Friday, April 18, 2014

Flagship Refined: 2013 Ford Taurus

MSRP: $26,600; price as tested: $32,795

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.

Read more:

EcoBoosted 2013 Ford Escape Out-Tows the Competition

April 3, 2012 by
Filed under All Articles, Engine: EcoBoost V6 3.5L Turbo

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, 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

2012 Motor Trend Truck of the Year Contender: Ford F-150

Written by: Motor Trend Staff on December 6 2011 12:00 PM

Ford F-150

Editor’s Note: starting today with the Ford F-150, we’ll be previewing each of our 2012 Motor Trend Truck of 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.

2011 Ford F-150 Mashup review: Ecoboost V6 Twin Turbo vs 5.0L V8

( ) 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.

2013 Taurus SHO details released

Ford’s 2013 Taurus SHO performance package will feature a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine mated with the automaker’s 6F55 six-speed transmission and torque-sensing all-wheel drive.

Other features include a sport-tuned suspension with stiffer-than-normal springs to enhance traction, and a special braking system with high-performance pads and 18-inch calipers.

This enthusiast’s Taurus can deliver 365 horsepower at 5,500 r.p.m. and 350 pound-feet of torque from 1,500 to 5,250 r.p.m.

Exterior changes are more pronounced, including a black mesh grille, with SHO-specific HID headlights. There are also 20-inch painted premium wheels.


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Ford F-150 EcoBoost Challenge winner averages 28.3 mpg

Ford F-150 EcoBoost Challenge winner averages 28.3 mpg

The week-long Ford F-150 EcoBoost Challenge is over and Carlee Mallard of Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina has emerged victorious. Mallard achieved a rather impressive 28.3 miles per gallon (not as spectacular as the 32.281 mpg that CleanMPG averaged back in May) during her week behind the wheel of the F-150. Additionally, Mallard rounded up 56 volunteers for her community service event, which included collecting donations for the Raleigh YWCA for distribution to families affected by Hurricane Irene.

For Mallard’s efforts, she’ll receive a year’s supply of free Shell gasoline (oh, the irony) and two Shell stations in Raleigh-Durham will celebrate Mallard’s win by offering free regular-grade gas (up to 15 gallons per vehicle) at two stations on September 9 for two hours and 22 minutes. That’s in recognition of the F-150 EcoBoost’s 22-mpg rating.

The F-150 EcoBoost Challenge had eight Ford truck fans put the F-150 to the test in their own communities in an attempt to average the highest mpg while driving at least 25 miles a day. Additionally, participants created, managed and executed their own community service event. The winning driver was selected through a score that blends average mpg, votes on Ford’s F-150 EcoBoost Challenge Facebook page and how many volunteers participated in their community project.

Lincoln planning seven new/improved models, includes Navigator EcoBoost

Lincoln planning seven new/improved models, includes Navigator EcoBoost

The Lincoln lineup is in desperate need of a design intervention, and Automotive News reports that help is on the way. Ford product development boss Derrick Kuzak reportedly told dealers that Lincoln will receive seven new or refreshed models by 2014, including a little love for the long-ignored Lincoln Navigator.

The Navigator will reportedly receive the twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine option for the 2012 model year, giving large luxury SUV buyers a more fuel efficient option. The Navigator could also receive some design tweaks, but we’re not expecting anything close to a full redesign.

The Lincoln sedan lineup will also get some attention, with the MKS and MKZ receiving substantial updates for the 2013 model year. The MKZ will reportedly be completely remade, with all-new sheetmetal that should look very little like its Ford Fusion counterpart. The MKS will also distance itself from its more pedestrian platform-sharing Ford Taurus, with a sleeker design and more premium materials.

Lincoln may also diversify their crossover offerings, including a new compact ‘ute based off the Ford Focusplatform that should arrive during the 2013 model year. The MKX, which was just re-penned for 2011, is also scheduled to receive an all-new platform based off Ford’s global mid-size architecture for 2014. The MKTcould receive a minor refresh for 2013, but then again Ford could wind up ditching the big crossover altogether or relegate sales of the model to livery and fleet customers.

A key component to future Lincoln redesigns will be minimizing any connection between the luxury make and any Ford siblings. Changes could include far more differentiated sheetmetal, different wheelbases and unique powertrains.

2012 Ford Explorer EcoBoost

2012 Ford Explorer EcoBoost

Ford is no stranger to convincing buyers to embrace smaller displacement, forced-induction engines over their larger, naturally-aspirated counterparts. A little less than a year ago, skeptics wondered whether typically change-averse full-size truck consumers would be willing to swap their tried-and-true V8 for the turbocharged V6 EcoBoost engine now available in the F-150. According to Ford, that question has been answered – fully 41 percent of its half-ton pickups are rolling out the door with a forced-induction six-cylinder under the hood.

There’s no great mystery behind the trend. As fuel prices have inched their way upward, vehicle shoppers have begun to count efficiency among the biggest factors that influence their final decision. According to Ford, a whopping 35 percent of Explorerbuyers count the vehicle’s fuel efficiency as the biggest reason behind their purchase.

Now the Dearborn-based automaker is hoping to repeat the success of the F-150 with the Explorer, and its smaller stablemate, the Edge, by welcoming a new, smaller engine to the EcoBoost family: a 2.0-liter turbocharged direct-injected inline four-cylinder. This engine boasts more torque and greater fuel efficiency than the standard 3.5-liter V6, but gives up a few horses and will cost shoppers an additional $995 when it hits dealers.

Externally, it takes a sharp eye to pick out the Explorer EcoBoost from its V6 brethren. Newly designed side mirrors and subtle badge work on the rear hatch are the only real indicators that set the model apart from the rest of the flock, though extensive aerodynamic work has been hidden behind the front fascia to increase the vehicle’s efficiency. That includes active aero shutters behind the front grille that automatically close at a certain speeds to reduce drag. Ford doesn’t recommend using the EcoBoost-equipped Explorer for any serious towing. Max capacity is rated at 2,000 pounds, which means spotters aren’t likely to see a hitch dangling from the rear of the vehicle, either.


The story is much the same indoors. There is no differentiation between the cabins of EcoBoost and naturally-aspirated models. Ford even averted the easy trap of splaying the dash, floor mats and steering wheel with the EcoBoost logo. It’s all clean and very familiar, right down to the MyFord Touch system. If you weren’t a fan of the tech integration before, odds are you won’t find anything to smile about in its presence here, though Ford is quick to remind its detractors that the system enjoys a staggering 90 percent take rate on the Explorer. We have a sneaking suspicion that fact may have as much to do with how the vehicle’s option packages are arranged than any real affinity for the color-coded touch screen interface, however.

Whereas the vehicle’s exterior and interior have remained untouched, the engine bay has received a substantial overhaul. Ford has managed to pull an impressive 240 horsepower from the turbocharged inline four-cylinder at 5,500 rpm and an even headier 270 pound-feet of torque at a substantially lower 3,000 rpm. Those figures fall 50 ponies shy of the standard 3.5-liter V6, but eclipse the larger displacement six-cylinder’s torque figures by 15 lb-ft. Both engines are coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission, but Ford says that the 2.0-liter EcoBoost can return an EPA-rated 20 mpg city and 28 mpg highway, an improvement of three miles per gallon in both city and highway driving over the base vehicle.


Part of that increase in fuel efficiency is due to a slight reduction in weight. With two fewer cylinders aboard, the 2.0-liter EcoBoost weighs around 80 pounds lighter than the standard 3.5-liter V6. Additionally, Ford isn’t offering the EcoBoost SUV with all-wheel drive. All that power from the 2.0-liter gets dumped to the pavement via the front wheels only, which makes the machine more comfortable fielding fair-weather mall duty than snowy winter mountain passes, and it also lightens the load by a whole drive axle.

And that’s just fine. Ford has brought all of its engineering muscle to bear on this all-aluminum EcoBoost four-cylinder, and as a result, the engine packs twin independently variable cams for greater efficiency over the entire rev range as well as polished bucket tappets, sodium-filled exhaust valves for greater durability and an exhaust manifold integrated into the aluminum cylinder head to save weight. That last bit also decreases the time it takes for the engine to reach optimum operating temperature, which reduces wear on the turbo and increases longevity at the same time.

2012 Ford Explorer EcoBoost motor

Despite an abundance of power available from fairly low in the rev band, Ford has managed to keep torque steer under control. While we were able to induce a good bit of wheelspin off the line, the Explorer didn’t seem interested in wrestling the wheel from our hands. Due to the use of a lightweight, low-inertia turbo design, power delivery is linear and smooth without much in the way of lag. Pound the throttle from a stop and the four-cylinder lights up with glee, pulling to 60 mph in a little over eight seconds according to one engineer. Though power seems to fall off slightly higher in the rev range, the six-speed automatic transmission keeps the engine from winding itself out. Instead, the gearbox happily holds its cogs to fully make use of the 270 lb-ft of torque available. With shift logic that isn’t quick to drop down, the engine feels more like a traditional V6 than a shrieking four cylinder. The end result is acceleration that feels more than adequate for a vehicle that tips the scales at 4,503 lbs.

Despite its many positives, at the end of the day, we would have a hard time justifying the additional $995 for the EcoBoost option. A jump of 3 mpg in both city and highway driving is nothing to dismiss, but a lack of available all-wheel drive and significant cut in towing capacity are sacrifices that are tough to justify in our book – especially considering Ford is asking its buyers to pay for the reduced functionality. Unfortunately, we suspect the success of the Explorer EcoBoost will probably depend largely on fuel prices in the future.



Interestingly enough, the exact opposite is true for the Edge EcoBoost. At nearly 400 pounds lighter than the Explorer, the Edge feels like it hasn’t given up any driving performance in the switch to four-cylinder power. With its readily-accessible torque and even higher 30 mpg, paying an extra $995 for the Edge EcoBoost is a comparative no-brainer. While Ford is reluctant to stick actual figures to either vehicle’s performance, one engineer told us that the Edge is a full second quicker to 60 mph than the Explorer, and as a result, the smaller crossover is significantly more engaging. It simply feels fast and capable, whereas the Explorer merely provides adequate power.

Our Explorer tester came laden with Limited trim and Ford’s Rapid Spec 301A equipment package, which included niceties like a power liftgate, power folding third-row seating and voice-activated navigation. As a result, our sticker price hovered just under $42,000 including an $825 destination fee. Buyers will be able to get into a base Explorer EcoBoost for significantly less coin, however. Buyers can spec out a model with the turbocharged four-cylinder engine for $29,165 plus the same destination charges, or just just under the $30,000 mark.

the Explorer EcoBoost is a solid driver

While we can absolutely see a good reason for buyers to pony up a little extra coin for the EcoBoost 2.0-liter in the Edge, the engine makes more sense to us as a no-cost option in the Explorer. Ford has already employed a similar tactic with the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid, allowing buyers to choose between greater fuel efficiency or greater power in the V6 model without asking them to dig any deeper into their bank accounts. Though the Explorer EcoBoost is a solid driver, we simply don’t think the optional engine’s benefits offset its taller price tag and reduced capability.

For $995, 2012 Ford Explorer gets EcoBoost treatment for 28 mpg; Edge gets 30 mpg

For $995, 2012 Ford Explorer gets EcoBoost treatment for 28 mpg; Edge gets 30 mpg

For 2012, Ford will bolster its EcoBoost commitment by equipping both the Explorer and the Edge with its turbocharged, 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. This pint-sized mill boosts the Explorer’s fuel economy rating to “segment-leading” status and pushes the Edge to the 30-mpg mark.

The 2012 EcoBoost-equipped Explorer arrives toting some fairly impressive fuel economy numbers – 20 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg out on the highway. Ford points out that those EPA figures mean that the 240-horsepower Explorer gets a best-in-class highway fuel economy rating. For comparison’s sake, the V6 Explorer, though slightly more powerful (283 hp), gets stickered with lower fuel economy figures of 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.

Similarly, the 2012 Ford Edge, equipped with the 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost engine, officially returns 21 mpg in the city and 30 mpg on the highway. The EcoBoost engine bumps up the Edge’s fuel economy by three miles per gallon on the highway compared to the 3.5-liter V6-equipped 2011 Edge. For 2012, the EcoBoost engine is available on front-wheel-drive Explorer and Edge models for an extra $995. That should be an appealing price for a lot of buyers. As Amy Marentic, Ford group marketing manager, told Automotive News, “36 percent of customers are purchasing Explorer because of fuel economy. It was only 6 percent back in 2007.”

Banking on EcoBoost is Ford’s commitment. Looking forward, the automaker says EcoBoost engines will be available in 90 percent of its vehicles by the end of 2013.

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