2013 - Ford Edge
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Auto blogWed, 23 Jan 2013 16:31:00 EST
Waiting for a Ford compliment from Consumer Reports these days is like waiting for a low-cost new product from Apple. So we weren't really expecting a glowing review of the 2013 Ford Fusion when CR got its hands on the car. The institute's crew bought three different versions of the Fusion (Hybrid, 1.6-liter EcoBoost and a Titanium with the 2.0-liter EcoBoost) to put through its barrage of tests, and while we aren't too surprised by some of the findings, they're still interesting nonetheless.
CR praises the Fusion for its "eye-catching" design and says that the sportier Titanium trim level is the best-handling midsize sedan they've ever tested, but that's about where the good news ends for Ford. The Fusion Hybrid also posted the best-ever fuel economy CR has recorded in a midsize sedan, but the only problem is that their number was 39 miles per gallon combined - far less than Ford's 47 mpg rating for city, highway and combined. As expected, CR also dinged the Fusion for its MyFord Touch, but some of the other gripes about the car include a cramped cabin and poor fit and finish.
Other Ford products tested this time around include the Focus Electric and C-Max Hybrid. Like the Fusion, CR's observed fuel economy of 37 mpg for the C-Max fell well short of Ford's advertised 47-mpg rating, and both cars were criticized for the use of MyFord Touch. CR notes that the Focus Electric's interior is also cramped, with the battery pack taking up a lot of cargo space.
Recently, the finance arm of PSA/Peugeot-Citroën was in such debt trouble that it was pricing itself out of the car loan market. The rates it was paying to service its debt, which was rated one step above junk, were so high that it was forced to charge car-buying customers higher rates than they could find elsewhere. This was adding to Peugeot's already impressive woes by sending revenue out the door to competitors.
Two months ago a deal was worked out with the French government whereby the state would provide 7 billion euro ($9 billion USD) in bonds to guarantee the finance arm's loans. The French government could nominate someone to join the Peugeot board, Peugeot would guarantee more French jobs, and on top of that deal, other banks would provide non-guaranteed loans. The government would take no equity stake in the car company.
Although not yet finalized, the arrangement is meant to create some breathing room for Peugeot Finance to lower its interest rates for customers, and a government-nominated board member, Louis Gallois, was recently named to Peugeot's supervisory board. The arrangement was also openly questioned by at least three competitors: Ford, Renault - which is 15-percent owned by the French government after it received state aid - and the German state of Lower Saxony, itself a 15-percent shareholder in Volkswagen.
While the tide of bigger-is-better SUVs has been in recession since, well, the recession, fullsize utes are still very much with us. Conservative creatures that have been loathe to evolve, fullsize SUVs nonetheless remain enduringly popular among large families, livery customers, and anyone with lots of friends, relatives, and toys to tug around. With respect to Toyota and Nissan, the only players that really matter in the segment are the new-for-2015 Chevrolet Tahoe/Suburban, the GMC Yukon/Yukon XL, and this truck: the Ford Expedition, the latest evolution of which we just drove for the first time at a press preview in West Virginia.
Unlike the General Motors utilities, the standard Expedition and the long-wheelbase Expedition EL are not all-new, but rather are heavily refreshed versions of the same basic truck Ford started selling way back in 2007. The front fascia is where most of the exterior update happens for 2015, with a new three-bar grille design, halogen projector headlamps, and new bumper design with available LED foglamps. Despite all the new bits, the facelift breaks exactly zero ground in terms of design; in fact, it already looks dated, and will only look older once the macho 2015 F-150 bows later this year. Even less has changed out back, where the tailgate gets a wide chrome band spanning the taillamps and a new chrome exhaust tip. Other exterior changes are generally limited to colors and an all-new wheel lineup that includes a gleaming set of six-spoke 22-inch polished wheels on high-end models.
Speaking of high-end models, a new Platinum trim is positioned above the cowboy-spec King Ranch model for 2015. Both the Platinum and King Ranch get their own color combos and exterior trim finishes (satin metal for the Platinum, chrome everywhere and ginormous badges for the King Ranch) and posh, leather-lined interiors with their own aesthetic. The Expedition family also now includes a price-leading XL model, as well as XLT and Limited grades.