Model: Other Pickups
Within the next year, Ford will offer a brand-new adaptive steering system (unimaginatively dubbed "Ford Adaptive Steering"), and this week, the automaker invited us out to its proving grounds in Dearborn, MI to get a taste for how its new setup works. In function, Ford's system doesn't greatly differ from the majority of other adaptive steering units already on the market from companies like Audi or BMW, but consider this: Ford will be the first non-luxury automaker to offer this technology, and uniquely, the whole system fits inside the car's steering wheel.
Ford's engineers have worked hard to create a system that can be tacked on to the company's full lineup of cars, trucks and utility vehicles, and says that the adaptive steering will be uniquely tuned for each specific vehicle. The automaker will not confirm exactly which vehicle will launch with this technology, but for the purpose of our preview, we tested the technology in a 2014 Fusion - a vehicle with already-good behind-the-wheel feel, one that the company says best demonstrates its current steering efforts.
Photos of the 2015 Ford Focus leaked earlier today, but now we're able to tell you more details of the global five-door hatchback. Bucking automaker's troubling trend of ditching manual transmissions in favor of automatics, Ford says the new 1.0-liter EcoBoost engine will come only in a six-speed manual in the US, because, well, American drivers aren't as sophisticated as our European brothers and sisters.
Ford didn't come out and say it that way, but it has found American drivers are more prone to complain about automatics in smaller-engine cars, Raj Nair, Ford's group vice president of global product development, said at a press conference last week. The recent JD Power Vehicle Dependability Study backs up Ford's claims, pointing out that drivers are complaining about rough transmission shifts, engine hesitation and lack of power, particularly in small cars. In Europe and other parts of the world, drivers seem to understand the quirks of these pint-sized engines, Nair said, so they'll have the option to buy an automatic. Ford is working on tuning its dual-clutch transmissions to make them more amenable to American driver's tastes.
Ford will show off the refreshed 2015 Focus at the Geneva Motor Show in early March. The car is due for an update, having been on sale in its current form since 2012. The automaker said it is jamming the car full of new technology - like a USB port that promises to charge your phone in half the time as a regular USB port. Features like Sync and a rear back-up camera will come standard. For a more in-depth look at the car, take a look at the full press release.
Just one year after launching the all-new 2013 Fusion, Ford is reportedly set to alter the sedan's powertrain lineup with the addition of a new 1.5-liter turbocharged three-cylinder EcoBoost engine. A member of Blue Oval Forums apparently got their hands on the ordering guide for the 2014 model year Fusion, and this 1.5-liter mill is set to be introduced with late availability.
This lines up with other news about the Chinese-market Mondeo being offered with a new 1.5-liter EcoBoost - a derivative of the 1.0-liter triple that will come to North America under the hood of the Fiesta (note: the 1.0 is also offered in the current Euro-spec Mondeo). In the Chinese application, the larger three-pot engine produces 177 horsepower and 177 pound-feet of torque, which is very close to the current 1.6-liter inline-four's output numbers of 178 hp and 184 lb-ft.
What's interesting, however, is that the 1.6-liter engine will reportedly still be offered in the Fusion, but only with the six-speed manual transmission. The smaller 1.5-liter EcoBoost will only be mated to a six-speed SelectShift automatic, and will feature start/stop. This means that while the 1.5 is slightly down on power compared to the 1.6, it could easily improve fuel economy numbers, allowing the Fusion to regain the title of having the best mileage in the segment, likely besting the 38 miles per gallon of the Nissan Altima. Currently, the Fusion 1.6 is rated at 23 mpg city and 36 mpg highway.