Ford EcoBoost:

Ford Flex Most Ideal 2012 Large Crossover SUV

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AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award (IVA) recognizes the vehicle that best hits the target its buyers demand.  Winning an IVA shows the product planners, engineers and designers of the manufacturer understood what their target customers want and have made the vehicle to meet their demands.

The 2012 Ford Flex comes closest to the ideal of any Large Crossover SUV scoring a close win over the Chevrolet Traverse.  Eighty-percent or more of Flex owners find these characteristics ideal:  exterior size, exterior styling, passenger roominess, seat comfort, ride and handling, tires and wheels, ease of getting in and out and safety features.

EcoBoost Gives Flex a Substantial Performance Advantage, but Only 15% of Flex Owners Bought It: About 25% of Flex V6 owners want more power and acceleration, but only 6% who opted for the 355HP EcoBoost 3.5L V6 want more.  Clearly, EcoBoost provides surprising power without a fuel economy disadvantage.  About 11% of all Flex owners would give up power and acceleration for better fuel economy. So, when it comes to Flex, performance and fuel economy, twice as many owners would take more power and acceleration than would trade off power for fuel economy.

More/Better Technology Wanted: The 2012 Flex is available with SYNC and SYNC with navigation, but not Ford’s new MyFord Touch system.  About a quarter of Flex owners want more/better technology than their vehicle has now.

You can find an Autobytel review of this IVA award winner at  http://www.autobytel.com/auto-news/awards/ideal-suvs-pickups-rated-by-owners-in-2012-iva-awards-112117/

For a complete summary of all AutoPacific 2012 Ideal Vehicle Award results contact karin.turner@vehiclevoice.com and title your email “IVA Results”.  A copy of the results will be emailed to you within 48-hours.


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2012 Ford F-150 Most Satisfying Full Size Pickup

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Best In Class 2012 Full Size Pickup:  Ford F-150

2012 Ford F-150 Wins AutoPacific Vehicle Satisfaction Award

Owners of the 2012 Ford F-150 Full Size Pickup give the truck top ratings in seventeen of forty-eight characteristics measured in AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award research.  The F-150 gets top marks for Driver’s Seat Comfort, Interior Styling, Feel of Interior Fabrics and Materials, Braking, Handling, Ride, Quietness, Control Feel and Quality, Instrument Layout, Brand of Audio System, Visibility, Tire Brand/Size Appearance, Environmental Friendliness, Infotainment Technology, Advanced Powertrain Technology (new engines and availability of EcoBoost), Collision Avoidance Technology and Range.  With a possible high score of 5.0 satisfaction rating points for each attribute, a rating of 4.6 or higher can be considered to be very good.  F-150 owners rate the truck at 4.6 or higher in:  Overall Satisfaction, Seating Capacity, Vehicle’s Reputation, Brand’s Reputation, Power and Acceleration, Braking, Handling, Reliable/Dependable, Ride, and Feeling Safe While Driving.  Owners rate the F-150 below 4.0 satisfaction rating attributes in:  Fuel Economy, Range, Environmental Friendliness, Price, Recyclability and Warranty.


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Future Feature Demand – Men and Women Are Different

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Women demand safety features.  Men want technology features.

In AutoPacific’s 2011 Future Attribute Demand Study, 73,000 respondents selected those features they want on their next car or light truck.  About 40% of these new vehicle owners were women, but we know from experience that females influence 80% of new car and light truck sales.  In analyzing AutoPacific’s data, we find that demand for many features is about equal between men and women.  For instance, nearly equal percentages want Bluetooth (75%), a rear backup camera (52%), a navigation system (46%), a heated windshield (44%), voice activated controls (36%), keypad entry system (33%).  So, what are the features that each gender demand that differentiate them?


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Ford's EcoBoost Establishes a Beachhead

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Ford Motor Company launched a new powertrain technology called EcoBoost earlier in 2010. EcoBoost will eventually be available on 90% of Ford’s lineup in the USA. The first EcoBoost installations are in Ford’s new D3 Platform vehicles – Ford Taurus SHO, Lincoln MKS, Lincoln MKT, and Ford Flex. EcoBoost’s first installation is a 3.5L V6 with gasoline direct injection and twin turbochargers. Power output on the Taurus SHO is 365HP while on the MKS, MKT and Flex is 355. The EcoBoost 3.5L has 350lb-ft of torque. These technology advancements yield substantially better performance while achieving equivalent fuel economy as a vehicle equipped with a non-EcoBoost 3.5L (of course this is only on paper. EcoBoost is so fun to drive you’ll be in it all the time – achieving equal fuel economy is just a dream).
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EcoBoost a $5,000 Proposition Anyway, EcoBoost is not free. A Taurus SHO is almost $40,000 and the price increase for EcoBoost on the MKT, MKS and Flex comes out to about $5,000. That price includes all wheel drive which EcoBoost requires to handle the power and torque on the front wheel drive platform. So, with the power and price increase, how many is Ford selling?
EcoBoost Installations Running Ahead of Forecast According to George Pipas, Ford’s spokesman for sales reporting and arcane numbers, the Taurus SHO now represents about 15% of the Taurus lineup. This is 5%-pts higher than Ford had estimated. Each Taurus SHO generates $10,000 more economic profit than an average Taurus. Installation rate on the Lincoln MKT is 47%. About 30% of Lincoln MKS gets EcoBoost (and 37% gets AWD). The Flex has about an 11% rate lowest of the four.
So, it appears that EcoBoost is well on its way to being a success even in these tough economic times. In each vehicle line, with the possible exception of Flex, the installation rate is healthy for a performance option. It will be interesting to see what the mix is of EcoBoost engines as Ford continues to roll the technology across its vehicle lines.


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The Greenest Detroit Auto Show Ever

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In some ways, the 2008 North American Automobile Show was like most other recent major auto shows. Once again, automakers went out of their way to show us how hard they are trying to protect the environment and reduce our dependent for foreign oil.
General Motors and Toyota lead the rhetoric. Each claims to have a broad spectrum of programs that range from alternate fuels for internal combustion engines to full electric vehicles. I have to weigh in on this issue, because I’m seeing two strategies that are very different and tell you a lot about the companies they come from.
General Motors spent a lot of time talking about Ethanol, and is clearly lobbying for greater distribution outlets for the fuel. Has GM chosen to expend their efforts in a political battle to increase the availability of Ethanol as their primary tool to solve this issue? Ethanol-capable vehicle conversion is inexpensive, but the end result may leave consumers unsatisfied. Surprisingly, Rick Wagoner, GM’s Chairman, advocated Federal regulations mandating ethanol distribution across the country (won’t Iowa be proud?).


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Ford Announces EcoBoost Powertrains

In past discussions with Derrick Kuzak, Ford’s product development czar, he has stressed that Ford would be making their cars and trucks much more efficient by reducing their weight and using higher technology engines. One of the first examples of that strategy was when Ford dropped the V8 engine from the powertrain plan for the upcoming Lincoln MKS sedan and will use a twin turbo V6 as its high performance powerplant.

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While we can’t fathom a Lincoln flagship without a V8, the proof is in how it drives and what the durability and reliability of a turbo powertrain turns out to be. In AutoPacific and VehicleVoice Internet research car buyers generally opt for displacement (larger) and less engine technology (non-turbo, for instance). The old adage that “there is no replacement for displacement” generally holds true. But we can’t ignore the issues of Global Warming (if it exists) or higher gas prices or impending CAFE rules that force new technology.
Ford has laid out its powertrain philosophy in an early January press release shown below the fold…
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