Though it made its mark as a middleweight, Ford’s Taurus moved up in class three years ago. It was fully redone in 2010, when it vacated its title as perennially popular midsize, in favor of a new role as a contender in the large car ranks.
If the 2010 makeover was a reinvention, the byword for 2013 is refinement. Ford’s flagship rolls into showrooms with a bagful of tasteful tweaks and new technology.
Taurus is offered in one body style (four-door sedan) and three trim levels (SE, SEL and Limited). Front wheel drive and all wheel drive versions are available, with a high performance SHO model rounding out the 2013 lineup. Prices start at $26,600. My test drive was in a Taurus Limited with all wheel drive.
The most obvious changes to the new Taurus are those that the eyes can see. The latest look is more aggressive, and starts with a shield shaped front grille. Active shutters embedded there reduce aerodynamic drag at speed, which in turn helps boost gas mileage. The grille is bordered by a pair of long, narrow projector headlamps, and capped by a new, beveled hood, with a lowered, muscular form. The stand-out differences in back are the LED taillights, which provide an upgrade in both looks and visibility.
Sliding inside, the interior’s improvements for 2013 key on comfort and convenience. A carryover from the 2010 redesign is plenty of cargo space and passenger room. The trunk measures a generous, 20.1 cubic feet. The narrow trunk opening hinders the loading of bulky items, and the liftover height to access the space is moderately high.
Leaving the luggage behind, Taurus very comfortably accommodates adults in both rows. It’s a little quieter in the cabin now, thanks to added insulation behind the dash and inside the A-pillars. Soft-touch material is wrapped around most anything you come in contact with, including the sides of the center console.
MyFord Touch (the company’s electronics interface) and SYNC (Ford’s voice-activated communications and entertainment control system) have improved functionality for 2013. The driver can check system information on the eight inch display atop the center stack, as well as in a pair of 4.2-inch color screens nestled on either side of the speedometer. You can also access this system via voice activation, or the five-way toggle switches on the steering wheel.
Speaking of touch, the HVAC system is controlled by touch pad buttons mounted low on the center stack. The buttons are a fairly small target to zero in on while driving, and tough to hit accurately — especially with a winter-gloved hand. Upsizing would also help the font size of the temperature readouts on the main display. Their small size is potentially distracting for the driver. Highlights from the option sheet include a heated steering wheel, power, rear window sunshade, auto high beams, rain sensing wipers and contoured, massaging front seats.
The performance-minded SHO (which we will feature in a future test drive) gets Ford’s 3.5 liter, 365 h.p. EcoBoost V-6 engine. Newly available for 2013 is a 2.0 liter EcoBoost four-cylinder engine. Taurus is the first, North American model to receive this motor, which, like the other EcoBoost offerings, employs direct injection and turbocharging. It also offers the promise of up to 31 mpg’s on the highway. We’ve not yet had access to the 2.0 liter for testing, and it will be interesting to find out how the four-cylinder feels when powering the two-ton Taurus. My drive time was spent with the volume leading, 3.5 liter DOHC V-6. Standard on all SE, SEL and Limited models, this six is rated at 288 horsepower, and 254 lb. ft. of torque. Like all Taurus models, it’s matched with a six speed automatic transmission. The six/six engine/transmission combo work well together, and return very solid mileage numbers, too. The EPA estimates fuel economy at 19 city/29 highway (FWD), and 18/26 (AWD).
The real corner carver in the Taurus family is the SHO. But, extensive driving of the Limited over twisty, wet and sometimes gravel covered roads revealed it to be very competent and stable feeling. New technology lends a hand, in the form of torque vectoring control and curve control. The former feature places a slight amount of braking force on the front, inside wheel when accelerating out of a corner, for greater control. The latter slows the car if you’re carrying too much speed into a turn (note: these are safety aids, not a license to Drive Dumb. No system is enough to overcome a truly meat-headed motorist). Still on the topic of “whoa,” a bigger brake master cylinder and revised booster tuning give the driver better pedal feel. All Taurus models now enjoy Electronic Power Assisted Steering. Ford has also retuned the hard mounted steering rack, spring and damper rates for balanced ride and handling.
The Taurus competes in the full-size segment with cars like the Buick Lucerne, Hyundai Azera, Toyota Avalon, Chrysler 300 and Nissan Maxima. While this sector may be low key, it’s filled with high quality offerings. Ford’s slant with Taurus is to take the traditional full-size sedan values — room, comfort — wrap them in handsome, new sheet metal, and enhance the package with smart technology. The bigger, bolder Taurus was impressive when it first rolled out three years ago. The latest version is a better car, not thanks to any one big splash, but rather by waves of refinements.
In a media release, the automaker said the vehicle, which would represent the top of the Explorer model line, was the first-ever high-performance model for its venerable Explorer nameplate. That may be true, though some Wheels readers may remember the Sport designation on a two-door version of the S.U.V. offered in the 1990s and 2000s.
The Explorer Sport shares the carlike body-chassis unit found on the 2012 Explorer, but instead of that model’s 290-horsepower V-6 and EcoBoost 4-cylinder engines, the Sport gets a twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V-6 that, according to Ford, generates at least 350 horsepower. The engine is backed by a paddle-shifted 6-speed automatic. A somewhat stout 3.16:1 final drive ratio is said to provide a balance of responsive acceleration and economical low-r.p.m. cruising.
A reinforced chassis, electric power steering with a quicker ratio and stouter suspension calibration are intended to improve the vehicle’s handling. Brakes have grown, too, though the disc and caliper sizes were not disclosed.
If Ford’s projected fuel-economy figures of 16 miles per gallon in city and 22 m.p.g. in highway driving are verified by the E.P.A., the vehicle would better the fuel economy of the 2012 Jeep Cherokee and Dodge Durango, which share a 360-horsepower 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 engine, by 3 m.p.g. and 2 m.p.g. in their respective categories.
In a reminder of shifting corporate allegiances, Ford compared the Explorer’s fuel economy with that of the Land Rover’s Range Rover Sport. The model was developed under Ford’s stewardship of the British S.U.V. builder, before the marque was sold along with Jaguar to Tata Motors in 2008. The Explorer Sport would have the edge by 3 m.p.g. in city and 4 m.p.g. in highway driving.
Subtle exterior cues give the Explorer Sport a somewhat more aggressive appearance than currently available trim packages. These include painted 20-inch wheels, various black trim pieces and a low-gloss gray-mesh grille with glossy black bars spanning its width.
Standard and optional features do not differ from those available at other trim levels and include 4-wheel drive, dual-zone temperature control, first-row heated power seats, rear-view camera, the MyFord Touch infotainment system and a premium sound system with 12 speakers.
Pricing for the Explorer Sport will be announced closer to its sale date this year, but as the new range-topper, it would be expected to exceed the price of an Explorer Limited with 4-wheel drive, which begins at $40,680.
2.0-Liter Turbocharged Model Bests Similarly Equipped Compact SUVs
BOW, N.H. (04/02/2012)(readMedia)– Ford’s all-new 2013 Escape may be considered compact, but the automaker wants buyers to know the SUV can do its fair share of work when it comes time to do some towing. Due to reachFord dealerships later this spring, an EcoBoost-equipped Escape will provide best-in-class towing among turbocharged small SUVs, offering a more fuel-efficient alternative for transporting a snowmobile or jet skis on weekends.
While the 2013 Ford Escape won’t be available with a V6 engine, its optional 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine ensures that the small SUV doesn’t give up power or capability with a four-cylinder. Featuring 237 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque, the all-new Escape is rated to tow up to 3,500 pounds with the 2.0-liter turbocharged EcoBoost. That is more than 1,000 pounds above the Escape’s closest competitor with a turbocharged four-cylinder, the Volkswagen Tiguan, which tows just 2,200 pounds.
“Doing more with less is tough in the auto industry, but Ford has accomplished that feat with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost in the new Escape,” said Bob McCullen, general sales manager of Bow, New Hampshire Ford dealership Grappone Ford. “Ford’s EcoBoost technology gets more power out of smaller engines, which means you can downsize for greater efficiency without sacrificing capability. That’s something that the competition has yet to figure out.”
Ford hasn’t been shy about rolling out its EcoBoost engines; the automaker chose its best-selling F-150 pickup truck to be one of the first vehicles to feature the innovative technology. The twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost in the F-150 produces 365 horsepower and 420 pound-feet of torque while offering a best-in-class maximum tow rating of 11,300 pounds when properly equipped. That power only comes with a limited thirst for fuel as well, with the EcoBoost-powered F-150 returning up to 22 mpg on the highway.
Typically a tough crowd to sway, truck shoppers have embraced the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine, which now accounts for more than 40 percent of all F-150 sales. That success likely led Ford to slate the same engine for its upcoming Transit commercial van, which is scheduled to go on sale in 2013. The all-new Ford Transit could net a 25-percent improvement in fuel economy compared to the E-Series van it replaces, meaning impressive cost savings for business owners.
Though Ford’s EcoBoost technology may be best known for its grittier applications, the engines are also providing power for performance vehicles like the Ford Taurus SHO and the upcoming 2013 Ford Focus ST. Delivering 247 horsepower and 250 pound-feet of torque, the new Focus ST will feature the 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine when it arrives at dealers in late 2012.
“The same things that make EcoBoost technology great for work vehicles also make it a prime candidate for sports cars,” McCullen noted. “Smaller engines weigh less, and less weight means better acceleration, braking and cornering. That means that EcoBoost vehicles can play just as hard as they work.”
About Grappone Ford:
Established in 1924, Grappone Ford is the destination for New Hampshire Ford fans from Manchester, Concord and the surrounding communities who demand superior automotive service. Grappone’s friendly staff are experts in all things Ford, and their skilled technicians perform high-quality repairs and maintenance at their state-of-the-art service center. You can browse their extensive inventory of new and used Ford models online at www.grapponeford.com, call them at 888-829-8645 or stop by their dealership at 506 State Road Route 3A in Bow, New Hampshire. The Grappone Automotive Group can also be found on Facebook atwww.facebook.com/grapponeauto.
Ford is reaching out to its huge racing audience through a multi-tiered marketing campaign focused on EcoBoost beginning with this month’s Daytona 500.
EcoBoost, which first appeared on the NASCAR landscape as the paint scheme on the 2013 Fusion race car for its reveal in Charlotte, N.C., January 24, will serve as the primary paint scheme when defending NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. makes his Daytona 500 debut in the No. 6 Roush Fenway Ford Fusion at the end of the month.
EcoBoost will also be featured for select races on the No. 17 Fusion of former NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Matt Kenseth throughout the 2012 Sprint Cup campaign. EcoBoost will also appear on the Mustang race cars of Stenhouse Jr. and Roush Fenway Racing teammate Trevor Bayne for select races on the 2012 Nationwide Series schedule.
“EcoBoost is one of the smart technologies from Ford that blends performance and fuel economy into one package. That’s something all racers and racing fans can relate to,” said Jamie Allison, director, Ford Racing. “EcoBoost engines are available now, and they will be widely available on most vehicles from Ford. We want to raise awareness of EcoBoost among NASCAR fans, so they will look for it, and ask about it when they shop for their new Fords.”
In addition to making appearances on the track, EcoBoost will be featured as the title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series EcoBoost 300 event March 17, 2012 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
What is EcoBoost?
Ford EcoBoost, which uses turbocharging and direct gasoline injection to boost engine output, reduce emissions and improve fuel efficiency by as much as 20 percent, made its debut in the marketplace in 2009 Since its debut, the engines have beaten Ford sales expectations, brought younger, more affluent customers to the brand and returned some of the highest customer satisfaction numbers the company has ever received.
Ford plans to offer EcoBoost engines in 11 vehicles in 2012, up from seven in 2011, and tripling the capacity of EcoBoost-equipped Ford vehicles. Expanded availability in high-volume nameplates helps make fuel economy more affordable for hundreds of thousands of drivers.
There were a record 127,683 EcoBoost-equipped vehicles sold by Ford in 2011.
EcoBoost engines are available worldwide on Ford vehicles, including:
· 1.0-liter three-cylinder
· 1.6-liter four-cylinder
· 2.0-liter four-cylinder
· 3.5-liter V6
EcoBoost engines are a key element of the power of choice Ford offers buyers seeking fuel-efficient solutions. From EcoBoost to hybrids and from plug-in hybrids to full electric vehicles, this year Ford will offer nine vehicles reaching an anticipated 40 mpg or more.
By 2013, Ford plans to offer an EcoBoost engine in up to 90 percent of its North American nameplates, supporting global sales of 1.5 million EcoBoost-powered vehicles per year.
Engine downsizing is now an established trend in the motor industry. Look under the bonnet of a Jaguar XF or a Mercedes CLS and it’s quite likely that you will find a 2.2-litre diesel instead of the big six or eight cylinder petrol engine that you’d previously have expected.
The Volkswagen group has produced some notable ‘big car small engine’ combinations too, including the Skoda Superb and Volkswagen Sharan, which are available with turbo charged 1.4-litre petrol power units. The reason is that a boosted small engine can provide the power of a big engine while retaining the economy of a small one if, and it’s a big if, the whole thing is executed properly.
Now Ford has produced what is probably the most extreme example of engine downsizing so far by launching a version of its Golf-sized Focus with a tiny 1.0-litre petrol engine. Not only is the new engine smaller than anything that’s ever been fitted to a Focus before, it’s only got three cylinders. Three-cylinder engines are already fairly common on today’s smallest models such as the Volkswagen Up but nobody has fitted a three to a mainstream production car the size of the Focus in living memory. One reason that may be controversial is that the number of cylinders an engine has also influences its character; a three cylinder engine tends to have a slightly raggedy note that can give a small car a bit of character but risks being out of place in something bigger and more posh like the Focus.
Of course, just sticking a small engine in a big car isn’t going to produce very good results by itself so Ford has incorporated a vast array of performance and efficiency enhancing measures into its new power unit, although it is also quite notable for a feature that has been omitted; most three-cylinder engines are fitted with balancer shafts that make them run more smoothly but Ford has saved weight and friction by dispensing with balancer shafts and instead uses an unbalanced flywheel and specially developed engine mounts in order to smooth things out. Turbo charging, direct injection and variable valve timing allow Ford to extract very high outputs from the new engine, which will be offered in 100 and 125 horsepower versions. These achieve combined cycle fuel consumption figures of 58.8 and 56.5 mpg respectively, and CO2 emissions of 109 and 114 g/km, figures that match some of the best diesels. The engine only weighs 95kg and is so small it can stand on an A4-sized sheet of paper. That in turn means that any car to which it is fitted – and its use won’t be confined to the Focus – will be lighter and should handle more sweetly with less weight at the front end.
Santa Claus in his Ford Evos-inspired concept sleigh
St. Nicholas has a bit of a job on his hands around this time of year. His elves may get the whole year to make toys, but the Christmas Eve flight Santa makes is a logistical nightmare.
Just think about it – delivering millions of presents in the space of just 24 hours? And you thought your local postman had a tough job.
Luckily, Ford has offered to help, and Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen and Rudolph can finally have a bit of rest.
A new concept sleigh powered by a new 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine would be all Santa needs to get his deliveries done on time, while dramatically reducing his fuel costs and carbon emissions.
Reindeer aren’t cheap to keep, after all. And in order to keep them in peak fitness for those 24 hours, they eat a lot of food. And emit a lot of… err… gas.
Handily, Ford has done the sums for us. The average reindeer travels an impressive 3,000 miles per year, and emits 25 kilograms of methane. To deliver presents to approximately 267,300,000 houses on Christmas Eve, Santa’s flying reindeer would each travel 124,421,106 miles, or well over 41,000 times the distance of the average reindeer.
This is pretty catastrophic in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, that 25 kg of potent methane per reindeer translating into 214,670 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Ford’s 1.0-liter EcoBoost, on the other hand, would only put out 22,827 tonnes of CO2.
It also wouldn’t cost Santa just under $191 million in carrots to feed said reindeer. Even at extortionate British gasoline prices, he’d only pay $19,087,200 to fuel the EcoBoost sleigh. If he filled his sleigh in the States, it’d cost him as little as $8,527,015, at current prices.
If the savings weren’t enough, Santa’s high-tech sleigh would also let him use Ford’s SYNC infotainment system, MyKey (so his elves don’t thrash it the rest of the year round), and Active park assist, to help with those tricky rooftop landings.
We can understand Santa wanting to go EcoBoost though. He’d like to go electric eventually, but current technology means he’d have to recharge every 100 miles. This would mean making 1,244,211 stops for each 30 minute fast charge, adding 71 years to his delivery time and rather spoiling Christmas for the rest of us…
SOURCE: From all of us here at GreenCar Reports, have a very merry Christmas!
Editor’s Note: starting today with the Ford F-150, we’ll be previewing each of our 2012 Motor Trend Truckof the Year contenders leading up to the official announcement on Monday, Dec. 12 at 1 p.m. eastern time.
We had a pair of F-150s for our 2012 Truck of the Year testing that represent two of the more popular trim levels: a Platinum Edition EcoBoost and an XLT 5.0-liter V-8. Also new for this year (although not on hand for our test) are Ford’s entry-level 302-horsepower, 3.7-liter V-6 and the range-topping 411-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8. We extensively tested all four engine options early this year, so we’re very familiar with power levels and delivery of the entire lineup.
( http://www.TFLcar.com ) The 2011 Ford F-150 Ecoboost Twin Turbo has been a surprise grand slam for Ford. Not only has this V6 Twin Turbo pick-up proved to be the most popular engine choice in the country’s most popular vehicle but it also surprised many automotive journalist and buyers with it’s fuel economy, towing capacity and 365 horsepower. So which is the better F-150? The traditional V8 or the brand new twin turbo V6 Ecoboost? Check out this video as we compare the two Ford best selling pick-ups to each other.
The people-carrier of choice for Britain’s minicab drivers and space-savvy families across the land has had a revamp with a new, greener engine.
The huge Galaxy is already a big seller for Ford – London’s largest private hire firm alone runs 1,600 of them, and Mondeo Man across the country has matured and opted for a Galaxy for his budget and space-conscious family. But does Ford’s MPV make sense with its new frugal EcoBoost petrol engine?
It’s certainly the cheapest option but until now most big MPVs have used torque-heavy diesel engines. The new 1.6 EcoBoost is certainly economical – on several test runs I got close to its officially reported mpg (not always an easy task). This is thanks to some clever turbo-charging and direct injection, which means Ford can replace a larger engine for one with lower consumption and emissions without, in theory, sacrificing performance. And married to a smooth sixspeed gearbox, the new Galaxy is a capable ride. When I packed a dog, a few friends and a weekend’sv luggage into its roomy rear for a weekend away it had enough pulling power though, reaching speed and overtaking at times took some aggressive downshifting and forward planning. It’s hard to imagine the performance won’t suffer with a full-size family on board. Elsewhere, as you would expect from Ford, a company shifting more than 16,000 cars a month, its build quality is excellent and ride silky smooth, with the minimum of road and tyre noise. My test model was a Titanium X, costing nearly £34k with extras including touch-screen sat-nav, rear parking camera, metallic paint and heated seats. Not cheap even for all that, but Ford points out that most Galaxy buyers tend to splash out on higher-spec model.