Traditionally, the mid-size car class has had relatively bland styling. That changed with the launch of the 2011 Sonata in early 2010 where over half of the buyers indicated that exterior styling was extremely important in their selection of the car. Sonata's swoopy styling broke the mid-size car mold. The 2011 Kia Optima that followed the Sonata is strikingly handsome in its own EuroKorean way. Toyota stayed very conservative with its new 2012 entry and Honda is rumored to have continued its very conservative streak with the next generation Accord coming this fall. The 2013 Ford Fusion is another game changer in the mold of Sonata and Optima, but even with Fusion's advanced styling, Altima may have pushed the envelope the farthest.
Last week George asked us to share our pre-NAIAS thoughts on what the show might hold for each the VehicleVoice staffers. One of my interests centered on the reveal of the 2013 Ford Fusion, as it represents one for Ford’s single most important vehicles in maintaining momentum with US consumers. Ford’s last mid-cycle refresh of the Fusion, brought considerable attention to the vehicle and increased sales significantly. At NAIAS this week, VehicleVoice got the chance to review a completely updated model, which takes the Fusion to a new level.
An annual pilgrimage for the auto industry is to attend the press days at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit each January. Unfortunately, this year I cannot attend because my physicians caution that I should not be heaving carry-ons into and out of overhead bins and baggage carousels.
So, I'm jealous.
I need to give you full disclosure: I love engines with forced induction. Turbos and superchargers make me smile, well, most of the time. My father had a Lincoln MKT EcoBoost when they first came out and I appreciated the idea of a turbo V6 but wasn’t particularly impressed with the the package. The front-wheel biased all-wheel drive torque steer and transmission calibration never seemed to be as polished as I had hoped for in a vehicle of that price point. It could use a dose of that torque vectoring system from the Focus to balance out the massive amount of power. My opinion of the V6 EcoBoost from Ford was basically “meh”, as I never felt like the refinement was all there. A stint in a Taurus SHO confirmed this fact for [...]
When Ford announced that the 5.0L V8 was coming back to life for the 2011 model year, the Boss 302 rumors immediately followed. We haven’t seen the Boss 302 name grace a Mustang since 1970. It’s back for the 2012 model year and after a few days in one, it is safe to say it is the must-have Mustang since the last Boss 302.
If you think back, GM developed the 2 Mode Hybrid system in collaboration with BMW and Daimler-Chrysler. Chrysler had about a two month run of Durango and Aspen hybrids. If you see one on the road you might consider it to be an exotic due to how rare it is. BMW has a hybrid system in their X6, but it is for performance more than fuel economy. Daimler has a RWD hybrid system in the Mercedes-Benz S Class, but the fuel economy hasn’t been anything to make headlines with. While not being much of a success for any party involved in that collaboration, one GM engineer described the 2 Mode hybrid system to me as a [...]
The F-150 is the top-ranked Light Duty Full Size Pickup based on owner ratings in AutoPacific’s 2011 Ideal Vehicle Research. As the class winner, owners don’t want much change, but there are some exceptions. Over 35% of F-15 owners want better interior storage, 25% want their truck to be easier to get into and out of. About 20% want larger wheels and tires. Owners like their seat comfort, ride and roominess. The F-150 outpoints the second place Chevrolet Avalanche by a wide margin.
Large Light Duty Pickup
A Light Duty Pickup has a gross vehicle weight ratio under 8,500 pounds and includes the likes of the Ford F-150, Dodge Ram, and Chevrolet Silverado. These pickups can be used for both commercial and personal use and have a wide range of capability and pricing. Towing and horsepower both rank [...]
The Flex is the top ranked Large XSUV in AutoPacific’s 2011 Ideal Vehicle Research. As the class winner, its owners identify few things they want changed, but inevitably there are a few. About 30% want better interior storage. Over 20% want more cargo room (!), more power (non-EcoBoost vehicles), and more infotainment technology. Flex owners most like its ride, seat comfort, size, roominess and ease of getting in and out. Flex handily outpoints second place GMC Acadia.
The all-new Ford Explorer moved from a traditional SUV to a crossover SUV for 2011. It adopted all new styling, package and powertrain. Its owners rate the Explorer highest in AutoPacific’s 2011 Ideal Vehicle Research. As the class winner, Explorer owners identify few attributes they want changed, but there are a few. Ford consciously adopted more contemporary, more modern and aerodynamic styling for the new Explorer. The result is that owners want better visibility and easier ingress/egress. Available only with a 3.5L V6 for 2011, about 25% of Explorer owners want more power. Explorer owners most like its seat comfort, ride, size and handling. The Explorer outpoints the all-new 2011 Dodge Durango and wins by a nose.
The Fusion is the top rated Premium Mid-Size Car based on owner ratings of changes they want in their car in AutoPacific’s 2011 Ideal Vehicle Research. As the class winner, its owners indicate there is little they would change about their car, but there are notable exceptions. Over 30% of Fusion owners want better visibility and over 25% want their car to be easier to get into and out of. 25% want more power. Fusion owners least want to change its ride or seat comfort. Fusion ekes out this win over the highly acclaimed, and second place in class, 2011 Hyundai Sonata.