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The Wait is Over

Ford’s long-awaited product onslaught is finally becoming a reality.

The Year of the Car has finally come around for Ford Motor Company, as it launches the new product that it has been promising for sometime now. Ford will introduce six new nameplates for 2005. The first examples of the 550 hp, 205 mph, mid-engine, Ford GT super car, built to compete with the best from Maranello, are being delivered to customers.

An all-new Mustang combines state-of-the art technology with retro-heritage styling, continuing the heritage of the original American pony car (AI, June 2004). Mustang owners can choose from either a 210 hp 4.0L SOHC V-6 or a 300 hp 4.6L, 3-valve MOD V-8 with a whopping 315 lb.ft. of torque. And the future looks brighter for SUVs as a hybrid version of the Escape winds its way to showrooms this fall (AI, June 2004).

Ford will also have fresh faces for the Focus and Escape, new powertrains and upgrades for the Lincoln Navigator, Ford Expedition and F-150, plus 11 new engines and five new transmissions.

“We’ve been promising a product onslaught and this is just the start of it,” says Greg Smith, Ford executive vice president and president of the Americas.

Ford is midway through the launch of nine new products this year alone — more than its ever launched in one year in the firms 100 year history.

Smith says that by the end of 2004, 60 percent of all Ford products will be new or refreshened. Ford will also have three more flexible manufacturing plants on line — Dearborn Assembly in Dearborn, Mich., which builds the F-150; Chicago Assembly, the new home of the Five Hundred, Freestyle and Mercury Montego; and AutoAlliance in Flat Rock, Mich., Mustang’s new home, plus a new product development system that will allow Ford to double the number of new products coming down the pipeline.

Ford’s flagship sedan (above) slots between the Taurus and Crown Victoria and is based on Volvo’s P2 platform. The sedan was actually developed after the Freestyle (below), Ford’s first true crossover vehicle.
The January 2005 Detroit Auto Show will mark the unveiling of the companies new midsize car line-up that includes the Ford Fusion Mercury Milan and Lincoln Zephyr. The highlight of the Year of the Car for Ford will be the introduction of its new flagship sedan, the Ford Five Hundred and Ford’s first purpose-built crossover, the Freestyle. Both vehicles will share the same D3 platform (adapted from the Volvo P2 platform found under the Volvo S8 sedan and XC90 SUV), Ford’s 3.0L Duratec 30 V-6 mated to an Aisin planetary 6-speed automatic or ZF CVT transmission and an optional all-wheeldrive system. From the sills up, both vehicles are very different.

The Ford Five Hundred (and its upscale Mercury Montego cousin) is just 3-in. longer than a Taurus and 1 ft. shorter than a Crown Victoria but boasts a larger interior volume than both at 21.2 cu.ft. Ford’s trademarked Command Seating puts the driver 4-in. higher than the average sedan which offers an SUVlike view of the road.

The Five Hundred boast the largest trunk of any sedan at 21 cu. ft., enough room for eight golf bags. The sedan was built off of the crossover platform using the same brakes and an HAVC system designed for the larger Freestyle. Freestyle is the first true crossover from Ford. Ford’s COO, Jim Padilla, says that the focus was on package, package and package — space galore for people and things. Freestyle can seat six or seven, depending on your choice of second row seating, folding buckets or a 60/40 split bench at the same price. An optional console that snaps in between the second row buckets will cost you more.

The third row seat comes in bench or optional 50/50 split fold-down and offers comfortable seating for 6-foot adults while still maintaining a cargo area behind the seat that’s 60 percent bigger than Chrysler Pacifica and 40 percent bigger than the Ford Explorer. All seats with the exception of the driver’s seat fold flat for added cargo hauling flexibility. Freestyle is available with Ford’s Safety Canopy system that covers all three rows. Freestyle and Five Hundred ride on 17-in. wheels and tires, a MacPherson strut front and multi-link independent rear suspension and offer 4-wheel disc brakes with dual-piston aluminum front calipers. ABS is standard on all vehicles.

Ford’s Focus small car gets a face lift for ’05 with a new front and rear sheetmetal, headlamps, tailamps and fog lights and an undated interior. New powertrains include a 136 hp, 2.0L Duratec 4-cylinder and a PZEV version of the same engine. Ford has added the performance ZX4, an evolution of the European ST170 and SVT Focus with an improved suspension and 151 hp 2.3L all-aluminum Duratec I4. While Ford may be touting the Car of the Year, it hasn’t forgotten what pays the bills these days.

The successful Ford F-150, launched last year, will add a 4.2L 202 hp, V-6 version to its portfolio, built in Oakville, Ontario. The Escape SUV gets a facelift inside and out, a new 2.3L Duratec I-4, a new IP and floormounted shifter, automatic intelligent 4WD system, Ford’s Safety Canopy air bag system and an upscale Mercury Mariner sibling. 20,000 lucky folks will own the first North American-built hybrid as Ford offers a hybrid version of the Escape.

All of Ford’s medium- and full-size SUVs will come standard with Advance Trac and Roll Stability Control from Continental Teves.

Ford’s Super Duty truck series has been redesigned from the ground up with a new stiffer frame, a wider selection of powertrains and a new look that was inspired by the Tonak Truck concept.
The Navigator benefits from a makeover that includes a new front fascia, fog lamps and cleaner side cladding. A brand new 300 hp 5.4L, 3-valve V-8 makes 365 lb.ft. of torque at 3,750 and is calibrated to run on regular gas.

The new powertrain offers a 15 percent improvement in NVH, shift smoothness and fuel economy thanks to a new ZF 6-speed brought over from Land Rover and modified for extra towing capacity by adding extra ribs to the case and using a beefier gear set to meet the heavy duty cycle.

The Expedition will add the 5.4L V-8 to the 4.6L 2-valve as engine options, mated to a 4- speed transaxle set up for low end torque and towing. The interior is upgraded with a new IP with F-150-styled vents.

Ford’s line of Super Duty trucks saw a ground-up restoration starting with a new frame with a fully-boxed front section and steel that is 10 to 17 percent thicker for added reinforcement to increase front load capacity to 7,000 pounds. Powertrain choices are a new 6.8L 355 hp, 3- valve, Triton V-10 with 455 lb.ft. of torque. The 5.4L 3-valve Triton joins the Super Duty line-up and a 6.0L Power Stroke diesel is rated at 325 hp and 570 lb.ft. of torque.

 Ford Bright Ideas

TowCommand System

Developed for Ford by Tekonsha Towing Systems, the electronic brake controller is integrated into the vehicle. The system offers adjustable braking modes with readouts displayed on a message screen. Safety  features include a trailer disconnect warning and a special trailer brake strategy when the trucks ABS detects poor traction. It also has a 4-channel auxiliary switch for snow plows, lights, etc.

Direct-Drive Water Pump

This innovative water pump is driven directly off one of the overhead camshafts, not only freeing valuable engine compartment space but also incorporating the thermostat housing, reducing parts counts and improving NVH.

Ford GT

You don’t build a $130,000 supercar the same way you build a Focus. Ford used the GT program as a test bed for quite a few advanced technologies, including friction-stir welding, aluminum hydroforming and rapid spray-formed tooling.

Freestar Cupholders

Kids break stuff so Ford created a cupholder that breaks gracefully. Excessive force on the second row cup holders will cause them to break free. Simply fold the cupholder back into the closed position and it will reset.

Tremor Audio

Maybe this isn’t a bright idea. The 2005 Ranger comes with an optional 510-watt AM/FM sound system with an MP3/6CD player, multi-channel amplifier, 6×8 coaxial speakers and a floor mounted 10-in. subwoofer.

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