NAIAS 2018 | Episode 3 : FORD

Ford created a lot of “buzz” surrounding the Mustang before the show with rumours of a Bullitt version of the 2019 car to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Steve McQueen’s famous film of the same name.  Not only did they display the new version of the current car, but it also shared the stand with the actual, un-restored car used in the movie and driven by McQueen.  A great marketing coup by Ford and a cool addition to the Mustang range.

Reintroduction of the Ranger mid-size pick-up to compete with the Chevy/GMC Colorado and Canyon was important news at the show.  The Ranger will be available in XL, Lariat and FX4 Off Road trim levels.  The FX4 displayed on the stand in an ugly gold/tan colour frankly looked a bit dull and the large, black plastic grille gave us a feeling of low cost.  Photos we have seen of the XL and Lariat are more appealing and project greater value.  Power is provided by a 2.3L EcoBoost 4 cylinder with direct injection mated with a 10-speed transmission.  It will be interesting to see how these mid-size trucks impact sales of their larger and more profitable siblings.

Also new at the show was the Ecosport small SUV that will slot in under the Escape.  The styling has a family similarity with the Escape, but with softer lines and a more tightly packaged front end with greater plan view.  Notably it has a side-hinged tailgate that will almost certainly be controversial.  The release handle is cleverly disguised in the taillamp —  perhaps too cleverly.  Engines will be a 3 cylinder EcoBoost 1.0L or a naturally aspirated 4 cylinder 2.0L standard with AWD.

Also introduced at the show was a facelifted version of the Edge, featuring a new front end, liftgate and taillamps.  The new, wider grille is now separated from the headlamps.  More, high tech features have been integrated and a new, sporty ST model added to the range – for reasons best known to the Ford planners……….

New large SUV’s from Ford, the Lincoln Navigator and Ford Expedition, also were introduced at the show.  Their sheer size is impressive and the interiors are truly cavernous – especially with the second and third row seats folded down.


Ford shocked most industry observers with the reveal of its next generation F150 and the news that it will have an all-aluminum body.  The 2015 F150 has bold ‘chunky’ styling inside and out and will be available for sale in the 4th quarter of this year.  The dramatic weight saving of around 700 pounds (318 kg), combined with better dent resistance and improved corrosion resistance is a real game changer in the segment.  If everything works out as planned, this technology leap could put Ford as much as 8 years ahead of the competition in the race to meet future fuel economy mandates.  What has everyone scratching their heads, however, is the economics.  With annual volumes in the 800,000 unit range, will the increased material cost and infrastructure changes required for aluminum pay off for Ford.

Ford’s other big news at the show was the new 2015 Mustang.  Although exhibiting some styling cues from the Evos concept, there is no doubt that this car is all Mustang.  The nose is higher and bulkier than we would like — most likely for pedestrian impact reasons.  This, plus the relatively high belt line, makes the roofline look artificially low and the greenhouse on the small side.  The three vertical tail lamps on each side are pure Mustang and they flash sequentially — of course.  One other facet of the design is the bodyside feature line that is interrupted by the rear wheel arch flare, but then continues for just a few inches in the rear quarter panel.  Just like the Taurus and just as strange………..  We would like to have seen tighter gaps between the tyres and the wheel openings, especially with the bigger wheel/tyre combinations.  The interior maintains all the right Mustang features with the double brow, large round gauges and now huge toggle switches in the centre stack.  It is well executed, but lacks the finesse of a typical European interior.