2017 Ford F-150 SuperCrew 4×4 Raptor Review

Monday January 8th, 2018 at 11:11 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2017 Ford F-150 SuperCrew 4x4 Raptor

Hypes: Massive Suspension and Frame
Gripes: It Left After One Week

The first definition of raptor in Webster’s is not a bird of prey, but rather “a plunderer, a ravisher.” Now here’s a truck that will plunder the earth while you ravish its performance. Instead of claws, Ford’s Raptor uses monster truck treads to get the job done: 315/70/R17 BFGoodrich T/A KO2s at each corner mounted on behemoth optional ($1,185) forged alloy wheels equipped with bead locks. Aside from those modest charcoal and silver alloy rims, there is absolutely nothing else discreet about this ultimate F150. In both styling and decoration, the Raptor is in your face everywhere you look. Take that massive grill, for example, with hyper extended F-O-R-D letters that each measure 9 inches in width. The dark grey tailgate “Applique” ($495) features an even wider FORD typeface with each letter measuring 14 inches. In the unlikely event that the model name escapes you, Ford has wrapped the Raptor with giant decals above each rear fender (“Exterior Graphics Package” – $1,075) identifying this Ruby Red Metallic Tinted ($395) truck as a Raptor. You will find further reminders from the matte black “Hood Graphics Package” ($900), the name stitched to both front seat headrests, and the bas-relief notation inscribed in the black crackle finish running boards.

2017 Ford F-150 SuperCrew 4x4 Raptor

While the Raptor makes a very bold visual statement, its performance proclamation is even louder than its looks. Start with the strident tone issuing from outlandishly large flat black dump pipes exiting just below the tailgate. When you toe into the twin turbocharged all-aluminum V6, the twin exhausts issue a startling blat that will titillate your eardrums. That’s because this truck motor, which is closely related to the engine in Ford’s class-winning Le Mans GT, makes a prodigious 450hp @ 5000rpm and an even more plentiful 510 lb.-ft. of torque at just 3500rpm. In other words, the Raptor is without question the fastest pickup truck you can buy today, with 0-60mph capability of 5.2 seconds. If you floor the accelerator and run this Ford through the quarter mile, it will record a 13.9 second run @ 98mph. Bear in mind that this stellar straight-line performance comes from a truck weighing very close to 3 tons.

2017 Ford F-150 SuperCrew 4x4 Raptor

But Ford did not construct the Raptor to be drag raced. Rather, it has been designed to provide the ultimate ride off-road. In fact, among the multiple available settings for ride preference, Ford has included one called “Baja.” This choice automatically locks in high range 4-wheel drive, while simultaneously optimizing all steering, suspension and engine parameters for ultra-high-performance. We didn’t have a chance to get down to Baja during our week with the Raptor, so we’ll have to take Ford’s word for its off-road prowess. However, the following engineering clearances should give veteran Rubicon types a clear idea of the Raptor’s elite design brief. Minimum running clearance stands at 11.45 inches. Water fording depth is 32 inches. Approach angle is 30.2 degrees, departure angle 23.1 degrees. Breakover angle on the SuperCrew is 10.9 degrees, or 11.45 degrees for the smaller SuperCab model. These impressive figures will reveal to any serious off-roader that the Raptor really is designed to complete the romp from Ensenada to La Paz through Baja with flying colors.

2017 Ford F-150 SuperCrew 4x4 Raptor

Although we never found a suitable unpaved spot to exercise the Raptor, we can testify that this truck makes a delicious everyday companion. Its cabin is so comfortable you never want to climb down from your throne. The front seats are wide and spacious, although they lack sufficient side support. The instrumentation is beyond reproach, with the most important gauges always displayed for water and oil temp, fuel level, and miles to empty. A series of computer command buttons on the steering wheel allow you to supplement that base information with a dozen screens of additional material encompassing everything from off-road lean angle to engine oil condition and tire pressure. But the best part of the Raptor’s cab is the 360 degrees of vision it affords to keep you ahead of the traffic game. The fact that our test truck was also equipped with the optional ($1,295) Twin Panel Moonroof made our vast panorama enjoyment that much better.

2017 Ford F-150 SuperCrew 4x4 Raptor

2017 Ford F-150 SuperCrew 4×4 Raptor

  • Engine: 3.5 liter all aluminum V6 with DOHC, 24 vales and twin turbocharger
  • Horsepower: 450hp@5000rpm
  • Torque: 510lb.-ft.@3500rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 15MPG City/18MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $69,995
  • Star Rating: 10 out of 10 Stars

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2017 Ford Super Duty F250 4×4 Crew Cab Lariat Styleside 6.7L V8 Diesel Review

Monday December 18th, 2017 at 11:1212 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2017 Ford Super Duty F250 4x4 Crew Cab Lariat Styleside 6.7L V8 Diesel

Hypes: Immense Torque, Huge Payload/Tow Load
Gripes: Not City Fit for Parking

Trying to pin down a Ford pickup requires more specificity than a NASA launch sequence. Just look at the above referenced dozen identifiers and you see how complicated the ordering process can be when you step into your local Ford shop. Let’s start with the concept of Super Duty. These promissory words appeared everywhere on our test F250: incised in the hood, tailgate, flanks, and dash. Super Duty is not available on Ford’s entry level pickup, the F150. Rather it’s a term reserved for the heavily reinforced construction available only on F250 and F350 series trucks. Take the frame, for example, which is now built from 95% high-strength steel. This infrastructure is the strongest Super Duty frame ever produced. Last year, the F150 saved weight with its aluminum pickup box. For 2017, Ford has re-engineered the aluminum box for use on Super Duty models by upgrading the panel thickness of the box to handle the increased loading requirements of the Super Duty line. This aluminum construction saves nearly 400 pounds over a comparable steel box while still managing to pass “Built Ford Tough” tests over 12 million miles of testing.

2017 Ford Super Duty F250 4x4 Crew Cab Lariat Styleside 6.7L V8 Diesel

From the moment you climb into the F250′s comfy cab, you realize that this truck has been designed from the ground up to manage extreme situations with insolent ease. The fun starts under that huge expanse of hood, where our test truck’s $8,595 optional 6.7 liter Power Stroke V8 Diesel hummed its way to 430hp. The big news, however, comes in the torque output: 925lb.-ft. of twist at just 1,800rpm. In other words, every time you flatten the accelerator in the F250, you are instantly generating twice as much thrust as Ford’s also available gas V8, which makes 385hp and “only” 430lb.-ft. of torque. So what will this Diesel torque master do for you? It will allow the F250 to tow 17,600 pounds of trailer. If you opt for the F350 with the 6.7 liter Diesel, tow rating soars to an amazing 31,300 pounds. Our test F250 was completely optimized for towing. For starters, it had 4 wheel drive, with low and high ranges of RWD and 4WD available by simply twisting a knob on the dash. Ford includes dual heavy duty alternators at no extra cost. An acceleration enhancing 3.55:1 electronic locking rear axle costs just $390 extra, A must have if you plan to tow is the $710 “Ultimate Trailer Tow Camera” which allows you to keep an eye on your load at all times.

2017 Ford Super Duty F250 4x4 Crew Cab Lariat Styleside 6.7L V8 Diesel

A couple of important suspension tweaks on our F250 made its handling surprisingly responsive. The $295 FX4 Off-Road Package stiffens spring rates and shock absorber response. It also provides skid plates for off-road forays, and maximizes gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) at 10,000 pounds. The uprated suspension produced ride quality on the stiff side of comfortable. But when the road became twisty, this 7,898 LB. Ford acquitted itself with remarkable agility. Excellent Michelin tires are in part responsible for the happy compromise. These LTX AT2 M&S rated rollers ride on chromed wheels that are forged for exceptional strength. These 20″ x 8″ beauties cost $1,240 extra, and look just right supporting those massive 275/65R20 Michelins. Because the F250 stands really tall on these tires, the climb into the 81″ high cab is challenging. But Ford has provided very substantial cleated aluminum running boards to ease entry, plus an A-pillar mounted grab bar to complete the hoisting procedure.

2017 Ford Super Duty F250 4x4 Crew Cab Lariat Styleside 6.7L V8 Diesel

Once ensconced in the commanding bridge, you immediately notice how good the rear view mirrors are. They are divided into upper and lower sections, with the upper pane affording a normal view, and the lower pane showing a wide angle view. If you can’t see anything in these mirrors, then you can rest assured that nothing is there. For even more piece of mind, the standard blind spot detection system can be upgraded to cover your trailer as well as your truck. And the monitor for truck tire pressures can be calibrated to monitor 6 trailer tires if needed. If you tow a fifth wheel trailer, you will appreciate the cab mounted tailgate release. You can monitor back-up maneuvers thanks to cameras mounted on the tailgate and rear roof. This allows you to back the F250 onto your trailer ball without help from anyone else.

2017 Ford Super Duty F250 4x4 Crew Cab Lariat Styleside 6.7L V8 Diesel

What I most appreciated about this exceptional truck was the information available to check while driving. For example, transmission and engine temps, oil pressure, turbo boost level, tire pressures, even remaining Diesel emission life — all parameters are available at the touch of a steering wheel mounted button. All in all, the F250 Super Duty Diesel is the perfect all purpose getaway vehicle.

2017 Ford Super Duty F250 4×4 Crew Cab Lariat Styleside 6.7L V8 Diesel

  • Engine: 6.7 Liter Power Stroke V8 Diesel
  • Horsepower: 440hp@2800rpm
  • Torque: 925lb.-ft.@1800rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 16.4MPG City/23.7MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $66,945
  • Star Rating: 10 out of 10 Stars

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2017 Ford Fusion Platinum Hybrid Review

Thursday December 14th, 2017 at 11:1212 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2017 Ford Fusion Platinum Hybrid

Hypes: Good Looks, Fuel Efficient, Comfy Ride
Gripes: Down On Power, Gearless Transmission

The Fusion Hybrid will laugh its way past a lot of gas stations over the course of your ownership. According to the EPA, this 42 MPG gas miser will save you $2,500 in 5 years over the fuel cost of the average new car. That efficiency gives it a rating of 9 on the EPA’s scale of 10 for “Fuel Economy and Greenhouse Gas Rating.” The Hybrid also posts an 8 of 10 on Smog Rating, measured at the tailpipe. But how does the Fusion Hybrid rate in everyday driving? I’d give it about a 7. If you’re looking for stout performance from this electric/gas combo sedan, you’ll want to look elsewhere. 188hp working to propel a chassis weighing 3,505 lbs. works out to 18.64 lbs/hp. That’s not quite in the old nag category of giddy-up, but it’s close enough to glue factory speed to keep you from passing slower traffic on 2 lane roads with confidence. But fret not, because Ford offers such a wide variety of propulsion systems for the Fusion sedan line that you can buy a real scorcher with 325hp and AWD(Fusion Sport).

2017 Ford Fusion Platinum Hybrid

Although the Hybrid lacks the Sport’s explosive thrust, it does enjoy enough amenities to make you forget about its lack of sheer speed. The Fusion line, from the base model 181hp sedan, through the turbocharged EcoBoost 245hp version, to the Hybrid we tested, plug-in Energi Hybrid, and Sport, all share the same basic good looks, finely tuned handling characteristics, and refined cabin design. These attributes make Fusion a top choice in a 5 passenger American designed family sedan.

2017 Ford Fusion Platinum Hybrid

Our test Fusion was built by a Ford plant in Hermosillo, Mexico. The base price of our test car ($31,010) seems quite reasonable, considering that its “Platinum” level of trim is the highest of 5 levels Ford offers for this model. Our test car’s bottom line swelled to $34,770 thanks to the addition of 3 option groups you could easily do without: $995 for “Enhanced Park Assist,” $1,190 for “Adaptive Cruise with Stop & Go,” and $1,575 for a “Driver Assist Package” that includes Lane Keeping and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. In fact, I would definitely delete that last package, because the Lane Keeping feature constantly jiggles the steering wheel in your hand whenever you make a lane change without signaling first. This haptic feedback becomes annoying in very short order.

2017 Ford Fusion Platinum Hybrid

There’s substantial battery and electric motor technology lurking beneath the passenger compartment and under the raised trunk floor. If you opt for the Hybrid, you must be willing to sacrifice at least a third of the non-Hybrid’s 16 cubic feet of trunk space to accommodate the electrics beneath the trunk floor. For 2017, Ford improved the output and performance of the Hybrid’s electric motor. When you spool up the throttle, the electric motor issues an ethereal whine, not unlike your blender set to Liquefy. Appended to this propulsion unit is a “Powersplit” CVT transmission that is controlled by a circular dial mounted between the front seats. Because this CVT has no actual gears, Ford does not bother with the charade of defining artificial rpm splits that deceive you into thinking you’re shifting gears. Hence, there are no paddle on the steering wheel, nor any manual override setting on that rotary transmission dial. If you’re really slogging along at low speeds, however, you can dial up a “Low” range setting.

2017 Ford Fusion Platinum Hybrid

Ford has perfected the ride control of this Fusion. They equip its with no-extra-cost machined aluminum wheels with painted pockets. These handsome components are shod with Michelin Green X Energy radials (255/45R18) that run silent, provide good grip, and promise long tread life with a wear rating of TW 480. At the Titanium trim level, the Fusion is equipped with a slew of features that make daily use easy. We particularly appreciated the Intelligent Access keyfob, which never needed button prompting to open the doors automatically. Both front seats are heated and offer electronic 10-way positioning. All windows take just one push of the button to raise or lower. New LED headlights and a revamped mesh front grill for 2017 refine the frontal aspect of what was already a very clean looking design. Consumer Reports assessment of the 2014-2016 Fusion shows nothing but green arrows, so you can expect better than average reliability. In fact, CR endorses the latest Fusion with a Recommended check mark, and we would have to concur with their assessment.

2017 Ford Fusion Platinum Hybrid

2017 Ford Fusion Platinum Hybrid

  • Engine: 2.0 Liter inline 4 + Electric Motor
  • Horsepower: 188hp
  • Torque: N/A
  • Fuel Consumption: 43 MPG City/42 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $35,645
  • Star Rating: 8 out of 10 Stars

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2017 Ford Fusion Platinum Energi Review

Wednesday March 1st, 2017 at 4:33 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2017 Ford Fusion Platinum Energi

By David Colman

Hypes: Luscious Interior, Reams of Unexpected Standard Features
Gripes: 188hp Insufficient

For 2017, Ford offers more flavors of Fusion than Ben and Jerry makes ice cream. At the top of the long list is the all new for 2017 Sport version, with a 325hp, 2.7 liter V6 powering all four wheels. Moving down the range, Ford also offers a turbocharged 2.0 liter inline 4 making 240hp. At the bottom of the horsepower rankings – but the top of the mileage offerings – is the 2.0 liter inline 4 of the Fusion Energi we tested. This one’s gas engine makes just 188hp in consort with its electrical motor, but yields 42 MPG in combined city/highway driving. In electric-only mode, the Fusion Energi will carry you just 21 miles. But those miles produce an EPA rating of 97 MPGe. In combined electric/gas operation, this greenest of all Fusions will take you a whopping 610 miles on one tank of gasoline.

2017 Ford Fusion Platinum Energi

With that kind of range, it would be nice if the Fusion Energi provided a first class interior for you to while away those extended driving hours. The Energi’s Platinum interior does just that. Taking a cue from hyper priced cars like Bentley and Maserati, Ford designers have spiced up the look of this Fusion with large swaths of diamond patterned upholstery inserts. The front and rear seat bolsters sport this material, as well as all four upper door panels. Our test example featured an inviting shade of cream leather called “Medium Soft Ceramic” that looked and felt inviting but showed a fair amount of grime after 7,000 miles of test driving. The quilted door and seat inserts are neatly set off by black piping which adds a note of elegance to the overall design. The seats themselves are supremely comfortable up front and passably accommodating in back.

2017 Ford Fusion Platinum Energi

The Fusion’s 112 inch wheelbase and 73 inch width make for a spacious and airy cabin, further augmented by a standard power moonroof. A foursome of six footers front and rear will never find themselves crowded into discomfort inside a Fusion.

2017 Ford Fusion Platinum Energi

The cockpit is replete with thoughtful attention to detail. For example, the vertical and horizontal adjustment for the multifunction steering wheel is electrically controlled, a nicety not often encountered on cars in the sub-$40,000 price range. Another welcome feature is a 2 slot memory system for selecting and retaining your favorite seat/mirror/steering wheel orientation. Again, most vehicles in this class do not offer this convenience. Clearly, a lot of thought has gone into making the Fusion cabin habitable for long distance cruising. The front seats are both heated and ventilated, with four settings available for temperature choice in either mode. Even the steering wheel rim is heated, though it took us awhile to find the on/off switch, which is buried in the climate control Synch3 menu, rather than operated by an actual button.

2017 Ford Fusion Platinum Energi

Thankfully, all major climate and ventilation settings are instantly accessible through a series of actual buttons and switches laid out across the base of the center console. Here you will find individual temperature controls for each side of the cabin, plus fan speed and defrost buttons. For other less critical functions, Ford’s Synch3 system allows you to tailor your navigation and entertainment needs through pictographs on the 8 inch touchscreen, which oversees everything from radio choice, to apps, to navigation, to general locking protocol and language display. The steering wheel spokes control a wealth of additional information which appears on the instrument panel, next to the 120mph speedometer. You can scroll through “MyView” acceleration/braking/cruising tabulations, fuel economy readouts, two resettable trip computers, EV feedback entitled “Engage” and “Empower,” and finally, tire pressure readout. Just the thing to keep you on your toes on Interstate 5.

2017 Ford Fusion Platinum Energi

If the Energi hybrid has a drawback, it’s lackadaisical performance. 188hp is simply not up to the task of hauling this sizeable 3,505 pound sedan up to passing speed with any margin of comfort. Even with gas and electrical power maxed out noisily at full throttle, the Energi is reluctant to satisfy your need for speed. The ECVT “Powersplit” automatic transmission features a new-for-2017 rotary control dial for gear selection. While this unit does save console space. its operation is difficult to master as it lacks the detents of a conventional shift mechanism.

2017 Ford Fusion Platinum Energi

The other drawback of selecting a hybrid is the imprecise, non-linear pedal feel of the regenerative brakes. They react with oversensitive zeal even to slight pedal pressure. The rock hard (treadwear rating: 480) Michelin Energy radials (225/50R17) complicate the brake feedback loop with their tendency to skid. Finally, you’ll pay another energy penalty when you examine the trunk of this otherwise full size sedan. While the interior may comfortably hold four passengers, the hybridized trunk will never transport all their belongings. Associated hybrid gear and lithium ion batteries occupy much of the allotted space.

2017 Ford Fusion Platinum Energi

  • Engine: 2.0 liter inline 4 + electric motor
  • Horsepower: 188hp
  • Torque: N/A
  • Fuel Consumption: 42 MPG Combined, 97 MPGe
  • Price as Tested: $39,995
  • Star Rating: 7.5 out of 10 Stars

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2016 Ford Mustang GT Convertible Review

Wednesday June 22nd, 2016 at 10:66 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2016 Ford Mustang GT Convertible

By David Colman

Hypes: 5.0 V8 is wicked quick, with sound to match
Gripes: Does a Steering Wheel really need 18 buttons?

The latest offering in Ford’s rag top pony car line is a very endearing product. Hot Rodders will love it for its 435hp and bellowing exhaust note. Sun worshippers will give it high grades for its expansive tanning bed. Back road carvers will grant it high marks for its handling dexterity. About the only souls predisposed to condemnation are mileage nerds who will look askance at the GT’s combined EPA rating of 19 MPG. Believe me, that’s a small price to pay for the repetitive fun dividend this Ford provides every day.

2016 Ford Mustang GT Convertible

As has been the case since this model’s inception in 1964, there are pretend Mustangs and there are real Mustangs. The pretend stallions are gelded at birth with just 6 cylinders under the hood. The real Mustangs come off the Flat Rock assembly line with a proper V8 in the engine bay. In the case of our Competition Orange test GT, proper refers to a 5.0 liter V8 massaged to produce 435hp and 400lb.-ft. of torque. The best of all drivertrains to harness this output is the 6-speed manual transmission, coupled to a 3.31:1 rear axle ratio, both of which are available at no extra cost. The manual shift is a work of art, from the incised pattern on its chromed knob to the lockout lift ring for reverse gear. The levers throws are ultra short and satisfying. The clutch pedal’s precise engagement makes slamming home shifts at redline a true driver’s delight. Enthusiasts will never run short of enthusiasm for driving this manual gearbox Mustang GT.

2016 Ford Mustang GT Convertible

Unlike so many front-engine muscle cars, the GT does not disappoint when the occasion arises to tackle some curves. In that regard, Ford has done everything to make the Mustang a stellar handling pony car. Confidence in curves starts with the right underpinnings. Here, Mustang was an early adopter of fully independent rear suspension to go along with independent front suspension. This pairing results in a balanced, controllable platform which is fine tuned by a stout front strut tower brace and a standard limited slip rear axle that prevents wheelspin. All GTs offer standard electronic line-lock for optimizing drag race starts, plus a bevy of “Mustang Tack Apps” that allow you to monitor g-forces, braking times, acceleration times in the quarter mile, as well as 0-60mph times.

2016 Ford Mustang GT Convertible

The convertible version of the GT is remarkably stiff. You will never sense the chassis flexing, even when traversing railroad tracks with the top down. And speaking of that top, it will fold itself into a neat covered receptacle in less than 10 seconds. All you have to do is manually release a hefty T-shaped lock handle to disconnect the roof header from the windshield surround. Dropping the roof automatically lowers all four side windows. However, raising the roof requires you to elevate on your own those same side windows. Ford has provided a sizeable glass rear window and equipped it with heating coils to keep it clear. Even with the top raised, visibility to the rear and sides is surprisingly good considering the GT’s sleek proportions.

2016 Ford Mustang GT Convertible

You will definitely want to order your convertible with the slick and relatively inexpensive “California Special Package” ($1,995) which pays tribute to a rare GT/CS Mustang Ford built in the late 1960s for California only. In today’s version of that Golden State look back, Ford supplies exceptionally handsome 19 inch painted and machined ebony alloy wheels which carry hefty Pirelli P Zero Nero rubber measuring 255/40R19 at each corner. These wheels and tires alone would cost you twice the California Special Package surcharge were you to order the combo from your local tire store. In addition to the sticky footprint, the package also includes a piano black tail spoiler, plus very handsome ebony accents on the hood and rockers that utilize decreasing size Ben Day dots to accentuate the Mustang’s swooping lines. The almost equally expensive “Shaker Pro Audio System” ($1,795) is an item I could live without. Since we spent most of our week with the top dropped, the Shaker’s 12 speaker system and huge trunk-mounted sub woofer was hard pressed to compete with the sound of rushing air.

2016 Ford Mustang GT Convertible

The GT Convertible includes very nice 3-stage heated front seats. The interior is well laid out in terms of door design, low instrument panel height, and reach to the shift console. There’s a tad too much chrome on the auxiliary switch control panel located at the foot of the center stack. The HVAC blower switch is too small and difficult to activate. But all in all, the Mustang GT offers drivers the best interior design of any muscle car on the market today. Be thankful you can still buy this much high performance for this little outlay today.

Ford Mustang GT Convertible

  • Engine: 5.0 Liter TI-VCT V8
  • Horsepower: 435hp
  • Torque: 400lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 15 MPG City/25 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $47,380
  • Star Rating: 10+ out of 10 Stars

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2016 Ford Edge Sport AWD Review

Tuesday June 21st, 2016 at 10:66 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2016 Ford Edge Sport AWD

By David Colman

Hypes: Marvelous Color, Marvelous Motor
Gripes: Cargo Screen Look and Feel Cheap

Every model year sees one manufacturer innovate a new color so scintillating you wonder why no one thought of it before. This year, the tribute goes to Ford for their splendid shade of eye candy called Electric Spice Metallic. This incredible hue which bridges the gap between copper and gold, causes the very smart looking Edge to levitate visually on its equally handsome 21 inch graphite painted alloys. Now Electric Spice Metallic is a color some noted German and British SUV makers would be happy to charge you at least $1,000 extra to mix and apply. But Ford remarkably offers it as one of their standard Edge tints. You will, however, be asked to ante up for those impressively monumental alloys. The “21 inch Premium Painted Alloy Wheels” go for $995, or 4 for about the price you’d pay for 2 in the aftermarket. You’ll also be required to front another $995 for 265/40R21 Pirelli Scorpion Verde tires, also available below aftermarket book value.

2016 Ford Edge Sport AWD

The wheel/tire combo does much more than simply liven the looks of this Edge. Pirelli Scorpion tires are premium grade equipment. Though they will function admirably in wet weather, they are primarily “summer rated” and most at home on dry paved roads. Their fat tread pattern definitely gives a decisive handling edge to the Edge Sport. With 9 out of 10 SUVs, the “sport” aspect of the vehicle plays a distant second fiddle to the utility aspect. This is not at all the case with the Pirelli-shod Edge, which really lives up to its “Sport” designation. In fact, this Ford, with its “sport-tuned suspension,” is capable of carving corners with such panache that it will surprise more than a few pricey foreign sports sedans on a backroad.

2016 Ford Edge Sport AWD

For scintillating motivation, our test Edge depended on a 325hp turbo V6 that produces 375lb.-ft. of torque. Judiciously dispersed through the 6 ratios of a proper gearbox (no CVT here, thank you), the V6 Edge is a lithe scythe through traffic, with enough muscle to meet every passing need you will encounter. The turbo returns 20 MPG in overall usage and offers the most powerful drive unit in the Edge arsenal. A 240hp inline 4 turbo, and a non-turbo V6 rated at 283hp are also offered, but the 2.7 liter EcoBoost turbo V6 is definitely the way to go in this application.

2016 Ford Edge Sport AWD

A gander at the interior fitment will have you wondering whether you somehow paid for an Edge but brought home a Range Rover. Yes, the trim, comfort and aesthetic level is so good that the interior looks twice as expensive as it actually is. The ebony leather seats, beyond their supportive comfort, feature perforated suede surfaces interspersed with tanned black leather inserts. Subdued gray leather stitching knits the unit together and imparts a fine English riding saddle look to the cabin. Careful application of matte aluminum trim rings on the HVAC outlets, shift console and door panels integrate nicely with the patterned carbon look insert above the glovebox. A splendidly huge Panoramic Vista Roof ($1,595) slides so far rearwards that the entire front seat row is exposed to open air, while the rear passengers enjoy unprecedented overhead vision through the fixed rear panel that stretches nearly to the tailgate. And that tailgate is actually a “Hands Free Liftgate,” a standard feature that opens via keyfob input. A button on the tailgate door initiates automatic closure.

2016 Ford Edge Sport AWD

For those who need the storage attributes of a sports utility, but are unwilling to accept slow go, and cumbersome handling, the Edge Sport presents the perfect compromise. It will load 39 cubic feet of cargo if you fold the 60/40 rear seats flat, it will transport 5 passengers without breaking a sweat, it will tow 3,500 pounds, and best of all it will provide real feedback and driving pleasure on twisty roads where most SUVs quickly lose their grip on reality.

2016 Ford Edge Sport AWD

  • Engine: 2.7 liter EcoBoost V6 turbo
  • Horsepower: 325hp
  • Torque: 375lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 17 MPG City/24 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $49,990
  • Star Rating: 10+ out of 10 Stars

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2016 Ford Escape Titanium 4WD Review

Tuesday March 1st, 2016 at 10:33 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2016 Ford Escape Titanium 4WD

By David Colman

Hypes: Lovely engine/gearbox combo, All windows one touch up/down
Gripes: Heated steering wheel would be nice

Ford’s Escape moves into 2016 largely unchanged. If you are savvy, you will order your Escape with the most powerful engine available in the model range, the 2.0 liter EcoBoost motor, which makes 240hp and a whopping 270lb.-ft. of torque thanks to direct fuel injection and a turbocharger. This optional engine will set you back an extra $1,115, and it’s worth that much and more. Coupled to a 6 speed automatic transmission, with real gears instead of the CVT belts so often found in entry level SUVs these days, the diminutive Escape proves a very lively performer. In a solid week of driving, the EcoBoost motor always responded instantly to power demands with a satisfying thrust that belies its excellent fuel economy of 22 MPG City and 28 MPG Highway.

2016 Ford Escape Titanium 4WD

If you also check the order form for the Titanium 4WD model, you will find yourself paying a premium of $4,085 over the less expensive SE 4WD model. But the extra four thousand dollars buys you a raft of worthy improvements including exterior rear view mirrors with built-in turn signals, remote trunk release and power lift back, premium sound system, HD radio, 10-way power leather front seats, mirror and seat memory, keyless start, leather steering wheel, multi-zone climate control and A/C, heated front seats with lumbar adjustment, and rear parking alert with cross-traffic warning. All of these features integrate seamlessly into the make-up of the Titanium Escape, upping your enjoyment of the vehicle without breaking the bank.

2016 Ford Escape Titanium 4WD

In addition, Ford supplied our test Escape with a couple of pricey extras you could probably eliminate without discomfort. The $1,514 “Equipment Group 301A” improves headlight efficiency with HID units (versus standard Halogens), and also adds blind spot detection sensors to warn you of invisible obstacles. It also upgrades parking beepers to “Parking Assist” status front and rear. A navigation system boosts the bottom line a reasonable $694, and is unusual in that Ford makes it available as a stand-alone option. Finally, you’ll definitely want to invest in very handsome and useful 19 inch alloy “Luster Nickel Wheels” which are also bargain priced at just $607. If you opted for aftermarket 19 inch alloys, you would pay double this amount and they would never look this good. The intricately cast wheels are wrapped in Continental ContiProContact rubber (235/45R19) which proved tenacious in wet weather grip. Escape’s 4WD traction keeps these Continentals pointed in the right direction at all times.

2016 Ford Escape Titanium 4WD

The Escape has come a long way since its introduction. Originally, this model looked prosaic, lacked flair and performed without distinction. But Ford has reworked the Escape to the point that it has become a legitimate contender in a tough SUV class containing such standouts as VW’s Tiguan, BMW’s new X1, and Subaru’s Forester. In this elevated company, the Escape now stands its ground, but only if equipped with the Titanium niceties, 19 inch wheels, and EcoBoost motor of our test model. In that guise, if you compare it to any other small SUV, you’ll discover Escape matches up so well you can save thousands of dollars buying the Ford.

We especially loved it for its 5 stage heated front seats, which permits more comfortable temperature adjustment than almost any similar product on the market today. The elevated seating position in the front row promotes excellent sight lines in all directions. Even though our test vehicle lacked the optional ($1,305) Panorama Roof, we never missed it because the interior is always bathed in light thanks to tall side windows, and a fishbowl of a windshield.

2016 Ford Escape Titanium 4WD

Also, the optional blind spot warning devices provided by package 301A are much less obtrusive than those of most competitors. Instead of needing to shut them off at the start of each trip, we let them tweet their occasional alarm without ever feeling harassed. This minor feat of engineering accomplishment is characteristic of the Escape Titanium as a whole. Ford has achieved a commendable balance here between price, performance and livability. You would be hard pressed to improve on the Escape by looking elsewhere.

2016 Ford Escape Titanium 4WD

  • Engine: 2.0 liter inline 4, direct injection turbocharged
  • Horsepower: 240hp
  • Torque: 270lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 22 MPG City/28 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $36,655
  • Star Rating: 9.5 out of 10 Stars

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2015 Ford F-350 Super Duty SRW Crew Cab King Ranch Review

Monday January 25th, 2016 at 11:11 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2015 Ford F-350 Super Duty SRW Crew Cab King Ranch

By David Colman

Hypes: Massive Power Band, Hauling Capacity
Gripes: Still a Few Sharp Edges

This is not your daily driver. Let’s start with its length of 247 inches, which you would be hard pressed to park in a diagonal slot let alone parallel park. Then there’s the curb weight of 7,745 pounds, close to four tons. How about its cab height of 80 inches? Even with illuminated running boards and grab handles, it’s still a chore to climb aboard. And its width of 80 inches matches its height, so you won’t have an easy time trying to locate the distance of your wheels to the curb when parking this behemoth rig.

2015 Ford F-350 Super Duty SRW Crew Cab King Ranch

Of course, once ensconced in the elevated driver’s throne, the view of the surrounding roadside is unparalleled. You’re pretty much on eyeball height with 18 wheel operators. And with the King Ranch model (a $6,970 premium over Lariat grade), the interior is done up Wild West style with fancy tooled leather everywhere you look. All the floor mats bear the King Ranch’s distinctive “w” brand, even the chrome hubs of the 20 inch “premium cast aluminum wheels” ($1,172) carry the logo. Wrapped around those splendid rims are Michelin LTX A/T tires measuring 275/65R20, carrying white side letters which add to the visual medley.

2015 Ford F-350 Super Duty SRW Crew Cab King Ranch

The large center console between the front seats displays a recessed cordovan leather “w” which contrasts with the handsome adobe interior. The Gay 90s feel of the cab makes you feel like a ranch hand on a cattle drive. But there are a few flies on the cows. For example, the first time I went to release the emergency brake, my fingers discovered a knife edge sharp protrusion under the dash, located right next to the brake release pull. It’s a design flaw that should never have passed muster. Also, a section of lower dash fascia had separated itself from the upper dash panel. In its defense, this truck had accumulated a lot of hard miles (23,000) by the time it reached me.

This “one ton” Ford is designed for two primary chores in life. The first is toting heavy loads in its gaping cargo bed, which is rated to carry 2,080 pounds (hence the one ton tag). The second is towing a trailer. For 2015, Ford upped the F350′s trailer rating from a mere 23,200 pounds to 26,500 pounds. The Super Duty model we drove is good for the full rating because it’s equipped with the optional ($7,229) 6.7 liter “Power Stroke Diesel” B20 engine, turbocharged to make 440hp. Despite the Ford’s 4 ton weight, this torque monster of an engine, driving its 3.55:1 electronic locking rear axle through a 6 speed automatic transmission, will make short work of any acceleration need, no matter what you’re towing. When you floor the diesel’s throttle, the instant infusion of torque transfers 800 lb.-ft. of honking grunt to all 4 Michelin contact patches simultaneously. The F350 launches forward with such a wallop that you’d think it was a half ton pickup with a muscle car motor.

2015 Ford F-350 Super Duty SRW Crew Cab King Ranch

Ford takes good care of you with a bevy of informative gages spread out across the instrument panel to monitor every facet of the diesel’s behavior. In a world more where old fashioned instrumentation has been relegated to the scrap heap of history, Ford persists in keeping you apprised of this truck’s operational life signs: turbo boost, oil temp, water temp and fuel level are always on view, with no need to resort to any menu-driven nonsense. If you’re serious about pulling a trailer, this rig affords standard trailer brake controller and sway controller, plus a reverse camera to help you position your hitch. It’s also equipped with a “fifth wheel prep package” so if your Airstream is destined for the F350′s bed mount, you’ll find all the fixings already present.

2015 Ford F-350 Super Duty SRW Crew Cab King Ranch

Of course, in order to accommodate 26,500 pounds of baggage, Ford suspended this Sumo F with the stiffest springs in the parts bin. Unloaded, the truck tends to pitch over road imperfections like the mechanical bull at Gilley’s roadhouse. The ride here is anything but compliant, though the plush seating surfaces do make amends of their own. But Ford designed this package with a laser focus. Thus, it equipped the dash panel with no less than 4 auxiliary switches for possible items you may install, like a winch, overhead light bar, or big rig running lights. Whatever you choose, the pre-wiring and switchgear has already been thoughtfully installed. The possibilities are endless. If you can put up with the Kink Kong climb in and the harsh ride, this Ford will take you and your portable house anywhere you care to go. A buy-in price of sixty-seven grand seems like pocket change for the infinite travel possibilities this brute promises.

2015 Ford F-350 Super Duty SRW Crew Cab King Ranch

  • Engine: 6.7 liter Power Stroke V8 Diesel Turbocharged
  • Horsepower: 440hp
  • Torque: 800lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 16 MPG City/23 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $67,868
  • Star Rating: 10 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2015 Ford Mustang Eco Boost 4

Tuesday October 13th, 2015 at 3:1010 PM
Posted by: D.Colman

2015 Ford Mustang Eco Boost 4

By David Colman

Hypes: Eco Boost Motor is a Keeper, Stellar Exterior Redo
Gripes: Needs Rear Wiper, Closer 2nd-3rd Gear Ratios

Back in the first 1960s heyday of the Mustang, if you saw a button on the dash marked “Shaker” you knew that the ram intake on your hood would open when you pressed that magic button. More cold air meant more horsepower. Because the induction scoop was mounted on the engine and was not part of the hood, it would vibrate in synch with the engine, earning it the name Shaker. The 2015 Mustang has a “Shaker” button on the dash, but this one has nothing at all to do with increasing air intake. Rather, it refers to an optional $1,795 “Shaker Pro Audio System” which includes 12 speakers. The button simply enhances the rush of hot air through those dozen speakers, not the rush of cold air into your motor.

2015 Ford Mustang Eco Boost 4

Once I got over the initial disappointment of that generational descriptive shift, I discovered that the latest Mustang has lost nothing of its rambunctious nature, active hood scoop or not. Our Ingot Silver Metallic test bullet fully lives up to the brand’s storied reputation. Without question, this is the best Mustang Ford has ever built. Three engine options are available this year, with the V6 model being the most affordable at a base price of $23,600. The subject of this test is the EcoBoost Premium Fastback, with a turbocharged 2.4 liter inline 4, and a Base Price of $29,300. The least expensive V8 Mustang is the GT Fastback, which carries a Base Price of $32,100. It’s been quite awhile since Ford sold a 4 cylinder Mustang, so we were curious to see whether such a fuel efficient power source (25 MPG Combined City/Highway) could cut it in the performance department. With its output of 310hp @ 5500rpm and 320lb.-ft. of torque @ 3000rpm, the answer is an unqualified yes. Even when coupled to the 6-speed “Select Shift” automatic transmission ($1,195), the turbo Mustang was always up to the task of rapid mobilization.

2015 Ford Mustang Eco Boost 4

The Select Shift gearbox can be slotted into a Sport setting marked “S” on the floor console. Once you’ve selected that quadrant, the small paddle shifts behind the steering wheel can be used for all up and down gear changes. The only drawback to the automatic gearbox is its big gap between 2nd and 3rd gears. Most of the time, you will lose 1500rpm when shifting up, which puts the small displacement four banger at an acceleration disadvantage. I would much prefer to see these two most frequently used gear ratios closer together for back road work.

2015 Ford Mustang Eco Boost 4

Other than that shortcoming, the turbo 4 Mustang runs back roads like a scalded snake. The optional “Eco Boost Performance Package” ($1,995) is a must if your drives have more curves than straights. Ford engineering’s absolute stroke of genius is to equip the Performance Package enhanced Mustang with whopping fat Pirelli P Zero tires (255/40ZR19) at each corner, mounted on tastefully understated Ebony Black Painted aluminum wheels. The final flourish to this bargain priced package is inclusion of a 3.55:1 Limited Slip rear axle that insures your Mustang instant forward bite when you tromp the throttle.

Almost every time I started the Mustang, I made sure to engage my “Drive Mode” of choice. This is accomplished by flipping a chrome plated switch on the lower face of the central console to the setting marked with a helmet for “Track.” This configures the suspension for sport driving and reallocates the shift points to maximize thrust. Next to that switch is an identical toggle for steering feedback, which I always set to “Sport.” With these preparations made, the Mustang hunkered down over its Pirellis and absolutely refused to slide or deviate in any way from my selected line through switchback turns.

2015 Ford Mustang Eco Boost 4

On the window sticker, Ford identifies the Mustang as a “”4-Passenger Sports Car.” After spending a week behind the wheel, I would never quibble with that description, though I must admit to a preference for the front seat rather than the limited vision back seat. If you do carry passengers in back, you’ll want to provide them with air sickness bags because the latest Mustang is a true g-Force generator second to none.

2015 Ford Mustang Eco Boost 4

  • Engine: 2.3 Liter inline 4, DOHC, Direct Injection, Turbocharged
  • Horsepower: 310hp @ 5500rpm
  • Torque: 320lb.-ft.@3000rpm
  • Fuel Consumption: 21MPG City/32MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $37,790
  • Star Rating: 10 out of 10 Stars

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Review: 2015 Ford F-150 4×4 Supercab

Thursday August 6th, 2015 at 11:88 AM
Posted by: D.Colman

2015 Ford F-150 4x4 Supercab

By David Colman

Hypes: Aluminum Saves 700 LBS, Sweet EcoBoost Motor
Gripes: No Tailgate Damper, Manual Seat Back Control

Although Ford’s latest F-150 may look familiar, its what you can’t see that distinguishes it from its predecessors. At just 5,000lb, it’s remarkably light for such a large truck. The substitution of aluminum for steel in the cab and body structure has pared curb weight by 700 pounds. As a result, you no longer need a gas swigging V8 under the hood to provide enough punch for acceptable performance. Our test F-150 utilized a V-6 engine displacing just 2.7 liters. Using such a small engine would have been unthinkable in previous three ton versions of the F-150, but thanks to the use of aluminum, the small displacement engine is perfectly adequate to all needs, including towing up to 11,000 pounds.

2015 Ford F-150 4x4 Supercab

The secret to the success of the 2.7 liter V6 is the fact that it’s equipped with twin turbochargers (“EcoBoost” in Ford parlance) which allow the diminutive mill to make 325hp and 375lb-ft. of torque. When you stomp the loud pedal in this rig, you’ll have no performance complaints about its V6 replacing a V8. The only irksome note is struck by Ford’s Auto-Start-Stop regimen, which automatically kills the engine at stoplights, then re-fires it when you touch the gas pedal. Although this protocol does save fuel, the F-150 shudders when shutting down, then shakes like an awakened Frankenstein when re-firing. You can, however, manually override Auto-Start-Stop with a button on the dash console. Trouble is, you have to reactivate your deletion choice each time you re-start the truck. In any event, at refueling time, you’ll be pleased to learn that the EcoBoost motor averages 20MPG in overall driving. The 5.0 liter V8, which is still available in the F-150, will return just 17MPG in overall driving, while making 360hp and 380lb.-ft. of torque.

2015 Ford F-150 4x4 Supercab

Since our test F-150 arrived during a week when we were building and furnishing a small utility shed, we put the behemoth Ford to good use all week long. After visiting a builder’s emporium in Petaluma, we loaded the Ford’s 6 foot long bed with multiple 4′x8′ sheets of Thermoply wallboard and Insulfoam rigid insulation. At first, the Ford’s 6′ short bed seemed problematic, but leaning the load against the closed tailgate forced the extra 2′ lengths to curl upwards while remaining inside the gate. Had we transported plywood, however, the 6′ bed would have prevented us from using this trick. The morale is that if you truly need a work truck, you may not want to opt for the Supercab configuration which limits bed size to 6′ in length.

2015 Ford F-150 4x4 Supercab

The bed of our test truck featured 8 different tie-down hooks, which we utilized to attach bungee cords to stabilize the load. Our test truck featured a couple of options that vastly improved its load carrying ability. The first was a $475 Spray-In Bed Liner, which provides you with a non-slip surface for your load. It also protects the bed from scratches, so we were able to transport a trio of 20″x20″ very heavy paving stones without leaving a mark on the bed floor. The other brilliant innovation is the $375 Tailgate Step, which proved invaluable when climbing into the bed to arrange loads. This device features a single step ladder which deploys from the dropped tailgate. It also features a handrail which extends to let you get a grip while climbing aboard.

2015 Ford F-150 4x4 Supercab

Since my wife and I drive close to 50 different new vehicles each year, it would be easy for us to become a bit blasé about their various virtues. But when my wife returned home after yet another transport mission, she exclaimed as she walked in the door, “I just love driving this truck!” Without question, there’s a certain exhilaration every time you climb onto the running board, hoist yourself into the luxurious cab, and survey the highway world from a perspective superior to that available in any car. The F-150 provides a sense of mastery before you ever flick the key to start. Its sheer size (232″ length, 77″ height) makes it tower over traffic, affording a stellar view of your surroundings. And its bulk is undeniably intimidating to other drivers, especially the boors normally predisposed to usurp your right of way. Given the go-anywhere capacity of the all-wheel-drive system, the epoxy-like traction generated by Goodyear’s best Wranglers (275/65R18), the decisive punch of the EcoBoost motor, and the commanding perspective from the glassy cab, the F-150 has all the bases covered when it comes to staking your claim in the traffic pattern. This is not a vehicle to be trifled with, and if you value the safety of you and your family, you might want to consider the F150 as your main means of transport – even if you never drop so much as a brick into that vast pickup bed.

2015 Ford F-150 4x4 Supercab

2015 Ford F-150 4×4 Supercab

  • Engine: 2.7 liter V-6 EcoBoost Turbo
  • Horsepower: 325hp
  • Torque: 375lb.-ft.
  • Fuel Consumption: 18 MPG City/23 MPG Highway
  • Price as Tested: $43,480
  • Star Rating: 9 out of 10 Stars

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