2018 Ford F-150 Police Responder is Ford’s first pursuit-rated pickup

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Ford introduced its latest police vehicle, the Ford F-150 Police Responder, today. It isn’t the first F-150 police vehicle ever, but it is the first one to achieve the same pursuit rating of other Ford police vehicles – including its Taurus- and Explorer-based Interceptors, and the new Fusion hybrid-based Police Responder Hybrid Sedan. What this means is that it’s fast enough for pursuits, and it can handle extended high-speed driving without risking overheating, reduced braking performance, or other mechanical issues. It also distinguishes it from the Expedition and F-150 SSV models that are already available, which are not pursuit-rated.

Under the hood is the familiar twin-turbocharged EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6 used in other F-150s and the Expedition. It makes 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque, and will propel the truck to a limited top speed of 100 mph, which is 5 less than a civilian F-150. That engine is coupled to a 10-speed automatic transmission and a part-time four-wheel-drive system with a low-range transfer case.

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All Police Responder F-150s also come standard with the FX4 off-road package, which adds a locking rear differential, skid plates, and off-road tuned shocks. The shocks are also supplemented by a stiffer front anti-roll bar specific to the Police Responder. Upgraded brake calipers are fitted that can better handle heat, with reformulated pads.

The aluminum wheel and all-terrain tire package is also exclusive to the Responder. According to a Ford representative, aluminum wheels were acceptable because of the thicker tires. To complete the Police Responder package, a 240-amp alternator is fitted, along with redesigned cloth seats to allow for utility belts, steel-plates in the seat backs, and a column-mounted shifter. The shifter frees up space in the center console for equipment, and allows for quicker shifting.

New 2018 Ford Mustang GT won’t wake the neighborhood

As much as we all love the sound of a burly V8 cracking and spitting to life after a cold start, not everyone in this world shares our sentiments. Even enthusiasts can be undone by a noisy car at the early hours of the morning. Ford has come up with a solution on the new 2018 Mustang GT. Its so-called “Good Neighbor Mode” allows owners to start their cars at a relatively sedate noise level. This should help prevent any noise complaint calls to local constabularies.

The optional mode works like any active exhaust system. When you select Quiet Mode or Quiet Start, a set of baffles in the exhaust system close, dropping the sound to about 72 decibels. Ford says that’s about 10 decibels less than the standard Mustang GT. A lot of cars offer similar systems, though the Mustang has a bit of a party trick: scheduled quiet hours. For example, an owner can set the exhaust to automatically switch to quiet mode from 9 p.m. to 8 a.m.

Switching to and scheduling Quiet Mode is just like changing to any of the other exhaust modes. Cars with the 4-inch screen can find the mode in the settings menu. Those that opt for the upgraded 12-inch digital instrument cluster find the setting in the pony menu. Once you’re out on the open road, you can simply switch it back to Sport mode like any blue-blooded American.

[Source: Autoblog]

Watch an exclusive sneak peak of Top Gear America’s Ford F-150 Raptor review

With its premiere on July 30, we’re just a couple of days away from finally seeing the new Top Gear America. But you won’t have to wait that long to get a quick taste of the show on BBC America. We have a clip to share with you, and it’s of actor and now Top Gear America host William Fichtner driving a Ford F-150 Raptor in the desert. This is an exclusive clip you’ll only see on Autoblog.

He seems to like the truck, saying it’s “the American dream incarnate,” and “a fighter jet on four wheels.” It does look about as majestic as a bald eagle out in its natural habitat. While plenty of that is because of the inherent coolness of the truck, part of it is probably due to the way the truck is filmed. It appears that Top Gear America will have a high level of production value, with beautifully framed shots and lighting.

When the full episode airs on Sunday, Fichtner, the man behind Finding Steve McQueen, will be joined by two other hosts, Antron Brown and Tom “Wookie” Ford. Brown is a drag racer who first raced motorcycles before taking on Top Fuel drag cars in 2008. He took home his first Top Fuel championship in 2012. Ford has been in the automotive journalism biz for quite a while. He’s presently an associate editor for Top Gearmagazine and was previously at CAR magazine. He also has worked on a number of automotive-related TV shows, including gone, but not forgotten, Fifth Gear.

[Source: Autoblog]

Ford to pay for repairs to every Police Interceptor Explorer SUV

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Ford will pay to repair police versions of its Ford Explorer SUVs to correct possible carbon monoxide leaks that may be linked to crashes and injuries after U.S. regulators escalated an investigation into 1.33 million vehicles. Ford said it will cover the costs of specific repairs in every Police Interceptor Explorer SUVs that may be tied to aftermarket installation of police equipment. The company said the modifications may have left holes in the underbody of the vehicles.

“If the holes are not properly sealed, it creates an opening where exhaust could enter the cabin,” Ford said in a statement. Ford acted amid concerns by some police departments about the safety of officers. The city of Austin, Texas said Friday it was removing all 400 of the city’s Ford Explorer SUVs from use.

Several Texas media outlets cited a city memo that said 20 police officers have been found with elevated levels of carbon monoxide and three have not returned to work. Ford said it has not found any elevated levels of carbon monoxide in regular Ford Explorers, but NHTSA is investigating reports of exhaust odors in those vehicles. Ford did not say how much it expected to pay to repair police vehicles and said its investigation is ongoing.

On Thursday, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it was upgrading and expanding a probe into 1.33 million Ford Explorer SUVs over reports of exhaust odors in vehicle compartments. Police have reported two crashes that may be linked to carbon monoxide exposure and a third incident involving injuries related to carbon monoxide exposure. The auto safety agency said it was also aware of more than 2,700 complaints that may be linked to exhaust orders and possible exposure to carbon monoxide and 41 injuries among police and civilian vehicles in the probe covering 2011-2017 model year Ford Explorer sport utility vehicles.

Ford has issued four technical service bulletins related to the exhaust odor issue to address complaints from police fleets and other owners, NHTSA and Ford said. NHTSA said it is evaluating preliminary testing that suggests carbon monoxide levels may be elevated in certain driving scenarios. NHTSA said it recently learned that the police version of the Ford Explorer was experiencing exhaust manifold cracks.

The agency said the reported injuries include “loss of consciousness, with the majority indicating nausea, headaches, or light-headedness.” (Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

[Source: Autoblog]

O.J. Simpson is getting released way ahead of the new Ford Bronco

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O.J. Simpson, the man forever associated with the Ford Bronco when he fled police after the slayings of his wife, Nicole, and her friend Ron Goldman, testified before a parole board today and was granted release in October. (The new Bronco is expected to be released for the 2020 model year. And here’s an item we ran in 2014: The history and the future of the Ford Bronco. Coverage of Simpson’s appearance today appears below.)

CARSON CITY, Nev. – O.J. Simpson was granted parole from prison on Thursday after serving nine years for a botched armed robbery in a Las Vegas hotel room and will be released in October.

A four member Nevada parole board voted to release 70-year-old former star athlete, who was acquitted in a sensational double-murder trial that gripped America two decades ago, after an often emotional hearing that included testimony from his daughter and one of the victim.

Simpson participated in the proceedings by live video feed from Lovelock Correctional Center, about 100 miles (161 km) from the parole board’s office in Carson City.

He bowed his head and appeared to be in tears as the four-member board voted unanimously to grant parole. He then stood and clasped his hands as he thanked them repeatedly.

“I’ve done my time, I’ve done it as well and respectfully as anyone can,” Simpson said during his testimony. “None of this would have happened if I’d had better judgment.”

Among reasons the board gave for its decision was that Simpson had complied with prison rules during his incarceration, had no prior criminal convictions and posed a minimal safety risk to the public.

Simpson said he was ready for life outside prison, to spend time with his children and friends and could handle the public attention he would get on the outside.

“I’m not a guy that has conflicts in the street, I don’t expect to have any when I leave here” he told the parole board. Bruce Fromong, a robbery victim, said Simpson was “a good man” who made a mistake and should now be released as he deserved “a second chance.”

During the hearing, board members also heard testimony from Simpson’s adult daughter, Arnelle, and from Bruce Fromong, one of two sports memorabilia dealers he was convicted of robbing at gunpoint on September 13, 2007.

Reporting by Steve Gorman, additional reporting and writing by Joseph Ax in New York and Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles.

[Source: Autoblog]

New car smell? Ford’s ‘golden noses’ know the Chinese don’t want that

While Western drivers like the “new car smell” fresh off the production line, Chinese would rather their cars didn’t smell of anything – a cultural divide that’s testing carmakers seeking an edge in the world’s biggest auto market.

At Ford, for example, 18 smell assessors – dubbed “golden noses” – at its research plant outside the eastern city of Nanjing test the smell of each material that goes inside a Ford car to be sold in China and around Asia.

The China smell test isn’t unique, but illustrates the lengths automakers go to attract buyers in markets where consumer attitudes vary widely.

“In North America, people want a new car smell and will even buy a ‘new car’ spray to make older cars feel new and fresh. In China it’s the opposite,” says Andy Pan, supervisor for material engineering at the Ford facility, which employs around 2,300 people.

The smell of a new car in China can have an outsized effect. A J.D. Power report last year showed that unpleasant car smells were the top concern for Chinese drivers, ahead of engine issues, road noise or fuel consumption.

The smell assessors at Ford, whose China sales are down 7 percent this year, carry out 300 tests a year, a third more than their counterparts in Europe. They rate the odor of all materials used in a car from “not perceptible” to “extremely disturbing.”

Pungent materials – from carpets to seat covers and steering wheels – are noted as smelling of anything from “burnt tire” and “bad meat” to “mothballs” or “dirty socks.” Some are sent back to the supplier.

Seats for Ford cars in China are stored in perforated cloth bags to keep them ventilated before being installed, as opposed to plastic wrapping in the U.S. market where consumers are less concerned about chemical smells.

“The smell inside the car can often be pretty pungent,” said Tom Lin, a 24-year-old high-school teacher in Zhejiang province, who bought a local Roewe brand car last October. He said there was still a bit of an odor six months later.

“With the next car I buy, I’m going to take more care to check out any odd smells,” he said.

EXTRA EDGE

To be sure, smell is just one factor for automakers to get right in China, where picky buyers are always looking for fresh car models and Beijing is making a big drive toward new-energy vehicles.

In a slower market – consultancy IHS forecasts vehicle sales will slip slightly this year – firms are looking for an extra edge to appeal to consumers, beyond price discounts, says IHS analyst James Chao.

Local rivals Geely Automobile and BYD Co Ltd tout their in-car air filters to protect drivers from China’s harmful air pollution, and BMW says it is adding larger touch screens and tweaking colors to appeal to Chinese buyers.

Smell is key, though, reflecting a wider concern in China about chemicals and pollution.

“When I lived in the United States, I might look at the suspension or the engine,” said Don Yu, China general manager at CGT, which makes materials to cover car seats and dashboards for General Motors, Volkswagen and Ford.

“In China, though, people open the car and sit inside. If the smell isn’t good enough, they think it will jeopardize their health.”

For Ford’s “golden noses,” that means a strict routine. Testers undergo a tough selection process, proving themselves on blind smell tests before being chosen.

“We have to have very healthy habits; we can’t smoke, we can’t drink,” says one of the team, 33-year-old Amy Han, adding she avoids spicy food and doesn’t wear nail polish, strong perfume or even a leather jacket to keep her sense of smell sharp.

Reporting by Adam Jourdan.

[Source: Autoblog]

Mid-engine Honda sports car surfaces in EU patent drawings

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Based on new patent drawings, Honda clearly isn’t done with sports cars. The design you see above was registered and published by the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and was first reported by AutoGuide. The drawings show a rakish, angular sports car design that is very clearly mid-engine. It could almost pass for a Lamborghini.

But the name on the design is Honda Motor Company, and aside from the name, it bares a strikingly similar appearance to a mid-engine design found in a Honda patent two years ago. In fact, the only major difference between this car and the older one (seen below) is the lack of a windshield and top. The shape of the lights and the grille, as well as the front fender vent and character lines running from it, are reminiscent of the S660 kei roadster for Japan. The large, angular intakes look more related to the Acura NSX, though.

Unlike the previous patent renderings of the car, this one has an interior, and the inclusion of it may be why the top and windshield are absent. The interior also leads us to believe that this design is for an upcoming concept. The steering wheel is a small, rectangular piece similar to what you would find in an F1 car or Indy car. The seats also look like thin buckets designed to be as sporty and light as possible. A production version would probably have a bit more cushioning and a round wheel. It does look like there is a pushbutton transmission setup in the center console like current Acuras, though.

So what does this mean? Honda is clearly still working on this design, and based on some of the more radical design choices for the interior, we’re likely looking at a concept car that will show up in the next couple of years. Whether a concept will lead to a production car is tough to say. There’s definitely room in Honda’s global sports car roster between the S660 and NSX for something in between, and Honda has reported that it’s getting pressure from dealers for sporty cars. The exterior design isn’t so extreme it couldn’t be tweaked for production, either. There have also been rumors that Honda is preparing a mid-engine hybrid sports car with the Type R’s turbocharged four-cylinder. Honda also holds a trademark for the name “ZSX,” which fits the naming scheme of the NSX and old RSX, but at least in Europe, Honda has held the trademark since 2009. We’ll just have to wait and see what Honda does.