Ford unveils 2017 Escape in Hollywood

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LOS ANGELES, CA: The best-selling SUV in Canada got the Hollywood star treatment as Ford unveiled its 2017 Escape prior to the opening of the Los Angeles auto show.

Just across the street from the studio where Jimmy Kimmel Live is produced in Hollywood, Ford took the wraps off its new Escape at the same location as where the third generation was introduced a few years back.

Ford is hoping they are two-times lucky and the new version is as successful as the current one, which leads the way in the Canadian sales race among compact crossover SUVs.

This is a high-growth segment in the auto industry as compact SUVs are about to surpass compact cars in sales in the Canadian market.

In fact, SUVs overall now account for one-third of all vehicle sales and that number is expected to climb to 40 per cent by 2020.

In Canada, Ford sold 52,057 Escapes in 2014 and this year sales sit at just over 40,000 at the end of October, down 10 per cent from a year ago, but still well ahead of fast-charging challengers like Toyota RAV4, Honda CR-V, Nissan Rogue and Mazda CX-5, which all have enjoyed double digit increases.

With the competition nipping at their heels, Ford is taking the redesign of the Escape very seriously.

“This is a big deal for us,” Greg Watkins, Ford of Canada’s SUV product manager told a group of Canadian auto journalists in a conference call in the week leading up to the LA show.

While Ford calls this a new generation of the Escape, it is more like an extensive mid-cycle refresh. There is no new platform, but there are two new engines, a freshly designed interior and new looks front and rear on the exterior.

When the 2017 Escape goes on sale next year, it will be loaded with a host of new features like a start-stop fuel-saving system, driver-assist technologies like enhanced active park assist, adaptive cruise control and a lane-keeping system. None of this is new to the industry but they are to Ford in this segment and demonstrate how far compact SUVs have evolved over the years.

“We’re bringing our best stuff down to our most affordable, highest-volume SUV,” said Milton Wong, chief engineer for the 2017 Escape.

Ford will offer two new EcoBoost engines on the 2017 Escape, a 1.5-litre and a 2.0-litre twin-scroll. Standard will be a holdover 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine, which will only be available on the entry-level S model. All come with a six-speed automatic transmission.

Ford expects 90 per cent of its customers to opt for the new EcoBoost engines, which will feature the auto start-start technology. Unlike some of the competition where the start-stop system is somewhat clunky, Ford promises its technology will be almost seamless with a quieter, smoother restart.

Ford said the average driver spends 16 minutes a day with the car idling in traffic and by shutting off the engine when the car is stopped, fuel economy will be improved four to six per cent in stop-and-go traffic.

One technology that is new and available on the 2017 Escape is Ford’s SYNC Connect. This new app allows smart phone users to lock and unlock doors, check fuel levels, remotely start their vehicle and even locate where it is parked.

Wong said Ford has listened to its customers with a vehicle that has been redesigned from the inside out. For example, customers these days need more storage cubbies for their phones and ever-larger sunglasses so the new Escape has a redesigned centre console with lots of storage, thanks in part to the use of an electronic parking brake in place of the old handle and lever system.

Outside, the front end has been refreshed and now has a look akin to the Edge and Explorer SUVs. There are new headlights up front and LED taillamps at the rear.

While we haven’t yet driven the new model, Ford says its engineers have gone to great lengths to the make the cabin quieter with greater use of insulation and seals to keep road and tire noise out.

Three trim levels will be offered, S, SE and the range-topping Titanium with both front and all-wheel drive.

With the twin-scroll 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine, the tow rating will be 3,500 lb, tops in the segment. The other two engines have tow ratings of 1,500 and 2,000 lbs respectively.

Historically, 20 per cent of sales in Canada have been in the top trim level and 53 per cent of Escape buyers are female.

The 2017 Escape is slated to go on sale next spring.

Ford wins big at SEMA awards

Source: CTVNews

The awards for the hottest vehicles at this year’s Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) show have been announced, and Ford has won in three of the four categories.

The Blue Oval scooped 2015’s Hottest Car for the Mustang, just like in 2014, but this year added to the haul with the Hottest Truck Award for the F-Series Pickup and the Hottest Sport-Compact car for the Ford Focus.

Rather than honoring a specific manufacturer, tuner or modifier’s take on a ‘stock’ car, be it a sportscar, SUV or pickup, the SEMA’s accolades are for those cars that, based on how creative this year’s attendees have been, are clearly the best and most popular for accessorizing — be it with something comparatively straightforward, like the 900hp engine in the Bisimoto EcoBoost Mustang, or as the base for creating a remarkable stretch limousine pickup, like Toyota’s eight-door, 26-foot long Tundrasine concept.

And at this year’s Las Vegas show, which opened its doors to the industry but not the public on November 3, more aftermarket specialists had plumped for a Ford for showcasing their talents in the three categories.

“Winning SEMA’s hottest vehicle awards for Mustang, Focus and F-Series is a great affirmation of the popularity of Ford vehicles with this trendsetting part of the market,” said Dave Pericak, director, Ford Performance. “We’re proud the aftermarket has embraced these three vehicles with as much enthusiasm as our customers invest to personalize their Mustang, Focus and F-Series.”

The Sports-Compact Award in particular is somewhat of a coup for Ford. Last year it was won by the Honda Fit, and by wrestling it away from Japanese manufacturers, especially with a car like the Focus, which was conceived and developed in Europe for European, rather than US customers, it shows there is clearly a growing appetite for the car’s proportions, lines and capabilities across the Atlantic.

Hands-On With Ford’s Sync 3

Ford was one of the first major car manufacturers to bring connected car technology to its lineup with Sync in 2007, but while the first iterations of its Sync and — later — MyFord Touch infotainment systems were ahead of their time in the car world, they were also rather slow, cluttered and clunky.

Sync 3, which is now available on the 2016 Ford Escape compact SUV and Fiesta subcompact, is a welcome departure from all of that. Instead of trying to be innovative for the sake of it, Sync 3 goes back to the basics and provides drivers with an infotainment system that stays out of the way and simply works.

Ford lent me a 2016 Escape earlier this month to get some hands-on experience with the new system.

ford-1-4

The last two iterations of Sync (the technology) and MyFord Touch (the touch-screen based interface to it) were based on Microsoft Auto. After reviewers and consumers panned the first version, the company decided that it wanted to give drivers the opportunity to update their cars to the next version. That, however, meant that Ford was able to make a lot of software changes that made the last version significantly better than the first (though still far from great), but stuck with the same slow hardware to ensure compatibility.

Ford switched to BlackBerry’s QNX for Sync 3 and while switching screens and zooming around the built-in navigation system doesn’t quite feel as smooth as on an iPad just yet, everything still feels plenty fast. In earlier versions, it sometimes felt like you were fighting against the system — now it works with you.

Sync 3 is a complete redesign of the earlier versions. Its focus on large icons and easy to read text makes using the system about as easy as using an 8-inch touchscreen while driving gets.

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For the most part, all of the most often used features like climate and volume control still have physical counterparts on the center stack and wheel (at least in the Escape I drove). For changing the volume, those physical knobs will always remain easier to use than screens, but when it comes to navigation or interacting with apps, Ford’s focus on a utilitarian design over fanciful flourishes helps you to get things done fast and your eyes back on the road.

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Voice control, of course, is also always an option (and probably the safer one). Over the years, Ford has gotten better at this, but don’t expect a Siri- or Google-like experience. You can’t just start chatting with Sync. “OK Sync, please set the temperature to 72 degrees” won’t get you very far (but Sync 3 integrates with Siri’s Eyes Free feature if you have an iPhone). Sync still needs you to stick to a small set of pre-programmed voice commands. Voice recognition works extremely well, but I tend to find using voice more distracting than just changing the temperature by hand.

ford-1-8Like the rest of the system, the navigation feature (which costs an extra $795) does exactly what it is meant to do (and you can get updates over WiFiwhen you’re at home). It now features lane guidance, which wasn’t all that useful on our trip to the Oregon coast, but makes a world of difference when you’re driving through a new city.

Unlike other car makers, Ford always bet that drivers would bring their own connectivity and apps to the car. Sync 3 is no exception. Like in previous versions, a small number of approved apps like Pandora, Spotify, Glympse and iHeartRadio can interact with Sync directly and let you interact with them using the touchscreen and physical controls. My trusty old Nexus 5 had some issues connecting over Bluetooth at first, but once it did, everything worked as advertised.

With Sync 3, Ford has finally released an infotainment system that brings together all of the disparate technologies it developed over the last few years (Sync — which actually debuted in 2007, MyFord Touch, and AppLink for connecting the car to apps on your phone) into a single platform. While it was one of the first to offer these technologies, others car makers now offer similar functionality.  Ford says Sync 3 may support Apple’s CarPlay and Android Car in the future, but it’s unclear when/if that will happen.

For now, one thing is clear: Sync 3 is a reason to give Ford another look if you’re in the market for a new car — and that’s not something I would’ve said about its first iterations.

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How To Check Your Tire Pressure

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-Tja2BrjnY

To improve fuel efficiency, keep your tires properly inflated. Unbox Therapy’s Lewis Hilsenteger shares how it’s done.

Maintaining proper tire pressure is one of the simplest steps you can take to ensure your vehicle is operating at optimal efficiency. Lewis demonstrates how to check your tire pressure using an inexpensive tire gauge and shows how a common penny can be used to check whether your tire treads have sufficient depth. If it turns out your tires are low on pressure, air pumps are available at most local gas stations and Ford dealerships at low or no cost.

Over time, your tires lose pressure which can cause irregular tread wear and poor gas mileage. On average, tires lose air at the rate of one pound per month. In colder temperatures, a tire will lose one pound of pressure for every 10-degree drop. A simple solution: check your tire pressure at least once a month for longer performance.
Before you get started, read the safety and roadside emergency information in your owner’s manual. Learn the maximum inflation pressure of each tire. This number is molded into the tire sidewall as required by the government. And, learn the operating vehicle tire inflation pressure, which is normally lower than the maximum inflation pressure. It is found on a Certification Decal or Tire Decal, and is usually located on the driver’s door, door pillar, or in the glove box.

Big disconnect between beliefs and actions when it comes to texting while driving

When it comes to texting while driving in this country, the numbers don’t add up.

A poll conducted by the Canadian Automobile Association found that 90 per cent of Canadians believe texting while driving is “socially unacceptable.”

However, the same poll found that 22 per cent of Canadians admitted to either reading or sending a text while driving. Note the words, “admitted to.” There’s no telling how many more did not admit to multi-tasking while behind the wheel.

The CAA’s conclusion: While the vast majority of Canadians say texting while driving is unacceptable, but they’re still doing it in significant numbers anyway.

“We still need to close that gap between belief and behaviour,” says Jeff Walker, CAA vice president of public affairs. “But we are on the right track.”

Texting while driving is illegal in all provinces, yet the polled respondents reported seeing an average of six people texting while driving within the last month.

“The next step is to make texting and driving as socially unacceptable as drinking and driving,” Walker says.

The poll surveyed 1,252 Canadians, leaving a margin of error of +/-2.8 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

The same poll asked Canadians to rank road safety concerns. In order, the top-10 are:

  1. texting or emailing while driving
  2. drinking and driving
  3. drivers running red lights
  4. speeding on residential streets
  5. aggressive driving
  6. sleepy drivers
  7. driving after using illegal drugs
  8. talking on cell phones while driving
  9. driving well over the speed limit
  10. talking to or engaging with their in-car systems

Source: Globe and Mail

Ford Awarded Most Innovative Volume Brand of 2015

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oi-pdajAaeA

Ford was honoured to be recognized for its work in safety and semi-autonomous driver technologies, taking home the title of ‘Most Innovative Volume Brand’ of 2015 at the 10th annual AutomotiveINNOVATIONS awards. The Centre for Automotive Management acknowledged automotive leaders in innovation last week in Frankfurt, Germany.

This award represents the progress Ford has made with technologies that are important to customers and that make driving more enjoyable. Innovation and research continue to be a priority for Ford with a tremendous amount of importance placed on how these technologies directly affect customers and add value to their daily lives.

Active Park Assist (APA)

Active Park Assist (APA)

Active Innovations that Relieve Driving Stress

AutomotiveINNOVATIONS recognized Ford’s driver assistance systems like Active Park Assist (APA). APA takes the stress out of parallel parking by using sensors to detect an appropriately sized parking space, and easy-to-use dashboard commands.

The new Ford Focus, a class winner at the awards, has this and other technologies, including voice-activated SYNC technology, an intuitive system that enables drivers to call up a list of local restaurants along with directions on the dash display screen by simply saying “I’m hungry.”

2015 Ford Focus Interior

2015 Ford Focus Interior

 

Leveraging Research from Around the World to Change the World

Technology plays a major role in the way Ford looks at the future. It’s enabling cars to be smarter and safer in a way that wasn’t possible before. To facilitate innovation that is truly valuable to customers, Ford rolled out its Smart Mobility program, which uses data to help create advanced new vehicle features and change the way the world moves by solving today’s growing global transportation challenges. Smart Mobility launched in 2015 with 25 programs globally to test new concepts and inspire ideas.

Recognizing Achievements

Ford is proud to add the AutomotiveINNOVATIONS award to its list of achievements this year. This marks the fifth year in a row that Ford was recognized as the #1 selling automotive company in Canada. Additionally, Ford remains the only automaker to win the prestigious International Engine of the Year award for its 1.0-Litre EcoBoost —three years in a row. And, for the sixth consecutive year, the Ethisphere Institute recognized Ford Motor Company as one of the world’s most ethical companies. Ford continues to Go Further to bring Canadians pride on the road.

– See more at: http://blog.ford.ca/2015/06/06/ford-awarded-most-innovative-volume-brand-of-2015/#sthash.UDVOS5i7.dpuf

Pony car offers drivers a big kick

Source: MetroNews.ca

If you saw this creature for the first time, and it wasn’t wearing Mustang badges, you would still instantly recognize it as the newest version of this famous sports coupe.

Stylists themed it on the “fastback” Mustang body style, with swooping windshield and rear glass. It’s low overall, which makes it seem smaller than its main rivals, Challenger and Camaro.

Stylists gave it a new face, while retaining those two requisite Mustang elements — a shark-like mouth and trapezoidal grille.

Of course, the 2015 Mustang has the long hood/short rear deck look that defined the original “Pony Car” segment and which Mustang pioneered.

The cabin is cosy, with a big Mustang emblem is front and centre on the steering wheel, lest you forget which you’re sitting in.

But there’s no chance of that, because your look out over the hood is drawn to the ridges running down the length of the hood, to further draw attention to that long hood, which could only be part of a Mustang. The dash, instrument panel, and everything inside have a nicely finished and chiselled look, but seem smaller than what you’d see in a sedan. The back seat is tight and challenging to access.

But all feels right on the money in the driver’s seat. Our tester had the base 3.7-litre V6, good for 300 hp and 270 lb-ft of torque, and it rumbles to life with authority.

Ford engineers went out of their way to give the V-6 a more distinctive rumble and give occupants some Mustang atmosphere. Contrived? Maybe, but delightful nevertheless.

Once underway, the Mustang’s emphasis on agility is apparent. Mustang was famous for hanging onto an old-school solid rear axle set-up up in rear.

This Mustang is the first to feature an integral-link independent rear suspension; only one of the many chassis and suspension refinements that vault Mustang to a new level of agility.

Steering is precise and adds to the fun factor, though like most everything out there these days, steering feel is on the disconnected side.

Our tester had the 6-speed manual transmission, and it was also fun to manipulate, though not as slick as some.

A base Mustang, might not be an outright sports car, but as an affordable grand tourer, or a vehicle less ordinary to take you and your significant other on fun roadtrips, it’s an absolute winner.

Introducing the 2016 Ford Focus RS

Source: Autofocus.ca

It’s not uncommon for the U.S. – and, even more often, Canada – to get shafted when an automaker comes out with a new hot hatch or other performance vehicle. “God, why can’t we have that here?” we used to say.

Ford’s new global performance arm is making those whiny cries a thing of the past by delivering an awesome product portfolio in just about every market selling Fords today. The new Focus RS, for example—we’re finally getting it for the first time!

You can expect the 2016 Focus RS to come in pretty much the same spec on both sides of the Canadian border, explained Omar Odeh, product marketing manager for the new performance hatchback, during our walkaround of the car at the New York auto show in April.

But some of the options they get Stateside might be limited up north—limited to the good stuff, I should add, because who wants an option like non-heated seats in Canada, right? We’re getting the same colour options anyway, which’ll be black, white, a stealthy gray or the Focus RS-exclusive quad-coat Nitrous Blue you see here.

Pretty much every performance option box comes ticked standard in the RS, which means like it or not – but, seriously, you will like it – you’re getting 13.8-inch rotors stopped by Brembo brakes, a new-for-Ford-Performance AWD platform with torque vectoring, and Recaro racing seats for the front passengers.

Power comes from a 315-horsepower(!) EcoBoost mill with an intercooler fed fresh air through all those mesh grille openings up front. (There’re brake ducts up there, too, for cooling those Brembos, by the way.)

Different sport- and track-focused modes adjust engine output and handling characteristics depending on where you’re taking the Focus RS, and also actuate a flap in the lefthand exhaust to make it sound just that much meaner when you’re ripping up a course and noise isn’t an issue.

What Odeh couldn’t tell us was whether the Focus RS would be taking premium fuel – which it likely will – and whether in Canada we’d get just the special-built-for-Focus-RS Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires or those as well as the lower-trim regular Pilot Super Sports.

He did mention the German-built Focus should hit Canadian showrooms some time in spring 2016, but with luck we’ll have a review of the car for you before then.

5 Years of Leadership

The Ford Blog

Every year it’s a race to the finish and we’re proud to say that in 2014, more Canadians bought Ford vehicles than any other vehicles in Canada. It wasn’t only 2014 though. This marks the 5th year in a row that we’re honored to have been recognized as the #1 selling automotive company in Canada.*

We see this recognition as more than just sales results. We see it as a testament to our commitment to go further for Canadians. It’s with Canadians in mind that we constantly strive to improve the technology in our vehicles, the fuel efficiency across our entire lineup, and to set ourselves apart by offering you more – standard.

So thanks for the inspiration… and thanks for the response. We couldn’t have done it without you.