Archive for February, 2010

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2011 Ford Edge Debuts

February 23, 2010

Ford’s popular crossover gets updated for the new model year.

Ford pulled out all the stops when it came to updating its Edge crossover for 2011, which is getting its debut at the Chicago auto show. When the freshened model arrives in dealerships this summer, it will offer three engine choices, two transmission options, fresh styling and improved interior surroundings.

On the engine front, customers will be able to choose from a 3.5-liter V6, a 3.7-liter V6 for Sport versions or a 2.0-liter EcoBoost I4. The updated 3.5-liter V6 has a 20-hp jump over the outgoing 3.5-liter unit with the help of twin independent-variable camshaft timing. The 3.7-liter V6 also employs the advanced valvetrain technology to produce 305 hp. Ford hasn’t announced the power ratings on the 2.0-liter turbocharged I4, but the automaker claims that it will offer performance comparable to a V6, while delivering a 15 percent improvement in fuel economy over the Edge’s current 3.5-liter V6.

All engines will come connected to a six-speed automatic transmission, with Edge Sport models receiving a manual shift mode with paddle shifters.

The suspension gets retuned shocks, springs and antiroll bars to sharpen handling while maintaining ride comfort. Brakes are upgraded with larger rear rotors, better brake-pad materials, and revised brake booster and pedal ratio for better stopping power and brake feel. Features newly available include hill start assist, trailer-sway control and hydraulic brake assist.

Visually, the 2011 Edge gains a larger grille and a chin spoiler. Inside, Ford promises improved panel fitments, materials, softer touchpoints and a more ergonomic layout. Close attention was paid to quieting the cabin with the addition of acoustic-laminated glass, increased sound insulation, upgrading the front and rear subframe bushings and adding underbody shields.

New interior technology includes MyFord Touch, which comes standard on Limited and Sport models. Also, iTunes tagging is available on cars with factory-installed HD radio receivers.

The Edge Sport also gets a specially tuned suspension, tuxedo black grille, smoked headlamp and taillamps, body-color fascias, rocker moldings, door cladding and 22-inch polished aluminum wheels. Smoke silver trim, silver smoke metallic leather seat inserts and aluminum pedals complete the Sport package.

(from Jonathon Wong of Autoweek)

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Carroll Shelby – man of many cars

February 22, 2010
2010 Carroll Shelby exhibit
2010 Carroll Shelby exhibit.

According to attendees of the 2010 Canadian International Auto Show’s Carroll Shelby Gala, the guest of honour became teary-eyed at the sight of so many Shelby vehicles on display. Apparently, it was the first time that these special vehicles — many of them driven in competition by Mr. Shelby and representing over 60 years of Shelby motorsports history — had been assembled in one place.

Mr. Shelby’s induction into the Canadian Motorsports Hall of Fame was a fine tribute, but for the lucky Gala attendees, seeing the man and the cars was, as they say, priceless.

1949 MG TC
Allard J2X
1949 MG TC (top); Allard J2X.

The vehicles remained on display as a special feature of the 2010 Toronto auto show, and these truly important cars were surely a must-see for visitors.

Among them was an example of an MG-TC, the model Mr. Shelby drove to his first race victory in 1952. Although this car is commonly cited as representing the beginning of sports car racing in America, it must be observed that simply fitting the lanky Carroll Shelby into such a diminutive vehicle should have garnered him an award by itself. Should you have the occasion to sit behind the wheel of a TC, you’ll know what I mean.

Perhaps better suited to his physique, an Allard J2X with Cadillac power (also present at the show) gave him some room in the cockpit, and a taste for lightweight British cars with American V8 grunt.

During the 1950s, Mr. Shelby drove a succession of vehicles on both sides of the Atlantic, including an Austin Healey 100S in the Carrera Pan America Mexico cross-country race, and an assortment of Ferraris, Aston Martins and Maseratis. In 1957, he made his Formula 1 debut in the Monaco Grand Prix, and was named “Driver of the Year” by Sports Illustrated magazine.

Just a bit more background on Mr. Shelby: In 1959, co-driving with Roy Salvadori, he won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in a works Aston-Martin DBR1/300, a car that Gala organizer Richard Pickering tried unsuccessfully to bring to Toronto from England. Word has it that the significant insurance required to cover the car for the event was the stumbling block.

Cobra Daytona Coupe CSX 2299
Shelby Cobra 427
Cobra Daytona Coupe CSX 2299 (top); Shelby Cobra 427.

Mr. Shelby retired from racing at the conclusion of the 1960 racing season after winning the United States Auto Club (USAC) Championship at the wheel of a 1961 “Birdcage” Maserati.

Following his storied racing career, Mr. Shelby operated a school of high-performance driving and a Goodyear racing tire distributorship, but the idea of building his own car by fitting a lightweight British vehicle with a powerful American V8 had been germinating since his experience with the Cadillac-powered Allard.

Interestingly, Mr. Shelby approached General Motors about the prospect of using one of their engines in an Austin Healey, but neither Donald Healey nor GM was interested. Ford, however, was keen, as was England’s AC Cars, and the result turned out to be historic.

Along with the Shelby Cobra roadsters and the super-rare Shelby Daytona Coupe on display in Toronto, Mr. Shelby was front-and-centre in the development of the Ford-powered Sunbeam Tiger, the Shelby Mustang program, the Ford GT40 Le Mans program, the Hertz GT350 cars, and was involved in the full array of major races, both domestic and international, featuring various examples of Shelby American vehicles. The majority of the vehicles on display in Toronto represented that busy period from the 1960s.

During the 1980s, Mr. Shelby contracted with Chrysler to develop high-performance Dodge vehicles, and began work on what would become the Dodge Viper.

Shelby Cobra barn find
Shelby Cobra barn find.

During the 1990s, Mr. Shelby was inducted in to several motorsports “halls of fame,” began production of the CSX4000 Series 427 Cobra S/C Roadsters, and by the early 21st Century was back with Ford for a productive collaboration that has produced the Ford GT and several Shelby Mustang variants.

Now 87 years old, Carroll Shelby has enjoyed a long and distinctive career in motorsports and the automotive industry in general. Despite lifelong health issues (he is a two-time heart transplant recipient), Mr. Shelby has “lived the dream” of countless car enthusiasts. The Toronto exhibit featured some of the finest examples of vehicles bearing the Shelby name. If you couldn’t be there in person, our photo gallery recalls the event.

(from Canadian Driver)

Paul Williams is an Ottawa-based automotive writer and senior editor for CanadianDriver. He is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).

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Best New Green Technology Award presented

February 19, 2010

Ford’s Next Generation Hybrid System and “SmartGauge”, available on the 2010 Fusion Hybrid, was declared the winner of the 2010 Best New Green Technology award by the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC). The award was announced this morning during a press conference that opened the Canadian International AutoShow media day in Toronto.

“AJAC’s Best New Green Technology award, presented by Shell Canada, was established to recognize innovative new developments in the auto industry that will be of benefit to the Canadian consumer,” said Canadian Car of the Year and technology award chairman Richard Russell. “Virtually every manufacturer is working to reduce fuel consumption and exhaust emissions. We want to look at these efforts and award those we feel are worthy of recognition.”

The winner was chosen from a list of five entries, judged by a panel of AJAC members with specific technical qualifications who regularly report on industry engineering and technical trends.

“Great strides in our hybrid technology have made the Fusion Hybrid the most fuel efficient mid-size sedan and the addition of SmartGauge with EcoGuide instrument cluster technology, is a unique way to help drivers get the most out of their hybrids,” said David Mondragon, president and CEO, Ford of Canada.

(from Canadian Driver)

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Auto Tech: Horsepower and torque

February 17, 2010

Comparing horsepower and torque ratings between vehicles can be confusing, partly because when manufacturers tune their engines, they are after specific engine characteristics to match the weight, size and purpose of the vehicle. The numbers vary from engine to engine and typically only the peak ratings are given, which can also be misleading. Let’s take a look at what horsepower and torque really are and how they are measured.

Horsepower is related to torque, and torque is turning force. Place a lever on the engine’s crankshaft and measure the twisting force produced, and you have torque. Note that time is not a factor – torque can be constant over time. Horsepower, on the other hand, is the rate at which the torque is produced.

Horsepower is a measurement of the engine’s ability to do work. One horsepower can lift 33,000 pounds up one foot in one minute. Horsepower is measured over time. The more horsepower a vehicle has, the more mass it can move in the same amount of time, or it can move a fairly constant mass (the weight of the car) in less time. In simple terms, to get a vehicle accelerating quicker, we need to produce torque faster.

Until 1971, horsepower was reported in SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) gross ratings. This measured power at the flywheel but without any accessories, exhaust or air filters. In 1972, SAE ratings were now given as net horsepower. This was with all accessories and components as would be found when the engine is installed in a vehicle. As a result, the power ratings were significantly lower.

A couple years ago SAE announced a new J1349 power and torque certification procedure. This J1349 standard not only specifies new test procedures for measuring engine horsepower, but also requires that an SAE qualified observer witness and verify the actual test. This enables consumers to compare the horsepower of one certified engine to another. But there is much more to vehicle performance than just horsepower numbers.

That brings us back to torque. Diesel engines typically have high torque ratings compared to their horsepower output. Some of this is provided by the higher compression used in diesel engines but most of it is created by the diesel combustion process. Diesel combustion starts when the fuel is injected into the cylinder. The burning fuel forces the piston down and the crankshaft to turn. Torque is the twisting force of the crankshaft. When we want to accelerate or pull a heavy load with a diesel powered vehicle, more fuel is injected to provide additional force. Unlike gasoline engines, where the fuel is delivered into the cylinder before the spark plug ignites it in a big bang, diesel injection continues to spray the fuel into the cylinder as combustion takes place. This keeps the pressure and force on the pistons higher for a longer time – hence more torque.

Horsepower is the rate at which torque is produced. Rev the engine higher and more horsepower is produced. There are limits to when maximum horsepower is developed and this is usually created by engine mechanical limitations or restrictions in the airflow through the engine. Gasoline engines typically have higher horsepower ratings than torque ratings, because the lighter components (compared to diesel engines) allow them to accelerate rpm quicker so they can produce the power quicker and accelerate the vehicle quicker.

Almost all horsepower and torque ratings are given in “peak” numbers at a specified rpm. This maximum rating may not mean much to your driving unless the specified rpm is within your normal driving speeds. For example, a race engine might produce a lot of horsepower at 7,000 rpm but very little at 2,500 rpm. This wouldn’t make for a pleasant car to drive on the street. Variable cam timing, variable intake manifold tuning and turbocharging are all technologies used to broaden the power and torque range of an engine.

For pulling power, you want lots of torque at low r.p.m. Some engines like Ford’s Ecoboost use twin turbos to help produce peak torque from 1,500 rpm all the way to 5,250 rpm. For acceleration, look for higher horsepower numbers. If peak horsepower is delivered at lower rpm, the vehicle will be more relaxing to drive.

Manufacturers try to match horsepower and torque output of an engine to the vehicle purpose: most of the time they do a very good job.

(from Canadian Driver – Jim Kerr)

Jim Kerr is a master automotive mechanic and teaches automotive technology. He has been writing automotive articles for fifteen years for newspapers and magazines in Canada and the United States, and is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada (AJAC).

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Canada wins GOLD!

February 15, 2010

We would like to offer our congratulations to Alexandre Bilodeau and his amazing mogul run to win Canada’s first Gold medal on home soil!

Watch his Gold medal performance here:

http://www.ctvolympics.ca/video/index.html?assetid=52d2ac6b-bacc-4953-9082-911418932139

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Inside Story: 2010 Ford Taurus SHO

February 12, 2010
2010 Ford Taurus SHO
2010 Ford Taurus SHO
2010 Ford Taurus SHO

This scribe can’t remember a Ford sedan with such a dominating footprint since the 1973 LTD, when your hubcap inserts had to match the body colour. This is one really big SHO (with apologies to the late, great Ed Sullivan.) It’s also the first of the latest generation of the brawny bull to grace the Inside Story driveway. As equipped, this week’s tester settles in at an MSRP of $52,099. (Prices shown do not include freight, taxes, regional or promotional incentives.)

The Cockpit/Centre Stack

It appears that making a Ford sedan steering wheel look sexy isn’t high on the priority list at FoMoCo, though this leather-wrapped tilt/telescopic unit appears to be trying. Voice commands, Bluetooth phone connections, audio tweaks, and Navi prompts can be controlled from the wheel tabs, including the fine-tuning for the Adaptive Cruise Control. The shift paddles need work, not in their operation, but with materials that don’t feel like rubbery plastic. This is the only manual shift mode for the six-speed automatic, with no floor-mount Fun Gate.

2010 Ford Taurus SHO
2010 Ford Taurus SHO
2010 Ford Taurus SHO

Look out for that Bravada! The head’s-up display warning lamps, along with audible alarms, are part of the Adaptive Cruise Control Collision Warning system, which gets your attention almost as quickly as an old Bravada. It’s not quite the Smartypants Key one would expect for the SHO fob, though the system does ask an important question; do you always want your car to do an auto unlock when it senses your fob? By simply having the fob on your person, one can tap the SecuriCode keypad on the door pillar to allow entry.

While we’re out here, the exterior power heated mirrors are of the breakaway style, with puddle lamps, and blind-spot indicator lamps. The control toggle is found in the A-pillar upper postal code for the driver’s door. (8) Driver and front passenger windows are of the Auto descent/ascent variety. Ambient LED lighting cascades forth from beneath the door handle curvature at night. The headlamps favour a dash-mount twist dial, with Auto detent. Note the separate rocker switch for dimming the IP lighting, next to the power pedals control. Both exterior mirror and pedal position are incorporated into the driver’s seat memory system.

2010 Ford Taurus SHO
2010 Ford Taurus SHO
2010 Ford Taurus SHO
2010 Ford Taurus SHO

The instrument cluster gets the usual Trans Am metallic applique of performance, filled in with tachometer and engine coolant temperature sweeps. The driver’s information display can be a busy place, with fuel economy reports, systems status, and warnings of interest. The Cross-Traffic Alert system will note on the screen the direction that the vehicle of concern is approaching from, in addition to the audible warning. Access to the majority of the driver’s information is performed via the switch bank on the upper edge of the centre stack, with traction control shut-down to the right.

The Navi/Sync head unit, and HVAC controls, are familiar Ford corporate. News of the rear views moves from the interior rear-view mirror display on non-Navi models, to the head unit display. A Valet Mode can be engaged on the Sync system, requiring a four-digit PIN to unlock. Rain-sensing wipers are actuated from the turn signal stalk. Of particular note for approaching drivers is the innovation of the Taurus’ Auto High-Beam headlamps which dip automatically. A rear power sunshade (16) can be raised from a panel behind the floor shifter. The ambient interior lighting can be colour-matched to your mood from this location.

Cubbies!

Front and rear door pockets are bottle holder equipped, while still retaining the ability to stow other items. While we’re talking pockets, please note that the front seatbacks are so equipped. The flip-down rear centre armrest includes a removable rubbery insert for easy cleaning and minor cup cinch. Next to the shifter is a flip-top door that reveals a rubbery insert, with a cup/bottle provision, as well as a frontal slot suitable for a flip phone or MP3 player. Makes sense, since a 12-volt DC powerpoint is found under the flip-up door, in front of the shifter. The insert can be removed to stow larger items away from prybar eyes. The primary cup holder is hidden by another flip-top door, with a movable/removable centre cinch biscuit, plus a removable rubbery floor bed.

Lip balm, anyone? That must have been the need/want of some focus group, as a lip balm-specific portal is denoted on the underside of the centre console lid, along with pens and card stowage. A removable upper tray provides coin holding support, while USB, auxiliary audio input, and a 12-volt powerpoint are found within the console cavity. Note the removable rubbery bed. The locking glovebox is respectfully sized. Note the cheat sheet booklet for the not-so-Navi-savvy.

The Overhead
2010 Ford Taurus SHO
2010 Ford Taurus SHO
2010 Ford Taurus SHO
2010 Ford Taurus SHO
2010 Ford Taurus SHO
2010 Ford Taurus SHO
2010 Ford Taurus SHO
2010 Ford Taurus SHO.

An auto-dimming mirror reflects on its purpose, while an ample-sized sunglasses holder awaits the deposit of all things UV-protective. A Homelink pod inhabits the driver’s side visor. Both visors can slide for sunblock, and are backlit vanity mirror-equipped. I’ve been concerned about Ford sunroof deflectors before, and while this one seems equally cheap, it’s the headliner material finishing that is most concerning. Rearward vision is compromised by the downward intrusion of the high-mount brake lamp assembly. No matter; the high decklid pretty much ensures that the only thing you see behind you is other Taurus models, and the roofs of everything else. Rear passengers do get their own map light pod, with the ability to lock out the courtesy lamp, mighty handy when you’re retrieving a bundle of sleeping joy that you wish not to wake.

Seat Treat

If your glutes feel like they’re doing The Wave, don’t fret. In addition to full power and power lumbar adjustment, the front Multi-Contour seats are equipped with Active Motion massage, which can alleviate back pain and fatigue on long trips. Two memory positions are provided for the driver’s seat. The front seats receive the added comfort of three-step heat and cooling. Figure the rear seats are cold as ice? Think again, with two-step heat provided in an area code that is long overdue. I would like to see something other than the front seat wiring harness when the driver’s seat is in access mode.

Cargo Embargo

A well-finished underside to this decklid hides a concern: no interior pull-down strap or handle, to keep hands from being soiled in the months of road spray. The finishing within continues into the underside of the parcel shelf. Seat fold is about as close to flat as it gets, with simple interior pull straps for seatback release. A cargo net and integrated hooks are provided in the trunk.

Spare Care

Is this a big trunk? Consider this; the trunk floor biscuit has simply been slid forward to achieve this view of the space-saver spare, with tools stowed beneath. Ford will change that spare for you, during the first five years or 100,000 kilometres of ownership.

The Mill

I figured that the 365-horsepower 3.5-litre twin-turbo EcoBoost would be a tight fit in the Taurus engine bay, and the SHO didn’t disappoint. Note how certain items seem to hide in the brush of wiring and components, such as the elusive and wily alternator, and the extremely rare transmission filler neck, shielded by the air filter assembly. The propaganda states a City fuel economy consumption of 12.3 litres per 100 kilometres, and 8 litres Highway. Pay no mind to the figure on the cluster above. When the SHO arrived fresh from a Regina-Winnipeg run, the trip computer weighed in at an average of 10 litres consumption per 100 kilometres. (The 11 litres shown above was a day later, with a lot of throttle before reset.) A lot more throttle, and a reset later, the observed City figure settled in at 14 litres per 100 kilometres. Not bad, for a front driver hot rod chassis that seems to have adopted a rear drive bias with its all-wheel drive system. Not that we’re complaining. Of note; the projected fuel economy figures for the Taurus AWD normally-aspirated 3.5-litre are practically identical to the SHO. Projections, proschmections; let’s spool up the turbos!

The Verdict

Somewhere in the plumbing of this black, twin-turbo beast beats the folklore of Ford power, from the days of Fenton-equipped Flatheads, to Shelby-tuned Cobra mills, and maybe even an SVO Mustang, or a Turbo T-Bird Coupe. From the standpoint of the drive, the SHO demands your attention, and anyone else that hears its purposeful rumble. From a sheer comfort view, consider this: how many other cars for Fifty and change provide massages? But I do have a wish-list: a floor-mount manual gate, magnesium alloy shifter paddles, a 2010 Mustang-esque three-spoke wheel, and a console lid that can slide backwards, and out of the way of the driver’s right elbow for spirited corner inputs – and maybe a back window that you can see out of.

(from Canadian Driver)

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Electric Transit Connect debuts at Chicago show

February 11, 2010

The Ford Transit Connect Electric will make its debut at the Chicago Auto Show, a fully electric version of Ford’s compact van. The conventional Transit Connect was named the 2010 North American Truck of the Year in January.

The vehicle is converted by Azure Dynamics, which is providing its patented Force Drive battery electric powertrain to replace the gasoline engine.

“The Transit Connect Electric is an ideal vehicle for our Force Drive technology,” said Scott Harrison, CEO of Azure Dynamics. “Force Drive is especially effective for fleets with predictable short-range routes and frequent stop-and-go urban driving conditions that Transit Connect Electric vehicles are likely to encounter. We’ll be able to offer owners lower operating and maintenance costs and zero emissions in a vehicle that can go up to 80 miles on a charge.”

“Fleet owners are demanding greater operating efficiency in cleaner vehicles,” said Gerry Koss, fleet marketing manager for Ford. “The Transit Connect Electric delivers on both fronts. As the first product in our aggressive electrified vehicle plan, we expect the Transit Connect Electric to be an immediate hit and keep Ford squarely on track to leadership in the electric vehicle market.”

(from Canadian Driver)