Unless you’ve had your head under a rock for the last year or two, you know that Ford is one stellar company these days. It now trumps vaunted Toyota in many of its models comparatively, has styling that, as seen in Mustang and Fiesta, and the upcoming Focus, is the talk of the industry. And quality control ratings for Ford products are second to none. That’s a heck of a way to start out a new year, is it not? 2011 Ford Explorer Ford's all-new 2011 Explorer looks to be a big winner for the 2011 sales year. The big reason for that can be summed up in two words: Fuel Economy. In four cylinder Eco Boost form, it’s 30 percent better--that’s right--30 percent better--than the current Explorer V-6, while being considerably faster to boot! More about this later. With Ford fielding so many crossovers and SUVs, you may wonder where the Explorer fits in. The answer is: Just where it always did. File it under the letter “A” for adventure. The Explorer was what you bought when you wanted to be able to have adventures, off the road fun and plenty of road roughhousing. Yes, the new one is a crossover technically, but it will be marketed as an adventurous SUV. The first thing you will notice are the looks. It’s a completely 21st century-themed design compared with the clearly 20th century looking model it succeeds. At first glance, we’re beginning to think of the new Explorer as a Taurus crossover because it shares so many styling cues with what is one of Ford’s prettiest cars. Explorer has the bold Ford family grille, the huge road wheels, and the overall sense of substance that makes the Taurus such an arresting looking car on the road. Ford says that the new Explorer, which goes on sale this winter, will be chock full of big improvements over the old model. Now, about that fuel economy. For starters, it will have what the company is describing as “class leading fuel economy–with an improvement of more than 30 percent versus the current Explorer”–along with perks like inflatable rear seat belts, and Curve Control, both all-new safety innovations, along with technology innovations like MyFord Touch. Powerplants for the new Explorer include a 2.0 liter turbocharged, intercooled 237 horsepower “EcoBoost” I-4, the power plant that Ford says brings the 30 percent fuel improvement, and a 290 horsepower 3.5 literV-6 that gets over 20 percent better gar mileage than the comparable 2010 Explorer. The fuel improvements, Ford claims, allows the Explorer to have gas mileage that is better than the Honda Pilot and Toyota Highlander V-6. Actual mileage figures are not yet available. Ford released a long list of improvements that allowed them to get the big jumps in fuel economy. They include twin independent variable camshaft timing, electric power steering, variable displacement air conditioning compressing, a six speed automatic, and tires that are optimized for reduced rolling resistance. Better aerodynamics with “harmonized front air dam and rear liftgate spoiler” also contributed to the savings. Weight reduction also helped, with a reduction of almost 100 pounds by using lighter materials like an aluminum hood. Safety was a big factor, too in redesigning the new Explorer. The feature likely to gain a lot of attention is Advance Trac with Curve Control that a new feature that senses when a driver enters a turn too quickly and applies brake pressure to stabilize the vehicle. Other safety features include Belt-Minder for driver and first-row passenger, front passenger sensing system, energy-management system pretensioning for height-adjustable first-row seat belt, LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) system for outboard second-row positions, for safely securing child safety seats, SOS Post-Crash Alert System, Safety Canopy, side curtain airbags and a tire pressure monitoring system. You can also order adaptive cruise control and collision warning with brake support and BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with cross-traffic alert. Consumers will find an awful lot of features on the all-new 2011 Ford Explorer, given its likely price range. The Explorer is available in three trim series levels – base, XLT and Limited. Each offering presents a robust array of standard features, with a class-leading selection of additional convenience and connectivity options so a buyer can tailor a new Explorer to his or her individual needs and desires. Standard convenience features include: MyForddriver connect technology including 4.2-inch LCD screen; MyKey™ owner control feature; Air filtration system; media hub; Easy Fuel capless fuel filler system; cruise control; power windows, with one-touch down for driver; power door locks with child safety rear door locks; tilt/telescoping steering column; four 12-volt power points; and cargo hooks. The Explorer XLT includes standard content and adds: automatic headlamps; six-speed SelectShift Automatic; heated sideview mirrors with LED signal indicators and security approach lamps; SecuriCode™ keyless entry keypad; reverse sensing system; perimeter alarm Explorer Limited includes all base and XLT content, plus: PowerFold®sideview mirrors with driver’s side memory; ambient lighting; adjustable pedals with memory functionality; cargo net; dual-zone electronic temperature control; 10-way power driver’s seat, with power recline and lumbar; electrochromic interior mirror; rear view camera; remote start system; 110-volt outlet; MyFord Touchdriver connect technology; Intelligent Access with push-button start; Universal garage door opener;. Ford Fiesta
This long awaited subcompact is worth every second it took to get here.
Swoopy, fun to drive and with an interior to die for, Fiesta is the belle of the ball in its market. It handles beautifully, and as far as fuel economy, 40 miles per gallon is not unheard of . Problems? Interior room is a bit sparse, and not as flexible and as full of cubbies as some of the competition. And the double clutch six speed automatic can be somewhat notchy in shifting. Power comes from a 1.6 liter, 120 horsepower four. Still, the Fiesta is at the top of the heap in the subcompact car field. Fiesta prices start at $13,995 and top out--without options at $18,865. Mileage is 28 to 29/37 to 40 miles per gallon. Ford Focus The Focus is a longtime favorite among compact car buyers, particularly those who’d prefer to buy an American product. It’s hard to go wrong with this car, given its quality, value, and content. We weren’t to crazy about the styling, but we suspect that’s less important to compact car buyers than car enthusiasts. To keep things fresh for 2011, Ford has added a number of standard features including stability control and four wheel antilock brakes. And techies can now get the popular Sync system that allows you to have information on various things like traffic updates, etc, Also standard: Power door locks, drives message center and keyless entry. Power comes from a 2.0 liter, 132 horsepower or 140 horsepower four. For 2011, prices range from $17,365 as a base price, and top out at $20,395 Mileage rating is 25/34 to 35 miles per gallon. But for all its niceness, wait until you see the 2012 Focus. Fabulous is the operative word here. Stay tuned. Ford Fusion This is the car that has helped skyrocket Ford to the top of the heap for quality. Its absolutely impeccable on the Fusion, but this is not the only reason to buy one. It comes off as much sportier than competitors, except for perhaps Hyundai’s Sonata and Nissan’s venerable Altima. It’s also much more European inspired than competitors as well. Our only niggle about the Fusion is that even with an update, the styling isn’t quite as interesting or exciting as some of the others in its size category. We think a complete revamp is in order. The star of the Fusion is of course, the Fusion Hybrid, which has just about the highest gas mileage of any mid-sized hybrid on the market. Though most published reports claim 36 miles per gallon, we’ve found that it’s really closer to 40 miles per gallon with careful driving. And the gee whiz instruments make high mileage driving fun, as it awards you a certain number of colorful leaves to give you a pat on the back for motoring on down the road economically. Power for the Fusion comes from a bas 2.5 liter, 175 horsepower four, moves up to a 3.0 liter, 240 horsepower V-6, a 3.5 liter, 263 horsepower V-6out with the hybrid gasoline electrical system which includes a 2.5 liter four with 191 horsepower altogether. Ratings for the hybrid are 41/36 miles per gallon, with the rest of the lineup ranging from 17/24 miles per gallon. Pricing is certainly competitive: Baser prices range from about $21,000 to close to $30,000, dpee3nding on mileage and equipment. Ford Taurus Forget all about the Taurus of yesterday. The new one is a muscular, sexy affordable luxury car that comes well equipped even in base form. The styling, with its brawny shoulders and massive presence, will remind you of a couple of show cars that Ford did a couple of years ago. Admittedly however, the Taurus does come off as being a bit overweight and ponderous to some car writers. You’ll especially want to check out the sharp Taurus SHO, with a powerful 365 horsepower V-6, and a much more high performance oriented suspension system. The Taurus base engine is a 3.5 liter, 263 horsepower V-6 which performs quite well on the road. Mileage? Expect 17 to 18/ 25 to 28 miles per gallon. Base prices range from $25,995 to $38,595. Looking for a looker? Look no further than the totally refreshed 2011 Ford Edge. Pretty, pretty, pretty. In fact, we think it’s one of the two or three most arresting looking crossovers around, and now, with all the refreshes, there’s even more reason to put a Ford Edge in your future. There are three new power trains, totally new front and rear end, two new transmissions, and an all new interior, for instance. And there’s the MyFord Touch system, too. Engine-wise, there’s the Edge 3.5 liter, 285 horsepower V-6, as well as a 3.7 liter 305 horsepower V-6 for the Edge Sport model Ford claims that the powerplants beat the competition, such as Lexus’ popular RX350, Audi Q5 and the BMW X5. The 3.5 liter version is rated at 27 miles per gallon. There’s also a new 2.0 liter EcoBoost that provides 30 percent better fuel economy than was offered with the 2006 Ford Edge. This engine also is linked with a six-speed automatic transmission. This is likely the first of a wave of four cylinder EcoBoost engines that offer V-6 performance with much better fuel economy. Other new features include new wheels, new 18-inch tires, new subframe, a retuned suspension with shocks, springs and stabilizer bars that make for sportier handling, along with new four wheel disc brakes. Hill Start Assist, Trailer Sway Control, Hydraulic Brake Assist, and adaptive cruise control. Meanwhile, the Edge Sport is becoming a more distinctive model. In addition to the engine mentioned above, the Edge Sport offers 22 inch polished aluminum wheels with a tuxedo black spoke accents, along with tuxedo black grille, smoked headlamps and tailllamps, oval chrome exhaust tips and other key features. Inside, you’ll see liquid silver smoke trim, along with silver smoke metallic leather seat inserts, aluminum pedals and other features. But perhaps the most significant new feature is one that you’re sure to hear a lot about this year: MyFord Touch. According to a news release, “ The industry-first MyFord Touch driver connect technology provides a smarter, safer, simpler way to connect drivers with in-car technologies and their digital lives. It replaces traditional vehicle buttons, knobs and gauges with clear, crisp LCD screens and five-way controls like those found on cell phones and MP3 players.” The news release adds, “Standard on the 2011 Edge Limited and 2011 Edge Sport, the MyFord Touch system displays information using two 4.2-inch full-color LCD screens flanking an analog speedometer and an 8-inch touch-screen LCD at the top of the center stack. A five-way switch on each side of the steering wheel crossbar controls the information displayed on the corresponding instrument panel screens. The screens can be personalized to display information relevant to each individual driver using a simple button click, voice command or touch-screen tap.The steering wheel has all the necessary functions available in a very compact area, right where the driver’s hand falls as he or she grabs the wheel. The five-way buttons feel familiar to anyone who has used a mobile phone or MP3 player.” You’ll also find what Ford is billing as the “ world’s first use of iTunes® Tagging in an available factory-installed HD Radio™ receiver. iTunes Tagging provides customers with the ability to “capture” a song they hear on the HD Radio receiver for later purchase from iTunes. With a simple push of a “TAG” button on the MyFord touch-screen display, the song information will be stored in the radio’s memory. Once a song is tagged and customers dock their iPod to the SYNC system, the tagged song information will transfer to that iPod. Up to 100 tags on SYNC can be stored until the iPod is connected. When the iPod is then synced to iTunes, a playlist of tagged songs will appear. Customers then can preview, and if they desire, purchase and download tagged songs from the iTunes Store.”
Hold the presses! The Boss is back!
Yep, Ford's iconic Boss Mustang is back for 2012--though you will be able to get one before 2012 rolls around.
This tuime around it's being billed as the Limited production 2012 Mustang Boss 302, and proud company officials say that it will be the quickest, best-handling straight-production Mustang ever offered by Ford, based on the world-class foundation provided by the 2011 Mustang GT.
Ford officials toiled to upgrade nearly every system in this car over and above the standard model line. Their efforts include big improvements to engine output, brakes, suspension, interior and exterior. The goal all around was to "optimize weight, aerodynamics and track performance," according to a Ford news release.
“The decision to build a modern Boss was not entered into lightly,” said Derrick Kuzak, group vice president, Global Product Development. “The entire team at Ford felt the time was right and with the right ingredients, the world-class 2011 Mustang could support a successful, race-bred, worthy successor to the original Boss 302. For us that meant a production Mustang that could top one of the world’s best – the 2010 BMW M3 – in lap times at Laguna Seca. We met our expectations.” Led by Mike Harrison, the V8 engine team approached Boss from the top down: With 412 horsepower from 5.0 liters, the 2011 GT engine was already an incredible performer. But to achieve the high-rpm horsepower that would make the engine competitive on the track, a new intake was essential. The resulting runners-in-the-box plenum/velocity stack combination the engine team developed was impressive enough that it got the green light after one short drive. Helping the intake build power, revised camshafts using a more aggressive grind are actuated with the same twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT) mechanism used on the Mustang GT. More aggressive control calibration yields 440 horsepower and 380 lb.-ft. of torque, while still offering a smooth idle and low-end torque for comfortable around-town driving. A race-inspired clutch with upgraded friction materials transmits power, while a short-throw, close-ratio six-speed manual transmission handles gear change duties. Power is delivered to a 3.73 ratio rear axle using carbon fiber plates in the limited-slip differential to improve torque handling and longevity. For those who want even more precise control over power delivery, a torque-sensing (Torsen) limited-slip differential is an available option coupled with Recaro front seats. While the powertrain team defined output targets that would yield an ideal balance with the chassis, another team made sure the car made the kind of sounds owners and enthusiasts would expect from a Mustang Boss. Up front, a Boss-specific intake system is tuned to feed the engine with minimum restrictions. A retuned induction sound tube provides concrete aural evidence of what’s occurring under the hood. And, in the Boss exhaust system engineers really had some fun. “With an exhaust system, we have to consider three constraints: legal noise restrictions; backpressure, which can rob power; and ground clearance,” explains Shawn Carney, Mustang NVH engineer. “Since the 2011 Mustang GT exhaust is already so free-flowing – it came in way under our backpressure targets – we already had excellent performance; we were able to tune the exhaust system for a unique sound. Combined with the rush of the intake, the exhaust system really envelops the driver in V8 sound. Every Boss features a unique quad exhaust system: Two outlets exit in the rear similar to a standard Mustang GT. The other two outlets exit to either side of the exhaust crossover, sending exhaust through a set of metal discs that act as tuning elements before the pipes terminate just ahead of the rear wheel opening. Visually subtle, the side pipes flow very little exhaust but a lot of exhaust sound, providing a sonic experience unlike any other Mustang. Of course, Ford wanted that Boss look inside and out, so big changes were made. Every part of the car that could help aerodynamics or engine/brake performance was examined to make the vehicle more competitive, while chief designer Darrell Behmer refined the styling to evoke the 1969 Boss in a contemporary way. To set Boss apart, each car will have either a black or white roof panel, coordinated to the color of the side C-stripe. Available exterior colors are Competition Orange, Performance White, Kona Blue Metallic, Yellow Blaze Tri-Coat Metallic and Race Red. Up front, a unique fascia and grille are highlighted by the blocked-off fog lamp openings and aggressive lower splitter, a version of the design used – and proven – on the Boss 302R race car. The front splitter is designed to function at high speeds by efficiently managing the air under and around the car. It helps to reduce underbody drag and front end lift while more effectively forcing air through the Boss-specific cooling system. At the rear of the car, the spoiler was chosen to complement the front aero treatment and minimize overall drag. “What we were after on Boss was reduced overall lift with improved balance,” says Pericak. “We needed to keep the car glued to the street or the track at high speeds without increasing drag or affecting top speed and fuel usage. The end result is an aero package that uses front, rear and underbody treatments not for show, but for effect – the balance and stability of this car all the way to its 155-mph top speed is just outstanding.” Inside, a unique Boss steering wheel covered completely in Alcantara suede complements the standard seats, which are trimmed in cloth with a suede-like center insert to firmly hold occupants in place. Boss customers who want the ultimate seating experience can select a package that includes Recaro buckets, designed by Ford SVT in cooperation with Recaro for high performance Mustang models, and shared between the Boss and GT500. A dark metallic instrument panel finish, gauge cluster and door panel trim also differentiate Boss from the standard Mustang, while a black pool-cue shifter ball and “Powered by Ford” door sill plates further remind customers they’re in a special car. Now if you really want something special, conside the race ready Boss302 Laguna Seca model. Its suspension is even more aggressive than the standard Boss 302 model.and it has its own special chassis and aerodynamic tuning. This one is strictly designed for weekend racers, and the car doesn't have the creature comforts you'll find on the regular Boss 302. Laguna Seca cars are powered by the same engine, a 5.0 liter, 440 horsepower V-8 which already was specially trained for road racing. Engine power routes through a six-speed close-ratio manual gearbox to a standard 3.73-ratio Torsen limited-slip differential, helping the revised rear suspension deliver maximum torque and traction under the punishing conditions encountered on the track. Higher spring rates and a larger rear stabilizer bar – all upgraded over Boss specifications – help generate unrelenting grip, Ford officials say. And drivers can dial in exactly the level of shock stiffness a particular track requires using the four standard, independently adjustable dampers with Laguna Seca-specific valving. The final touch for a proper race car was to add the proper wheels and tires: Laguna Seca models use lightweight 19-inch alloy racing wheels in staggered widths: 9 inches in front, 10 inches in the rear. R-compound ultra-high-performance tires, 255/40ZR-19 in the front, 285/35ZR-19 in the rear, maintain contact with the pavement. The rest of the Mustang line is highlighted by a magnificent new V-6 that will absolutely blow your socks off. It’s a 2.5 liter, 175 horsepower job that will likely make some people wonder if they really need a V-8. Better yet, it will hit 60 in just over five seconds, according to published reports. And of course, the big news is that the famed 5.0 liter V-8 is back in a new and modernized way. It’s a 5.0 liter V-8 that comes in a 402 and 412 horsepower form. You can also now get a six speed manual or automatic. If for some reason you need more ponies--forgive the bad joke--you can lasso a Shelby GT500, which has a 550 horsepower, 5.4 liter aluminum V-8. Mileage estimates for Mustang ranges from 15 to 19/23 to 31 miles per gallon. Ford should be commended for freshening the Mustang’s appearance without losing its almost unsurpassed heritage and styling cues. It’s a real looker, and many think it’s the best of the pony cars. Ford trucks It’s more mojo this year for these big guys. There’s a new 6.2 liter, 385 horsepower V-8. And a turbo-diesel 6.7 liter, 390 horsepower V-8, both for the Super Duty models. You’ll also notice that there are some styling changes as well. Other than that, and a couple of new colors, we’re told, there’s not much else that’s new.