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Auto blogFri, 07 Jun 2013 09:14:00 EST
The 2014 Ford Fiesta is in showrooms now with refreshed styling and new performance ST model, but it's what isn't yet available that should help the Fiesta stand out from the growing crowd of subcompacts. Aside from the new 1.0-liter EcoBoost model coming later this year, Ford recently told us that a new Fiesta SFE trim level is on the way that should put the updated Fiesta at the top of its class for fuel economy.
The new Fiesta SFE will hit an estimated 41 miles per gallon on the highway when equipped with the six-speed automatic transmission. The current listing on fueleconomy.gov shows the 2014 Fiesta getting up to 29 mpg city and 39 highway, but the SFE will get minor aero tuning and a recalibrated engine controller to help bump the highway figure past rivals like the Chevrolet Sonic and Nissan Versa - both of which top out at 40-mpg highway. There's still no word as to when the small 1.0-liter EcoBoost will show in the US, but Ford has indicated that engine's fuel economy isn't expected to be released until October.
Twenty-five years since its debut in 1990, Ford will celebrate a quarter century of Explorer models next year with the debut of a refreshed 2016 model at the 2014 Los Angeles Auto Show on November 19. The Blue Oval is keeping mum on hard details about the updated SUV for now, but the brand promises, "a new look, added capability and additional driver-assist technology," in its announcement.
Company marketing boss Jim Farley elaborated a little more on what to expect. "The new Explorer is still the SUV America fell in love with - a vehicle built for the perfect family adventure," he said in the release that you're welcome to read down below.
An updated Explorer is a pretty big deal for Ford's bottom line. Worldwide, SUVs and crossovers account for about 23 percent of Ford's sales, and the segment is projected to grow to around 29 percent by 2020. Ford further says that SUVs and CUVs are the world's quickest growing segment with demand up 88 percent since 2008.
Ford is toiling away, installing heavy-duty engine components into select 3.7-liter V6s to allow them to run on compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquid petroleum gas (LPG) in addition to gasoline. That's nothing new, but now, Ford has announced that it will offer the 2014 F-150 with this engine configuration, bringing the Blue Oval's total number of CNG/LPG-friendly vehicles up to eight. The F-150 will be the only half-ton pickup on the market that can run on these gases.
Ford will charge $315 per vehicle to equip the optional engine, but the trucks won't be ready to run on the alternative fuels straight from the factory and must be upfitted with additional equipment. A Ford Qualified Vehicle Modifier will install a separate fuel system for the compressed gases at a cost of $7,500 to $9,500, depending on fuel tank size. With the right-size tank, the F-150 equipped with the CNG/LPG-prepped engine can go 750 miles on one tank of gas, according to Ford, averaging 23 miles per gallon.
The practice of offering flex-fuel vehicles is gaining momentum as businesses take advantage of cheap gas. CNG can be bought for $2.11/gallon on average (per gasoline equivalent), and sometimes for as little as $1.00 in some parts of the US, Ford states. "With the money saved using CNG, customers could start to see payback on their investment in as little as 24 to 36 months," says Jon Coleman, Ford's fleet sustainability and technology manager. The automaker expects to sell a total of 15,000 CNG/LPG-prepped vehicles in the 2014 model year.