Driving the 2013 models
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Published on Thu, Jun 7, 2012
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
By Harold Osmer A recent visit to Ford provided an opportunity to drive multiple fleet cars side-by-side over a short road/freeway course. The way it worked was simple enough. Ford set out a large sampling of their product line, gave some driving directions, and set us loose. 2013 Taurus, Flex and Explorer My first drive was aboard a new Taurus SHO. “Startling Blue” is how I describe it, though who knows what the color pallet guys came up with. An SHO fits my proportions perfectly. Though I had plenty of head room, I’d still like the seat to go down further and let me sit more into the car. The EcoBoost engine is a wonder of technology and it pulls without drama. SHO is quiet, roomy, and nice looking. It even had a couple of rice-rocket motorcycles guys ogling it.
The Flex is a family favorite. I don’t own one, but since a review Flex upon debut a few years ago, it has been the benchmark for coolness, functionality, and desire. Road manners are better than you’d think and the EcoBoost performs as well in this as the Taurus. Interior space is why people buy these things and one close up look will tell you why. Entry/exit is easy, doors are wide and open easy, and the seating can be configured any which way to meet your needs. A modern Explorer gets you a ride height above the Flex. The SUV moniker has evolved from lumbering, overburdened used-to-be trucks to meaning nifty, stylish, household haulers. Ford’s stalwart V6 (non EcoBoosted) was under this particular hood and proved ample enough to bring Explorer up to speed in quick order. A vehicle in this class should provide a secure feeling, ease of access, and reliability over the long run. Explorer does that and is a proven winner.
I drove these three back to back in order to see if I could discern commonalities between them. All three utilize the same chassis and drivetrain components following Ford’s manufacturing desire to concentrate engineering, R&D, and assembly processes. It works quite well. Driving one behind the next with attention given to finding common threads was an interesting exercise. I could feel the similarities. The biggest difference came in weight distribution. Flex has more upper-rearward weight than Taurus, while Explorer felt tall and well balanced. Mind you, I did not look up all the numbers to verify or disprove any this. 2013 Ford Pickups I like a big pickup. I stand 6’2” and carry a large frame, so mid sized cars need not apply. Trucks, yeah, that’s the ticket. Ford has long been a leader in pickup truck design and sales. I drove the latest Harley-Davidson F150 mondo cab and could see myself owning one like it if I had a boat, race car or trailer to make it practical. Nothing about a big pickup is practical in daily driver mode. But guys who need to work or play hard find them indispensible. Ford’s step-up rear tailgate design is terrific.
My test driving endurance requires rationing to avoid burnout so I decided against driving any other available pickups. But I sat in, talked about, and checked out several others. Ford leads the market for good reason. Chief among them is their ability to create comfortable, functional working interior environments. There is no guessing about where any given switch is or what it does. Too many other manufacturers are well behind in the game. 2013 Mustang As a family guy, I have no use for Mustang. For the past eighteen years, two doors is two too few so I haven’t even sat in a Mustang since owning a red ’82 GT 4-speed in the way-back days. This was a Ford event, so I drove out in my 1966 Galaxie 500. Upon opening the door of a deep blue Mustang V6 model, I was struck with the old school feel of it. Rectangular doors are something I’ve not encountered for some time. Settling into the car brought more of that same vintage feel, something I am indeed familiar with. The interior lacks complexity and the myriad bells and whistles plaguing so many new cars. Until that day, I scoffed when seeing a V6 Mustang driving around my part of town. Why would you get a Mustang and not opt for the V8? Well, my opinion has changed after driving the V6 with 6-speed manual transmission.
A red GT V8 Mustang was up next. This car also had a 6-speed manual. I’m surprised they let the general public out on the streets with these things. Oh it’s controllable and all that, but you really need to pay attention. With the impressive V6 available, I’m not sure what is gained by having the V8. Until that day behind the wheel in back to back comparo-mode, I would never have believed it. Overall I like the concept and execution Ford has done with the common platform for it’s modern fleet and EcoBoost powertrain. EcoBoost even works well enough for deployment in the famed pickup fleet. Mustang’s vintage feel was a welcome eye opener, though I suspect it may get lost with the impending redesign. I can’t feel too bad about missing out as family needs always override.
Only two items bothered me and I didn’t get adequate explanations for either of them. One is the lack of all up/down window switches on the door panels. $11 per door I understand. “A woman’s safety concern” is what I was told. Okay, if you say so. My wife’s A4 has them and she wouldn’t do without them. Next up is the touch screen stereo/navigation system. Ford isn’t the only ones going this direction. I was told, “If you own the car, you will get familiar with it.” OK, if you say so. But try touching the screen while driving down the road. Not only do you have to take your eyes off the road, but random road bumps can have you changing radio stations instead of learning how to find the pizza place. I’m not anti-tech, but what’s so wrong about having knobs in a car? I don’t want to open too big a can of worms here, but if you must have computer tech in a car, it should utilize MAC-based logic instead of PC. Driving one model after another on real roads in real conditions is the best way to evaluate either a fleet (as with this Ford day) or similar makes/models. This was a valuable experience and a day well spent. - Harold O.
SIDEBAR COMMENTS 2013 Escape EcoBoost Ford has continued to impress me with the cars it has been bringing out for the past 5 years and the new 2013 Escape 2.0 Eco Boost is no exception. With a 240 horsepower turbo in-line 4 cylinder laying the power down to a 6 speed automatic and selective all wheel drive you would be amazed how well the Crossover handles. Gone are the days of mushy, non-sporty imitations of SUVs. Armed with a well fashioned interior comprised of high quality materials that is aesthetically pleasing, this new work of art from Ford is much more than you would expect. Without mentioning the great fuel economy that is attained through the EcoBoost system this car still impresses. If you’ve been looking for a new midsized crossover that will not break the bank and competes out of its class then look no further. - Mark Dorman
2013 Focus Electric Given the price tag and limited range of full electric cars, it’s surprising that the genre is as popular as it is. Many car companies take the electric car market very seriously, and Ford is no exception. Its entry into the field is the Focus Electric. The sticker price for Ford’s electric hovers in the high $30Ks, which is very high for a Focus. And its range is about on par with that of other electrics—around 75 miles. After rebates, however, the overall price drops to the low $30Ks, and just under 30 in California. For that, you get a car that looks and drives like no other Focus. In the visual department, Ford chose to graft the Aston Martin-esque front end from the Evos concept car, making it the best-looking Focus ever. It is strikingly handsome in a way that the Nissan Leaf electric car is not. As for the drive, the Focus is one of the quietest cars we have ever experienced—even for a full electric vehicle. It’s certainly unlike any gas-powered car we’ve driven. And therein lies the attraction: If you have a very short commute or can afford to own a car exclusively for local travel, the Focus Electric is a very appealing alternative for those looking for a compact four-door car for the three-car garage. – Roy Nakano For more information about Ford products, go to www.ford.com
VITAL STATISTICS 2013 Ford Explorer $28,870 (base) $32,345 (XLT) $37,855 (Limited) EPA fuel economy rating: 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway 2013 Ford Escape EcoBoost $22,470 (S) $25,070 (SE with 1.6-liter EcoBoost) $26,820 (SE with 1.6-liter EcoBoost and AWD) $27,870 (SEL with 1.6-liter EcoBoost) $29,620 (SEL with 1.6-liter EcoBoost and AWD) $30,370 (Titanium with 2.0-liter EcoBoost) $32,120 (Titanium with 2.0-liter EcoBoost and AWD) EPA fuel economy rating: 22 mpg city/31 mpg highway 22 mpg city/30 mpg highway (EcoBoost)
2013 Ford F-150 $22,300 (Regular Cab) $27,125 (SuperCab) $30,780 (SuperCrew) $42,725 (SVT Raptor) EPA fuel economy rating: 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway (Regular Cab, SuperCab & SuperCrew) 11 mpg city/16 mpg highway (SVT Raptor) 2013 Ford Flex $30,885 (SE) $33,225 (SEL) $39,230 (Limited AWD) EPA fuel economy rating: 16 mpg city/23 mpg highway (Limited AWD with EcoBoost) For more on the Flex, see California’s Favorite People Hauler
2013 Ford Focus Electric $39,200 (before tax credits/rebates) 110 mpg-e city/99 mpg-e highway 2013 Ford Mustang $22,200 (V6 Coupe) $26,200 (V6 Premium Coupe) $27,200 (V6 Convertible) $30,300 (V8 GT Coupe) $31,200 (V6 Convertible Premium) $34,300 (V8 GT Premium Coupe) $35,300 (V8 GT Convertible) $39,300 (V8 GT Convertible Premium) $42,200 (V8 Boss 302 Coupe) EPA fuel economy rating: 19 city/29 highway miles per gallon (V6) 15 city/26 highway miles per gallon (V8 ) For more on the 2013 Mustang, see It’s A-OK at the O.K Corral
2013 Ford Taurus Prices: $26,600 (base SE) $28,800 (SEL) $33,000 (Limited) $39,200 (SHO) EPA fuel economy rating: TBD (EcoBoost® 2.0L) 19 city/29 highway miles per gallon (Ti-VCT FWD) 18 city/26 highway miles per gallon (Ti-VCT AWD) 17 city/25 highway miles per gallon (SHO EcoBoost® V6) For more information on the 2013 Ford Taurus, see A Car for All Seasons