Wednesday, December 16, 2015

2016 Ford Fusion SE

Living with a Fusion SE for a few days turned out to be the most pleasant surprise in while for me.  Not that I didn't already know this generation Fusion was a solid competitor in the Mid-size market, I just never lived with it for several days where niggles and problems arise.  Spoiler alert...for me there were none.

Redesigned a few years back and a global platform for Ford this generation was more style forward than the departing model with an entirely new face of Ford introduced with the car. The trapezoidal grill stands out and snarls I'm different in a good way in a crowded playing field.

This car was equipped with the 1.5l Ecobooost and was a pleasant surprise.  When I first read that the 1.5l was being used instead of the every so slightly more powerful 1.6l I questioned the logic.  No worries, its thoroughly competent and runs on par with its competition in normal driving.  Even slight grades and uphill on ramps aren't an issue for this tiny 4pot turbo as boost comes on fast and early and it has a broad torque curve to motivate you into traffic.  I liked it.

Build quality on this version with 11K miles was still as shiny as the brand new models I get to drive and test.  Not a quibble, shake or rattle even when driving around Chicago's horribly potholed streets and freeways.  Even the worst holes were absorbed with a solid thump and no jittery, bottoming out or bouncing afterwards.  Controlled suspension was greatly appreciated on those freeways.

This was a moderately equipped SE with the leather trim package.  The seats were marvelously comfy though I would have liked just a bit more side bolster.  The driver's seat was 8 way power with power lumbar adjustment.  Made it really easy to dial in a comfortable driving position.  The passenger side only got a 4 way power adjustable.  Both seats were heated which is a nice touch in a cold climate.

Trunk space was adequate.  Easily swallowed in our 2 large-ish bags, carry-ons and camera gear.  Interior space up front was really nice.  The sunroof did eat up a bit of head room, but not objectionably so.  The rear seat leg room was appreciated by my 6' 2 1/2 inch son who traveled with us.  Even head room was good for him with that fastback style sloping rear roof line and window.

The real surprise for me with this car was its mileage and that is courtesy the 1.5L Ecoboost.  This was the first time EVER that I really beat the the mpg performance significantly with an Ecoboost engine.  Our 330 mile of heavy urban traffic, city bump and go, free flowing freeway between our hotel, Chicago and The Navy Base yielded an impressive 30.2 MPG.  Not even three quarters of a tank of gas in 5 days of constant on the move. That compares very favorably with the EPA estimates of 24/28/36.

This car was equipped with the easy to use simple version of MyFord with Sync.  It didn't have navigation but you could send directions to it via the Ford Sync App that I have on my Iphone and get turn by turn to your destination.  Not as easy as a map display but adequate and it works.  The other functions were smooth and user friendly stupid easy to access and do with voice commands.

My wife took a turn driving the car and she had one complaint.  Let me preface it with her 2010 Milan has the 240bhp V6 and sport suspension and felt that the Fusion lacked power and finesse compared to what she was used to.  Fair enough, since she's used to more torque and  horsepower than the 181bhp that the 1.5L ecoboost puts out. For me its a fair trade off if mileage is more important than get up and go.  If you want more power there is an options 240bhp 2.0L Ecoboost optional in the Titanium that would solve that problem.

My 5 days with the Fusion SE really confirmed what a great car this really is.  With 255K already sold this year through October it tells me a lot of consumers agree with me.

All the information on optional and standard features as well as being able to build your own can be found on the Ford.Com web site.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Guest ride Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell

What a few years of research and development made with the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell vehicle, Hyundai's answer to Californias clean air mandate for zero emission vehicles.  This little SUV fits the bill as its only emission is water vapor out the tail pipe.  WATER.

Last time I sat in and drove this it was on concept stage.  It was road ready and driveable and the sheer ability at the time amazed me.  Imagine, nothing more than air and stored hydrogen passing through a fuel cell making electricity to power you down the road.  The down side to that concept is that every cycle of a compressor, fan or relay you heard.  Not unpleasant, just unusual. 

Flash forward to the production version.  Gone area all the rumbles, whirs and whines.  DEAD SILENT like a plug in electric car.  According to the rep driving* she has a traditional gasser version of the car and this drives the same.  Same get up and go, same able handling, nothing to tip you off that you are driving a green car.  In our short ride around the Los Angeles Convention center there was nothing to tip you off that this was a green car other than the sheer quiet inside the cabin.

Hydrogen infrastructure is still in its infancy and therefore your ability to travel great distances is limited.  Range anxiety however in daily use isn't a problem as the car fills fast (3-5 minutes) and has a range up to 265 miles per tank.

You can learn about Hyundai's fuel cell on their WEB PAGE.  The upshot is its available in limited areas in California right now. Its lease only at $499/mo.

Pics by me and more from the L.A Auto Show in my flickr album.

*Hyundai now requires you to be an approved member of their fleet reviewers hence the ride along and not me driving.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Ford Reveals the New 2017 Escape with Guillermo

Ford had an unusual reveal for the Ford Escape at this years Los Angeles Auto Show.  Instead of some drama and pulling off the curtain it was a YouTube video from the night priors reveal on national TV.  Different and not what anyone was expecting for a press conference reveal that is full of razzle dazzle and screeching tires drifting as in years past.

What we do know is the 2017 Escape going on sale this coming spring is significantly different than the model currently on sale.  The roof appears to be the only body panel left untouched.  The entire front clip is new, higher in the front with a larger more upright version of the trapezoidal face that is Ford these days.  Rear end is changed and more in line with the rest of Fords SUV's.  It looks like a mini-Explorer and thats a good thing.  Hondas CRV needs to be very worried.

Tons more technology added to the mini-SUV than the current iteration of Escape.  Adaptive Cruise control, lane keeping assist, and forward crash alert to name a few are added.  Also this generation has rolled in Sync3 and the MyFord app for apple and android that allows you to remotely control the car and do stuff with it while not in the car.  Nice.

Powertrains are changed up some too.  The 1.6L ecoboost is replaced with the 1.5l ecoboost with stop/start technology that will add a few extra MPG in city driving in temperate climates.  The 2.5l Ford remains standard in the Escape S and the 2.0L ecoboost remains for the SEL and Titanium editions of the Escape.

Video courtesy Ford and on YouTube.  Pics by me.  More pics from the Los Angeles Auto Show in a Flickr Album

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Buick LaCrosse Concept Reveal Los Angeles Auto Show

This was an interesting reveal.  Lots of bragging on the success of the car and the brand. More so its success in China and casual mention that this car is the best selling Buick in North America.

I disagree there's elements of the Avenir.  The Avenir had smaller dimensions, sharper angles and better proportions with a more formal roof line.  The LaCrosse as nice as it is to look at is curvaceous with more of a fastback roof line and a much more pronounced grill.  The cabin simply rises and falls from the hood to deck lid.  The Avenir has a more pronounced and formal cabin rising above the body.  I liked it better, not to say the LaCrosse is ugly, its not its actually the nicest looking Buick in a while.

Buick isn't messing with success on this one.  Powertrains carry over and more time was spent enlarging the cabin and giving the passengers more room.  This car falls into the large car category and it looks and feels it as you walk around and check it from all angles.

This new LaCrosse will show up in showrooms summer of 2016 as a 2017 model.