March 17, 2015

2015 Ford Expedition King Ranch

I recently spent a week in the 2015 Ford Expedition King Ranch. It was a great week. My daily driver 2003 GMC Yukon XL Denali has never felt so old...

Watch the video for more information!

March 12, 2015

2015 Ford Edge - First Drive

Are you a well-educated married couple or at least a person in a committed relationship with two or fewer kids? No?

Sorry to bother you… If you said yes, then the 2015 Ford Edge is a vehicle that has been designed for you.

(Disclaimer: Ford wanted me to drive the Edge, so they flew me to Phoenix and put me up for the night in a hotel I will never be cool enough to stay in on my own.)

I was introduced to the new Ford Edge this last summer in Dearborn. I went there with a desire to drive a Fiesta ST, but Ford knew this and had me attend the new Edge seminars. I would sit through 1,000 new vehicle presentations if at the end there is track time with a Fiesta ST.

The new Edge looks great. That opinion does come from a guy whose fashion choices are viewed by most as just passable, so we’ll let you be the final judge on its looks. But it really does look good. The new lines are sharper and yet softer. It’s like hot chocolate and ice cream at the same time, but better.

The overall length of the vehicle is about 4 inches longer and the wheelbase is only slightly larger. Most of that new length can be found in the rear seat legroom and the cargo compartment. There are now over 40 inches of rear legroom. That is equivalent to many large sedans.

The base engine for the Edge is the 2.0L 4-Cylinder Ecoboost engine. The block is new, it has a twin scroll turbo, and other new bits and parts. This power plant makes 245 horsepower and is very adequate to roll down the Arizona highway allegedly at 80mph. It’s a great power number when you consider the Jeep Cherokee four cylinder option’s max power number is 184hp. The 2.0 Ecoboost is available with all wheel drive and is rated for up to 3,500 lbs. of towing. That’s a four cylinder engine that Ford says will do 20 mpg city/30 highway/ 24 combined* and will tow 3,500lbs.

The 2.7L V6 Ecoboost is available as an option and comes standard on the Sport. Making 315 horsepower, the power feels adequate. It isn’t throw you back in your seat aggressive, but it does not feel underpowered. The 18 city/27 highway/21 combined* isn’t shout it from the roof tops great, but they’re not bad either.

The Sport is adequate. The ride is a little rougher because of suspension upgrades and 21-inch wheels with low profile tires. The ride isn’t bad though, just rougher than the other SE, SEL, & Titanium trim levels.

There is also a natural aspirated 3.5L V6 that makes 285 hp and 250 ft lbs of torque…

The interior of the Edge is comfortable. The extra room in the back makes it less awkward when you demand to drive on adult date night. The other couple won’t be crammed into the backseat.

The panoramic sunroof was letting in ample amounts of sunlight and really opens up the inside. The plastics and most surfaces have been upgraded for a softer touch & feel. At this point, a pedantic auto writer/know-it-all had to point out that the door they had there wasn’t the base trim level. Because well-educated couples with two or fewer children are shopping for base models… I asked. They’re not. Only 10% of Edge sales are the base trim level. The plastics and surfaces did feel much better.

Between the Sport and Titanium that I drove in the desert, both are priced in the $40,000 range. The Titanium started around $37,000 and was optioned up to $43,000 and the Sport started at $40,000 and was optioned to $46,000. That’s more expensive than a lot of other vehicles in the category, but you get more safety and technology with the Edge.

It’s a lot of money, but from what I can tell, it’s totally worth it. I’m really looking forward to spending a week with a new Edge. Hint, hint, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. J

*All mpg numbers are listed for Front Wheel Drive only.

May 2, 2014

Behind the Scenes: 2015 Ford Transit Van Production Line

Here's the video footage from behind the scenes at the Kansas City Assembly Plant. I was invited to witness the first 2015 Ford Transit Van rolling off the production line on April 30th, 2014. Enjoy the robots and laser booth!

2015 Ford Transit Production Begins

The first American-made Ford Transit rolled off the line at the Kansas City Assembly Plant today in Claycomo, MO.

Ford has been moving towards a One Ford global design trend in recent years and the Transit Van is the next step. Ford has built the Transit in the UK for the last 49 years and will be replacing the E-Series van line in the US with it this summer.

Ford Motor Company has invested $1.1Billion into the KC Assembly Plant. The Billion, as we like to call it, has brought upgrades and retooling to the plant, plus a brand new 437,000 square foot stamping plant and a 78,000 square foot paint shop to help with production. The paint shop is using new three-wet paint and two-wet monocoat processes, which are more environmentally friendly and require less time without a fall off in quality.

The Transit production line itself represents a clean sweep from the old Escape line. Escape production was moved to Kentucky earlier in the year and allowed the KC plant to completely redesign and retool for the Transit line. The new line consists of 523 robots, one laser booth, and a streamlined, efficient process.

There will be one shift producing 390 Transits a day to start. The entire line is computer controlled and guided. The computers tell the robots and the people exactly which parts go with which new van, allowing Ford to build multiple models, frames, power trains, and bodies all on the same line.

Models include the Transit 150, 250, 350, and 350 HD. There will be two wheelbases, three body lengths, and three roof heights. All will be rear wheel drive models with the 3.7L V6 being the standard engine. This engine is also flex fuel capable and able to be prepped for CNG as well. There will also an optional 3.5L Twin Turbo V6 EcoBoost engine & a 3.2L I5 Power Stroke Diesel. All engines will be paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Pricing begin at $29,565.

Full Production began April 30th, 2014. Missouri Governor, Jay Nixon and Ford President of the Americas, Joe Hinrichs drove the first Transit off the line. Hinrichs was quoted, after expounding on the upgrades and new facilities, saying, “This is what a billion dollars will buy you!”

Ford Transit vans will go on sale Summer 2014.
Missouri Governor, Jay Nixon & Ford President of the Americas, Joe Hinrichs (right)

October 17, 2013

2014 Ford Mustang GT Convertible Premium

The 2015 Ford Mustang is right around the corner.  Its debut is expected at the 2014 North American International Auto Show.  There are a lot of rumors swirling about it: 4 cylinder turbo engines, smaller, more European, diesel, etc. That last one isn’t a valid rumor, but you do know how rumors get started, right?   I try to avoid rumors and until January I’m only really concerned with the 2014 Ford Mustang.

Paint: Deep Impact Blue
Base Price: $39, 750
As Driven: $43,585
Engine: 5.0L V8, 420 horsepower
Transmission: 6 Speed Manual
Wheelbase: 107.1 inches
Curb Weight: 3,735 lbs.
MPG Rating: 15 city/ 26 highway

This car has $3,000 dollars of options on it.  The Comfort Group for $650 gets you heated seats and heated side mirrors with the Pony Lamp.  The other one is a rear sensing system, active anti-theft, and wheel locks.  Other than the Pony Lamps I only knew they were on the car because of the sticker.  Now there is one option I loved!  It’s the Brembo Brake package.  This package is pricy at $1700, but worth every penny in my opinion.  It also gets you 19 inch wheels and tires. 

The best feature of any new 5.0L V8 Mustang is the power plant.  The growl from the exhaust combined with the 420 thoroughbreds under the hood and the 390 ft-lbs of twist help to make the 2014 Mustang a very athletic vehicle. 

It’s too heavy to be compared with a running back or wide receiver, but think great pass catching tight ends: explosive off the line, subtle in their routes, and great hands to complete the play.  The Mustang drives like Tony Gonzalez plays; doesn’t matter how many defenders are there, throw it up, he’s got a very good chance to come down with it.  On the street it doesn’t matter who’s around.  The 2014 Mustang GT Convertible Premium is a very athletic sports car.

I test every vehicle as a family vehicle because I have a family and a day job that requires me to use the press vehicles as my daily driver to run my boys to school.  The 2014 Mustang is not marketed or even recommended to be a family vehicle.  Mainly because it isn’t one…  I became drenched standing in the rain waiting for just one son to enter the vehicle and get buckled.  If you’ve got kids, your rides have to have four doors. 

My driving position was useable throughout the week, but not very comfortable at all.  My kids are big for their ages and I was limited on how far I could put the driver’s seat back…  I have a new Fiat 500 Abarth coming in November, so we’ll see how much they grow between now and then.  I don’t blame the Mustang for the seat position limitations.  They’re my kids and my responsibility.  I do think testing the Mustang as a family vehicle is unfair because it isn’t one, but the boys did have a wonderful time when I dropped the hammer.  The torque would throw them back in their car seats and force hoots of glee out of them.  I can’t argue with that!

Overall, I had a blast with this car.  420 horsepower is a lot of fun.  I wish the price was a little lower and to be honest when the 2015’s get here; there should be some great deals on 2014’s!  Definitely scoop one up!  It’s so much fun.  It’s laugh out loud fun!  Not LOL, but actual laugh out loud!

October 10, 2013

Archer Top Gun Video

I don't talk about TV on here ever.  This is a car blog.  We should talk about car things.


This.  Is.  Awesome.

Archer isn't for everyone, but I love it.  The show is inappropriate, hilarious, and I'm still not sure if it's the 60's, 70's, 80's, 90's, or even the 00's... 

Enjoy this homage to Top Gun. 

It makes me happy to know that someone is in the world making stuff like this.


October 5, 2013

2014 Fiat 500L Lounge

The Italians started out to make a larger 500.  The 500L is the result. 

It looks like a cross between a Citreon DS3 and a MV-1 Van!

They’ve added two more doors, more wheelbase, shaved 50 lbs., and found more cargo space.  They’ve even given it the peppy 1.4L Multiair Turbo engine from the Fiat 500 Abarth.  But it is a car with an identity crisis. 

It can’t decide if it’s a small fuel efficient economy car or if it’s an Italian sports car. 

Small fuel efficient economy cars do not retail at $24,000, which is where my Lounge trim level tester is priced.  If they do, then they’re achieving 35, 40, 50, even 60 mpgs.  The 500L tops out at 33mpg…
But the 500L isn’t a small Italian sports car that sacrifices fuel economy for the rip-roaring fun of high horsepower and loads of twist (torque).  It only makes 160 horsepower, which is an adequate amount of power.  The Ford Focus ST is priced one to two thousand dollars higher, but comes with 252 horsepower or 92 more horses than the 500L. 

The engine for the 500L is the 1.4L Multiair four cylinder turbo-charged engine.  It’s a pretty good little engine.  Most of the torque arrives at 2500rpm with the power showing up at 5500rpm.  I love this engine in the Fiat 500 Abarth.  The 500L isn’t the 500 Abarth, even though the 500L weighs less than the Abarth.

The interior space in the 500L is impressive.  The regular 500’s backseat is a joke.  It will hold two child safety seats, but it is incredibly uncomfortable, even for the driver.  The 500L holds both child seats and has enough room for the driver to fit comfortably.  The driver’s position feels like they’ve used Time Lord technology (“It’s bigger on the inside!”).  The rear seat can also be moved forward to create more cargo capacity.

With its upright posture, the 500L has a sky’s worth of headroom.  The extra space up top does not ruin the handling dynamics.  It does not feel top heavy and handles well around town.

The 500L is a fun little car.  It definitely falls into the “driving slow cars fast” category, which is always more fun than “driving fast cars slow!”  The 1.4L engine was the most fun when the revs were high and I was a gear too low.

I would not shop a Lounge trim level of this car.  It’s just too much money for what you get.  The Pop trim level starts at $19,100. The customer gets the same 1.4L engine and a manual transmission.   I’m much more comfortable with that price range for the 500L.

Overall, I like the 500L.  It’s a good little car around town that has enough room for a family.  It isn’t your solution to that cross-country family road trip, but serves very well as a commuter vehicle.  Definitely shop the Pop trim level and enjoy the Italian styling!

Base Price: $24,195
As Driven: $27,445
Engine: 1.4L Turbocharged 4-cylinder, 160 horsepower
Transmission: 6-speed Shiftable Automatic
Wheelbase: 102.8 inches
Curb Weight: 3,254 lbs.
MPG Rating: 24 city/ 33 highway (premium recommended)

Watch the video review!

September 1, 2013

Craigslist Car Finds- '04 Mazda Mazda6 S Wagon

I started making a new show.  It's called Craigslist Car Finds. It's pretty self-explanatory.  I find cars on Craigslist and then make a short video talking about it.

Here's the first one.  Hopefully you enjoy it.  If not, please share how awful it is...  Thank you for watching.

Again, thank you for watching.

August 11, 2013

Chris Harris totally gets me...

I was never a teenage girl, so I never got to experience having a school girl crush...

But now that I'm in my mid-30's, I think I'm starting to understand.

I discovered Chris Harris a couple of years ago while I was looking to fill the void in between Top Gear series.

This is a picture. Please don't try to "play" it!

I like his stuff a lot.  The quick attack missions where they only get 20 minutes with a car to the long term loaners that are with him for up to a year; he uses all of it to make good films.

He recently made a video that spoke right to the petrol head bone in my body.  He did a comparison test of Bat Crap Crazy estate cars; The Audi RS6 Avant and the Mercedes CLS63 AMG Shooting Brake!

I would buy the Merc just so I could say, "Let's take the Shooting Brake today..."  I probably have a better shot at getting a better deal on the Audi, but I'm not ever going to be able to afford either, so this is moot...

Watch the video.  You'll be able to see why I have a "man crush" on Chris.  Good name aside, he's good at what he does.

Subscribe to the /Drive network.  They make other great car videos and someday mine will get better too.  Everyone at /Drive has been working of car videos for close to a decade.  There's a reason they're good.  Enjoy!

Nobody can make good films without a really good editor. Chris has Neil Carey to make it all come together.  Without Neil, there is no Chris.

I need a Neil...

Edmunds Gets Their Audience

Edmunds posted on Facebook a poll asking their readers "Which car do you wish was sold in the States?" 

I clicked the link.  I'm a sucker.

Everything on the list is a hatchback, wagon, a couple of light duty pickup trucks, and a Land Rover Defender. 

It seems a little trite, but Edmunds understands that their readers are petrol head nerds.  And petrol head nerds love hatchbacks, station wagons, niche SUVs and light duty trucks.

I'm a little surprised that no one at Edmunds was able to slip a Brown diesel estate car onto the list...

The petrol heads so far have the Sirocco R in the lead, but I voted for the RS4 Avant.  Again, a little trite on my part, but I love an all-wheel drive, 450 horsepower station wagon!  Enough room for kids, dogs, luggage and a massive V8 that's good in the wet, dry, and even the snow!

Reminders me of a 470 horsepower SUV that I posted recently...

Click the link and go vote yourself!