Ford ups Super Duty’s off-road chops with Tremor package

DETROIT — Ford Motor Co. is looking to cash in on the continued popularity of pricey pickups and stave off the competition with the Super Duty Tremor, an answer to Ram’s off-road Power Wagon.

The off-road package, unveiled Thursday, will reach dealerships in the fourth quarter along with other versions of the freshened 2020 Super Duty.

It’s available on XLT, Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum trims of the F-250 and F-350 with either the truck’s new 7.3-litre V-8 gas or 6.7-litre diesel engine.

The addition to Ford’s formidable Super Duty lineup is meant to capture cash that customers would otherwise spend on aftermarket add-ons. Ford says some 70 per cent of Super Duty customers accessorize their vehicles, sometimes spending tens of thousands on upgrades, and that roughly 15 per cent of buyers upgrade the stock wheels and tires within six months of purchase.

The Tremor package also helps shore up Super Duty’s dominant market position, directly confronting a popular niche filled by Ram.

“Tremor balances what customers demand in terms of work with what they need in the great outdoors,” Todd Eckert, Ford’s truck group marketing manager, said in a statement.

The trucks sit five centimetres (two inches) higher in the front with a total of 27.4 cm (10.8 inches) of ground clearance to help slog through mud, water and uneven terrain. Ford says the pickups can navigate up to 83.8 cm (33 inches) of water, a best-in-class mark.

The package comes with unique tires, wheels, suspension, shocks and dampers. It features trail control, also available on the F-150 Raptor and Ranger, and a unique rock crawl mode.

Officials did not discuss pricing or power figures but said the Super Duty Tremor will have greater towing and payload than the Ram Power Wagon, although the figures will be slightly lower than for the standard Super Duty.

The Tremor name will adorn the shocks and appear on the rear side of the pickup box.

Brian Rathsburg, Ford’s Super Duty marketing manager, said the package targets a different buyer than the F-150’s Raptor performance variant. He said it represents “an enhanced version” of the company’s FX4 off-road package that’s available on the Ranger, F-150 and Super Duty.

The FX4 and Tremor packages cannot be combined, and Rathsburg said Ford expects half of Super Duty customers to pick one or the other.

“There’s a recreation element to this,” Rathsburg said. “We see it more of an evolution of the Super Duty customer as their lifestyle changes.”

Five Things to Know About the 2020 Ford Escape

Source: Guide Auto Web

Best-selling SUV in Canada for many years, the Ford Escape was aging and the number of competitors in its segment has grown substantially. It was time for the American manufacturer to give the Escape a major redesign.

The 2020 model year will bring many changes to the popular compact SUV, and this new generation will go on sale this fall. Here are five things to know about the 2020 Ford Escape.

Transformative Design

Compared to the third-generation Escape, sold from 2013 to 2019, the new one is unrecognizable. Its creased sheetmetal has given way to a much rounder body, which is also more aerodynamic.

The Escape seems smaller, but the 2020 version actually benefits from a wheelbase stretched by 20 millimetres, while its overall length and width without mirrors have grown by 62 and 44 millimetres, respectively.

More Refined and Quieter

Four trim levels will be available in Canada, including S, SE, SEL and Titanium. Ford claims to have reduced noise and vibrations by giving the vehicle an isolated rear sub-frame, improved door sealing and acoustic laminated side glass. In high-end trims, an active noise cancellation system has also been installed inside the cockpit.

In addition, the SUV went on a diet and lost about 100 kilograms. The lighter Escape gained in performance, agility and fuel economy.

Photo: Ford

Three-cylinder Engine

As standard, the 2020 Ford Escape now relies on a turbocharged, 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine. This all-new powertrain develops about 180 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, matched to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Under light driving conditions, this engine can also shut off one of its three cylinders in order to save fuel.

Optional in the SEL and Titanium variants, the Escape still relies on a turbocharged, 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that produces some 250 horsepower and 275 pound-feet of torque. In addition, the 1.5L and 2.0L powertrains can be connected to an all-wheel drivetrain.

Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid

A hybrid system is making a comeback in the Escape. It consists of an Atkinson-cycle, 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine, a motor-generator and a continuously variable automatic transmission. Producing about 198 horsepower, the hybrid version can be chosen in front-wheel- and all-wheel-drive configurations.

The plug-in hybrid version, offered with front-wheel drive, boasts about 209 horsepower as well as a 14.4-kWh battery pack that can be fully recharged in 10-11 hours on a domestic power outlet, or in 3.5 hours on level-2 charger. Fully electric range is estimated at 48 kilometres.

More Enjoyable Environment

The 2020 Ford Escape benefits from a greater adjustment of its telescopic steering column and, optionally, head-up display and a fully digital, 12.3-inch driver instrument panel. The SYNC 3 infotainment system is as user-friendly as ever, and a 10-speaker B&O stereo is available too. In addition, every Escape includes the company’s Ford Co-Pilot360 suite of advanced safety features.

ROAD TEST: 2019 Ford EcoSport SES

By Shari Prymak

With crossovers gaining popularity over traditional cars, Ford’s SUV and truck-only strategy seems to be proof of the brand’s eagerness to cash in on the latest market trends. Serving as the entry-point of the Ford lineup in place of the Focus and Fiesta is the EcoSport. Though largely unfamiliar to North Americans, the India-built subcompact crossover has been available overseas for many years where it was originally designed for emerging markets. Although it fills its intended role well enough, it doesn’t take long to realize that the EcoSport is more of a rushed effort to fill a niche rather than a full-baked contender.

Thanks to its Fiesta-based underpinnings, the EcoSport is the smallest crossover on the market by a good margin. The combination of a super-short wheelbase, narrow body, and a tall SUV profile inevitably result in oddball proportions. As a result of being nearly as tall as it is long, it looks a bit like a jacked-up, rolling jellybean. Taking the looks from odd to just plain comical, my tester came with an optional Black Appearance Package which adds a matte black hood decal as if this were some kind of flashy, tire-shredding, muscle car. I suppose that’s Ford’s way of convincing us that the EcoSport actually has some form of sport going on. From a functional standpoint, the most questionable design detail is arguably the side-swinging rear door which makes loading cargo a pain from one side while simultaneously leaving you wet in the rain.

Things get a bit better on the inside with an instrument panel that includes Ford’s excellent Sync3 infotainment system. The interface for the 8 inch touchscreen is clear, well-designed, and gets Apple Carplay, Android Auto, and even Waze for navigation duties. The rest of the controls are equally straightforward and easy to use, and the driver’s seat is positioned high up for a nice commanding view of the road. The use of materials and finishes are generally acceptable with a few obvious signs of cheapness here and there, but that’s far from the biggest issue. The unfortunate consequence of the EcoSport’s mini-ute proportions is serious lack of passenger and cargo space. The rear seats are especially cramped and the cargo area is smaller than that of many hatchbacks. Those looking for actual utility in the EcoSport’s sport utility vehicle designation will likely come away disappointed.

The EcoSport comes with a choice of two drivetrains. Front-wheel drive models get a turbocharged 1.0L 3-cylinder engine, producing 123 horsepower and 125 lb-ft of torque, matched to a 6-speed automatic transmission. Moving up to all-wheel drive upgrades the engine to a 2.0L 4-cylinder producing a healthier 166 horsepower and 149 lb-ft of torque. The EcoSport can certainly use every pony it can get, because, even with this upper-trim powertrain, the performance is anything but sporty. Acceleration feels sluggish especially at highway speeds where there is barely enough power to manage a simple passing maneuver. Modest power levels would be acceptable in a small vehicle such as this if, on the flip side, it were highly fuel efficient. Unfortunately, the best I could squeeze out of it was 10.5L/100km around town and about 8.5L/100km on the highway, which is worse than many larger, peppier rivals.

Although it is ironically in short supply of both eco and sport, the EcoSport is still quite a pleasant city runabout. Its tiny dimensions make it a total breeze to maneuver and park around tight city streets more so than just about any other crossover on the market. Its short wheelbase also helps give it a tight turning circle and a rather nimble feel through corners. The downside to this is a somewhat bouncy ride over broken pavement, though it is still acceptably smooth otherwise. The bigger issue with its unique dimensions, however, is susceptibility to crosswinds while travelling at freeway speeds, which can give it a tippy feel on a windy day.

The EcoSport’s MSRP ranges from $21,849 in base S trim up to $30,349 for the top-spec Titanium trim before extras. Those who want the all-wheel drive 2.0L engine combo will have to splurge for the SES trim, which goes for $28,849. Features on the SES include blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert, heated front seats, heated steering wheel, a sunroof, navigation, 4G LTE Wifi Hotpot, and a cloth-vinyl combination seat material called “ActiveX.” Even so, it is still pricier than comparably-equipped key rivals such as the Hyundai Kona and Nissan Kicks. Moreover, active safety features such as automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, and adaptive cruise control are not even available as options, which is just unacceptable for a new vehicle in this day and age.

It may sound like I’m having a serious downer on this car, which may not be entirely fair. To its credit, the EcoSport offers many desirable features and may be an attractive option for those who want an all-wheel drive crossover in the smallest, most city-friendly package available. For just about anyone else, however, it’s easily outmatched by rivals like the Nissan Kicks, Hyundai Kona, Subaru Crosstrek, and Honda HR-V. All offer more practicality, performance, safety features, better fuel economy, more agreeable styling, and some even manage to do so at a much lower price point. If the EcoSport represents Ford’s attempt at going all-in on trucks and SUVs, they better take a second look at that hand, because this is a measly two-pair at best.

Bell and Ford partner in new Connected Car initiative

Built-in Wi-Fi hotspots in Ford and Lincoln vehicles powered by Canada’s best national mobile network

MONTRÉAL, Oct. 18, 2018 /CNW Telbec/ – Bell today announced it is the first Canadian wireless service provider to enable built-in Wi-Fi hotspots in supported Ford and Lincoln vehicles with Bell’s Connected Car – Built In service. Available vehicle diagnostics services will also be supported on Bell’s national LTE network.

“Drivers and their passengers can now connect to Wi-Fi just as conveniently in their Ford and Lincoln vehicles as they do in their homes,” said Nauby Jacob, Vice President of Products and Services at Bell Mobility. “As a Canadian leader in Internet of Things innovation, Bell is proud to partner with Ford to bring car owners across the country an even better in-vehicle experience.”

Ideal for mobile workers, commuters and long family trips, Connected Car enables passengers to browse, stream and share on Bell’s broadband LTE wireless network when they’re on the road or nearby the vehicle when it’s parked. The Wi-Fi hotspot features a dedicated external antenna, supports up to 10 devices at a time, and is powered by the vehicle’s electrical system rather than the device battery.

As advancements in technology continue to connect people and enhance their lives, Ford is committed to taking the lead. In-vehicle Wi-Fi allows customers to stay connected with their friends, family and the world around them. From streaming music and driver assist technologies, to navigation and everything in between, connectivity is the key.

“Having reliable Wi-Fi on the go is no longer just ‘nice to have’ – it’s become a ‘must-have,’ and Ford recognizes that,” said Marc Vejgman, Connected Vehicle Marketing Manager for Ford of Canada. “Connecting our vehicles is part of building smart vehicles for a smart world, and we look forward to working with Bell to offer Ford customers another way to stay connected across Canada.”

Ford customers can take advantage of a complimentary wireless data trial that expires at the end of 3 months, or after 3 GB of data is used, whichever comes first. After their trial is complete, customers can stay connected by signing up for a data plan. Bell customers can share data from their Bell Share plan with Connected Car for $10 a month, with 1 GB in bonus data per month for 24 months. Bell Connected Car – Built In will be available for supported Ford and Lincoln vehicles beginning November 6, 2018.

Connected Car is the next evolution in the smart vehicle experience and part of Bell’s IoT leadership to enable the connected vehicles, homes, businesses and smart cities of the future.

Ford named the Most Ethical Brand in 2016

Ford is no stranger to the Ethisphere Institute’s List of World’s Most Ethical Companies. For decades, Ford has been dedicated to making a positive impact in the global community through strong corporate citizenship. And every year, that commitment deepens. That’s why we are tremendously honoured to be celebrating another year on the Ethisphere Institute’s list of top performers.

It’s true – as of 2016, we have been honoured 7 years in a row and have the distinction of being the sole auto manufacturer on the list. Each year, the Ethisphere Institute, a global leader in defining and advancing the standards of business ethics, assesses companies based on their ethics, corporate citizenship, leadership, and reputation. Ford is one of 131 companies to make 2016’s list of top companies. You can learn more and see the full list of winners here.

Ethics_990x660_option1

Source: http://blog.ford.ca/ford-recognized-among-worlds-most-ethical-companies-3/

Ford Sync 3 with CarPlay and Android Auto: Good marriage potential

Source: Mobilesyrup.com

Ford started something back in 2007 when it launched its Sync infotainment system, powered by Microsoft. The new-look Sync 3 also laid the foundation to support CarPlay and Android Auto, though it took the automaker until this year to announce that it would actually do so.

The 2017 Escape is one of the current Ford models offering that compatibility, giving user’s an interesting mix of useful OEM features with the deeper integration Apple and Google help enable. The marriage between the two works fairly well, even if they have to live separately most of the time.

The basics

Fordsync-2

Sync 3 represented a revamp for Ford’s aging infotainment system, explaining why the company decided to build it from the ground up with a different architecture. Unfortunately, there is no backward compatibility, so older vehicles running on previous versions of Sync have no chance of upgrading to the newer version.

That disconnected line of succession is a tough pill to swallow for consumers who bought or leased Ford vehicles, as late as 2015. And so, this year marks a new start because of Ford’s commitment to rolling out its new platform to the manufacturer’s various models.

It also marks a shift in strategy, now that CarPlay and Android Auto are being integrated, combining one of the preeminent factory infotainment systems with those two platforms. Ford is working on alternatives that might claw back some of the ground it ceded to Apple and Google here, but once the cat is out of the bag and drivers get acclimated, it’s hard to see how they may go back.

Layout and connections

Fordsync-5

Naturally, the standout change here is adding CarPlay and Android Auto to the existing system. This would have been technically possible last year in vehicles running Sync 3, but Ford predictably waited until after CES 2016 and the kickoff of this year’s Auto Show circuit to open that up.

The 8-inch touchscreen is the central part of the Sync 3 system, while the USB port at the bottom of the middle dash acts as the main conduit to interface with it using a smartphone. A 12-volt socket is to the right of that. The middle console has another USB port with an Aux-In jack.

Bluetooth is standard, along with steering wheel controls that tie in directly to whichever platform is running. Pairing an iPhone via Bluetooth, Siri Eyes Free will work with a long press of the voice button on the wheel. A quick press would bring up Ford’s own voice activation system.

Ford has long been among the best in the auto industry for how that works, mainly because it allows drivers to string commands together. For example, I could say, ‘climate, set temperature, 22-degrees’ in one sequence. Most other voice systems can’t string commands together like that, presenting a back-and-forth question-and-answer process that is needlessly time-consuming instead.

There is no wireless charging in the 2017 Escape. And while car itself has Wi-Fi to connect to other networks, I didn’t have a separate data plan to use in the car that other devices could connect to.

Smartphone integration

Fordsync-4

Setting up CarPlay and Android Auto was a breeze in both cases, despite having to add my iPhone as a Bluetooth device separately. Android Auto pairs the phone automatically.

CarPlay has to be disabled in order to use apps through Sync 3. So, while Spotify is integrated into Ford’s system, that’s effectively cut off because CarPlay becomes the default platform after initial setup. The only way I was able to get away from that was to disable CarPlay completely from the settings.

The same goes for Android Auto. Once a phone has been set up to run Google’s platform, Sync 3 will always defer to it when that phone is plugged in. Mapping and navigation are also deferred. Ford’s built-in satellite GPS incurs no data charges, yet it can only be used if CarPlay or Android Auto are disabled, or the phone is connected via Bluetooth. Caching offline Google Maps now works with Android Auto, so that is a nice reprieve from draining a monthly data bucket, whereas Apple doesn’t offer that for its own mapping app yet.

Ford’s own voice control is disabled, too. When either CarPlay or Android Auto are running, pressing the voice button will always trigger Siri or Google Now. I tried a long press to see if it might go back to Sync, but no dice.

On the surface, this might seem inconsequential, except that Sync’s voice commands can do things the others can’t. Siri and Google Now can’t tap into the car’s climate control, nor can they navigate to AM/FM or SiriusXM radio. Climate was easy enough because the physical controls were there, but going to a different audio source required tapping the Ford button on CarPlay (bottom right on Android Auto) to go back to the main menu and selecting a different audio source from there.

What was kind of neat was that I could have CarPlay running, yet have music stream from an Android phone via Bluetooth. I hadn’t encountered that quirk before in other factory systems supporting both platforms.

In cases where CarPlay or Android Auto are disabled, Sync 3 can tap into contacts and music files stored on the phone by voice. Phone calls are a breeze, with contact names or numbers easily understood (though less common names can cause trouble), whereas music files are very hit or miss. Ford claimed to have substantially increased the number of words and phrases Sync 3 would recognize but that doesn’t appear to have translated as much to artists, albums and songs.

Music and phone calls

FordSync-1

A key integration here is Spotify, primarily because neither CarPlay nor Android Auto are required for it. Setting it up to appear under Sync’s app section could be a little more obvious. I had to plug in, open the app on the phone from scratch, then wait for a prompt on the head unit screen to add the app on Sync, and then finally add it.

Though Spotify can run on Sync from the phone via Bluetooth, it only appears as an option onscreen when the app is running on the phone to begin with. Not always convenient, but at least it isn’t affected when calling or texting someone using Siri Eyes Free. Once done, the music just picks up again on Spotify thereafter.

A benefit of this integration is that Spotify can be launched by Sync’s voice activation, and that playlists are indexed, so those can be voiced, too. Siri can’t do either of those things, and Google Now can only launch the app.

With CarPlay and Android Auto, the same quirks apply, which was to be expected, given that neither has been updated since automakers began rolling them out this year. Spotify won’t play anything if the app has been frozen for too long, affecting iOS more than Android, but still happens with both. Conversely, it didn’t happen with Sync, and I suspect the reason why is because the app isn’t projecting to the head unit like it does with the other two platforms.

Nothing has changed on the third-party app front. Few music services are available, and Google’s list of compatible apps is easier to find than Apple’s. Messaging apps are also fairly limited, but I did like that WhatsApp, Hangouts and Kik are standard on Android Auto, offering alternatives to texting. Even Skype works through it. Apple has been more cautious, and thus fallen behind in the compatibility race.

Waze will be coming to the platform soon. No such luck on CarPlay.

Calling and texting is easiest with an iPhone because it works the same way if CarPlay is running or not. Using Siri in either case made it simple to do both. Sync can also handle those tasks on its own without having to use Siri at all. Android Auto is necessary to get the most out texting and messaging with an Android phone, though Sync handles calls perfectly fine without it.

Wrap up

Ford’s Sync 3 does largely play second fiddle to CarPlay and Android Auto, but it has decent capability on its own that doesn’t force drivers to switch every time. The result, at least from how it seemed here at the outset, is that this is a marriage that could work. The question is whether or not Ford can move fast enough to update the software to add more functionality the others can’t.

This will be vitally important moving forward. Customers buying Ford vehicles will want to see that Sync 3 will remain viable longer-term, because if it doesn’t, this will mark the beginning of the end for the platform. For now, the combination available works, and if all sides keep pushing each other, drivers serve to reap the benefits.

Catching Them All: 5 Tips to GO Further

Safety Tips to GO Further

Have you noticed creatures of all colours, sizes, and temperaments appearing in your neighborhood, your place of work, or even in your bedroom? A fire-breathing lizard sitting at the water cooler, cute as a button? Or a haunting gaseous ghost floating by on a downtown street? And how about the seemingly endless number of bugs and birds in rural areas, or that one particularly common, sleepy psychic causing strife to city dwellers?

If any of these sounds familiar, then you may be one of the millions of players – or rather, trainers – enjoying the latest mobile gaming craze. And as with any great adventure, there’s a smart way to do it that factors in the safety of your fellow trainers, non-trainers, and yourself!

Whether you’re of mystical disposition, valorous at heart, or an instinctual guru – here are some tips to make your team proud and keep your region safe:

  1. Keep your eyes peeled, drivers!

Drivers, be very careful around crosswalks and pedestrians. The only way to see wild creatures – so far – is through the screen on a mobile device. That means that a lot of people are scouring their neighborhoods with their heads down – paying less attention to the real world than they usually would.

  1. Don’t play and drive

When driving, you should never play a mobile game – or engage with a mobile device at all. Ever. As an alternative, bring a trusted friend who can catch and swipe on your behalf from the passenger seat. Huh? The role of the front-seat navigator is evolving!

  1. Always wear a seatbelt

Luckily, since you don’t need to throw an actual ball to catch your creature, a seatbelt won’t constrain your necessary range of movement. As always, keep it buckled up!

  1. Obey the speed limits

Your driver should be mindful of other drivers on the road and obey the speed limits. While egg hatching can only occur under speeds of 20km/h, not everyone is driving this slowly. Always drive safely and mind the rules of the road – and remember, playing is for passengers only.

  1. Stop before you play

Catching new creatures is a great opportunity to explore your community; you never know where you might find a new ‘stop or gym. Always be sure to pause in a safe place before you play – don’t block the road, and play in a group whenever you are exploring new areas.

Since rare creatures can spawn virtually anywhere – there’s certainly no harm in heading to your local Ford dealership. It won’t shock you to learn that we’ve got plenty of “electric types” available – from all-electrics, hybrids, to plug-in hybrids like the 2017 Fusion Energi Platinum. It’s very effective!

With 150 to catch, and plenty of rarities – it’s gonna take you a while to capture them all. From everyone at Ford Canada, we hope all your throws are Excellent and that our beloved transferred creatures aren’t actually being turned into candy!