AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
Like Mariah Carey’s ancestry, modern crossover vehicles have unusual roots. The award-winning American singer’s family tree is more varied than the flora of a rainforest understory. Her unique blend of nationalities includes African, Venezuelan and Irish. That’s more ingredients than Belorussian variety sausage. Who’s hungry for some lean, finely textured opossum?
Since its founding in 1936, Consumer Reports has become the go-to source for shoppers. From new refrigerators to bottles of wine, Blue-ray players to homeowner’s insurance, if it’s on the market it’s likely the non-profit organization has scientifically tested it. Of course the consumer watchdog is probably most famous for its vehicle reliability ratings.
Autoguide Five-Point Inspection
During this week’s Five-Point Inspection we put the Ford Flex crossover to the test, stuffing all our family and friends into the three rows of seats, and driving it in the city, highway, and rural gravelly side-roads.
A visually striking vehicle, the base Flex SE starts at $30,885, while we drove the upgraded Limited model with AWD and the 365-hp EcoBoost Engine.
First increase since 2007 a sign that Ford is on the right track
With the current state of affairs in the auto industry, smaller than expected losses have been cause to celebrate, so imagine the party the folks over at Ford must be having right now as the company announced today that it actually posted a sales gain.
Last month Ford’s 10 percent loss was seen as a sign that Ford is on the right track and that the economy might just be recovering. This month the American automaker posted a two percent increase compared to the same month a year earlier. But that number doesn’t even tell the whole story as retail sales were actually up nine percent. Less impressive fleet sales (notorious for low profit margins) curbed that number down to two percent.
As a sign that Ford is not only fighting off this recession, but that the automaker is actually producing products that consumers want to buy, this sales gain is the first since November 2007.
Ford’s sales and marketing VP Ken Czubay credited the company’s fuel-efficient vehicles, combined with the government’s Cash-for-Clunkers program for the positive results. “We had another strong month in progress before the ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program started,” he said. “Our products, our dealers and our advance preparation enabled us to leverage the program and drive traffic and sales to another level. In addition, we achieved a sales increase even though we decreased incentive spending in an increasingly competitive environment.”
Particularly successful models for Ford included the Fusion, Escape, Ranger and Flex. Fusion sales were up 66 percent; Escape sales were up 94 percent; while Ranger and Flex sales were both up 65 percent over a year ago. In addition Ford saw a drastic increase in the number of customers opting for hybrids, with Ford’s hybrid lineup (including the Fusion, Milan, Escape and Mariner) posting an increase of 323 percent.
Official release after the jump:
Lincoln MKS Runs Sub-14 Second Pass
With increasingly stringent fuel economy regulations and in an effort to delivery maximum power for minimal gas, many automakers are switching to smaller displacement engines and forced induction. BMW and Audi are two examples, but U.S. automaker Ford is also making strides in this area with its new line of EcoBoost engines.
The current EcoBoost powerplant is a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6, aimed at giving V6 fuel economy with V8 power. Ford claims 355hp and 350 ft-lbs of torque for this motor and while that sounds good, real world acceleration numbers tell the real tale.
Last night a group of Ford engineers took the new EcoBoost powered Ford Flex and Lincoln MKS to the drag strip at Milan Raceway to see just what they would do. The numbers are impressive.
The EcoBoost Ford Flex (you know, that retro-cool box thingy) took just 14.5 seconds to rip down the quarter mile, hitting a top speed of 98 mph.
Better yet, the new Lincoln ran a sub-14 second pass, going 13.9 at 104 mph.
The MKS and Flex are just the first vehicles to receive the EcoBoost engines and more are planned. Ford will offer 90 percent of its vehicles with an EcoBoost powerplant by 2013.