Ford Edge:

2015 Ford Edge Goes Sportier… and Global

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2015 Ford Edge F342015 Ford Edge R34Ford has one of the broadest SUV lineups in the industry with Escape, Edge, Explorer, Flex and Expedition and the 2015 model year is time for a new Edge.  Interestingly, Ford’s introduction to the Edge omitted the word “crossover”.  They are merely referring to it as a “mid-size utility”.  The concept execution of the new Edge was shown to the media on Tuesday, November 19 at a venue in the Los Angeles garment district.  It was shown to the wider media at the Los Angeles Auto Show the next day.

The 2015 Ford Edge is designed to be sold globally and especially targeted at China and the USA.  It is based on the front wheel drive platform of the hot-selling Ford Fusion.  It retains the dimensions of its predecessor but adds an inch of wheelbase.  The styling is sportier than before with the new Ford hexagonal grille treatment, more muscular bodyside graphics and a faster backlite.  At a glance, it is still obviously an Edge.

The styling of the new Edge is an appropriate evolution from its predecessor, but technology may be where the Edge breaks the mold.  Ford executives were using the term “democratization of technology” a lot at the show.  This means that new technology will be available up and down the Ford lineup from the Escape and Focus to the Flex and Taurus.

The upcoming Edge has a full suite of whizbang features available:  EcoBoost powertrains, active park assist, a lane-keeping system, adaptive cruise control, blind spot information system, MyFordTouch.  The concept is shown with a 10-inch touch screen in the center stack.  They make a big deal that their old capacitive switches are gone and replaced with “premium mechanical switchgear”.

While the LA Show vehicle is officially termed a “concept”, it is very close to the production model coming later in 2014.


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Porsche Macan – Hubba Hubba

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2015 Porsche Macan F342015 Porsche Macan R34Porsche is broadening its line adding a compact crossover SUV (XSUV) beneath its highly successful Cayenne SUV.  The Porsche Macan is named after an Indonesian tiger.  Not so unusual since the Cayenne is named for a pepper and Cayman after an alligator.  While Porsche purists may cringe that the brand is adding one more vehicle line that has four doors, the Macan will add volume to Porsche around the world and add greatly to its already heady profits.  Limited to only 50,000 units a year from its Leipzig, Germany factory, the volume will be split roughly one-third for the USA, one third for the EU and one third for the rest of the world.  With the USA limited to “only” about 15,000-18,000 units per year dealers can hold out for nice profits especially in its early years.

Factoid:  More Porsches now sold have four doors than two.

Go to the Porsche Cars North America website and check out the configurator (http://www.porsche.com/usa/modelstart/all/?modelrange=macan) for the Macan.  Sure, the vehicle starts at $49,900, but I quickly got one specced out the way I would want it up to $66,000.  PCNA expects the median transaction price for the Macan to be around $73,000.  For those of you who check all the boxes and choose the upmarket turbo model, you can spend over $100,000 for a Macan Turbo.  Given the complexity of the Porsche configurator, the bet is that most of them will be ordered rather than bought from dealer stock.

The Macan S is priced similarly to the base Cayenne.  This telegraphs Porsche’s strategy of adding a less pricey base Macan later.  Following Porsche’s strategy of launching with the mid-range vehicle and then adding a lower priced version, expect a less expensive Macan down the road simply called “Macan”.

Macan is to be the sportiest compact XSUV on the market.  The $49,900 model is the Macan S powered by a 340HP 3.0L Turbo V6.  For those wanting even more power, the Macan Turbo has 400HP and adds about $16,000 to the price tag.  All Macans have all wheel drive and Porsche’s 7-speed PDK (Porsche Doppelkupplung) transmission (automatic).  The Macan S is no lightweight coming in at over 4000 pounds, but it can get up to 60mph in 5.2 seconds according to Porsche’s data.

2015 Porsche Macan CockpitThe Macan is loosely based on the Audi Q5, but 70% of the parts are new to Porsche.  The exterior is clearly all Porsche.  Porsche DNA is evident in the face of the vehicle, the shape of the roof, the wheel openings, even the haunch over the rear wheels.  To give the Macan a lower, sports car feel, the seating positions are a bit lower than in the Q5 and the rear seat is pretty tight.  But being the sportiest compact XSUV, these things are expected.  The interior is a special place indeed.  The instrument panel is well-laid out and the switchgear on the console is reminiscent of the Porsche Panamera.  The steering wheel comes from the 918 Spyder.

Other XSUVs were introduced at the Los Angeles Auto Show and will be on the market at the same time as the Macan – the smaller 2015 Lincoln MKC and the mid-size 2015 Ford Edge.  Compared with the new Edge, the Macan is about three-inches lower, and its wheelbase about 1.5 inches shorter, but the shadow of the two vehicles is nearly identical.  For all intents and purposes the overall lengths and widths are the same.  With the Ford getting a bit sportier for 2015 with a faster backlite, its silhouette is even similar to the compact XSUV sports car – the Macan.  Checking all the boxes on the Ford can get its price up to the mid-forties.  But even though the vehicles are similar specification- and style-wise, they will attract dramatically different buyers.

Which brings us to the Lincoln MKC.  Based on the Escape platform, MKC has a starting price of $33,995 quite a difference from the Macan.  Of course the Lincoln will not have the powertrain or performance chops of the Macan, and its price will not reach into the hundreds of thousands.  Loading up the MKC might get its price over $50,000.  Somehow, the well-equipped Macan at $66,000 seems like a better value.2015 Porsche Macan Cargo Area


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Honda Pilot – Most Ideal Premium Mid-Size XSUV in AutoPacific Research

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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 understand what their target customers want and have created the vehicle to best meet their demands.

Pilot Slips By Ford Edge for IVA Win: The 2012 Honda Pilot comes closest to the ideal of any Premium Mid-Size Crossover SUV.  The Pilot slips by the second place Ford Edge by 3 rating points to win in a class that has become increasingly competitive.   Having eighty-percent or more of owners rating a characteristic ideal is outstanding.  Achieving a score of ninety-percent is even more impressive.  Ninety-percent or more of Pilot owners rate its driver’s seat comfort, ride and handling and tires ideal.  Eighty-percent or more of Pilot owners find these additional characteristics ideal:  exterior size, interior lighting, driver’s seat visibility, passenger roominess, wheels, interior storage compartments and safety features.

The Honda Pilot was also best in class in AutoPacific’s 2012 Vehicle Satisfaction Award research.

A Few Shortfalls – Some Could Have Been Offset by Selecting Available Options: About 31% of Pilot owners want more infotainment technology than now.  About 27% want better ease of getting in and out.  About 25% of Honda Pilot owners want more cargo space.  About 18% of Pilot owners want more power and acceleration but an equal percentage would trade off power and acceleration for better fuel economy.

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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SUVs Most Satisfying Vehicle Type

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AutoPacific’s 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards results are in. AutoPacific’s awards collect the opinions of OWNERS. There is no subjectivity added by AutoPacific at all.
As usual, there are expected winners and unexpected losers, but let’s take a look at some overall results that will surprise many of you.

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Truck-Based Traditional SUVs Most Satisfying
The vehicle type with the highest Vehicle Satisfaction Score is the Traditional Sport Utility Vehicle category. These are truck-based SUVs like the Cadillac Escalade, Toyota Sequoia, Ford Explorer, Toyota 4Runner, Kia Sorento, HUMMER H3 and Toyota FJ Cruiser. In fact, the Toyota Sequoia was the top scoring vehicle – car or truck – in AutoPacific’s 2008 Vehicle Satisfaction results.
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Car-Based Crossover SUVs More Satisfying than Cars, Minivans, Pickups
The second highest scoring category was the Crossover Sport Utility Vehicle category. These are car-based SUVs like the Audi Q7, BMW X3, Acura RDX, Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, Hyundai Veracruz, Suzuki XL-7, Ford Edge, Saturn Vue, Toyota RAV4 and Nissan Rogue. Crossovers are the response by the automakers to make more user-friendly SUVs and in 2006 Crossover SUVs began outselling Traditional SUVs… a trend that will not be reversed.
Rated substantially behind SUVs are Cars, Minivans and Pickups.
Clearly, even in times of high and increasing fuel prices, SUVs are here to stay. Their Swiss Army Knife utility guarantees they will be a central part of a high many family fleets in the future. The continuing jihad against SUVs has failed again!


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Ford Edge Wins AutoPacific 2007 Ideal Vehicle Award for Premium Mid-Size Crossover SUV:

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Showing that Ford Motor Company planners, designers and engineers not only know the traditional SUV market better than most with Ideal Vehicle Award wins by the Ford Expedition and Ford Explorer, Ford’s all new crossover SUVs win in their categories as well. Ford’s new Edge wins as Ideal Premium Crossover SUV. Edge not only wins its category, but has the highest “Ideal” ratings of any SUV overall. Edge is a sales success…and buyers often consider it near ideal. Few buyers would change the exterior size or styling. Both ride and handling are highly rated, as are technology level and interior storage.


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Mazda CX-9 – Flagship from Hiroshima

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VehicleVoice staffers had been looking forward to the Mazda CX-9 to see how the new Mazda flagship stacks up against competition. One of a plethora of new Crossover SUVs, Mazda is venturing into uncharted, for them, territory.
Mid-Size or Large Crossover SUV… a Tweener?
The CX-9 is a “large” Crossover SUV – not the size of the Tahoe-sized GM Lambda Crossover SUVs like the GMC Acadia, Saturn Outlook and Buick Enclave, but still big enough to have a relatively comfortable 3rd row seat. AutoPacific carries CX-9 in our Premium Mid-Size Crossover SUV segment (what a mouthful). It may actually deserve to be categorized in the Large Crossover Segment. We’re taking a look at it.
Styling is Modern, but Blends in With Other Contemporary Crossover SUVs
The styling of the CX-9 is modern without being overdone like its lower priced stablemate the CX-7. There are no wheel arch accents over the front wheel like the CX-7, RX-8 and Miata, but I don’t know if this is good. I was kinda getting into the more blatant Mazda front end look. The CX-9 doesn’t offend, it just blends. So from an overall styling standpoint, it seems to “blend” rather than turn heads. Some folks wondered if it was a new Lexus RX, so I guess being mistaken for an RX (like the Hyundai Veracruz is) ain’t too bad.


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Podcast #69 – Living on the Edge Ain't So Hard

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Ford S-Max – European Crossover OK for USA?

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I’ve been driving the Ford S-Max Crossover for about a week now through England and Wales. The S-Max is a derivative of Ford’s European Minivan – the Galaxy – and its European Mid-Size Car – the Mondeo. Very impressive vehicle in many ways. It was selected as the European 2007 Car of the Year as judged by 58 journalists across 22 European countries. Apparently, Alan Mulally, Ford’s new CEO is trying to bring the S-Max to the USA in 2009 or so. Will the S-Max work in America?

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Is S-Max a Crossover SUV, Minivan, Station Wagon or Something Un-Identifiable?
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First, what is it? We at VehicleVoice and AutoPacific have found that if a buyer cannot categorize a vehicle, i.e. figure out if it is a Minivan or SUV or Wagon, they will shy away from it. This is what happened to the Chrysler Pacifica and the Mercedes R-Type. Ford positions the S-Max as a Crossover SUV – a segment that is booming in the USA. At a glance, S-Max has little “SUV” ambiance. It is a very useful MPV – meaning multi-purpose vehicle – but where is the SUV DNA? S-Max has a very fast windshield with “canard” windows between the windshield and the A-Pillar. This gives a very sporty silhouette, but may yield a shape that is too Minivan-like.
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The S-Max is a seven-passenger vehicle with a small third-row seat. The third row easily folds flat for loading luggage. If S-Max were introduced in the USA, how would S-Max fit among the other Ford Crossover SUVs – the 5-passenger Ford Escape, 5-passenger Ford Edge, and the 7-Passenger Ford Taurus X (Freestyle)? It is not as SUV-like as Escape and Edge – maybe similar to the SUV DNA of Freestyle/Taurus X.
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S-Max, in some ways, comes across as similar to the Mazda CX-7 or a slightly smaller version of the Mazda CX-9. It does not come across as similar to the larger General Motors Lambda Crossover SUVs like the Saturn Outlook, GMC Acadia or Buick Enclave.


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VehicleVoice#63 – New Crop of Lincoln's and the Camaro Convertible Concept



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When VehicleVoice correspondent David Barrett and AutoPacific’s Dan Hall take a walk through a major auto show, don’t expect to see them anytime soon. They can talk each other hoarse about cars, and they never get tired of looking at the latest the industry has to offer.
At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit earlier this winter, Dan and David spent some time in the Lincoln booth trying to make sense of all the MK-ness everywhere. They checked out Lincoln’s version of the Ford Edge, called the MKX, a crossover with some nice Lincoln styling and a hot concept on the show floor called the MKR. The MKR is a big, powerful American sedan, and David and Dan were in a crowd of admirers. Was it the 415 horsepower, twin-turbocharged V6 or the over-the-top styling?
In the Chevy booth, David and Dan reminisced about their high school days when they stepped in front of the new Camaro Convertible Concept. Seems both of them are surprised they’re alive today after their exposure to the original Camaro. The new version promises to be the stuff of legends as well.
New Vehicles and Concepts –
2007 Lincoln MKX
Lincoln MKR Concept
Chevy Camaro Convertible Concept
Show Runtime – 11:48


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2007 Chicago Auto Show: 2008 Toyota Highlander

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Highlander Evolves with More Size and Power
Ahead of sales in July 2007, Toyota used its traditional opening press conference of the 2007 Chicago auto show to launch the 2008 Highlander. Toyota’s new Highlander keeps its personality as a car-based crossover SUV, updated to the latest Camry/Avalon platform. The new Highlander is bigger and heavier, but Toyota gives it more power, with both the Hybrid and new standard 3.5L V6 estimated to deliver 270HP. The Hybrid goes on sale shortly after the standard model.

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Highlander already offered a third-row seat, but the extra three inches in wheelbase and four inches in length should make for a more comfortable interior. The new size is a bit bigger than the Honda Pilot and the same length as the Chevrolet Equinox. It is bigger than the Mazda CX-7 and Ford Edge, but smaller than Mazda’s CX-9 or the newly renamed Ford Taurus X (the XSUV formerly known as the Ford Freestyle). Highlander is better sized for those using the third row as occasional-use seating, instead of emergency seats.
So, the question is whether or not the new 2008 out-Pilots the excellent Honda Pilot?
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