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Auto blogMon, 11 Mar 2013 14:17:00 EST
It's taken four years of study, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has finally closed the books on its investigation into rollaway accusations surrounding 1.56-million Ford SUV models.
The probe, which centered on the 2002-2005 Ford Explorer, 2002-2005 Mercury Mountaineer and 2003-2005 Lincoln Aviator, ends without the federal agency calling for a recall. According to The Detroit News, the investigation was closed due to a "low number of complaints" - NHTSA documented 180 such complaints that resulted in 14 crashes and six minor injuries, but the number of incidents have been slowing. The suspected defect rate for the trucks' automatic transmissions was found to be 4.4 per 100,000 units, and the brake-shift interlock mechanism failure rate was judged to be even lower at 3.4 per 100k.
Whether it's lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring or automatic emergency braking, most of the electronic systems we see emerging on new vehicles focus on safety. But there are some there just for enthusiasts. We're talking about systems like automatic throttle blipping for perfect downshifts, or launch control to get that textbook acceleration from a standstill. But the latest system could prove just the opposite of the latter.
Although it has given us most of the details, Ford is still keeping certain elements of its new Mustang secret. But emerging reports may have the skinny on one system which Ford is trying is darnedest to keep under its hat for the time being. That, according to unnamed sources cited by Motor Authority, is burnout control.
The system is reportedly designed to help novices execute the perfect smokey burnout - sort of like launch control, but specifically the opposite. The system could, according to elaborative speculation, lock the front brakes while spooling up the engine to optimal revolutions before dumping (or indicating the driver to do dump) the clutch. A cloud of tire smoke and a long pair of skid marks would then ensue.
Ford looks to be working on a new SUV version of its global Ranger pickup truck. An early prototype of a seven-passenger SUV based on the Ranger has been spotted testing in Australia, and word has it buyers in the region could expect to see the model in showrooms as soon as 2014, where it could sail under the Endeavour or Everest badges. Ford Australia currently sells the Territory SUV, so there's some chance that this model could be a successor to that throne, as well.
Whatever it's called, the long-roof Ranger will feature a shorter wheelbase and more ground clearance than its pickup twin, giving the machine a bit more off-road functionality. (And here we thought we couldn't want the global Ranger any more than we already do.) While this particular vehicle sports a Territory back half grafted onto a Ranger front end, odds are a public reveal of the finished product could occur as soon as the second half of 2014, making it a 2015 model. Head over to Carsguide.com.au for a closer look.