June 29, 2013

2014 Ford Fiesta & Fusion Energi- Quick Drives

Quick Drive means I had less than a full day with the vehicle.

2014 Ford Fiesta

I attended the Ford 2014 Model Year event this week.  I felt very out of place with colleagues (can you call them colleagues if you don’t get paid?) from the big car publications and also felt quite at home with my cronies from Internet obscurity. 

We all dabbled in the Escape, Explorer, and the F-150’s, but I was there for the Fiesta.  I’ve stated it a number of times here that I have a soft spot for small hatchbacks.  The Fiesta fits right in. 

I was excited to head to Dearborn to possibly drive the 1.0L 3-cylinder EcoBoost or the Fiesta ST.  Both models should be available in the US coming later in 2013.  Sadly, neither was available for us to drive…  I cried a little.  Well, actually, it was a lot…  But I was able to pull myself together and enjoy some autocross and a nice cruise in the 2014 Fiesta.

The 2014 Fiesta is powered by the 1.6L 4-cylinder engine that makes 120 horsepower and 112 ft-lbs. of torque at 5,000 rpms.  This is the reason that I began to find things I liked about the Fiesta as I kept the revs up high. 

The Fiesta comes standard with a 5 speed manual transmission, which I liked a lot.  The clutch was light and the gear shifter felt solid.  You can start from a standstill in second gear, but I do not recommend doing this unless you want the elderly to pass you on their mobility scooters.

There is also an optional PowerShift 6 speed automatic transmission.  I only drove the Powershift on the autocross, which meant that it shifted to second and that was about it.  It might have gone back down to first a couple of times, but I didn’t really notice.  I was having too much fun driving a slow car fast! 

The ride in the Fiesta is pretty good for an economy hatchback.  I was able to take the Fiesta out onto the mean streets of Dearborn for a roundtrip of 17 miles.  I kept examining the road surface to make sure that I WAS hitting the bumps and not just driving on the most pristine road ever.  There were plenty of potholes, gaps, crevices, and quagmires (what?!?!).  Ok, not really quagmires, but the road was still recovering from the previous winter.  The Fiesta handled all the different surfaces fairly well.  The ride is something that always stands out for me in an economy hatch and the Fiesta passes.

The backseat of the Fiesta is not huge.  The rear legroom is listed at 31.2 inches, more than enough room for two full size child safety seats.   You also can get two rear doors in the Fiesta.  I like the look of the four-door hatch to that of the sedan or two-door coupe.

The Fiesta handles very well.  I thrashed the little red SE 5 speed manual around the autocross course a number of times.  There was wheel spin, tires screaming, body rotation, and some damp underpants.  The last one isn’t true… 

On turn in, the Fiesta snaps to the corner.  I was pleasantly surprised by how readily the back end rotates through the corner.  I’m used to big power, rear wheel drive cars having the back end step out to rotate through the corner.  The Fiesta rotates as well, even though it’s a small front wheel drive hatchback.  This is a very good characteristic to have, especially when we start talking about the Fiesta ST.

The ST was there, but we weren’t allowed to drive it.  It was the four door hatch, which is the style we will get in the States.  Europe gets the two-door.  I personally like the four-door better, but there are a lot that like the two-door better.  I’ve got kids and I see four doors as essential to me keeping my sanity, so I’m assuming my subconscious has told me that I think the four-door is the more attractive car.  

The ST has a robust powertrain for such a small car.  It gets the 1.6L EcoBoost which makes 197 horsepower and 202 ft-lbs. or torque.  If it’s anything as good as the Focus St (and it should be), then this is going to be a great car.  The kind of car that I’m definitely going to try and get some wheel time in. 

I’m still looking forward to the 1.0L Ecoboost. I’m still a little sad it wasn’t there to drive.  It’s such a good little engine.   It’s won the International Engine of the Year the last two years.  Plus Ford is going to put it in their European Mondeo’s.  That’s a three cylinder engine in a mid-sized sedan.  Sounds sketch but if there’s an engine that can do it; it’s the 1.0L EcoBoost.

Here's a short video of the Fiesta on the autocross course at Ford's Test Track:  Be sure to stick around for the Fusion Energi below the video!

Fusion Energi
Fusion Energi: Plug-in Hybrid     Credit: Ford media
I also spent some time with the Fusion Energi.  This was the most relaxing part of the day.  Ford had us compete on their low speed test track to see who could save the most energy while regenerative braking and also who used the least amount of energy total while driving and while braking.  They called them the “Kinetic Ninja” and the “Zen Master.”  The graph from all of our scores had to look kind of boring.  Everybody drove the same at the same low speed.  My vehicle had almost all 100% scores for our regenerative braking.  I let us down a couple of times.  We didn’t win…

The Fusion Energi is a plug-in hybrid.  On full EV (Electric Vehicle) mode you can go 22 miles.  The cost to recharge the battery at the nation’s lowest average rate is $0.80, but it takes 7 hours at 120 volts.

Credit: Ford media
Once you’re done with your 22 miles of EV range, then the Fusion has a 2.0L four cylinder engine that kicks in.  It makes decent power at 141 horsepower and 129 ft. lbs. of torque.  The total system (electric + gas engine) combines for 188 hp of sustained power.   

Ford has said that the Fusion has a 600 mile range on the engine.  That’s the whole 14 gallon fuel tank achieving a combined number of 43mpg.  The city number for the Energi is higher (44mpg) than the highway number (41mpg).  600 miles is a long way.  At that point the fuel is outlasting the bladders in the backseat.  That’s the nice thing about having kids; I can blame their little bladders and not the fact that I would have to pee before I was able to drive 600 miles.

Credit: Ford media
I liked the Energi and had a nice relaxing time in the car.  Ford has so many different options for fuel saving and they build almost all of them down the same assembly line.  Whether you’re looking for a plug-in hybrid, a hybrid, or an EcoBoost motor, they know they’ve got at least one option for you! 

Thank you to Ford for letting me thrash their Fiestas and I had a lovely time relaxing in the Fusion Energi.  Can’t wait to see the Fiesta ST and 1.0L EcoBoost engine here in the States!

June 28, 2013

Introducing the 2014 Ford F-150 TREMOR

No, I’m not talking about the iconic Kevin Bacon film, Tremors, from 1990.  I’m talking trucks.  Ford Trucks to be exact; the #1 selling brand of trucks in the US for 36 years straight.  That's longer than I've been alive for those of you keeping score at home.  

I was in Dearborn to drive the 2014 Ford Fiesta and the 2014 Fusion Energi, but we’re already off topic…  Trucks!  While I was in Dearborn, Ford presented us with the 2014 Ford F-150 Tremor.  This is a truck that takes me back…

The All-New 2014 Ford F-150 Tremor

While I was in college and in my early twenties I drove a 1997 GMC Sierra short bed pickup.  It wasn’t crazy powerful, but it was a lot of fun.  The only reason I traded it in was because I was entering a time in my life where I had acquired more money than I’d ever had before and buying a new vehicle made total sense.  Sidenote: It didn’t make any sense, but you have to make mistakes to learn from them…  So I traded the truck for an ’04 Jeep, which we met in my last Wrangler post.  I’m getting pretty sentimental today. I’m kind of choked up thinking about my Wrangler again…  YUCK!
This 2014 F-150 Tremor reminds me of what my truck could have become.  The Tremor is the natural evolution of a short bed pickup.  The Tremor is derived from the FX4 models.  Instead of a SuperCab or Super Crew Cab, the Tremor will be a regular cab with a short bed.  

Credit: Ford Media
It will be powered by my favorite EcoBoost engine; the 3.5L twin turbo V6.  This turbo-charged engine makes 365 horsepower and a monstrous 420 ft-lbs. of torque, while achieving 22 mpg on the highway.  My ’97 made 200 horsepower and 244 ft-lbs. of torque…  

The Tremor is also going to come with an electronic locking launch-optimized rear axle to aid in traction during takeoff.

I’ve driven the twin turbo V6 for a couple weeks in a Super Crew XLT F-150.  This engine makes even full size pickups feel light.  The torque is so readily available that the truck always feels like it’s ready to go.  
Credit: Ford media
My experience with short bed pickups is that the tail is just about always ready to step out and go to the front.  Quick story: I was headed to a trail head to climb some 14er’s in CO with my truck.  I missed my turn, but there was a gravel parking lot just past it.  I pulled over and slowed to an almost stop, cranked the steering wheel all the way over, & floored it.  The back end immediately jumped around and I was off again in the right direction.  It wasn’t the first time I’d done it and it won’t be the last.  Short bed trucks are great at swing the back around, donuts, and burnouts.  
How you know when companies understand their market. Credit: Ford media
This truck is going to have similar experiences.  The torque of the 3.5L EcoBoost is so beastly that it can work its way through the traction control.  I had it do that to me in the XLT, but that is almost two years ago.  I’m sure that Ford has done its homework and improved the traction control for the Tremor.  Adding the electronic locking launch optimized rear axle helps in this area of concern.

The target audience is teenage boys and guys still in their lower 20’s.  At least that’s who I see driving other sport trucks around KC.  The interior of the Tremor will suit them.  

The FX2 Tremor will only come as a two wheel drive truck.  That is a reason why this truck will be so fun.  

If you’re a parent, then you’re definitely buying the Tremor for your kid with Ford’s MyKey system.  That way you can adjust the maximum settings in the vehicle for your child.  I’m all for making mistakes and learning from them, but wrapping a vehicle around a telephone pole is not a lesson I need either of my sons to learn.  Ever.  
Credit: Ford media
I love the look of the Tremor and in the right conditions, which 85% of the time it is in KC, this truck will do great.  The power from the engine is ample, but not over the top.  The torque will make it feel quick, do great donuts/burnouts, and you have a shot at getting some decent fuel economy out of a full size pickup.

There’s a lot to like about the Tremor.  As a dad though, I’m out.  I need that back seat for the child safety seats.  

Thank you to Ford for allowing me to come up to Dearborn and thrash some cars around the test track.    

June 26, 2013

2014 Ford Mustang GT 5.0 Premium

I'm in the Eastern Time Zone right now...  I rarely get out of the Central Time Zone and if I do I'm usually headed West.  Ford asked if I wanted to come drive some cars.  I rarely answer that question with a "no."  I always want to drive.  Anything.  I'm not picky.

I'm up here in Dearborn to drive Fiestas, Fusion Energi's, Escape/Explorer Autocross, and an F-150 Hill Route.  I'm hoping the Fiesta is the 1.0L 3-cylinder EcoBoost engine or at least the ST.  We'll find out tomorrow, but for now here's some 2014 Mustang to hold you over.

2014 Ford Mustang GT Premium
Base Price: $34,750
As Driven: $45,650
Engine: 5.0L V8, 420 horsepower
Transmission: 6 Speed Manual
Wheelbase: 107.1 inches
Curb Weight: 3,618 lbs.
MPG Rating: 15 city/ 26 hwy

I was able to borrow a 2014 Ford Mustang GT Premium for a couple of days.  I almost fell in love with this car.  There was only one downside to this car.  My back.  After a couple of longish drives in the Mustang, my lower back was not happy.  It isn't the car's fault because my back is weird.  My daily '03 Yukon XL Denali, which my father still maintains has the most comfortable seats he's ever sat in, bugs my back on long drives.  That's why I don't blame the Mustang.  Everything bugs my back if I drive it long enough.

The rest of the Mustang is wonderful.  The 5.0L V8 makes 420 horsepower and it is a such a great car to blast around town.  420 horsepower isn't a lot of horsepower on the Internet, but when you're actually in the car, it's a lot.  Not too much, but a lot.  I'm a big fan of this powertrain.

I've talked too long.  Enjoy the video.  I love the exhaust noise, the burnouts, the rubber screaming, and just about everything about this car.  Enjoy.

Update: For some strange reason the hotel internet won't let me embed the video... I included the link, which works.  I tested it twice.  If it doesn't, I'll get it fixed tomorrow night, when I get back to my regular Internet...

Updated Update: FIXED!


Thank you again to Bob Sight Ford for allowing me to break-in their car.  It is such a good car.  I wish that I actually made more money after driving it...

P.S. If you couldn't tell from the video who loaned me the car, please stop watching my stuff.  :) Cheers.

June 17, 2013

2014 Audi A8 L TDI

I recently drove the Audi A8 L TDI.  It was an interesting drive.  The A8 L is one of the stalwarts of the long wheelbase luxury sedan and this was the diesel version.  For a car that is not that far away from six figures, it was quite a machine.

As it should be, right?

Base Price: $83,000
As Driven: $96,145
Engine: 3.0L V6 Turbo Diesel, 240hp
Transmission: 8 Speed Shiftable Automatic
Curb Weight: ~ 4,600 lbs.
Wheelbase: 122.9 inches
Rear seat legroom: 42.9 inches
MPG Rating: 24 city/ 36 highway

Here are my thoughts.  I really enjoyed this car.  Thank you to Molle Audi for lending me this ride.

Thank you for watching.

June 10, 2013

2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar

When I think "Volvo," I usually think sensible wagons, CUVs, and SUVs.  The C30 is none of those and the R-Design Polestar edition is even farther from sensible.  The Polestar is a hot hatchback and I love hot hatchbacks.  I don't have a real reason.  They're small.  I'm big.  They're quick.  I'm not.  You can see how the attraction takes shape.  I was recently allowed time with the 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar.  It was a lot of fun.

Base Price: $27,850
As Driven: $37,495
Engine: 2.5L Turbo-charged 5 Cylinder, 250hp
Transmission: 6 Speed Automated Manual
Wheelbase: 103.9 inches
Curb Weight: 3,211 lbs.
MPG Rating: 21 city/ 30 hwy

Enjoy the 2013 Volvo C30 R-Design Polestar.  It's not the crazy powerful S60 version, but it's quick, Rebel Blue, and lots of fun! Plus it's such a gorgeous blue.  Did I mention how much I like the blue color?

I really like this car.  Hear me run at the mouth about it...

Hope you enjoyed it.  Follow us on Intsagram & Twitter; @everymansauto.  Like us on Facebook too!

Thank you to Hendrick Volvo.  Please contact Debbie if you are interested in the C30 Polestar!

June 5, 2013

2014 Jaguar F-Type V8 S

We have a new way of presenting our auto reviews and this is the first of this experiment.  Video reviews!

They are more of confessionals, than reviews.  Just me, the camera, my truck, and my thoughts.  Quintessential Internet.

The first video is just exhaust noise, as it should be with a supercharged V8.  Enjoy!

The second video is the Video Car Diary.  We are going to try and produce more of these.  Hopefully, one a week throughout the summer.  We'll see how the schedule goes once school starts up again and I have to make money for a living.  Something about feeding my kids, I don't know, I wasn't really listening.


Remember it's the first one.  They will get better!

I love the Jaguar F-Type.  I don't have $104,000, but I really like this car and hope that those who do have that kind of money, do buy them.  The noise is wonderful and the power is ample!  Thank you for watching.  Please share with your friends.  You can share withe your enemies too, but that might be weird.

June 3, 2013

2013 Jeep Wrangler Sport Unlimited

"No Regrets" is a motto that so many graduating high school seniors are going to try and take into their collegiate years.  It’s BS, though.  We all have regrets.  I don’t always want to admit them, but I have some.
Regret can be a funny thing.  Do I regret not staying up late to watch my favorite sports team pull off an amazing come from behind victory?  No.  I have responsibilities.
Are there other things I might regret?  Maybe.  I never kissed my high school crush, but I’ve replaced her with the girl of my dreams.  I didn’t repel down a 15 ft. wall in Boys Scouts, and I’ve since climbed multiple mountains over 14k feet and really enjoy walking along the edges of tall things.   

Do I regret trading in my 2004 Jeep Wrangler? 

Articulation- where one wheel is extended and the other is compressed.

                The ’04 Wrangler was the first brand new car that I purchased by myself.  It was a magical, masculine, “do anything” convertible.  I owned it while in Florida.  I took it off-road, on road, on beach, to the club (yes, I really did!), on dates with college co-eds (I was young!), and just about anywhere I could that looked fun. 

I made it to the top without the winch.
The Wrangler & I drove from Florida to New Jersey, New Jersey to Kansas City (in one night), Kansas City to Charlottesville, NC then back to KC, and finished with a trip down to Austin, TX that wasn’t complete till I got back to my place in Florida; a grand total of 6,286 miles.  I did it all in a two door, four wheel drive, Jeep Wrangler in less than a month.  It was a perfect union. 

Except for the fuel consumption…

My ’04 struggled with the mpgs.  The 2013 Jeep Wrangler has changed part of that.  The mpg rating on the highway for the Wrangler now begins with a 2 (listed at 20 hwy). With my ’04 it used to begin with a 1 and not one that was close to being a 2 either…  My 19 gallon tank was being filled twice a week with my daily commute and the trips to see My Lady (She’s my wife now; totally worth it!). 

The mpgs were so bad that I traded my Wrangler in a for a Toyota Highlander…  Again, I was young.  We make mistakes, but I have learned from that mistake.

If my '04 had been a 2013 Wrangler Sport Unlimited, it would have been a very different story for my Jeep.  The 2013 is vastly better than the '04.

Base Price: $25,695
As Driven: $32,310
Engine: 3.6L Pentastar V6, 285 hp
Transmission: 6 Speed Automatic
Curb Weight: 4075 lbs.
Wheelbase: 116 in.
MPG Rating: 16 city/21 hwy

It is and forever will be a classic Jeep interior; functional, durable, and ready for anything.  The style and functionality of the interior is the same.  Offer some small comforts, but be ready to do it all in the worst conditions, but just keeping doing what is needed.  

The best part of my old Jeep interior was how ready it was to get dirty and how quickly you could get it clean.  The ’13 keeps all of the old philosophy and improves on it.  The seats were higher quality without raising the price of the interior.  The seats in the ’13 are 1000x more comfortable. 

Also noticed inside the Wrangler is how much better the longer wheelbase rides.  The suspension hasn’t changed much from the coil overs, but the added length helps to smooth out a lot of the rough ride.  It’s still a Jeep and is stiff, but much more capable as an on-road passenger vehicle.

The rear seat in the 4 door Wrangler is also very functional.  I had both child safety seats installed with ease.  The LATCH system was more readily accessed.  It was so simple, that I fit the boys’ seats in more securely than normal.  Usually there’s about half an inch to an inch of wiggle room with their seats; there was none in the Wrangler.  The seats were like stone statues, only cuter since they held my boys.

The power interior is noticeable.  The power door locks and windows are a nice feature.  20-something me would think they are posh and “over the top” for a Wrangler, but 30-something me enjoyed the crap out of them. 

It rained while I had the Wrangler Sport and I expected the hard top roof to sound like the symphony of corrugated tin getting assaulted by a tropical thunderstorm.  I expected it to be loud.  I was wrong.  The hard top is much better than the old ones.  I could hear the rain, but you can hear it in most vehicles.  Cars like a Rolls, Jags, and Bentleys are design to have interiors that are devoid of noise. The hard top did not make the interior silent, but it was much quieter than I was expecting from a Jeep; a pleasant surprise.

The 2013 Jeep Wrangler Sport Unlimited looks like a classic Jeep.  It’s a classic look since the redesign in 2007 that brought the four door Wranglers. 

This Sport came with the modular hard top roof.  It’s modular because it can come apart in three different sections.  You can remove the single piece above the driver, or the single piece above the front passenger, or both at the same time to create the best sunroof ever.  It worked very well for me with the boys in the backseat in the shade and me in the front sun bathing.

                There are two pieces up front and then a third large piece covers the rear seat and cargo area.  This third piece requires help to take it off.  The front pieces are some clasps and one screw, while the back is a little more complicated.  More screws and clasps, but it’s a big awkward piece to remove and put back on.  If you are planning on buying a Jeep and putting the top up and down often, then I vote soft top.  If you plan on keeping it on for a quieter cabin, then the hard top does a good job.

               The Wrangler has two tow hooks on the front bumper and one below the back bumper.  The hooks are very helpful for getting unstuck while off-road.  Plus the front ones look intimidating and will cause more damage to whoever you rear-end than the damage that will occur on your front end; metal > plastic.

               A major change I noticed from my ’04 TJ is that the fuel tank has moved.  It used to be located at the very rear of the vehicle under the back bumper.  This was the first skid plate I installed.  It covered the fuel tank on the bottom and all four vertical sides.  One of the smartest purchases I’ve ever made.  I dropped the whole vehicle on the fuel tank while at Camp Jeep in Charlottesville.  The skid plate took all the force, didn’t yield, and we keep rock crawlin’ our way out of the woods.  
                The ‘13’s fuel tank is now located down the passenger side under the front passenger and rear passenger seats.  It is a more difficult place to drop all of the vehicle weight, but it’s still possible.  If you plan on any type of off-roading more serious than driving through a grass field at 2 mph, then skid plates are a must.  The Wrangler does come with 3mm think steel skid plates on the fuel tank, transfer case, and the automatic transmission oil pan, but you can never be too safe.

                The technology that I’m the most happy about in the Wrangler is the modular roof system, improved engine power, and better mpg.  Those are all technological advances that benefit the modern day Jeep enthusiast. 

                There are no large satellite navigation screens or multimedia infotainment systems.  The Wrangler does have the optional UConnect® and it is a little harder than most systems to setup and use.  To sync your phone, you have to look up your phone on a particular webpage on Jeep.com.  Then speak the pin number for your particular phone model to the UConnect° system…  Needless to say, my phone didn’t get synced.

In my old Jeep I’ve hit the governor; twice, allegedly.  I was allegedly at 95mph and my ’04 TJ would cut out the acceleration.  That is as fast as you could go.  As long as you were already doing 75 as you began a nice steady downhill.  The front is so un-aerodynamic, that it’s easier to drive a brick wall.
The 2013 has the same overall shape to the front, except the lines are softer around most of the front end.   

The best improvement for all of the 2013 Jeep Wranglers happened in 2012.  The 3.5L Pentastar V6 is the best engine in a Jeep ever.  “Ever,” you ask?  Yes, E.V.E.R.  This engine destroys the engines of the past.  The 3.6L V6 makes 285 horsepower.  That’s 80 more than the ‘11 model’s V6 and 92 more than my ’04’s inline six.  Don’t forget that the added power comes with slightly better fuel economy as well.  Now do you see why it’s the best engine ever in the Wrangler?

I averaged 17.4 on Day 1 and then 19.3, 19.1, 20.7, 22.2, and 21.8 to finish out my week.  The last couple of days were more highway miles.  I had the cruise control set at 65mph and dominated the slow lane.  Doing a little math, I averaged for the week 20.1 mpg.  That includes my daily commute that measures 28 miles on combined conditions and my second job commute, which is 73 miles round trip and mostly highway miles. 

The off-road capabilities of the Wrangler have only gotten better.  The Unlimited version is longer than the standard body style.  That means you have a better shot of getting a tire to the place it needs to be to get you enough traction to get out of the mud bog and up the hill.  The standard Wrangler body style is a capable machine, but the Unlimited is just better. 

This Jeep is outstanding in its field!  Did you see what I did there?

Overall, I love the Jeep Wrangler Sport Unlimited.  The longer wheelbase really improves the ride and capability of the Jeep.  I would definitely have the 6 speed manual transmission.  You might be able to squeak a little better mpg out of it, you get to drive a manual, and you would save the $1,125 that the automatic transmission costs.  Plus Hill Start Assist is standard, so you don’t have to worry about uphill starts with the manual.

I miss my Jeep.  I don’t have the thirty grand to drop on a four door Unlimited.  I can promise that in my fantasy garage there’s one there.  

 I’m going to go cry myself to sleep now.  

 I miss my Jeep.