Ford starts road-testing an Escape plug-in hybrid prototype

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Ford has started testing a prototype of an Escape Plug-in Hybrid, and may have the model ready for the public as soon as late 2018. The last time the Blue Oval went down this road, it was presenting a small batch of Ford Escape PHEVs for a California utility to try out about a decade ago. This version, however, would be for the general public, Inside EVs reports.

No details have been released about the price, range, or performance of the prospective Escape PHEV, but the SUV would likely replace the C-Max Energi Plug-in Hybrid in Ford’s lineup. Ford will likely start selling the new plug-in in time for the 2020 model year. Inside EVs says Ford may also be working on plug-in hybrid versions of the Explorer, Focus, and Transit for both North America and Europe, where the Escape is known as the Kuga.

Ford has already picked up some momentum with its green vehicles this year, so adding a plug-in SUV makes sense. Through May, Ford sold almost 41,000 hybrids and plug-ins, including 4,350 Fusion Energi Plug-in Hybrids and 3,444 C-Max Energi PHEVs. In all, Ford’s green-car sales have surged 56 percent this year.

Back in 2007, Ford reached a deal with Southern California Edison to pilot-test a small batch of Escape Plug-in Hybrids as fleet vehicles. That trial version had a 30-mile all-electric range. That fleet was kept to less than two-dozen vehicles.

For those keeping track, Ford through May sold almost 130,000 Escapes, up 2.7 percent from a year earlier. In fact, the Escape is the Blue Oval’s second-best selling model, trailing only the world-beating F-Series pickup trucks.

[Source: Autoblog]

Ford is sending the Focus RS off with a red, LSD-equipped bang

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Ford is discontinuing the current generation Focus RS after the 2018 model year, and so it’s making a special edition to cap off the car’s run. The car doesn’t get any special moniker, but it is loaded with some nifty goodies and visual changes. Immediately apparent is the new color, Race Red. It’s one of two available colors, the other being Nitrous Blue. Both colors are accented by a black roof, mirrors, and rear wing, the latter of which has blue RS logos on each side.

The limited-edition RS also gets a significant mechanical upgrade. Unlike normal Focus RS models, this one gets a Quaife mechanical limited-slip differential for the front drive wheels. Ford says this should improve traction under acceleration and aid corner exit speed. Along with limited-slip differential, the car comes standard with forged 19-inch wheels. Naturally, they’re painted black to match the mirrors, roof, and wing.

[Source: Autoblog]

 

 

Ford Focus spy photos reveal a Fiesta-style interior

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Ford is hard at work on the next-generation Ford Focus, based on recent spy shots. Unfortunately, the company has been quite good at hiding the new compact’s fresh sheetmetal. These latest photos show a car camouflaged about as well as the last one, but the photographer that caught this car got a great peek at the inside.

What we can see is a really big LCD display brought right to the front of the dash, as opposed to the deeply sunken unit in the current Focus. Although it looks like the display has a large hood, we believe it’s a red herring, since this screen, and much of the rest of the cabin, looks very similar to that of the new 2018 Ford Fiesta. In fact, if you compare the infotainment buttons, air vents, and climate control buttons between the two vehicles, and you’ll find they’re nearly identical. The main difference is that there’s a bit more negative space between controls, which is unsurprising as the Focus is a notably larger car than the Fiesta. For reference, we’ve provided a photo of the newest Fiesta interior below.

We can’t tell much more than what we’ve already seen from the exterior. However, considering how much the interior borrows from the Fiesta, it’s a fair bet that the exterior will follow a similar pattern. As such, we expect the new Focus to be an evolution of the current model, with less dramatic creases and lines. Based on a profile shot of the new car, we also are expecting a longer nose to give a look closer to that of a rear-drive car, but without the dash-to-axle ratio of a real rear-drive machine. It’s a look that Mazda has used with great success on its Mazda3. Also, since this prototype still seems relatively early in development, particularly the unfinished iteration air vents, we’re not expecting a reveal until late next year as a 2019 model.

[Source: Autoblog]

Portland Ford Focus dealer has the 2017 Focus Here Now

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The 2017 Ford Focus, for sale in Portland at Mackenzie Ford in Hillsboro, remains one of the world’s most popular nameplates, with an excellent balance of handsome styling, high-tech features and a fun driving character. If you would like further information, please call us at (844) 424-8102.

Newly available is an SEL package, which includes 17-inch machined-aluminum wheels with black-painted pockets, fog lamps, black headlight bezels and power moonroof. Focus is available in either sedan or hatchback, with engine choice offerings that include a 2.0-liter Ti-VCT I-4 or 1.0-liter EcoBoost®, which can be optioned with six-speed manual or six-speed automatic transmission with available SelectShift® functionality.

The 2017 Ford Focus has available SYNC® 3 enhanced voice recognition and entertainment system with AppLink and 911 Assist®, an 8-inch center LCD touch screen with available navigation, and swiping and pinch-to-zoom capabilities. Two standard smart-charging USB ports are great for families on the go with energy-hungry devices.

Focus also offers available technology like Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert, a lane-keeping system, heated steering wheel and LED signature lighting. Available active park assist uses the car’s 12 ultrasonic sensors to scan for suitable parking spaces and assist in backing into a spot while driver controls the gear shifter, brake and accelerator pedals.

A new color available for 2017 is White Gold.

Free Ford Focus RS driving school will stop you from becoming a #DriftModeFail

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Ford, perhaps recognizing that a few Focus RS owners have more money than talent, will start offering a free version of its ST Octane Academy for its most powerful hatchback. Think of the RS Adrenaline Academy as a practical guide to not becoming a YouTube laughingstock.

Like the ST Octane Academy, Ford hosts the RS-specific course at Miller Motorsports Park in Utah. The one-day course leans heavily towards practical exercises. According to Ford, the day starts with about 30 minutes of classroom time, after which students set out on the track for exercises including, Motor Trend reports, using each of the RS’ four driving modes.

Like a number of driving schools, the Adrenaline Academy operates a fleet of high-performance Foci, each outfitted with appropriate safety equipment. But while the cars and education are free, owners are stuck shouldering some expense – each student is responsible for their own transportation and lodging.

Ford hasn’t announced a schedule for the Adrenaline Academy yet, but since it’s free with every 2016 and 2017 Focus RS, you should go register for updates at the school’s website.

[Source: Autoblog]

Ford Focus RS500 plans at risk over concerns for Mustang GT, Shelby GT350

Bad news for fans of insane hatchbacks. Ford is concerned its rumored Focus RS500 could harm Mustang sales in the United States, and the lack of a viable US plan could kill the 390-horsepower Focus before it even hits dealerships. The reasons are much more dire than simple production constraints.

Citing “well-placed sources” at the Blue Oval, Autocar reports that concern over the RS500 “treading on other cars’ toes” is hurting the Focus’ chances. Those cars, of course, are the Mustang GT and Shelby GT350. It’s a valid worry.

Right now, the 435-hp Mustang GT starts at $32,920, the 350-hp Focus RS rings up at $35,900, and the 526-hp Shelby sits at $54,570. That kind of price/performance diversity is good. But imagine an RS500 comes to market with 390 hp and a starting price in the $40,000 to $45,000 range? If you were studying a well-equipped Mustang GT Premium, jumping up to the hotter (and rarer) RS500 could be a smart investment. And for GT350 consumers, the RS500 could provide similar track-day thrills at a $10,000 to $15,000 discount – that’s a lot of money owners could otherwise spend on tires and track time.

Without US sales, Autocar reports, the internal numbers aren’t looking good for the RS500. And the case looks worse after considering the standard RS’ difficult birth. According to AC, it took serious efforts by Ford product chief Raj Nair to convince the Blue Oval’s notorious bean counters to see the light. If the accountants and US dealers are worried the RS500 could hurt Ford’s performance mix, even Nair’s persuasion might not be enough.

A compromise could come in the form of an “RS500-lite,” specifically for the European market. But because the lack of US sales would demand a smaller budget, an AC source said Ford Europe worries the lack of unique technical content in such a model “might dilute the RS brand.”

In other words, it sounds like a vehicle we’re eager to see happen is stuck between a rock and a hard place – too hardcore to play nice in US showrooms, and not hot enough to properly represent the RS brand in its home market.

[Source: Autoblog]

Ford spices up its hot hatchbacks for SEMA

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Ford hopes to bring 50 customized cars to SEMA, and the latest additions to the lineup include one Ford Fiesta and five Focus hatchbacks. Some look like rally machines for the road while others just sport a fancy paint job.

The lone Fiesta ST is built by Tucci Hot Rods with a custom wide-body kit. It has been lowered, and retains the 1.6-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine but now features an upgraded turbo, custom exhaust system, as well as a Cobb Accessport V3 ECU upgrade. The clutch has also been updated with a Spec Stage 4 kit.

The customized Focus models include: a 2016 Focus ST by Blood & Grease with a matte black paint job, a 2016 Focus ST by Cinemotive Media with fender flares and performance upgrades from Mountune, a 2016 Focus RS with an updated twin-scroll turbo kit and a gray and orange paint job by Full-Race Motorsports, as well as a 2016 Focus RS by H&P Special Springs/Stanceworks with rally-inspired graphics.

The most promising hatchback, to us, is the Focus RS by Roush Performance. The more aggressive body kit gives the hatchback a more menacing look, while Roush’s shortblock assembly, performance calibration, and improved cooling system bumps power up to 500 horsepower.

Ford already revealed its modified Mustangs, Fusions, and F-150s for SEMA earlier this month, which leaves its crossovers and SUVs as the last vehicles to get the SEMA treatment.

[Source: Autoblog]