Archive for November, 2009

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Inside Story: 2010 Ford Mustang GT

November 27, 2009

(from Canadian Driver)

A horse is a horse, of course. At an age when most members of the ‘Club of Equine’ would be prime candidates for glue ingredients, the Mustang keeps up its youthful gait. Much like the glory days of the pony car, the corral is starting to get crowded again. While there was a time when snarling big blocks and wheel hop were factory equipment, comfort and convenience has become too much of a mainstay to go away quietly. The definition of pony retro has decided it was time for a makeover, which arrived in the guise of a 2010 Grabber Blue GT, with an MSRP of $43,379 as equipped. Let’s saddle up. (Prices shown do not include freight, taxes, regional or promotional incentives.)

The Cockpit/Centre Stack

It’s nice to see that an airbag doesn’t have to completely obliterate a tilt steering wheel design. Even more compelling is the integration of the cruise, audio, voice command and phone keys, with enough of a countersink to avoid combating with driver inputs. The tilt column continues to house a continuing Inside Story peeve; the turn signal/wiper control integrated stalk. Why don’t we just put the horn on there too, like the original Fox-platform Mustang? Driver’s information display keys are found below the auto headlamp control. These same keys assist with fine-tuning the MyColour system, with ambient lighting glow that even includes the sill plates.

The re-worked centre stack follows the lead of the steering wheel switchery, with crisp execution for the dual-zone auto HVAC and the navi head unit. A touch screen of this size deserves a back-up camera lens, a no-charge addition on this deluxe GT. Note the whimsical illustrations on the switches for the trunk release and traction control, which are Mustang-specific. IS continues to wonder when the six-speed manual is going to show up, considering how well the five-speed gate works. The driver’s door houses auto window lifts, plus the power exterior mirrors toggle.

Cubbies!

The non-locker glovebox is best kept as the literature library. Secure storage occurs with the centre console, which can be locked with the key by flipping up the dual front cupholder cover. While we’re here, note the two-step height of the cup cavity, and removable rubber bladder. And yes, it lights up with MyColour glow. Flip open the console, and you’ll find an underside card holder, coin sorter, 12-volt DC powerpoint, and inputs for USB and audio auxiliary.

Front door pockets are perfect for gum storage, which leaves you with front seatback storage pockets to take up the slack. A second 12-volt DC powerpoint is found above the navi head unit, so you can dangle the cord of your device of choice in front of the navi screen. Hmmmm…

An open air feel without the open air blast is the task of the $2,200 Glass Roof option. Even with the manual sunshade on full open, the cabin never felt overly toasted. Ford reports an acoustic layer in the glass to minimize road noise. Inside Story reports no strange creaks or clunks from the Fishbowl Edition fitment. The interior rear-view mirror is auto-dimming, while the dual vanity mirrors are just plain dim, with no glow to throw. The decklid-mount satellite radio antenna pod begs to be hidden.

Seat Treat

Power seating positioning occurs for driver and passenger, with manual recline, and power lumbar for the driver position. One-step heat occurs for the front occupants. Inside Story continues to wonder why a Mustang backseat exists, with miniscule legroom, and non-existent ease-of-entry systems. (The seatback lever shown is only a release, with no fore/aft glide ability.) Note the seat anchor extenders for the front seat passengers.

Cargo Embargo

The trunk space appears to have received a smidge more finishing than the last generation, though it is not without concern. Note the routing of key wiring harnesses beneath the floor covering. Depending on the amount and type of cargo hauled, these harnesses could become compromised over time, so use caution. The 50/50 split foldong rear seatbacks achieve a practically flat load angle.

Spare Care

Considering the wide range of wheel size and skin combos for the steed, Mustang opts for a space-saver style spare. Ford will change it for you, during the first five years or 100,000 kilometres of ownership.

The Mill

It’s not that often that car show-cool makes it beneath the bonnet these days, but that’s exactly what the GT brings. The 315-horsepower 4.6 litre V8 gets a purposeful ‘Power By Ford’ topper. The strut tower brace seems to border on cutting-edge bridge design. The rest of the mill is surprisingly accessible for fluid and key component changes.

The Fed (Transport Canada) rates the manual V8 combo at 12.7 L/100 km city, and 8.4 L/100 km highway. (Numbers which are almost identical to those for the automatic/V6 combo.) Inside Story adopted a Jekyll-Hyde comparo; In conservative mode, the GT returned 13 L/100 km city, and 9 L/100 km highway. In Fun Throttle Mode, the GT hovered around the 15 L/100 km combined consumption mark, which is where most V8-stickshift drivers will live. That includes Inside Story.

The Verdict

As long as we aren’t headed along a duplicate path of the evolutionary chain that brought us such notables as the Mustang II, the current Mustang, in both V6 and GT form, has little trouble yanking on your heart – and throttle – strings. Many auto scribes were curious as to the ‘What’s Next’ on such an obvious retro homage. It still works, with key interior improvements that are driver-driven. Fit and finish is spot-on within, with a new soft-touch dash topper, and thoughtful additions to padding and materials.

A note on retro colour schemes: Grabber Blue needs stripes, and badly. It screams Mach 1 or Boss 4.6, and should be reserved for those eventual editions. A passenger side EZ-Access seat glide for rear passengers is long overdue. Now if you’ll excuse us, Inside Story has to get back to the driveway lawn chair, and watch the sequential LED rear turn signals in action. Blink-blink-blink! Blink-blink-blink!

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What’s New: 2010 Ford Focus

November 26, 2009

(from Canadian Driver)

NEW FOR 2010:

 

– New front and rear fascias on SES sedan
– Standard anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, MyKey, power locks with keyless entry, and rear dome lamp
– Perimeter alarm standard on all models except S
– Four-door S adds standard message centre
– New optional SE Sport Appearance package with 15-inch painted aluminum wheels, rear deck lid spoiler and fog lamps

For 2010, the Ford Focus receives new styling for the SES sedan, to further differentiate it from the coupe, and a new list of standard equipment, including anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, MyKey parental control, keyless entry and a rear dome light on all models. A new optional Sport Package for the SE adds aluminum wheels, spoiler and fog lamps.

The Focus is available as a four-door sedan or two-door coupe, all powered by a 2.0-litre Duratec four-cylinder engine with five-speed manual or optional four-speed automatic transmission. The sedan comes in S, SE, SES and SEL trim, while the coupe comes as the SE or SES.

Features on the S sedan include 15-inch steel wheels, air conditioning, power locks with keyless entry, black door handles and mirrors, MyKey, tire pressure monitoring system, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input, Sirius satellite radio, centre floor console with padded armrest, courtesy lights with theatre-dimming feature, front and rear floor mats, message centre, tilt steering column, trip odometer, and variable intermittent wipers.

The SE sedan adds metallic instrument panel appliqué, power windows, heated power mirrors, and chrome door handles.

The SES sedan adds 17-inch alloy wheels, performance suspension, ambient lighting, auto-dimming rearview mirror, SYNC, heated seats, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, cruise control, map lights, compass, chrome exhaust tip, body-colour door handles and mirrors, fog lamps, rear deck lid spoiler, and sport front and rear fascias.

The SEL sedan adds 16-inch alloy wheels, chrome mirrors, and chrome door handles, and does not include the performance suspension.

Features on the SE coupe include 16-inch alloy wheels, air conditioning, message centre, power windows, power locks with keyless entry, chrome exhaust tip, rear deck lid spoiler, rocker moulding, sport-tuned exhaust, sport front and rear fascias, MyKey, tire pressure monitoring system, 60/40 split-folding rear seat, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input, Sirius satellite radio, centre floor console with padded armrest, courtesy lights with theatre-dimming feature, front and rear floor mats, tilt steering column, trip odometer, and variable intermittent wipers.

The SES coupe adds 17-inch alloy wheels, performance suspension, heated seats, ambient lighting, auto-dimming rearview mirror, SYNC, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, cruise control, map lights, compass, and high-mount spoiler.

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Winter Vehicle Safety: Six tips from Ford of Canada for staying safe this winter

November 24, 2009

1. Vehicle Maintenance:  Vehicles that have been regularly maintained according to their manufacturers required maintenance schedules should be ready for winter weather.  If not, a visit to our dealership to “catch up” on your required maintenance will ensure the vehicle is ready for the season.

2. Read your owner’s manual:  All vehicles have different characteristics that will react to winter weather differently.  This is a good time to check the manual for your particular vehicle’s winter driving tips.

3. Monitor tire wear:  There are three important aspects when it comes to tires:  pressure, tread wear, and age

  • Tire pressure:  Cold weather causes tires to lose pressure and become under-inflated, meaning your safety on the road is compromised.  Check your tire pressure regularly, especially when the temperature changes.
  • Tire tread depth:  Proper tread depth can be key to slipping less and gripping the road better.
  • Tire age:  Old tires can be unsafe tires, especially in the winter.  It is recommended that tires over six years old be replaced.
  • All-season and summer tires begin to lose their grip at about 7 degrees Celsius.  Consider switching to winter tires for better handling and braking performance.

4.  Drive safely and be alert:  Safe driving is always important.  Remember to slow down and leave extra space between you and the vehicle in front of you.  Also, avoid abrupt moves – don’t stop, start, or change direction suddenly and you will maintain better control of your vehicle in bad weather conditions.

5. Say “goodbye” to cruise control:  Never use the speed control feature in slippery conditions.  If the weather suddenly becomes hazardous while the cruise control is engaged, simply disengage it manually or lightly tap the brakes.

6. Get to know the safety feature “alphabet”:  Become more familiar with vehicle safety features such as ABS, TC, ESC, and RSC, to understand how they can help.

  • Anti-lock Braking System (ABS):  Vehicles equipped with an anti-lock braking system do not require the driver to “pump” the brakes in slippery conditions when hard braking is required.  Apply firm, continuous pressure on the brake pedal and ABS may activate to help you maintain control of the vehicle.
  • Traction Control (TC):  This feature most often engages at low speeds.  In the majority of winter driving conditions, it is best to keep the traction control feature ON.  However, in extreme conditions – for instance, deep snow or sheer ice – it may be better to turn OFF your traction control to get moving.
  • Electronic Stability Control (ESC):  ESC helps prevent your vehicle from skidding out or sliding laterally in slippery conditions.
  • Roll Stability Control(TM) (RSC):  AdvanceTrac(R) with Roll Stability Control(TM) helps to avoid a rollover in a collision situation.

If your vehicle does not have these features, come see us today and we will show you a variety of new Ford vehicles that do have these great safety features included.

 

 

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What’s New: 2010 Ford F-Series

November 20, 2009

(from Canadian Driver)

Ford F-Series

NEW FOR 2010:– Flareside body style is no longer available
– SuperCab models no longer available with 5-foot-5 box, except with Mid Box Prep Package
– Manual transmission discontinued on Super Duty models; limited-slip axle standard on all Super Duty models
– New 6.4-litre Power Stroke V8 Turbodiesel available on Super Duty models
– SYNC now includes 911 assist feature
– MyKey standard on STX, XLT FX4 and Lariat, optional on XL models
– Available Ford Work Solutions in-dash computer, Crew Chief, Tool Link and Cable Lock
– New F-150 SVT Raptor model
– STX receives standard cloth 40/20/40 split-bench seat with manual adjuster; does not include armrests, cupholders or storage
– King Ranch adds standard Sony Branded audio and heated rear seats
– Harley-Davidson package available on F-150 Lariat SuperCrew model only; package now adds standard heated rear seats and ambient lighting; on Super Duty models, Harley-Davidson package requires 6.4-litre Power Stroke diesel engine
– Platinum adds standard heated rear seats and ambient lighting
– XTR Package adds chrome billet-style grille, auto-dimming rearview mirror with compass and unique XTR decal
– XLT SuperCrew models add optional vinyl floor
– Heavy Duty Payload Package now includes 3.73 limited-slip rear axle
– Super Duty FX4 deleted on F-250 and F-350 SRW, and is replaced by the Cabela’s Luxury Edition, available on Crew Cab 4×4 only
– F-450 no longer available with 4.88 limited-slip axle
– Exterior colours: Tuxedo Black, Ingot Silver, White Platinum and Lava Red added; Stone Green, Amber Gold, Brilliant Silver, Black, White Sand and Oxford White discontinued

Completely redesigned for 2009, the Ford F-Series pickup continues into 2010 with numerous changes to its lineup. Most notable changes on the F-150 include the deletion of a flareside box, the choice of only two box lengths on the SuperCab, and the availability of Ford Work Solutions, consisting of four separation options that can add such items as an in-vehicle computer, dispatch system, RFID tool organizer and tool locking kit.

The new SVT Raptor, which comes only as a SuperCab, is a new off-road performance truck that includes unique front and rear styling, 17-inch wheels, unique captain’s chairs and interior features, and Fox Racing shocks designed specifically for the vehicle. It uses a 5.4-litre V8 but will add an all-new 6.2-litre V8 later in the model year.

The F-150 comes with a choice of 4.6-litre two-valve V8, 4.6-litre three-valve V8, or 5.4-litre flexible-fuel V8. The two-valve engine uses a four-speed automatic, while the other two use a six-speed automatic with Tow/Haul mode.

The Super Duty comes with 5.4-litre V8, 6.8-litre V10, or the new 6.4-litre Power Stroke V8 turbodiesel, all with five-speed TorqShift automatic transmission with Tow/Haul mode.

The F-150 comes in 4×2 or 4×4 configuration, in Regular Cab with 6-foot-5 or 8-foot box; SuperCab, with 6-foot-5 or 8-foot box; and SuperCrew, with 5-foot-5 or 6-foot-5 box. Trim levels are the XL, STX, XLT, FX4 and Lariat; available packages are the Harley-Davidson, King Ranch, and Platinum.

The Super Duty models also come as 4×2 or 4×4 models, in Regular Cab, SuperCab and SuperCrew, as the F-250, F-350, and F-450. Trim levels are the XL, XLT and Lariat, while available packages are the Cabela’s, Harley-Davidson, King Ranch, FX4 Off-Road, XTR, and XTR Plus.

Features on the XL include 17-inch steel wheels, air conditioning, tire pressure monitoring system, trailer tow with four-pin connector, trailer sway control, tilt steering column, cargo box lamp, stake bed pockets, intermittent wipers, silver-painted front and rear step bumpers, black grille and surround, AM/FM stereo, vinyl floor covering, cloth 40/20/40 split front rear seat, and on the SuperCab, 60/40 split flip-up rear seat.

The STX adds 17-inch alloy wheels, body-colour step bumpers, grille and surround, CD/MP3 stereo with auxiliary input, Sirius satellite radio, and MyKey.

The XLT adds chrome bumpers and grille, power locks with keyless entry, power mirrors, automatic headlamps, power accessory delay, colour-coordinated carpet and floor mats, cruise control, covered vanity mirrors, power windows, fixed rear window with privacy glass, outside temperature display, compass, premium cloth seats, and fade-out interior lighting.

The FX4 adds 18-inch alloy wheels, colour-coordinated front and rear step bumpers, black grille with body-colour surround, Sterling Grey wheel lip mouldings, fog lamps, SecuriCode keypad, electronic locking rear axle, off-road tuned shocks, skid plates, leather-wrapped steering wheel, black rubber floor mats, sport cloth bucket seats with six-way power driver’s adjustment, flow-through centre console with floor shifter, reverse sensing system, trailer tow package, and rear window defroster.The Lariat builds on the XLT and adds 18-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, Pueblo Gold front and rear step bumpers, chrome grille bars with mesh insert, heated mirrors with integrated turn signals and driver’s side auto-dimming, heavy-duty shock absorbers, illuminated vanity mirrors, six-CD/MP3 stereo, SYNC, carpet floor mats, message centre, leather-wrapped steering wheel with audio controls, ten-way power heated and cooled leather seats, driver’s side memory, auto-dimming rearview mirror, garage door opener, and power-adjustable pedals.

2010 Ford F-Series Specifications:

 
Type 2-door, 3-passenger pickup
  4-door, 6-passenger pickup
Layout Front engine/rear-wheel drive/4WD
Engine 4.6-litre V8, SOHC, 16 valves
  4.6-litre V8, SOHC, 24 valves
  5.4-litre V8, SOHC, 24 valves
  6.8-litre V10, SOHC, 30 valves
  6.4-litre V8 diesel, OHV, 32 valves
Transmission 4-speed automatic/6-speed 
   automatic/5-speed automatic
Horsepower 248 @ 4750 rpm
  292 @ 5700 rpm
  310 @ 5000 rpm (150)
  300 @ 5000 rpm (Super Duty)
  362 @ 4750 rpm
  350 @ 3000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft) 294 @ 4000 rpm
  320 @ 4000 rpm
  365 @ 3500 rpm (150)
  365 @ 3750 rpm (Super Duty)
  457 @ 3250 rpm
  650 @ 2000 rpm
Transmission 4-speed automatic/6-speed automatic
Tires 150 (base) P235/70R17 all-season
Tires 250 (base) LT245/75R17 all-season
Tires 350 (base) LT275/65R18 all-season
Curb weight 150 (minimum) 2151 kg (4743 lbs)
Curb weight 150 (maximum) 2639 kg (5820 lbs)
Curb weight 250 (minimum) 2497 kg (5504 lbs)
Curb weight 250 (maximum) 2946 kg (6495 lbs)
Wheelbase Reg Cab 6.5-ft bed 3200 mm (126.0 in.)
Wheelbase Reg Cab 8-ft bed 3670 mm (144.5 in.)
Wheelbase SuperCab 6.5-ft bed 3670 mm (144.5 in.)
Wheelbase SuperCab 8-ft bed 4140 mm (163.0 in.)
Wheelbase SuperCrew 5.5-ft bed 3670 mm (144.5 in.)
Wheelbase SuperCrew 6.5-ft bed 3987 mm (157.0 in.)
Wheelbase 250 Reg Cab 6.5-ft bed 3480 mm (137.0 in.)
Wheelbase 250 SuperCab 6.5-ft bed 3602 mm (141.8 in.)
Wheelbase 250 SuperCab 8-ft bed 4013 mm (158.0 in.)
Wheelbase 250 Crew Cab 6.5-ft bed 3967 mm (156.2 in.)
Wheelbase 250 Crew Cab 8-ft bed 4379 mm (172.4 in.)
Ground clearance 150 (minimum) 208 mm (8.2 in.)
Ground clearance 150 (maximum) 254 mm (10.0 in.)
Ground clearance 250/350 (minimum) 178 mm (7.0 in.)
Ground clearance 250/350 (maximum) 198 mm (7.8 in.)
Towing capacity 150 (minimum) 2313 kg (5100 lbs)
Towing capacity 150 (maximum) 5125 kg (11,300 lbs)
Towing capacity 250 (maximum) 5670 kg (12,500 lbs)(conventional)
Towing capacity 250 (maximum) 7484 kg (16,500 lbs)(5th wheel)
Towing capacity 350 (maximum) 6803 kg (15,000 lbs)
Towing capacity 350 (maximum) 8528 kg (18,800 lbs)(5th wheel)
Payload capacity 150 (minimum) 635 kg (1400 lbs)
Payload capacity 150 (maximum) 1374 kg (3030 lbs)
Payload capacity 250 (maximum) 1442 kg (3180 lbs)
Payload capacity 350 (maximum) 2599 kg (5730 lbs)
Fuel consumption 4.6 2V 4×2 City: 14.4 L/100 km (20 mpg Imp)
  Hwy: 10.3 L/100 km (27 mpg Imp)
Fuel consumption 4.6 2V 4×4 City: 15.0 L/100 km (19 mpg Imp)
  Hwy: 11.0 L/100 km (26 mpg Imp)
Fuel consumption 4.6 3V 4×2 City: 14.3 L/100 km (20 mpg Imp)
  Hwy: 9.7 L/100 km (29 mpg Imp)
Fuel consumption 4.6 3V 4×4 City: 14.9 L/100 km (19 mpg Imp)
  Hwy: 10.2 L/100 km (28 mpg Imp)
Fuel consumption 5.4 4×2 City: 14.9 L/100 km (19 mpg Imp)
  Hwy: 10.2 L/100 km (28 mpg Imp)
Fuel consumption 5.4 4×4 City: 15.6 L/100 km (18 mpg Imp)
  Hwy: 11.2 L/100 km (25 mpg Imp)
Fuel type Regular (4.6, 5.4, 6.8)
  Diesel (6.4)
Warranty 3 yrs/ 60,000 km
Powertrain warranty 5 yrs/100,000 km
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Ford Fusion named Motor Trend Car of the Year

November 19, 2009

(from Canadian Driver)

Los Angeles – The Ford Fusion has been named Motor Trend’s 2010 Car of the Year. The 2010 edition marks the award’s 60th year, the longest-standing editorial automotive award of its time.

“There has never been a more turbulent backdrop to the Motor Trend Car of the Year in its 60-year history,” said editor-in-chief Angus MacKenzie. “We have experienced seismic shifts in the global automotive industry landscape with iconic corporations going bankrupt, new model programs being cancelled, and OEMs killing off entire brands.”

Despite the economic turmoil, the industry still produced a large field of 23 new or significantly-improved vehicles launched in the U.S., all of which were evaluated by the magazine’s editors.

According to the evaluators, the Fusion offers a “sweep across one of the market’s more hotly-contested segments,” and is “a better, smarter, nicer, comfier and greener car than its predecessor.”

Other contenders were the BMW 7 Series and Z4; Buick LaCrosse; Chevrolet Camaro; Ford Mustang, Taurus, and Taurus SHO; Honda Insight; Hyundai Genesis Coupe; Kia Forte Koup and Soul; Lexus HS 250h; Mazda3; Mercedes-Benz E-Class Coupe and E-Class Sedan; Nissan 370Z; Nissan Cube; Porsche Panamera; Subaru Legacy; Suzuki Kizashi; Toyota Prius; and Volkswagen Golf, GTI, and Routan.

 

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2011 Ford Fiesta, road and track test

November 18, 2009

Upping the subcompact ante

Staff, Canadian Auto Press

Published: Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Ford is banking on its newest subcompact to pull entry-level buyers into its showrooms come next summer. And after a day’s drive through just about every type of condition this side of arid desert heat at one extreme, and snow on the other, the car proved that Ford doesn’t have much to worry about.

The 2010 Ford Fiesta.
The 2010 Ford Fiesta.
The rain in Vancouver was torrential, especially during a special autocross section that pitted the little subcompact hatchback against other B-segment top-sellers including Toyota’s Yaris Hatchback, Honda’s Fit and Nissan’s Versa Hatchback. All were capable little performers, but only the Fiesta took to the track like a real autocrosser. This thing has legs, reminding me more of the original European-designed Focus than anything Ford has ever brought to us before, and quality is a lot better too, especially inside where it shines, literally in a few spots.

In fact, there are a lot of bright spots throughout the cabin, metal-look accents that add some high-end flare in a segment that is traditionally more about A-to-B practicality than upscale attraction. Sure it can handle the trips to taekwondo practice, piano lessons and dentist after school thanks to five roomy seats and easy ingress/egress, a stop off to the nursery for a few potted plants and hanging baskets stowable in its 281 litres (9.9 cu ft) cargo hold, which incidentally measures 965 litres (9.9 / 34.1 cu ft) with the 60/40-split rear seats folded, and lest we not forget simple commuting made better due to a really good sounding audio system, comfortable seats, the aforementioned sporty demeanor and fuel economy that’s really miserly at 7.9L/100km in the city and 4.7 on the highway via the EU cycle. But it’s truly a sports car in hatchback guise.

It really is. I was just as enamored with the little Fiesta on the open road where its front struts and rear twist beam suspension let it carve up corners with ease, never becoming unstable even when pushed beyond the limits most drivers will attempt. Its electrically assisted steering system responds quickly to input too, and feels really good, which is normally not the case for such systems.

The little variable valve timing-enhanced 1.6-litre four is a terrific engine too, winding out nicely and sounding great during the process of making its maximum 118hp and 112 lb-ft of torque. The 5-speed manual shifts extremely well and the clutch is light yet substantive feeling. Ford didn’t have any 4-speed automatic versions on hand, but I imagine that it’s good enough for the intended purpose, and the car’s better than average engine output should help move auto-equipped Fiestas along well enough. The manual hits 100km/h in less than 10 seconds, which is good for this class, although more important is how planted it feels out on the freeway at high speeds, fully capable of passing large vehicles thanks to a 7.1-second run from 80-to-120 km/h in third gear. Around town it’s easy to drive, the suspension compliant enough for rougher patches of pavement and turning circle reasonably tight for negotiating parking lots.

Braking is also very good for the class thanks to ABS, EBD, and EBA. The fronts are discs and the rear uses drums, normal for B-segment vehicles, while a full assortment of airbags is expected to come standard. Right about now it should be pointed out that the car I was driving during a recent press program was a European model, and with the Canadian-spec intro not expected until the Canadian International Auto Show next year, we won’t know for sure exactly which items will be standard and what will get on the options list, or won’t be offered at all.

For instance, some of the cars brought into the country to do the program and make rounds to dealers featured leather seats, automatic climate control, rain-sensing wipers, keyless ignition with push-button start, power windows, locks and mirrors, automatic headlights, cruise control, plus a really good audio system boasting USB and iPod inputs. Not the usual entry-level fare, which makes me think that a lot of it might not make its way across the Atlantic. Our subcompact segment is a very price conscious, needs-driven market, and such features, excepting the stereo upgrade, power windows, locks and mirrors, and cruise control would likely get nixed by the consumer. Likewise the Euro car included a fairly sophisticated infotainment interface that probably won’t be part of the North American Fiesta lineup, our cars getting Ford’s much-lauded Sync connectivity system.

While time spent in Ford’s all-new entry-level hatchback won’t help me relate all of the standard and available features the upcoming 2011 North American-specification model will offer, it causes me to state without hesitation that Ford has upped the ante in the subcompact class with its new Fiesta.

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Road Test: 2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid – Fuel Efficient and powerful

November 17, 2009

(Clare Dear, Canwest News Service)

Published: Friday, November 13, 2009

Ford’s Fusion, already a solid entry in the mid-sized sedan segment, gets added appeal for 2010 with the introduction of a hybrid model. It should be noted that this is no token nod to pacify the greenies – the Fusion Hybrid is the real deal and more than capable of taking on the hybrid technology leader, Toyota.

2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid.
2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid.
For some buyers, it’s important to make a statement with their choice to go the hybrid route, hence the unique look of the Toyota Prius and the next-generation Honda Insight. Their owners have made a deliberate decision to go green, are proud of it and want the world to know.

Then there are those who prefer to be less obvious, opting for a more conventional-looking sedan with a hybrid powertrain, such as the Toyota Camry, Nissan Altima and the Fusion.

Their choices are likely less about statements and more about savings. And this is where Ford’s latest hybrid really shines. Its next-generation powertrain, combining a 2.5-litre Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder with a 70-kilowatt electric traction motor and an electronically controlled CVT (continuously variable transmission), delivers class-leading fuel efficiency. It’s rated at 4.6 litres per 100 kilometres in city use and 5.4 L/100 km on the highway, outpacing the Camry, which delivers 5.7 L/100 km in both urban and highway driving. In a week of real-world driving (non-conservation mode), my tester delivered an impressive combined average of 6.8 L/100 km.

For comparison, the fuel efficiency of a conventionally powered Fusion with the 2.5L four-cylinder and a six-speed automatic is rated at 8.9 L/100 km in the city and 5.8 on the highway. The Camry, with a 2.5L four and six-speed automatic, delivers 9.0 L/100 km in the city and 6.1 L/100 km on the highway.

The best part about this new Fusion Hybrid is that it looks and feels just like its gasoline-powered siblings. Except for some subtle badging, most wouldn’t notice it’s different.

The Fusion isn’t Ford’s first try at building a hybrid – the gas/electric iteration of its popular Escape compact SUV has been doing a decent job carrying the green banner in that segment since 2005. Ford engineers have worked hard to refine the gas/electric systems in the Escape, but the new Fusion system pushes the performance and efficiency standards to a new level. Ford says this new technology will enable the 2010 Fusion to travel more than 1,200 km in city driving on a single tank of fuel (64.3 litres).

Its engineers also say the car can run up to 75 km/h in pure electric mode, although I found during a week with the Fusion that the gas engine tended to kick in sooner – more in the 45- to 50-km range. Still, that’s a higher speed than in the Camry or Altima.

Ford has utilized several engineering advances to gain its efficiency advantage while still retaining decent performance. For example, the 156-horsepower gas engine features an intake variable cam timing system that alters the spark and cam timing to make the transition between gas and electric modes more seamless – and it works. Except for the visual cues on the instrument panel, it’s difficult to feel when the switch is made.

The battery technology has also been upgraded, with the nickel-metal hydride Fusion unit smaller and lighter yet 20% more powerful than the Escape version. Unlike the Escape, it has also been designed to run without an auxiliary cooling system, simply using the cabin’s climate-controlled air to maintain the proper operating temperature.

The most obvious difference with the Fusion Hybrid is the instrument panel, specifically its SmartGauge with EcoGuide display. There are two LCD screens, one on either side of the round, centrally positioned speedometer.

Depending on how far you want to take your green driving techniques, the screens can be set up to one of four levels of information, from displaying the basics (fuel level and battery charge status) to advanced details such as engine and battery output power and accessory power consumption.

For me, the best part of the system was the Efficiency Leaves feature. Ford engineers say they wanted to encourage efficient driving techniques by using a “fun approach” – and the “leaves” work well. The more fuel efficient your driving style, the more green leaves you can “grow” on your display screen, to a maximum of 23. A buddy managed to sprout 18 green thingies on the winding vine during a highway run. (I think he spiked the gas tank with Miracle Gro.) My right foot was heavier, producing just 13 leaves. At least it wasn’t a burning bush.

The rest of the Fusion Hybrid mirrors the other iterations in the lineup.

The cabin is roomy, with comfortable seating that easily accommodates four adults – or five in a pinch. Like its siblings, the interior’s fit and finish is at least equal to those of its Japanese rivals, with premium-grade materials and an efficient, eye-pleasing layout.

The hybrid’s ride and handling is typical Fusion, too, with comfort and good road manners priorities.

The downside is the premium one pays to go green – 2010 Fusions start at $21,499, but the HEV has a $31,999 price tag. Still, if you you’re leaning toward a hybrid sedan, this Fusion should be on your shopping list.

 

The Specs:

Type of vehicle: Front-drive mid-sized sedan

Engine: 2.5L DOHC four-cylinder and permanent magnet AC synchronous electric motor

Power: 156 hp @ 6,000 rpm; 136 lb-ft of torque @ 2,250 rpm; electric motor:

106 hp @6,500 rpm

Transmission: Continuously variable

Brakes: Four-wheel discs with ABS

Tires: P225/50VR17

Price: base/as tested: $31,999/$38,229

Destination charge: $1,350

Transport Canada fuel economy L/100 km: 4.6 city, 5.4 hwy.

Standard features: Dual-zone electronic climate control, eight-way power driver’s seat, two-way manual fold-flat front passenger seat, premium AM/FM audio system with six speakers, auxiliary audio input jack, six-disc in-dash CD player and MP3 capability, Sirius satellite radio, tilt and telescopic steering column, ambient lighting, Sync voice-activated communications and entertainment control system, outside temperature display, auto-dimming rear-view mirror with compass, automatic halogen headlights, remote keyless entry, reverse-sensing system, speed-sensitive wipers, power heated exterior mirrors.