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Auto blogTue, 23 Apr 2013 15:43:00 EST
We've gotten our grubby little digits on the dealer order guide for the as-yet-unreleased 2014 Ford Fusion thanks to an anonymous tipster, and while there isn't much that's unexpected, there are some meaningful equipment changes to report after the rakish sedan's first year on the market.
Mechanically, the big news is, of course, the recently confirmed availability of the 1.5-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder paired with a six-speed automatic. The powertrain replaces the 1.6-liter automatic setup of 2013, though if you want a manual transmission, you'll still get the extra .1-liter of displacement.
On the equipment front, there are newly available rear inflatable seatbelts - as seen previously on the Explorer - along with a new heated steering wheel and cooled seat option on Titanium and Titanium Hybrid models (the latter two options will be late availability).
Ken Block became famous for his series of Gymkhana videos, but he's a real racer in his own right. Block has competed many rounds in the FIA World Rally Championship and also rallied in the 2013 Rally America series. He nearly won that latter title last year - if not for a massive crash in the final event of the season.
Block and his co-driver Alex Gelsomino went into the Lake Superior Performance Rally needing a win to take the championship. However, missing a clump of dirt on the side of the road and one little word in the pace notes was all it took to catapult Block's Fiesta off the road and into a tumbling accident. Block says his initial reaction was anger because the crash came out of nowhere.
For 2014, Block is joining the FIA World Rallycross Championship for at least three rounds. He'll drive a Ford Fiesta for the Hoonigan Racing Division at the Norwegian, French and Turkish events of the 12-round championship. Former Formula One World Champion Jacques Villeneuve will also compete in the series.
Remember when Ford launched the totally new Explorer in late 2010, and people were skeptical about how the now-crossover would fare, after ditching its traditional SUV roots? Well, we're several years in, and I think we can assuredly say that Ford made the right decision. Sales are better than ever (in fact, May was the current Explorer's best month yet), and the crossover is finding its way into the hands of a whole host of new Ford buyers.
A wholly refreshed Explorer is still forthcoming, but to keep its strong-selling crossover fresh, Ford is offering a host of improvements for the 2015 model year, including the attractive appearance package available on the XLT trim level, pictured above. Outside, the pack gets you goodies like 20-inch machined aluminum wheels, black bodyside cladding and roof rack rails. Contrasting Magnetic Metallic accents are found on the grille, mirror caps and liftgate appliqué, and there's an "Explorer" hood badge and body-colored door handles. Inside, there are new Miko suede inserts in the seats, and the package includes the automaker's Sync connectivity with MyFord Touch infotainment.
Elsewhere in the Explorer range, the Class III trailer tow pack is now standard on the Sport, base models get new 18-inch aluminum wheels, and there are three new colors on offer: Bronze Fire Metallic and Magnetic Metallic.