2017 Ford Focus RS – A Hot Hatch With Extra Spice

2017 Ford Focus RS

It’s been just over four decades since the modern hot hatch was born with debut of the original Volkswagen Golf GTI. In the intervening years, most other automakers have produced higher performance versions of their compact cars but since the turn of the century a new class of even quicker machines has evolved. Until recently, with the exception of the Volkswagen Golf R, these machines have been forbidden fruit on American shores. Fortunately for enthusiasts, Ford finally homologated its legendary Focus RS and American Honda dealers will soon start delivering the latest edition of the Civic Type-R.

Read the full review at Forbes


2016 Focus ST – Still America’s Hottest Mainstream Hatch

2016 Ford Focus ST

2016 Ford Focus ST

By no means am I an expert in branding. Nonetheless, it seems intuitively obvious that if you want to build brand equity, you might want some consistency over time so that consumers develop an understanding of what the brand stands for. Case in point 911, Corvette and Mustang. All cars that have been around with the same name for more than half a century. Aside from Mustang and F-Series, Ford tends to be notoriously fickle with its branding, especially for its compact cars. With any luck Focus and ST will be brands that stick around for a good long time.

2016 Ford Explorer Platinum – Looking More Like a Range Rover

2016 Ford Explorer Platinum - 3 of 33Over the course of its first 25 years, the Ford Explorer has had quite a roller coaster ride. It got off to a strong start in the original SUV wave of the 1990s eventually hit peak sales of more than 445,000 in 2000 before starting a decade of mostly steady decline. By 2009 when the shine was almost entirely off of the SUV in the depths of the great recession, Ford moved barely 52,000 Explorers. In 2011, Ford rebooted the whole concept, dumping the long-running body-on-frame layout for a car based unibody and it’s been smiles ever since. Fresh off a mid-cycle refresh, nearly 250,000 Explorers found a home last year, second only to the compact Escape. I spent a week with the new top-of-the-line Platinum edition and have some thoughts to share.


2016 Ford C-Max Energi – 20 Miles of Usability on the EV Spectrum

2016 Ford C-MaxLike most things in the real world, when it comes to automotive electrification, there is a continuum of approaches rather than a binary electric or not. At the minimal end, you’ll find automatic stop-start systems while the maximal solution relies on electric motors alone for propulsion. Lying somewhere in between is the Ford C-MAX Energi, the Dearborn automaker’s first production plug-in hybrid. After three years on the market, is the C-MAX Energi a good solution for those interested in going electric without range anxiety?


Review: MyFord Touch is Dead, Long Live SYNC 3!

2016 Ford Escape SE - 27 of 40The week of January 7, 2007 was a hugely important preview of the future of cars and how we would interact them. In the span of three days, there were three major product announcements in three cities that all seemed distinct at the time but the convergence is now becoming clearer every day. The week kicked off with General Motors vice chairman Bob Lutz revealing the original Chevrolet Volt concept at the Detroit Auto Show. Later that same day, then future Ford CEO Mark Fields joined Microsoft CEO Bill Gates on stage at CES in Las Vegas to announce the SYNC connectivity system. Finally, two days later Apple CEO Steve Jobs showed the world the iPhone at Macworld Expo in San Francisco.

Each of those three products has evolved significantly in the last eight years and with each passing day we get closer to the fusion of them all, potentially in an Apple car. While that latter product is still likely years away from being announced, touchscreen smartphones are now ubiquitous with more than two billion in use around the world. They are so prevalent that we now expect to be able to use them anywhere and everywhere including behind the wheel. While plug-in vehicles currently represent only a tiny fraction of the world’s vehicle parc, they too will likely one day dominate and with the addition of autonomous capability our vehicles may well become nothing more than a place to consume content while being moved around.


2015 Ford Mustang Convertible EcoBoost – A Four Legged Summer SVO Without the Badge

2015 Ford Mustang Convertible EcoBoost - 1 of 35

Hitting the open road with the top down has been an integral part of the Ford Mustang lifestyle for more than five decades. In fact, the very first Mustang sold to a retail customer was a baby blue convertible that went to Chicago school teacher Gail Wise on April 15, 1964, two days before the official on-sale date. Mustang serial #1 was a white convertible, purchased by a Canadian airline pilot. When the all-new sixth generation Mustang debuted a year ago, it came in two body styles, fastback and convertible and I recently got to spend a week with wind in what remains of my hair to see if it is as good as Ford claims.


2015 Ford Edge Sport – An Actual Sport Utility Vehicle

2015 Ford Edge Sport - 4 of 33

Two decades ago when the sport utility vehicle was really taking off as a segment in the in the American market, the Ford Explorer was the hottest ticket in town and they were selling as fast as Ford could churn them out. Despite the name, there really wasn’t anything particularly sporty about these truck-based wagons and there was no pretense to actual high-performance or even decent handling. As the 1990s turned into the 21st century, the market shifted from old-school SUVs to car-based crossovers and even sports car stalwarts like Porsche got into the action. Somehow, in 2015 we’re now in a place where despite its high-riding stance, many CUVs can be considered serious performance machines including the all-new 2015 Ford Edge Sport.


2015 Ford Focus SE EcoBoost – Good Luck Trying to Buy One

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Back in 2012, two years before launching an updated Fiesta powered by a tiny new 1.0-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine, Ford first showed off this powerplant to American journalists with a fleet of European-spec Focuses. Despite it’s small size, the engine shocked almost everyone who drove it with its performance. Earlier this year, Ford finally started shipping the updated 2015 Focus in volume and if you search really hard, you can even buy one with a three-pot engine. I managed to get my hands on one for a week in a metallic grey Focus SE sedan, came away puzzled by Ford’s efforts.


First Dedicated Autonomous and Connected Vehicle Test Track Opens in Ann Arbor

Yet another automotive proving ground opened in Ann Arbor, Mich. today, but the Mobility Transformation Center (MTC) is quite different from existing tracks. There is no shortage of automotive test tracks scattered around southeast Michigan mostly operated by automakers and larger suppliers that do everything from salt baths to high-speed stability to running over pounding potholes. These facilities tend to be highly secured facilities where outsiders are rarely welcome. Ford engineers don’t get to hang out at GM’s Milford Proving Ground and GM people are persona non-grata in Dearborn. At MTC Mcity course, all of these engineers will have a place where they can come together and collaborate along with researchers from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI).