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.
In an effort to squeeze as much power from every car, while making them more fuel-friendly, automakers are increasingly switching their engines to use a technology that’s not exactly new and which isn’t typically associated with fuel economy – turbocharging.
5. 2012 Mazda3 Skyactiv
What’s the best car of 2012? Who knows. Is a Porsche GT3 RS 4.0 better than a Ferrari 458 Italia? What about the Scion FR-S? Or a Prius Plug-in Hybrid? The past year has seen the launch of numerous excellent vehicles, including some we really didn’t expect to be any good. That said, we’ve put together our list of the top five surprisingly good cars of 2012, starting with the updated Mazda3.
We thoroughly enjoyed the new 3 (read our 2012 Mazda3 review here), something that’s not at all surprising at first. What is more of a shock is that it was Mazda’s new Skyactiv model, designed primarily for fuel economy, and that it managed to deliver in that department while sticking true to the brand’s Zoom-Zoom slogan.
Adding to our reasons for placing this car on our list of surprisingly good cars is the technology behind it. At both a preview event and the actual drive, Mazda gave us a deep-dive into the engineering solutions behind its new SkyActiv technologies, rethinking every aspect of the engine and transmission for this updated model. When Ford sold off its shares in Mazda recently many skeptics proclaimed that in this new era a smaller company like Mazda couldn’t possibly hope to be competitive without a large partner like, say, Toyota. But Mazda has proved them wrong, not only competing, but perhaps delivering the the only 40 mpg car that’s actually fun to drive.
10. Fiat Returns to America
As another calendar year draws to a close it’s time to take a look back at the top 10 biggest stories of the year in the auto industry. It’s been a busy 12 months, starting all the way back in March when the Fiat 500 officially went on sale, marking the return of the brand to America. The last time an Italian car was sold here that didn’t cost six figures (or close to it) was 27 years ago. Since then, Fiat has introduced the 500C convertible model and most recently the Fiat 500 Abarth, aimed at enthusiasts.
The jury is still out on the Fiat brand’s success in North America, although the first year has failed to live up to expectations, with Fiat predicting sales of 50,000 units, while according to automotive data firm GoodCarBadCar only 17,444 have been sold in the first 11 months of the year (add 5,000 more if you include Canada). Some of this may be the result of Fiat’s marketing initiative with several ads featuring Jenifer Lopez, which the Fiat faithful rejected and many believe cost the brand boss Laura Souve her job. Getting the Fiat dealer network up and running also proved a challenge.
With more models coming, and Alfa Romeo set to return in 2013, Fiat is here to say. More importantly, perhaps, is the Fiat connection to Chrysler – a company it saved from bankruptcy and which it is now slowly rebuilding back into a profitable automaker.
Ford is revising their forecast for F-150 Ecoboost sales, estimating that the turbocharged 6-cylinder pickup will comprise 45 percent of F-150 sales, versus original estimates of 40 percent. Ford now estimates that the Ecoboost will sell 100,000 units this year.
The F-150 remains the best selling vehicle in the United States, and Ford was caught off guard by the Ecoboost’s popularity. A V6 option has only been available within the last two years, as the segment was dominated by V8 engines. Unstable fuel prices and a general trend towards environmentally conscious purchase choices are credited with helping Ford introduce a V6 powered F-150 in a favorable light.
[Source: Wall Street Journal]
Ford has waged a public relations campaign to help promote its new EcoBoost F-150 pickup truck. The twin-turbocharged and direct-injection V6 engine might make excellent torque (and at diesel-like revs), but the Blue Oval knew it would face an uphill battle in convincing truck owners to down-size their engine – especially for something that’s relatively untested and fraught with the potential to be a disaster due to its complexity.
Holding driving clinics across North America to expose consumers to the new engine, Ford’s efforts appear to be paying off with the EcoBoost V6 model accounting for 35 percent of sales so far, Ford says. That number is on the rise too, with the most recent sales figures quoting a 40 percent take-rate for the six.
Similar in design to the EcoBoost V6 introduced in the Ford Taurus SHO, engineers will tell you its been entirely reworked. Peak power is rated at 365-hp and 420 lb-ft of torque with 90 percent of that power available from just 1700 rpm. By comparison, the new 5.0L V8 makes 380 lb-ft oat 4250 rpm, and the EcoBoost can tow up to 1,300 lbs more. It does, however, come at a $1,055 premium over the 5.0L.
Ford‘s 3.5L V6 Ecoboost engine, a twin-turbo 6-cylinder engine that will go into the upcoming F-150 pickup, will put out 365 horsepower and a whopping 420 lb-ft of torque at 2500 rpm.
The 3.5L V6 may lack the outright grunt of Ford’s 6.2L V8, 90 percent of the power is available from 1,750 to 5,000 rpm, while being able to tow 11,300 pounds or carrying a payload of 3,060 pounds.
While Ford says that the Ecoboost will offer class leading fuel economy, mpg figures haven’t been released yet. We’ll keep you posted when they’re finally made public.
Hit the jump to read the official press release
Ford‘s 2011 F-150 will do away with its current lineup of V8 engines in the F-150 in favor of new and more efficient powerplants, which will include a base V6, the Mustang GT’s 5.0-liter V8 and the company’s impressive EcoBoost V6.
The base 4.6-liter V8 will be tossed in favor of the company’s new 3.7-liter V6 engine, the same engine offered as standard equipment in the new 2011 Mustang. This will mark the first time Ford has offered a V6 in the F-150 since 2008. The current 4.6-liter makes 248 hp and 294 ft-lbs of torque and gets 19-mpg highway, while in the Mustang the 3.7-liter V6 makes 305-hp and 280 ft-lbs of torque, while delivering 31-mpg on the highway.
Ford’s optional Triton 5.4-liter V8 will then be replaced by the smaller displacement 5.0-liter from the Mustang GT. The 5.4-liter makes 320-hp and 390 ft-lbs of torque, with a 20-mpg highway rating, while the 5.0-liter V8 in the new Mustang GT creates 412-hp and 390 ft-lbs of torque, while getting 26-mpg highway.
Ford’s new twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engine will also debut in the F-150 for 2011 and all engine options will come with a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The biggest challenge for Ford will be in the marketing department, convincing traditional truck buyers that a smaller displacement or V6 engine can do the job of the larger V8 powerplants. We wouldn’t worry, as Ford has proven itself very capable over the past few years in marketing its products.
With 90 percent of Ford models to get EcoBoost technology, are the Mustang and Fiesta next?
If you were wondering which U.S. automaker was making the biggest strides toward next-generation powertrain technology, wonder no more.
In a bold move, if you’ll excuse the reference, Ford will be introducing turbocharged engines on some of its largest and smallest vehicles by the end of 2010. Here’s our run down of the increasingly prolific application of EcoBoost motors in the Ford lineup:
- Ford C-Max: 1.6-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost (2010 availability, Europe)
- Ford Explorer: 2.0-litre four-cylinder EcoBoost (2010 availability, North America, preview)
- Ford Edge: 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost (2010 availability, North America, preview)
- Ford Flex: 3.5-liter six-cylinder EcoBoost (on-sale now, review)
- Ford Taurus SHO: 3.5-liter six-cylinder EcoBoost (on-sale now, review)
- Lincoln MKS: 3.5-liter six-cylinder EcoBoost (on-sale now)
- Lincoln MKT: 3.5-liter six-cylinder EcoBoost (on-sale now, review)
- Ford F-150: 3.5-liter six-cylinder EcoBoost (2010 availability, North America)
Ford says they plan on having EcoBoost engines in 90 per cent of the company’s North American models. By 2013, the company will be producing 1.5 million such engines per year. That means you should expect to see the engine pop up in nearly everything, from the Fiesta to the Mustang. Dan Kapp, Ford’s director of powertrain research and advanced engineering says that they’re tuning EcoBoost to deliver better efficiency in future models.
“We are trying to get in front of the pack in leveraging EcoBoost for fuel economy,” Kapp said. “It’s going to be a trend in the industry, and we can’t rest on our laurels for one minute. We are going to keep wringing more efficiency out of EcoBoost.”
Other than EcoBoost, Ford has some exciting technologies on the horizon, including a fully electric version of the Focus, the promise to have 98 per cent of its North American models fitted with six-speed transmissions, and to have 20 per cent of its vehicles worldwide fitted with stop/start systems by 2014. Those systems, which turn off the engine at a stop light (just like a hybrid), can contribute to a five per cent reduction in fuel consumption and emissions.