Explorer anchors excitement at Ford













Hot news for 2011: It might not have changed platforms, but the Lincoln MKX tall wagon looks like a completely different vehicle; new 305-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 puts a bit of breathing room between the MKX and the Ford Edge. • MKZ is based on the Ford Fusion, so the hybrid gas-electric system is a natural fit.

Carryover: MKS; MKT; Navigator

Gone: None

Starting line

•  If you long for the old days of actual vehicle names or at least sequential numbers to help identify the rides built by a given automaker, you will find Lincoln a particularly perplexing place to shop. Cross the sidewalk and suddenly you’re in a world that uses “names” such as MXS (big sedan), MKX (tall wagon), MKZ (mid-size sedan) and MKT (big-and-tall tall wagon). As you can tell, this is not the Lincoln of old, but a luxury brand that’s all about being a little different, even a bit daring. Before you get inside the revamped MKX to see what all the fuss is about, you’ll notice a new grille that appears nearly identical to the one employed on Lincoln’s seven-passenger MKT carryall. Ford’s premium-division engineers also reduced the noise invading the cabin by using improved acoustic materials, a sound-absorbing headliner, thicker windshield glass and “baked-on” foam baffles in the fenders and door pillars. On-road capability has been upgraded with bigger brakes, retuned shock absorbers and stabilizer bars that are designed to produce flatter cornering. Standard equipment includes trailer sway control and Hill Start Assist, which prevents the vehicle from rolling backward on a steep grade. A new 305-horsepower 3.7-liter V6 replaces the outgoing model’s 265-horsepower 3.5-liter unit. That’s fine, but the MKX could really use Ford’s new 355-horsepower turbocharged V6 to provide a greater performance distinction from the closely related Edge Sport, which gets the same engine. A six-speed automatic transmission with paddle controls handles the shifting chores. All-wheel-drive is optional. Inside, most of the MKX’s traditional switchgear — even some gauges from the dashboard and control panel — have been replaced with “MyLincoln Touch technology.” This standard system has two programmable 4.2-inch (diagonal) touch-screens on either side of the speedometer; and an eight-inch unit located in the center stack. A game-controller-style “smart” button on the steering wheel operates the climate, communications, navigation, infotainment and other vehicle functions in an intuitively designed fashion. To help out, MyLincoln has color-coded touch-sensitive controls of a type currently used in cellular telephones and TV remotes, which should help give it a familiar feel. It’s a lot of technology to be sure, but it falls short of the entry-level MKZ in one key area: the MKZ’s newly optional hybrid system that’s shared with the similar-platform Ford Fusion. Therefore, the MKZ Hybrid combines a 156-horsepower 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine with a 106-horsepower electric motor for a net output of 191 horses. The Hybrid combo is mated to a continuously variable transmission and can travel up to 47 mph on battery power alone. Lincoln claims the MKZ Hybrid can go 700 miles on a single 17-gallon fill-up, or the equivalent of 41 mpg city/36 mpg highway. The best part? Buyers will be able to choose the Hybrid model for no extra cost over the non-hybrid models.

Base prices (incl. destination)

MKS: $42,100

MKT: Full-size wagon, $45,000

MKX: $40,000

MKZ: Mid-size sedan; $35,000

MKZ Hybrid: Mid-size sedan; $35,000

Navigator: Full-size SUV, $54,900 (2010)

Ford cars


Hot news for 2011: European Fiesta finally arrives for frugal fun times, no matter what kind of abuse the economy and fuel prices can dish out. • Camaro-fighting new engines for the Mustang. • Redesigned Edge with great new looks and three engine choices instead of one. • Flex finds favor flaunting phat four-cylinder (new 237-horsepower “Ecoboost” engine). • Who has one of the best hybrid systems? That’s right, the Fusion sedan. • Leading the way with Sync voice-activated management of entertainment/information systems.

Carryover: Focus; Fusion; Taurus

Gone: None

Starting line

•  For the latest leading-edge automobiles around, just check your local Ford dealership. There, you’ll overhear buzzwords such as Ecoboost and “5.0 Coyote,” and, of course, “Fiesta.” When North America began downsizing to more fuel-efficient rides, Ford was likely in the best position of all automakers to make large-scale dramatic lineup changes since it already had several excellent small vehicles for sale in Europe . . . and it had the cash to make those changes. One of the first to arrive is the Fiesta. It might be new to us, but there are currently more than a half-million Fiestas running around Europe and Asia, where the current version was launched two years ago. And Ford promises that none of the Fiesta’s charm and spunk has been lost in translation since the Mexican-built four-door hatchback and all-new North America-exclusive four-door sedan have begun arriving here. That means we’re finally getting the same firm-riding, precise-handling, fuel-sipping vehicles that others around the globe have been enjoying for years. The Fiesta’s design is Euro sleek and fashionable, topped off with a set of truly beautiful headlight pods — Ford calls them “Dragon’s Eyes” — that neatly blend in with the fenders. At the rear, the hatchback’s styling easily wins out over the sedan’s, but both versions are easy on the eyes and the wallet, with fuel economy rated at 29 mpg, city and 40 mpg, highway. Those figures come by way of a 120-horsepower 1.6-liter four-cylinder. The base manual transmission is a slick-shifting five-speed. Optional is a six-speed direct-shift (automated manual) gearbox that functions without a traditional torque converter. Ordering a Fiesta offers a wide range of models and options, starting at base price of about $14,000. For that meager fee, you’ll get plenty of power features and a whole mess of airbags. In fact, you can load up the Fiesta as if it were a brand-new 2011 Edge, with alloy wheels and leather interior. The Edge even gets a four-cylinder engine as an option this year, but it’s a turbocharged “Ecoboost” unit that produces double the horsepower of the Fiesta’s engine. The idea is to give Edge shoppers a more fuel-efficient alternative to the base 3.5-liter V6 and the newly available 305-horsepower 3.7-liter unit found in the new Edge sport, which gets sinister-looking blacked out trim and 20-inch wheels. The touches really set off the new look for the Edge this year, highlighted by a large, plunging grille. The Sport’s engine is shared by the 2011 Mustang that finally kicks the old 210-horsepower 4.0-liter V6 to the curb as the base engine. The benefit is 100 more horsepower and much better fuel economy, pegged at 31 mpg on the highway. The optional 315-horsepower 4.6-liter V8 found in the GT is also out of the picture, replaced by a 412-horsepower 5.0-liter “Coyote” V8. Additional Mustang improvements for 2011 feature added structural rigidity and sound insulation on all models and an optional Brembo-brand brake package for the GT that originates from the Mustang-based Shelby GT500. Stay tuned for a 440-horsepower Boss 302 Mustang that is, according to Ford, as close to racecar for the street as you’ll ever find. If that’s not enough to go Camaro hunting, the Shelby GT500 swaps its cast-iron 5.4-liter engine block for a 100-pound-lighter aluminum piece that assists in pushing output to 550 horsepower. There’s no Ecoboost engines for the Mustang, as much as the 355-horsepower V6 unit would make sense to bridge the large gap between the base and the GT, but at least the wide-and-long Flex will acquire it as an option, finally giving buyers something other than the non-turbo 3.5-liter V6 to put under the hood. Additionally, a new range-topping Titanium model adds a unique grille and 20-inch wheels, along with virtually every feature imaginable inside.

Base prices (incl. destination)

Edge: Four-door tall wagon; $28,000

Flex: Full-sized tall wagon; $29,900

Fiesta: Compact sedan/hatchback; $14,000

Focus: Compact coupe/sedan; $17,600

Fusion: Mid-size sedan; $20,400

Mustang: Two-door coupe/convertible; $23,000

Shelby GT500: Two-door coupe/conv.; $49,500

Taurus: Full-size sedan; $26,000

Ford trucks


Hot news for 2011: Softer approach will likely save the Explorer brand from extinction. • New Super Duty pickup with new engines. • New engines for F150 adapted from the Mustang. • SVT Raptor now available with four doors and a 6.2-liter V8. • Transit Connect will go plug-in electric sometime this model year.

Carryover: Escape; Expedition; Ranger

Going . . . going: Final year for Ranger

Gone: Sport Trac

Starting line

•  In the face of hard times, you could simply cut the models that aren’t selling, or do what Ford has done: make ‘em into something entirely different. The 21-year-old Explorer name might be a special case, though, since it was once a top-selling sport utility vehicle — back in the early 1990s, everyone had to have one — that in the time frame of about two years, fell out of favor based on the apathetic view that cheap fuel and clean air would last forever. For the 2011 model year, however, the older Explorer’s traditional body-on-frame construction has yielded to unitized (frameless) architecture that’s still rugged enough to tackle all but the roughest terrain and trailer up to 5,000 pounds in the process. Additionally, the new “Ex” is nearly 100 pounds lighter than the truck-ish 2010 edition. And in case you actually do decide to go where others fear to tread, the Explorer’s ample ground clearance and available 20-inch rubber should help you arrive unscathed. The car-like interior provides room for up to seven passengers, or six when the second-row bench is replaced by optional lounge chairs. Ford states that the base 290-horsepower 3.5-liter V6’s as-yet-undisclosed city/highway rating beats the outgoing model’s 210-horsepower V6 by some 20 percent. Just as impressive is the optional turbocharged 237-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine (on FWD models only) that reportedly achieves 30-percent-better fuel economy than the previous V6. For off-roading, V6 models can be ordered with Ford’s “terrain management” four-wheel-drive system that can be adjusted by the driver to Normal, Mud, Sand or Snow settings. While the Explorer has a new lease on life as a “soft-roader,” the latest F-Series Super Duty is built for a more specific purpose, one where you can never be too tough, too strong or too big. The sheetmetal and box sizes remain mostly unchanged for 2011, but the one area that differentiates new from old is a more prominent “power dome” hood along with a bolder grille and front bumper. Backing up that statement is a new 385-horsepower 6.2-liter gasoline V8. Optional is an equally fresh Ford-developed 6.7-liter V8 turbo-diesel that generates 390 horsepower and 735 pound-feet of torque. The result is a payload capacity of up to 6,520 pounds and a fifth-wheel towing capacity of up to 24,400 pounds. Both powerplants are connected to six-speed automatic transmissions. All models — XL, XLT, Lariat and King Ranch — benefit from suspension changes and a new steering gear that Ford says will improve ride comfort, surefootedness and steering precision. The SD continues to be offered in regular, extended SuperCab and four-door Crew Cab configurations, the latter of which is now available for extra-wide-body-off-road-SVT-Raptor duty. For the 2010 model year, the Raptor was a regular-cab model fitted with a 300-horsepower 5.4-liter V8, which has been replaced by the 6.2-liter V8 for 2011. This engine, along with the Ford Mustang’s new base V6 and optional 5.0-liter V8 and the Flex’s turbocharged V6 flush all the previous engines from the F-150 line. The result is way more power, way better fuel economy and instant competitiveness with General Motors. However, one area that Ford will soon concede is small trucks: this is the final year for the Ranger without a replacement in sight.

Base prices (incl. destination)

Escape: Compact SUV; $20,800;  $30,600 (Hybrid)

Expedition: full-size SUV; $36,500 (2010)

Explorer: mid-size SUV; $29,000

F-150: Full-size pickup; $23,000 (2010)

F-series SD: Full-size pickup; $29,000

Ranger: Compact pickup; $18,500

Transit Connect: Multi-purpose van; $21,900

There are many exciting developments within Ford’s product line, starting with a brand new 2011 Ford Explorer.

The new Explorer shares some common components as the Flex, MKT, and Taurus vehicles. However, the Explorer has been engineered specifically as an SUV and thus the body structure, chassis, and other major systems have been developed purposefully for SUV durability and capability.

It’s sleek with European styling components and giving a fresh look to one of Ford’s flagship vehicles.

The new Explorer is intended to be the reinvented Explorer for the 21st century. Ford sought to provide features, craftsmanship, and materials that you would find in a luxury SUV, such as Land Rover, Audi, BMW, but at a much more affordable price.

That’s the story with all of Ford’s products, said Kevin Lamarr, the sales manager at Western Slope Ford & Lincoln.

“We’re in the forefront of the automotive industry in terms of product development, technology, green-ness, efficiency and safety,” said Kevin Lamarr, the sales manager at Western Slope Ford. “And we offer all those features and benefits with great value.”

One of the biggest value-added amenities is the SYNC voice-activated entertainment/information system.

And now there’s the MyFord Touch, a compelling new system that uses three screens, enables WiFi, opens cars up to third-party apps and runs on the second generation of Microsoft’s SYNC system.

“This is a big deal at Ford,” Lemarr said. “It’s like an iPhone on wheels.”

New for 2011 is the energetic, stylish Fiesta subcompact, which has been a brisk seller in Europe and Asia. New for North America is a sedan model, in addition to the five-door hatchback. It gets 40 mpg on the highway with its 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine. It also has some features usually found in more expensive cars, such as keyless entry and capless refueling. The Fiesta starts at $13,320.

A redesigned Focus compact car will go on sale next year as a 2012 model. The sedan and five-door hatchback will be based on the dynamic European version. Few other details have been released. An electric version of the Focus also will be introduced. Ford says the electric car will get up to 100 mpg on a six- to eight-hour charge. Pricing hasn’t been released for either car.

The Edge crossover gets an extensive refresh, including three new engines: a 2.0-liter EcoBoost I-4, a 3.5-liter V-6 and, for the Edge Sport, the Mustang’s 3.7-liter V-6. A new feature called Hill Start Assist reduces backup when starting on hills. MyFordTouch replaces knobs and switches with an 8-inch screen that allows drivers to personalize their controls. It starts at $27,220.

The 2011 Mustang GT gets an all-new 5.0-liter V8 engine with 412 horsepower, and new six-speed manual and automatic transmissions. The steering and suspension have also been retuned. It starts at $22,145.

F-Series news: Ford recently offered 2011 Super Duty customers a free software upgrade to raise the power of the new 6.7-liter turbodiesel to 400 horses, besting the Silverado. There’s also a 385-horsepower, 6.2-liter V-8. This bad boy can tow up to 24,400 pounds and carry 6,520 pounds in its bed. It starts at $28,020.

Ford will make an electric version of the Transit Connect for 2011. It can be plugged into a standard outlet and has an estimated range of 80 miles. Pricing hasn’t been announced.

On the Lincoln side of the showroom is a new hybrid version of the Lincoln MKZ sedan. Ford plans to offer it for a little more than $35,000, the same price as the regular gas version. That would make it the first hybrid in this country to cost the same as the gas version. It has a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors. The estimated fuel economy is 41 mpg in the city and 36 on the highway.

The 2011 MKX crossover has a new engine — a 3.7-liter Duratec V-6 with 305 horsepower — as well as MyLincolnTouch, which replaces knobs and switches with a touch-sensitive screen. Also new are a blind-spot alert system and a system that warns of any cross-traffic while the car is backing up.

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