Friday, May 20, 2011

Ford Truck Buyers Warming Up to Smaller, More Efficient Engines

STONEHAM, Mass. -- Truck buyers have a reputation for avoiding anything less than a traditional V8 engine, but Ford is challenging that old notion, as sales of fuel- efficient V6 F-150s at Ford dealers continue to grow. In April, Ford’s V6 engines accounted for 50 percent of all F-150 sales, up 10 percent from March, as buyers put a continued priority on fuel economy.

Contributing 75 percent of Ford F-150 V6 sales in April, Ford’s recently introduced twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engine has given the big is more crowd a reason to think small. The EcoBoost captured roughly 35 percent of total April F-150 sales, thanks to its ability to get 22 mpg on the highway, kick out 365 horsepower and tow 11,300 pounds. Ford’s new naturally aspirated 3.7-liter V6 brought in the remaining 25 percent of V6 F-150 sales last month.

“Past V6 models in the F-Series struggled to find buyers, because truck owners demand power from their engines,” said Alan Melkonian, owner and general manager of Massachusetts Ford dealership Stoneham Ford. “Fuel economy isn’t on the map for these buyers unless the truck has the capabilities they need. The new V6 engines deliver where it counts, and with gas prices squeezing margins for small-business owners, Ford’s V6 options are very attractive.”

A comparison with Ford’s entry-level V6 engine from last decade shows how far the automaker has come. In 2005, the 4.2-liter V6 on the F-150 produced a scant 202 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque, getting 19 mpg on the highway. The new base 3.7-liter V6 beats the older engine by 100 horsepower and 18 pound-feet of torque, while offering an improved 23 mpg on the highway.

Innovative thinking has propelled the V6 engine back into the limelight, but Ford engineers have expanded their economy-minded thinking to create two new V8 options for Ford F-150 buyers who need more power. A new five-liter V8 engine has a best-in-class 360 horsepower and 380 pound-feet of torque, even while returning 21 mpg on the highway in 4x2 operation. Owners of the new 6.2-liter V8 in the F-150 will be treated to a best-in-class 411 horsepower and 434 pound-feet of torque, and net 18 mpg on the highway.

Ford put serious energy into the new Ford Super Duty trucks as well, designing a new 6.7-liter Power Stroke V8 Turbo Diesel for its Super Duty F-Series models that provides best-in-class power and torque and more miles per gallon than the outgoing model. The new Power Stroke twists out 800 pound-feet of torque and 400 horsepower to tackle the toughest jobs. Ford’s other Super Duty option is a new 6.2-liter V8 gasoline engine that produces 385 horsepower and 405 pound-feet of torque. According to Ford, owners can expect an 18 percent fuel economy improvement in pickup models and as much as 25 percent in chassis cabs compared with the old models.

“Ford has made sure that these Super Duty engines do everything that buyers expect,” Melkonian said. “These trucks work just as hard as the Super Duty models we had last year, they just need less fuel to get the job done, which is a real bonus right now.”

Friday, May 13, 2011

Ford Has the Edge on Safety

STONEHAM, Mass. -- When it comes to crash protection, Ford has an Edge in its lineup. The 2011 Ford Edge midsize crossover earned a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), thanks to a new roof design that met the challenge of stricter IIHS testing.

The Top Safety Pick designation applies to Edge models built after February 2011. The Edge is the sixth Ford to be named a Top Safety Pick by the IIHS. The 2011 Explorer, Taurus, Fusion and Flex all previously received IIHS safety honors, as did 2011 Fiesta models built after July 2010.

The 2010 Edge missed out on a Top Safety Pick last year after receiving an “Acceptable” score in IIHS roof-strength tests. The old design could support 3.5 times its overall vehicle weight, which was shy of the highest possible “good” rating that requires the roof to withstand four times the vehicle’s weight. After coming up short in the test, Ford immediately improved the design and created a roof that withstands 4.7 times the vehicle’s weight, surpassing IIHS standards.

“Safety is a top priority for Ford, and the new Top Safety Pick for the Edge shows how hard the company works to meet the highest safety standards,” said Alan Melkonian, owner and general manager of Massachusetts Ford dealer Stoneham Ford. “Some automakers would have said ‘Good enough’ and put off a redesign, but Ford put in the hours to make the Edge better in 2011. I think a lot of car buyers can appreciate that level of dedication to safety.”

With 18 percent of U.S. medium crossover sales in the first quarter of 2011, the Ford Edge was the sales leader in its segment during this period. New customers have been drawn to Ford dealers by the Edge’s roster of safety options, including adaptive cruise control, a collision-warning system that precharges the brakes for quicker stops in emergencies, blind-spot sensors and tire-pressure monitors. The Ford crossover also features the innovative MyKey system, which lets parents enable specialized settings for teen drivers that reduce distractions and limit speed.

Ford engineers did remember to pack some fun in with all the safety features. Edge SE, SEL and Limited models are powered by a 3.5 liter V6 engine that produces 285 horsepower and 253 pound-feet of torque. Plus, the fuel-friendly Edge SE returns impressive fuel economy of 19 mpg city and 26 mpg highway, while the SEL and Limited trim models lead their segment at 19 mpg city and 27 mpg highway. For power junkies, the 2011 Edge Sport delivers 305 horsepower from a 3.7 liter V6 that twists out 280 pound-feet of torque even as it still gets 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.

“The Ford Edge is a model that offers the latest in design, fuel-efficiency, performance and technology,” Melkonian added. “Its sleek styling appeals to young buyers, but it’s also a superior family car that is prepared for the worst weather New England can deliver. As Ford continues to push innovation in the Edge, I fully expect it to maintain its place as a leading U.S. crossover.