving a B segment car on the highways of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.

In the weeks since I last updated you on my leasership of my 2015 Fiesta ST, I’ve had the opportunity to put some serious highway miles on it. After its first month of living with me, when I racked up a whopping 500 miles or so as the snow and ice pummeled the Midwest, I’ve since put an additional 1800 miles on the clock for a total of 2300. For those of you keeping track at home, that’s 2300 miles that didn’t go on my Boss 302 (come on, equity building!), but equally important is that I did 2300 miles at a combined 30 MPG as opposed to a combined 18 MPG.

Although the Fiesta ST doesn’t necessarily require premium fuel, it’s much happier drinking 93 octane than 87—I’ve noticed about 33 MPG highway on 87 versus 35 MPG on 93. There is also a noticeable torque difference. In theory, the ECU can tell the difference when you use regular versus premium and adjusts the ignition timing accordingly. In practice, the car feels better on 93. For highway cruising, though, it doesn’t matter much.

As good as the Fiesta is on back roads, for long stretches of highway miles, it can leave a little to be desired. The stiffly sprung suspension does not care for potholes at all, and the long, cold winter of Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana seems to have created more than I can remember in years past. There’s no such thing as mindless driving behind the wheel of the ST—one divot in the middle of a lane can ruin your day, or in my case, your alignment. A particularly nasty bump on I-64 in Kentucky seems to have knocked my alignment off ever so slightly, to the point where the steering wheel is listing a bit to the right. I’ll have to get that looked at this week.

As I mentioned at the beginning, the Fiesta ST is invisible to truckers. Not only that, it also appears to be invisible to Tahoes and F-250s. I am typically forced into evasive action about once a day if there’s even a bit of traffic around me.

Visibility out of the rear windshield is a bit limited (especially with track decals), and the truck-style side mirrors take a bit of getting used to.

013

 

There are pluses, however. It’s surprisingly quiet on the freeway. Tire and wind noise are minimal, even at speeds approaching triple digits. The Bluetooth works flawlessly, and it’s even suitable for taking a conference call—nobody will know that you’re in the car. I don’t have the Recaro seat option in my car, and I’m actually pretty glad about that when it comes to highway driving. Although I fit in them just fine, one doesn’t always want to be gripped like a glove when driving 250 miles at a time. The standard seats have lumbar support, but I like it best without it.

I’ve had exactly zero issues with MyFordTouch so far. The navigation system is excellent for daily usage—easily the best I’ve used in a car. Mrs. Bark used it to navigate her way out of a closed highway situation last weekend, saving her over an hour. While I have no plans to extend my Sirius trial, I have to admit that it’s useful for traveling longer distances, or for driving through areas where my phone can’t easily stream Spotify.

Okay, so this bit doesn’t have anything to do with freeway driving, but I wanted to include it anyway. There’s this little button on the center console. I pressed it a few times during the day, but nothing seemed to happen.

015

But at night, it’s a different story. Observe:

I know, it’s a little dorky, but I dig it.

In the next month, I’ll be taking the ST to its first autocross (where I expect to be stoned by angry jorts-wearers) as well as its first track day. I look forward to sharing those experiences with you, as well.

Questions? Comments? Concerns? Rude Remarks? GO!

 

 

 

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66 Comments on “Long-term Tester Update: Fiesta ST on the Free-Love Freeway...”


  • avatar
    gzuckier

    truck style mirrors? wha?

  • avatar
    Russycle

    It would be helpful to know what we’re looking at in that video, presumably it’s something inside a Fiesta.

    Does folding the rear seats help with visibility out the back? Seems like it would, and if you’re using them often you wouldn’t buy a Fiesta.

  • avatar
    KOKing

    First track day? Track stickers. Wha?

  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    RE: awful condition of highways

    I just drove across Indiana,Ohio, and western NY to visit family in Ithaca. Hands down the worst was a stretch of I86 not far from Erie PA, but inside the NY border. Winter was not kind to it, an appropriate sign was placed denoting “rough road ahead 11 miles.” In a stretch of no more than 5 miles, I saw 2 cars on the side of the road with blown out tires. A newer Regal with 18 inch-ish rims on low profile tires and a newer Mercedes E class, also on some high trim level upsized wheels. I was in the 4Runner, hauling a U haul trailer with my cherished old Yamaha XS500 strapped in. Made it through without issue, staying in the left lane to avoid the worst of the potholes (don’t worry I wasn’t holding anyone up). Driving a sturdy SUV on 265/70R16 rubber is making more and more sense these days. This part of I86 was seriously the equal of some Siberian roads I’ve been on.

    • 0 avatar

      I am thinking that SUV’s with big, heavily belted tires and a mounting point on the roof (for a gun) may be the best option soon.

      • 0 avatar

        @Durishin: It was a preferred way of driving on Russian roads when I lived there. Unless you can afford a light tank of course like T34. I mean things like German Tiger are not going to survive (and it actually did not). I can imagine Hummers should be very popular too.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Pfft who *doesn’t* have a T62 these days.

          • 0 avatar

            T34 is a classic. And it is cheaper to run and maintain.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Which is more plentiful in Russia, the T62/55 and its variants or the T34 and its?

          • 0 avatar

            I do not live in Russia so I do not know. I saw (on TV) that they are very popular in Ukraine so right now it is a hot item. MT had an article about how they were ready to buy T72 in Czech Republic from used tank dealer. You can buy one if needed and beside they have very nice pubs, architecture and excellent beer over there if want to take a trip. How you would bring used tank to US is a different story. In Russia taxes and fees will be outrages because of high large engine displacement.

            If it was me I would prefer T34. I like classic cars like ’59 Buick Electra. But T34 is more like original Corvette – not exactly sports car but light and fast. And unlike Corvette you feel safe inside.

    • 0 avatar
      banker43

      Welcome to Ithaca. Winter was brutal on these roads, too! You’ll need the 4 runner to make your way down Aurora Street!

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        banker, Ithaca itself was nothing too bad, at least nothing worse than I remember from when I left. Same old deeply sunk manhole covers going down Elmira Rd (13) past the Advance Auto parts, likewise heading up E State Street. I grew up driving all these roads in a stiffly sprung Civic Wagon so I have almost a muscle memory of how to dodge all of them :)

    • 0 avatar
      ihatetrees

      Yup, that’s the people’s republic of NY. Highway maintenance resources are a political football, and in NY State priorities go to NY City and its nearby counties.

      Worse, IIRC, several counties or towns along the PA border have anonymously sued / petitioned to remove themselves from NY and join PA. The fiscal and growth advantages, from losing NY’s bureaucratic rules and gaining the ability to frack the area’s shale deposits, are huge.

      Of course, this does not sit well Il Duce Cuomo in Albany, so expect the fiscal screws to tighten further on select southwestern NY areas. Albany’s long term strategy is to turn vast areas of the state into depopulated nature preserves with the occasional (organic) farm to supply fine Manhattan restaurants.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        ihatetrees, I was all too glad to move out of NY, especially after the SAFE Act was rammed through in a rather shiesty way. Absolutely every Central and Upstate County in NY (except Tompkins ie Ithaca’s county) has a bill in the works in opposition to the new restrictions, but Cuomo doesn’t want to hear it. Damn shame about the political/tax situation in the state, it’s an absolutely beautiful place to live. My gf and I will not be moving back there any time soon. Malpractice insurance policies are rather doctor-unfriendly, and engineering jobs aren’t quite as plentiful as here in the Midwest, not to mention the significantly higher cost of living.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Il Duce, I love it.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “A newer Regal with 18 inch-ish rims on low profile tires and a newer Mercedes E class, also on some high trim level upsized wheels.”

      But yes what US buyers want most, no need, are all new cars to come with 18-20in rims with an inch of rubber to drive on what is rapidly becoming third world style roads.

      ‘Murica.

    • 0 avatar
      DAC17

      Such is the downside of not raising the fuel tax in 22 years. Yeah, I know many people will say the money would just get pissed away on something else, but at the current state of funding, we’ll get what we get.

      And, you can always choose to vote for someone else who will make highway funding a priority!

  • avatar
    redliner

    As a motorcyclist, (and at the risk of sounding like “that guy”) if you find that people are constantly violating the supreme sovereignty of your lane, perhaps you are dwelling too long in their blind spots.

    It’s not your responsibility to look out for other drivers, but sometimes you have to…

  • avatar
    JMII

    Invisibility to truckers and poor rear visibility… hmmm sounds very similar to my 350Z. I have only one track sticker – the one I’ve driven on :) Looking forward to the track day report. I’ve had these STs sneak up and pass me on the track before. Sharp handling and pretty quick on the turbo boost. Shame Ford isn’t bring over the 3 door hatch as it is the real looker of the bunch. The sedan is homely.

  • avatar
    lon888

    Traffic situations like you’re encountering is the very reason I install a set of very loud air horns in my car. I’ve seen lit cigars and cellphones doing 10 flips in the air after pressing the loud button. It wakes up all people…

    • 0 avatar

      What do you have, where did you get them, how easy (or inexpensive) to install?

      I’ve only had one instance of a truck going into my lane, forcing me onto the shoulder. This was actually in DC proper, in the highway-like stretch that goes along the northside of Washington Hospital Center, and I was driving my ’77 toyota Corolla at low speed, probably in the late ’80s or early ’90s.

      My current car is an ’08 Civic, and I may be driving x-country this summer.

  • avatar
    EAF

    I look forward to reading and seeing pictures of your track experience in the Fist. MAYBE we can get an in-cab video since you’re already at it!?!? Ha.

    Any mechanical breakdowns or mis-steps thus far?

  • avatar
    Brian P

    Re invisibility to other drivers: Do you have the headlights on?

    I have a smaller car than that, and it’s all-lights-on all the time (Canadian-spec DRL) and haven’t had anything out of the ordinary that would suggest that people aren’t seeing it any worse than usual. ‘Course, my little car is bright yellow …

    • 0 avatar
      revjasper

      Even with the headlights on all the time, the 2002 Prius I owned for a short period of time was completely invisible. The day where I had three near miss “didn’t see yous” was the day the for-sale sign went up. It was white, so I guess it was just too anonymous to register in other driver’s brains?

      • 0 avatar
        ttacgreg

        Daytime headlights are very much just a feel good measure. My understanding is there are no studies or statistics that prove they work as presupposed. If some other driver is not looking, the brilliance of the sun headlights would make no difference. If that other driver is actively looking, hey, it is daylight, and if they cannot see by daylight then they need to have their license revoked.

        • 0 avatar
          HotPotato

          I believe Greyhound did a study and found a 10% reduction in incidents with DRLs vs without — and a bus is much easier to see than a car to begin with.

        • 0 avatar
          Keith_93

          I can’t argue with your anecdotal logic, but there really have been many studies showing that daytime headlights reduce accidents.

          Canadian studies in the early 1990s showed an 8% or higher reduction in accidents. Fleet studies (Bell Canada service vans was one example) showed even higher numbers.

    • 0 avatar
      Preludacris

      I’m sure you know this, but for clarity’s sake, DRLs do NOT mean your taillights are on. You have to turn the headlights on for them to be illuminated. Auto-on headlights (not to be confused with DRLs) probably include the taillights; I am not sure.

  • avatar
    drsparky

    I have a Molten Orange FiST and so far it is bright enough to discourage lane changing on top of me. 25,000 on the clock so far so good, no mechanical problems.

    • 0 avatar

      Totes jelly of your Molten Orange. That’s the color I wanted, but it was a 12 week special order. I haven’t seen a new 2015 MO on a lot yet—it seems to be all black and blue now.

      • 0 avatar
        Chris FOM

        They’re gold and white, actually

      • 0 avatar
        mdensch

        A good friend just bought a Molten Orange FiST. It had about 400 miles on the clock due to it being dealer traded twice before he bought it—from Racine, Wis. to central Illinois and then to Janesville, Wis. where he bought it. Maybe the color isn’t as popular in this part of the Midwest.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    That’s an impressive collection of tracks stickers you got there.

  • avatar

    Despite hitting some bad potholes this winter and spring, I haven’t had any alignment issues in my ’08 Civic.

  • avatar
    daviel

    You’re not used to driving small cars on the freeway.

  • avatar
    stuki

    Surprised you weren’t impressed with suspension compliance. It jumped out at me as a major positive on a somewhat brisk test run. “Rallying” down a dry frozen logging/farm road nonetheless……

    AFAICT, Ford is well out ahead of the rest of autodom wrt suspension tuning these days. To the extent I strongly suspect meaningful carryover from the work done on the Raptor. The FiST’s felt a bit like a short travel Raptor to me. Very, make that unusually, progressive springing and damping for such a low, small wheeled car. And then, even more surprisingly, the same Raptoresque wheel control is notably present even in the darned Transit. That thing seriously rides like it is decades more evolved than the Promaster and Sprinter. And centuries more than the E…..

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      Im happy to hear that about the Transit. I need to drive one. Ive been contemplating a business idea talored to my area. Most people who live near me commute 50-60 miles (one way) to work at an oil refinery or the nearby shipyards. I was thinking of offering a shuttle service, and using Ford Transit T-350s with the Diesel and high roof option in 15 passenger form. I want XL models IN ANY COLOR BUT WHITE OR SILVER (which means a $150 charge per van Id gladly pay, but it also means each van will probably have to be ordered as all I can find in inventory within 500 miles of me are white) with vinyl interior (if you saw what these guys looked like after work, youd realize as I do that carpet and cloth seats would be a nightmare). I was thinking of equipping each Transit with mobile WiFi, so riders can facebook or blog or whatever to and from work. Id also have to have charging ports avalible for every row, but I think its exactly what people need. Leave the Silverado at home, relax and check your email as you commute instead of fighting bordom, fatigue, bad drivers or all three at once.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Seems to me that a proper shuttle bus would be the better choice. Used transit ones can be had relatively cheaply at the auctions and their interiors are meant to be hosed out. You’ll need a Chauffeur’s license with a 15 passenger for hire vehicle so might as well step up to something bigger to increase the fare total per trip. Yeah the used transit buses have lots of miles on them but the fact that they can be had so cheap means you can pickup a couple to have a back up and a parts vehicle. If it is successful then think about getting new vehicles.

        Around here I’ve seen the 20ish passenger transit buses go for $500 ea at the auction when they put 40 of them up for sale at the same time. Last time a couple of them had 2, 4 or even 6 brand new or almost new tires.

        • 0 avatar
          JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

          I appreciate that idea, but I want something new and with better mileage. I realize that using more than one van that gets 20 mpg (for the sake of this discussion) is less efficent than using just one that gets 10 mpg, but the reason I require several vehicles has to do with the logistics of the situation.

          I figured Id start with 3 vans for the three counties in this area, one leaving from each in time to get them to work on time.

          I suppose I could try to find a central location and have all the workers drive there to catch the bus (so they drive say 8 miles a day instead of 80). An abandoned (closed) grocery store parking lot might work. I suppose an old school bus would even work theoreticly but I dont see many taking the option if that was their choice. For one thing, those older busses are usually not equipped with aircon, a major problem in this area. Plus the “cheese wagon” stigma would be a hurdle to overcome. Lots of these guys havent been long graduated high school, climing on board a school bus again probably wouldnt go over that well. Im not sure parking for busses is even avalible at the refinery or the shipyards.

          My idea is to eventually subcontract out the actual job of driving the van to a worker that uses the service regularly. That way there would be no driving the van empty, it stays either in the parking lot for the workers or at home when not in use.

          I really want new vehicles not only because of their improved fuel mileage (and interior room, driving dynamics, etc over say an E-Series or Express), but so that I can maintain them properly from day one to ensure long life and reliable performance. Im a stickler for that stuff, fluids, filters, the whole bit. I may even contract out that work to a Ford dealer if I could find one that would give me discounts for maintaining my entire fleet like I used to do when I worked at a Lincoln-Mercury dealership as a service advisor.

  • avatar
    mcarr

    I haven’t noticed the invisibility issue when driving my black Chevy Sonic, but it does have DRL’s, so maybe driving “lights on” might help the situation?

    Also, I’ve noticed the same affect between fuel grade and gas mileage with my 1.4T engine. 87 octane gets noticeably less mpg’s than higher grades. 35 mpg with 87, 37-38 mpg with 89 or 91. Strangely 92 and 93 octane seems to have no benefit over 89, 91.

  • avatar

    Speaking of Kentucky, I visited it last week my way back from Ohio. It was, frankly, not really awesome. Sure, it’s way better than Ohio, but gosh those storm cells… And the wind. All the airports have runways pointing 210 degrees magnetic, and you learn immediately that it’s for a reason.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Okay, I give up. What is that magenta illumination that the cryptic button lights up? Cup holders would be my best guess.

  • avatar
    tjh8402

    it’s weird how the much maligned for it’s lack of efficiency ecoboost drivetrain actually seems to succeed here. 35 mpg highway isn’t that different from a normal Fiesta, despite having over 50% more power.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      I find it weird, too, not just in this situation but with my cousin’s EcoBoost F-150 4×4 SuperCrew. They had a 5.4L 2wd Expedition before the F-150 and they say the improved mileage is significant. Yes, the Expedition is an SUV, but I bet the weight difference isnt that great, considering it was 2wd and the F-150 is a SuperCrew with 4wd.

      But, to hear people who dont own an EcoBoost F-150 tell it, youd think the whole thing is a flop, that V-8s get the same mileage, etc. A lot of the issue is measuring fuel economy under load. No, an EcoBoost F-150 will not get 6 cylinder like fuel economy when loaded with cargo and when towing. It gets about the same as a V-8 in that situation (albeit with a fatter and flatter torque curve).

      Its the unloaded time when you dont need all that power is when it saves fuel. I mean, the thing has like, what, 365 hp? What do you expect when using all of those ponies? Youd think it would be obvious, and to most EcoBoost F-150 owners, it is. To those commenting about it, youd think that Ford is supposed to defy the laws of physics and deliver a big truck with big power that gets Honda Accord V-6 MPG under all conditions, any load, towing or not. It just doesnt work that way.

      If youre on the throttle heavy all the time in an EcoBoost Fusion, yes, itll drink fuel like a V-6 of similar output. If you drive it like an economy car instead, thats when you see mpgs that a V-6 couldnt deliver. All that said, Id rather have a V-6 MKZ vs. an EcoBoost Fusion. Not because I think itll get better mpg, of course not, but because I like the V-6, period.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        @JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N – I had a period of a couple years where for six months out of the year, I was renting a car twice a week. I sampled almost everything in the modern rental fleet up through full size cars. The Fusion 1.6t and 2.0t along with the Chevy Cruze 1.4t were pretty much the only cars I found it difficult to impossible to hit the epa numbers in (I even found the Elantras controversial 40 mpg rating to be attainable). You would have to have ideal conditions for that to be a realistic possibility.

  • avatar
    AK

    The FiST has adjustable lumbar in their base seats?

    Damnit. My 2015 Focus ST (sans recaros) does not have lumbar and I am absolutely missing that feature.

  • avatar
    Joss

    I like DRL you know when a stationary car is alive and may suddenly move.

  • avatar
    LeeK

    Oh for goodness’ sake, Bark! Take that damn Paul Miller Ford license plate surround off RIGHT NOW!

  • avatar
    Power6

    I’m surprised that truckers, who presumably aren’t running cars off the road left and right, miss the Fiesta, being among a class of cars that are really barely smaller in frontal area signature than the next class up. I mean how much less visible is this thing than a Focus??

    Excellent BBC Office reference!

  • avatar
    lostboy

    Hey Bark
    couldn’t help but notice you said you were leasing the Fiesta ST – won’t using it at an autocross or track void your lease (as least as resale value of the car) by the dealer?
    i can’t help but think they’d be pissed by it being used on for racing since your not owning it but rather just paying off the depreciation and giving them some extra cash till they sell it used to someone else…

    IMHO won’t your insurance co. give you hell too if something happens or do you take out track insurance when your racing it? (i really don’t know how these things work as you can tell)

    My 2 cents.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not racing it. I’m autocrossing it. Big difference. The SCCA has had many a lawyer review their definition of autocross, specifically so that it can’t be called a “race” for site insurance purposes.

      Track days are even less dangerous, in the eyes of an insurance company, because they aren’t timed events.

      Nevertheless, that’s the risk you run if you autocross or track a financed/leased car. You might stuff it into a wall and be forced to write a big check.

  • avatar

    interesting that the premium petrol was noticeable. when prices plummeted in february, i fed my focus st a tank of premium. noticed nowt: zero difference. perhaps that’s a california thing?

  • avatar
    Preludacris

    The signal on, move over slowly thing – isn’t passive-aggressive. It’s the only way for a truck to change lanes in traffic. If they don’t do that, they will be stuck in the same lane indefinitely. Most drivers leave less following distance than the length of the trailer.

    They can’t accelerate from 55 to 60 mph very quickly. But they still want to get past the guy going 55, because doing 60 will get them 5 miles further in an hour. For guys who get paid by the mile, that’s a very valuable 50-60 miles further in a day.

    I don’t drive a semi truck, but I do drive a 32′ 5-ton for my work. I strongly recommend not hanging out in my blind spot.

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