The 2016 Ford Explorer marks the 25th anniversary of the vehicle line. When it launched as a 1991 model, the Explorer redefined what a sport utility vehicle should be – it was a high volume SUV with 4-doors (Ford wrongly estimated 4-door sales would be 30% of the mix – later, it became 100%). 7,000,000 sales later, Ford is launching a nicely updated mid-cycle product change. When the 2016 Ford Explorer launches, most people won’t be able to tell the difference from the present Explorer. While the vehicle’s sheetmetal ahead of the A-Pillar is all new and the liftgate and taillamps are all new, the differences are subtle to the casual observer. So while the change for 2016 is major, its appearance change is minor.
2015 Ford F-150: The Ford half-ton pickup, the F-150, is the top selling vehicle in the USA – car or truck. For the 2015 model year, Ford launches an all new F-150. And it is literally ALL NEW. In most model changes, there are numerous parts carried over from previous generations. The 2015 Ford F-150 is so completely re-done that there are probably no common part numbers with the 2014 model. The body is all aluminum with the exception of a “quiet steel” dash panel (between the engine compartment and the passenger compartment). You can lift the military grade front fender with one finger. The aluminum panels are not welded as in steel bodied vehicles they are riveted and glued. The result is a stiffer vehicle that feels even more robust than its predecessor. Ford says the use of aluminum has yielded a reduction in weight by up to 700 pounds.
The interior width in the cab is two inches wider than before. The aluminum structure allows the pillars to be smaller while meeting or exceeding all relevant safety standards. With thinner pillars, driver’s visibility is improved. The belt line has been dropped by an inch increasing downward visibility as well.
The 2015 Ford F-150 is available with a Regular Cab (2-door), SuperCab (extended cab with rear access doors) and SuperCrew (4-doors) cab style. There are three box lengths: 5 1/2, 6 1/2 and 8 feet.
Feature Laden: All those gee whiz things we have been seeing on luxury cars recently, you know, lane keeping assist, adaptive cruise control, blind spot information system, active park assist, rear view camera, reverse sensing system, 360-degree cameras, LED accent lights, LED everything lights, information screen in the instrument cluster and MyFord Touch in the center display, are available on the 2015 Ford F-150. The lighting strategy for the truck is probably the best in the industry. When all the boxes are checked, there are LED accents for the headlamps and taillamps that communicate the F-150’s DNA. There are LED headlamps available. There are LED lamps in the bed to improve nighttime visibility. Of course, there are puddle lamps below the outside rear view mirrors, but there are also LED spot lamps on the top corners of the mirrors to allow the area beside the vehicle to be illuminated (now, if these could be used to blast the car beside you, the good ol’ boys in Texas driving with their open bottles could have a hoot).
The Interior: In the lower models of the 2015 Ford F-150 you get what you expect from a base truck. Lots of plastic, cloth seats (comfortable), minimal equipment. There are five basic trim levels: XL, XLT, Lariat, King Ranch, and Platinum. By the time you get up to King Ranch or Platinum you could be riding in a Lincoln.
Wide Powertrain Lineup: While the 2015 Ford F-150 does not offer a diesel, it does have four gasoline engines. The base engine is a 3.5L naturally aspirated V6 with 283-horsepower and 255 lb. ft. of torque. The first step up and expected to be the highest volume powerplant is a 325HP 2.7L EcoBoost V6 with 375 lb. ft. of torque. This is about the power of a small displacement V8 in half the size. There are two top-of-the line engines based on what you want to do with the truck. The 365HP 3.5L EcoBoost V6 has 420 lb. ft of torque. The sole V8 in the line-up is the 385HP 5.0L V8 with 387 lb. ft of torque. The 3.5L EcoBoost has the highest trailer towing rating of 12,200 lbs.
The 2014 Ford Fusion Hybrid is the highest scoring Hybrid/EV Car in AutoPacific’s 2014 Ideal Vehicle Award research. Ford’s product development team knew exactly what their target buyers want and designed the Fusion to meet those needs. The Fusion Hybrid is at the top of the list against a remarkable group of Hybrid/EV cars such as the Lincoln MKZ HEV, Honda Accord HEV-PHEV, Infiniti Q50 HEV, Volkswagen Jetta HEV, and the Lexus ES 300h.
Ford Fusion hybrid owners are satisfied with their vehicle and do not want it to be changed. Of the fifteen categories in the Ideal Vehicle question battery, the 2014 Ford Fusion Hybrid led or tied in four categories and was within three percentage points of another two.
The top five highest ratings by Fusion HEV-PHEV owners are: same exterior styling, same tires, same riding/handling, same wheels, and the same seat fit as now.
Every vehicle has it flaws. Sixty percent of Ford Fusion HEV-PHEV owners would like more cargo space than they currently have. This is due to the hybrid battery pack taking precious trunk room. There is also a split in the information and entertainment technology – MyFordTouch, 16 percent want more advanced technology while 19 percent want simpler technology.
In the last year of this generation, the 2014 Ford Mustang is the highest scoring Sporty Car in AutoPacific’s 2014 Ideal Vehicle Award research. For a car getting long in the tooth, the fact that its owners rate the car so strongly is a testament that the product development team at Ford listened to their consumers and have satisfied their needs for the past five years. The Mustang is at the top against some very iconic muscle cars such as the Dodge Challenger, Chevrolet Camaro, and the import brand sporty cars Hyundai Genesis Coupe, Scion tC, and the Hyundai Veloster. For the past five years the sporty car IVA has changed hands between the Dodge Challenger and Chevrolet Camaro. It is very interesting that, in the last year of its generation, the Mustang wins for 2014. George Peterson, President of AutoPacific notes, “That Mustang is able to pull off an Ideal Vehicle Award win in the last year of this generation is impressive. The breadth of the Mustang lineup and the design execution has led its owners to vote it the most Ideal Sporty Car.”
2014 Ford Mustang owners are satisfied with their vehicle and do not want a great deal of change. Of the fifteen categories in the Ideal Vehicle questionnaire, the 2014 Mustang led in one satisfaction category and was within three percentage points of four more. This shows how close the scores were.
The top five highest ratings by Mustang owners are: same exterior size, same exterior styling, same tires, same safety features, and same cargo space as now.
No vehicle is perfect and Mustang owners did want several things changed. Mustang owners want a more advanced information and entertainment system, want it easier to get in and out of, and want more power and acceleration.
The 2014 Ford F-Series Super Duty is the highest scoring Heavy-Duty Pickup in AutoPacific’s 2014 Ideal Vehicle Award research. Ford’s Super Duty product development team demonstrates again that they really know what heavy duty pickup drivers want. The Super Duty beat out a very competitive group of heavy-duty pickups such as the GMC Sierra HD, Chevrolet Silverado HD and the Ram HD. The Ford Super Duty has won AutoPacific’s Ideal Vehicle Award for its class in three of the last five years. It also has won AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Award in three of the last five years. George Peterson, President of AutoPacific, says, “I just drove the 2015 model year of the Ford Super Duty and it is an impressive piece. This does not take away from the win of the 2014 Ford F-Series Super Duty in AutoPacific’s research. Super Duty owners rated it most Ideal Heavy Duty Pickup. But the 2015 model is even better with a substantially upgraded Power Stroke Diesel powertrain.”
Of the fifteen categories in the Ideal Vehicle question battery, the 2014 Ford F-Series SD led or tied in nine categories and was within three percentage points of another two.
The top five highest ratings by Super Duty owners are: same exterior size, same cargo space, same exterior styling, same visibility, and the same seat fit as now.
No vehicle is perfect. Super Duty owners are split on the information and entertainment system, fourteen percent wanting more advanced and 19 percent wanting simpler technology. SD owners also would like more power and acceleration, more interior storage, and more distinctive wheels than now.
For 2015, the Super Duty gets a stronger diesel engine with more power and torque. This will probably satisfy those who want more power and acceleration. An empty F-250 with this new engine feels like a very, very large sports car.
The 2014 Ford Expedition/EL is the highest scoring Luxury/Large SUV in AutoPacific’s 2014 Ideal Vehicle Award research. The big truck team at Ford knew exactly what their customers wanted and gave it to them. The Expedition EL led its category against some impressive competitors such as the GMC Yukon, Chevrolet Tahoe, Toyota Sequoia, Chevrolet Suburban, Nissan Armada, and the Toyota Land Cruiser. Ford’s big SUVs swept the Luxury/Large SUV category with Expedition EL, Expedition and Navigator one, two, three.
Expedition/EL owners truly did not want their vehicle changed. Of the fifteen categories in the Ideal Vehicle question battery, the 2014 Ford Expedition/EL led or tied in six satisfaction categories and was within three percentage points of another three.
The top five highest ratings by Expedition/EL owners are: same exterior size, same wheels, same safety features, same interior lighting, and same visibility as now.
Although the Expedition/EL is at the top there are several things owners would change. Owners would like a more relaxed drivers seat, more advanced technology, and would like it to be easier to get in and out of the vehicle. With the upcoming 2015 model year, these vehicles finally get up-to-date with MyFordTouch and an EcoBoost V6 powertrain.
The 2014 Ford F-Series Super Duty is the highest scoring Heavy-duty Pickup Truck in AutoPacific’s 2014 Vehicle Satisfaction Award. Coming in behind the F-Series SD is the GMC Sierra Heavy Duty. Followed by the Ram Heavy Duty and the Chevrolet Silverado Heavy Duty.
The 2014 Ford F-Series Super Duty demonstrated their excellence in Heavy-duty Pickup trucks by winning or tying in thirty-nine of fifty satisfaction attributes. The F-Series Super Duty was within one tenth of a satisfaction point in five other attributes, putting it at the top for Heavy-duty pickups.
The top ten highest ratings by F-Series SD owners are: exterior color and size, brand and vehicle reputation, handling and braking, power and acceleration, exterior styling, the perception or reliability and dependability, and feeling safe while driving.
Ford is not to be left falling behind its competition. With its convincing win in 2014, the Super Duty is updated for the 2015 model year with a more powerful PowerStroke diesel engine and enhanced up-market trim packages – the King Ranch and Platinum models. These are very profitable units for the Ford and the Super Duty models represent about one third of Ford’s F-Series production.
What if I told you you could buy a vehicle that had the capability to haul seven people, could hit at least 30 MPG on the highway, and had all of the creature comforts you would want, such as navigation and Bluetooth; would you buy it? What if there was a catch? Would sliding doors break the deal for you? Would riding in a jazzed up cargo van send shivers down your spine?
“I can’t underestimate how important the Fusion is to Ford,” — Mark Fields, Ford president of the Americas, to workers at Flat Rock, Michigan assembly plant.
The mid-size car segment is filled with able competitors and most are either new or recently updated. The oldest, Hyundai Sonata, is a 2011 model and each new model is being launched with a wider range of features than ever before. Honda Accord, Nissan Altima, Toyota Camry, Kia Optima, Volkswagen Passat, Chevrolet Malibu and next year’s Mazda6 represent the best collection of mid-size cars ever available in the United Sates.
What makes this competition interesting is the different approach that each manufacturer is taking. The Nissan Altima enters the race with a cost conscious four-cylinder engine with no turbo or direction injection. Despite this, the Altima has superior fuel economy and excellent power. Add in attractive styling cues from the Maxima, and you get a pretty compelling offering at a great price.
The Ford Fusion takes a different tack with six powertrains, including two hybrids. We got a chance to drive four of them in Santa Monica this week. Our impressions are positive, but we wonder a bit about the complexity of all these offerings.
2.5-liter inline four-cylinder with a 6-speed auto: This might be the best combination of price and attributes of the four we drove. While not as powerful as the EcoBoost options, it works well for a vehicle in a segment where dynamics are less important than price.
1.6-liter EcoBoost inline four-cylinder with a 6-speed manual: While Ford won’t sell a lot of manual transmission Fusions, this vehicle clearly has a European feel and would be our choice for fun. You clearly feel the small size of the 1.6, but pushing it hard and gliding through the gears with the smooth shifter makes this a fun ride.
2.0-liter EcoBoost inline four-cylinder with a 6-speed auto: More fun than the 2.5 liter four, but will buyers in this segment buy-in? Ours had the stand-alone start-stop feature, which worked better than other executions we’ve seen. It’s a good glimpse into the positive future of start-stop fuel saving technology.
2.0-liter Atkinson-cycle inline four-cylinder with an electric motor: As fun to drive as a hybrid! The hybrid version has received an EPA certified 47 miles per gallon for both city and highway driving, giving the vehicle the highest fuel-efficiency of any hybrid in its class. Toyota Motor Corp.’s Camry Hybrid LE gets 43 mpg in the city and 39 mpg on the highway, according to Toyota.
Building a hybrid can get you to about $38,000. A Titanium All Wheel Drive can get to you to $39,000. Start saving now.
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.
F-150 Dominates Chevrolet Silverado 1500 for IVA Win: The 2012 Ford F-150 comes closest to the ideal of any Large Light Duty Pickup. The F-150 edges out the second place Chevrolet Silverado 1500 by 41 rating points to win in this class. 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 F-150 owners rate its exterior size, passenger roominess, exterior styling, driver’s seat comfort and ride and handling ideal. Eighty-percent or more of F-150 owners find these additional characteristics ideal: driver’s seat visibility, cargo space, wheels and tires, ease of getting in and out, safety features.
A Few Shortfalls – But None Critical. About 19% of F-150 owners want better infotainment technology. About 25% of F-150 owners want more interior storage compartments.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org and title your email “IVA Results”. A copy of the results will be emailed to you within 48-hours.