Fun with Ford

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Actual photo of Jim. Honest, a real person who actually exists.

“So what is the story here?”, are the words of Jim, my spiritual mentor and unofficial Muskoka district tour guide. A serious and dignified journalist, he has little time for the antics of one such as I, for whom the story is that I came here to have fun with some Ford product.

We started out on the shores of Lake Joseph, a peaceful setting in relative quiet among the ritzy waterfront homes and mahogany-hulled playboats of the Ontario moneyed class; at an event Ford Canada put together to showcase their sport utility lineup.

Problem was, although everything the company makes to compete in the increasingly diverse SUV world, from compact to gigantic, Ford’s two major entries for 2018 weren’t available to drive.

The new-to-North America Ecosport and latest edition Expedition were on hand, of course, artfully arranged at the hotel staging ground and looking ready for the showroom floors they will hit later this year; but I’ll have to tell you more about the actual road manners of either of them at a later date.

As it is though, here’s a glimpse of them:

2018 Ecosportby Pinpoint National Photography

This compact and cargo-friendly little hauler is likely to win friends in the teeny-weeny utility segment (don’t laugh, the small ute segment is blowing up with demand, and the Ecosport will joust with rivals like Honda’s HR-V and Toyota’s newest, the C-HR).

The Ecosport is another truly ‘global’ vehicle from Ford. It is a Fiesta platform underneath, built in India and already sold all over the world.

It will be available as either AWD or front wheel drive, with two engine options: a three-cylinder one litre, or 2.0L four-cylinder, both with automatic transmissions.by Pinpoint National Photography

Its got a funky, decent-looking interior (which improves with optional, larger LCD information screen atop the center stack) and a side-hinged tail gate to access the rear. As an aside, do you think this is coming back into vogue? I’m thinking of Honda’s redesigned Ridgeline, where they have altered the gate to be hinged on either the side or the bottom; so maybe there is a demand for this configuration.

Full specs on the machine will be available closer to its arrival, but the company promises a full list of available safety features (my favorites being blind-spot monitor and rear cross traffic sensor) and technology packages for the Ecosport; including the unusual option of a B&O 10-speaker sound system (which, if it follows the company’s other products I have seen, will be expensive and weird to operate, but sound great).by Pinpoint National Photography by Pinpoint National Photography

Ford is still being cagey with the MSRP, but you can imagine the Ecosport will be the most affordable of their sport utility lineup.

So that is the story there, my gentle friends, and I will update this with actual pricing when it arrives.

I’ll tell ya what I do know the price of, though:

The 2018 Expedition

I’ll get that out of the way right now, the newest edition of Ford’s largest multipurpose monster ute runs from $59,999 up to $89,999, depending on whether you want, XLT, Limited or Platinum trim.

Running a combination of a new, 3.5L EcoBoost six-cylinder engine and the company’s latest 10-speed automatic transmission (which we saw first on the F-150 pickup, earlier this year).

The all-new Ford Expedition is the smartest, most capable and most adaptable Expedition ever, the ultimate full-size SUV to carry families through life’s adventures.

The all-new Ford Expedition is the smartest, most capable and most adaptable Expedition ever, the ultimate full-size SUV to carry families through life’s adventures.

This is the only engine you can get the Expedition with now, but it promises huge towing capacity – Ford insists the 9,300 lbs it is rated for is best-in-class, in fact – on a vehicle whose curb weight has been lowered by over 130 kilos, due to more high-strength aluminum being used throughout the vehicle.

It gets a power boost over the previous-generation Expedition as well, now being rated at 375 hp (and 470 lb.-ft. of torque), but here’s an interesting factoid: Ford tested a Platinum trim model with 93 octane fuel (the first figures are for regular 87 octane in XLT trim) and states 400 hp and 480 lb.-ft. from that combination.

The wheelbase is 4” longer than past Expeditions, the body an inch wider, and as you might expect interior roominess and cargo space is very generous – and can be made even more so with the availability of the XL body (for fleet customers) and Expedition MAX stretched platform.18Expedition_06_HR

Night at the Museum

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Ford research engineer Mica DeBolt (r), and executive chef David Omar of Zinc restaurant pose for a photo in the back of a C-Max Energi vehicle; surrounded by many of the ingredients of the Sustainability Feast held in October.

Ford Motor Co often gets overlooked when people are naming carmakers who put a focus on recycling and environmental concerns; but the company has been a leader in the field since long before it became a topic of everyday conversation.ff3

I’ve visited the Rouge Plant in Michigan, and surprised at the level of recovery and ‘green’ technology they have made a central part of the operation; I’ve attended presentations about their extensive use of recycled materials for insulation and filler and seat upholstery (back in 2008 the company put out the first Mustang that incorporated soybean oil-based foam in the seat padding, you may recall).

Research continues constantly, and Ford occasionally takes its PR out into communities to spread the word – which is what they did this October in a clever event here in Edmonton (and several other cities across the country) billed as the Sustainability Feast.ff1

Hosted by up-and-coming research engineer Mica DeBolt, and catered by local food impresario David Omar (the executive chef at the Zinc restaurant downtown), the event showcased not only the latest ideas from the Blue Oval, from the use of organic materials throughout the company’s lineup to forward-looking partnerships in the future.

I didn’t know, for example, that Ford is exploring partnerships with Jose Cuervo (for re-use of material from the agave plants that tequila is made from) and Heinz in Ontario (for tomato plant material recovery, obviously).

Hosted at the new Art Gallery of Alberta (while it has actually been around for a few years now, I still think of it as the “new” gallery, because I am way behind in my cultural experience), the event presented the attendees with food as well as information.ff2

All of the dishes featured ingredients that can also be found in Ford’s vehicles – soy, rice, wheat, edamame, corn, and various derivatives thereof.

 

 

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2016 Ford C-Max SE

2016CMax-11Still one of my favorite North American gas/electric autos – and the first from Ford to take to the roads when it was launched back in the early 2000s to challenge Toyota’s supremacy in the segment – the C-Max hasn’t changed much for the 2016 model year.

My test vehicle the past week has been an entry level C-Max Hybrid (not to be confused with the C-Max Energi, which is also a hybrid but is a ‘plug-in’, in that the battery pack can be recharged from an external source) and frankly I don’t know why I don’t see more of these on the streets; in proportion to the number of Prius variants.

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The C-Max meets, and in some parameters defeats, its Japanese rival when compared to the ‘regular’ Prius (notably front and rear headroom, horsepower and overall cargo volume) and provides a comfortable daily-drive car that suits a variety of purposes; and comes at a competitive price.

The SE trim is the entry model for the marque, and brings the trappings you’d expect of a ‘base’ trim: cloth seats, a lot of plastic and not a lot of high-tech creature-comfort toys and tech.

There is no blind-spot monitor on my SE, for example, or a backup camera, a couple of features that I like but I can’t get too worked up about it at this price; the way I would if, say, it were a Lexus IS that didn’t include them.

There’s no digital speedometer, either, but the C-Max cluster puts the analog display right in the center, where it is easy to acquire with a quick glance; and to either side are variable digital information displays; from compass and fuel economy graphics to odo/tripmeters, temperature gauge and Ford’s ‘leaf’ animation that rewards you for efficient driving practices.2016CMax-7

Visibility is good in all directions from within the cockpit, as is headroom, and the seats, though cloth-upholstered and extremely limited in adjustment, are comfortable enough for longer drives. You know what I find, also, is that the driver’s seat position actually feels a lot better than I find in Prius. The steering wheel doesn’t impede my entry/exit from the vehicle when I have it tilted to the point I like.

2016CMax-3The seats are heated, the C-max comes with cruise control and Ford’s hands-free rear hatch opening feature; and of course delivers sweet fuel economy and lower emissions that a conventional car. The company’s numbers state mileage of 5.6L/100 km in city driving, and I seem to be doing better than that thus far with 4.8

‘Hybrid’ powertrains are still my favorite way to travel, as far as environmentally friendlier, lower-emission cars go, rather than fully electric vehicles; simply because I like the security of having the gasoline engine available, should the battery run down.

C-Max boasts a potential output from the combination – a 2.0L gasoline engine and lithium-ion battery pack – of 188 horsepower and 129 lb.-ft (same as you’ll find in Ford’s larger Fusion Hybrid).2016CMax-15

All around, there isn’t much to dislike about the SE trim, or its price ($27,674 for this one, with $1600 worth of options), but I will point out that Consumer Reports hasn’t been fond of the car’s overall reliability, calling it “below average”.2016CMax-13

©2016 Wade Ozeroff

And then, there was this one time, I locked myself out of my stupid hotel room

This is one of my favorite stories. Even though its pretty old by now, I still get reminded about it by various friends and associates; so I am posting it here.

Sorry about the jpg, but that’s the only copy of it I have after the Great Hard Drive Crash of ’08, and there’s no way I am re-typing all of that.