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Auto blogFri, 03 Oct 2014
The Blue Oval's 'One Ford' mantra has seen rapid commonization of the automaker's products across markets, but North America still has to look from afar at most of the company's Max-branded people movers, including this new S-Max. That's a bit of a shame - we like the space efficiency and above-average driving dynamics of the C-Max models we do get, but seeing this updated seven-seat small minivan makes us want the One Ford initiative to extend even further.
The new model's changes include an updated powertrain range including a 1.5-liter EcoBoost four with 158 horsepower, and a larger, 237-horsepower, 2.0-liter model, along with a pair of revised lower-emissions 2.0-liter diesels. The big news, however, is the advent of available all-wheel drive, something that hasn't been offered since the S-Max first went on sale back in 2006.
On the technology front, the S-Max is the first European model to receive Ford Adaptive Steering, a variable-ratio technology we recently sampled in a prototype Fusion that is expected to go into production on the next-generation Edge. The S-Max also receives a new aluminum-intensive integral link rear suspension, packaged to continue to fit up to 32 different seating combinations. Safety equipment is always a prime concern in kinschleppers like the S-Max, and to that end, this new model receives pre-collision assist technology and LED headlamps.
Ford is announcing six separate recalls for a variety of issues affecting a dozen models and a total of 100,610 vehicles in North America. However, according to Ford spokesperson Kelli Felker, "None of them have caused accidents or injuries." Half of them cover fewer than 1,000 cars.
The largest recall covers 92,022 North American examples (about 83,250 in the US) of some models of the Ford Taurus, Lincoln MKS, Ford Interceptor, Flex and Lincoln MKT from the 2013 and 2014 model years; the 2012-2014 Edge and the 2014 Lincoln MKX. All of them have a potential issue with the halfshaft on the right side that might not be fully seated and could move outward over time. If it shifts too far, the models may no longer be able to drive, and the condition could also allow the vehicles to roll away, even when in Park. Dealers will inspect the shaft to make sure it's seated and will replace the part if necessary.
The next-largest recall covers 5,264 North American examples (4,867 in the US) of the Ford F59 Commercial Stripped Chassis from the 2011-2014 model years. It's possible that an electrical junction box can corrode in areas with salty roads and short circuit. The problem could potentially cause a fire. Dealers will replace the box with an improved design.
A lot more happened during this latest brutal winter than days of snow and Netflix binges. Automotive sales took a battering. After all, going out car shopping when it's eleventy-billion degrees below zero isn't a good time.
Because of this Old Man Winter-induced sales slump, inventories are abnormally high as we head into the summer car buying season. That's led some analysts to predict that automakers will be more inclined to idle factories this summer, in a bid to trim some of the built-up inventory. Traditionally, American manufacturers offer up a two-week break in the middle of summer, although the burgeoning sales of the past few years have seen this practice become less popular.
"We're likely not going to see an acceleration this year," Jeff Schuster, a senior vice president at LMC Automotive, told The Detroit News. "We'll see production increases in 'pockets' but I don't know if it will be as widespread as in recent years."