2013 Ford Explorer Sports – First Test Drive Impressions

What can you say about the new 2013 Ford Explorer?  In a nutshell it is the new redesigned Ford Explorer and is the synthesis of an American SUV with European styling and handling.  The interior was nice and well appointed which made me feel I was in a luxury Lincoln.  Makes you wonder what Ford will do with the Lincoln version of it.  The model I had was a beautiful black and pretty brown leather seats.  The 2013 Explorer Sport has some nice features but the re-engineering is what won me.

Ford's head engineer on the 2013 Ford Explorer emphasized that have improved to make a stiffer body with reinforcements in key structural areas.  Under the two fronts seats where they attached to the floor, there is a bar that stiffens the body, right across the transmission tunnel.  There is another stiffening bar behind the front shocks that is also behind the engine.

What was interesting to hear is that Ford Explorer weight split is 60/40 vehicle but the drivetrain can go into pure 50/50.  There is a convenient knob on the central console where you can select Desert, Forest and Ice mode, each giving you more or less torque if different driving conditions.

Although you sit high, as with any other SUV, it felt responsive and tight… at least tighter than any other SUV I've driven.  I would imagine the Porsche and Maserati could easily out handle the 2013 Ford Explorer, but not its price.  It's a SUV and has limits but more than a few BMWs on twisty roads were surprised by the powerful SUV keeping pace with their German vehicles.  Worse case handling scenario, the rear has a hard time understanding what the front is doing but obliges willingly and follows the curve.

Purist will hate the paddle shifting mounted on the steering wheel instead of the column, but I suspect 90% of its clientele won't know or care what paddle shifters are or even bother to use them.  I found myself a few times coming out of a curve wanting to shift but not being able to figure out which paddle was up or down.  One very nice touch are the good looking 20-inch wheels with “Sport” engraved in them.  The brakes have been generously upgraded for the Sport version for the extra power.

All in all, this is yet another Ford achievement as the company positions itself to compete with the more power and performance oriented SUV market, but at an affordable price.  I found the SUV easy to drive in traffic and even fun to bounce around canyon roads.  The engine comes alive at over 3,000 but not once will it intrude inside your plush felt cabin.  The only thing you will hate on the road if you own a Sport version is to see an older Explorer in front of you heavily braking at every curves.  This SUV is meant to go fast, cruise around town and everything in between.

Is Ford’s “Parisian Pinball Park” Commercial One of the Best Auto Commercials of All Time?

Ford has a very edgy and interesting ad in Europe which is aimed at promoting Ford's Active Park Assist feature.  This essentially helps drivers that have trouble parallel parking handle the tightest of parking spaces.  How Ford choose to convey this feature is very interesting as they titled the YouTube ad “The Parisian Pinball Park.”

Personally I think this is one of the best auto commercials I have ever seen.  It is edgy, smart, funny, and gets the point across of what Ford is trying to sell.   Watch the commercial and let me know what you think.

Baltimore Auto Show Coverage with Pictures!

I am a bit late in posting these pictures of the Baltimore Auto Show, but better late than never.  The 2012 Baltimore Auto Show was not too much to brag about though.  There were considerably less cars this year and no luxury brands like Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi, and Porsche. Baltimore being poor, I guess it isn't surprising they didn't show this year.  Also there were no exotic cars like Ferraris, Lamborghinis, etc.  Worst part of all, no tuner alley!  It was a big letdown compared to the Washington Auto Show.

While I love seeing the new models automakers are offering and what is in store for new year in the car world, I felt the recent Baltimore Auto Show showed how depressed the economy was.  Through the grapevine I heard the convention center tripled there rates, which explained most of it.  Even considering that the displays weren't anything to brag about and people were generally not having much fun it seemed.  It sort of felt like 2008 was happening in the all over again, but hey this is 2012.

I hope next year will reflect a more robust car market and economy.  Also hopefully the Convention Center will lower their rates!

 

Purolator Garage-A-Thon Contest, Win a 68′ Mustang

Win a 68' Mustang

Have you always dreamed of owning a American Muscle Car?  What about a Ford Mustang?  How about a classic 1968 Mustang?  Well here is your chance to win a '68 Mustang to put in your garage in the Purolator Garage-A-Thon Contest.  It's simple if you want to enter.  You just need to “Like” Purolator on Facebook, take a picture of your garage, and upload it.  Don't have a garage?  Well the rules state, “If you do not have a standard garage, it is up to you to show your creativity of what your “garage” is”  So those of you who are apartment dwellers or find yourself without a garge do not need to fret.  You must also state the name of your garage in 50 words or less.  I would try to choose something catchy!  Also in a 160 characters or less describe why your garage deserves the Purely Awesome '68 Mustang.  I am sure this won't be a hard task.  Hurry as the contest ends on October 9th, 2011.

Click here to enter!

 

Driving Skills for Life, Working to Save Young Lives

What's the number one killer of teenagers?  You might be surprised to hear it's not drugs, guns, or alcohol.  It's vehicle fatalities.  One car manufacturer that is making an effort to combat this problem is Ford with it's Driving Skills for Life (DSFL) program.  With DSFL, Ford aims to educate new drivers about safe driving principles.  “We want to get the numbers down” says Jim Graham, Manager of DSFL.

DSFL events, which are held around the country, have overwhelming demand.  The events put teenagers behind the wheel with a professional race car driver to learn emergency maneuvers and how to handle dangerous road conditions and situations.  The hands-on instruction teaches the four key principles of DSFL: hazard recognition, speed management, space management, and vehicle handling.  You would think that teenagers would be excited at the opportunity to get into a car with a race car driver.  To some people, like a particular writer, it would be awesome to do this.  “At first they don't want to go.”  says Graham but, “Once they get into the car they want to do it again. We use young teachers that are considered cool and that the kids respond well too.”  Not only do teenagers love DSFL but parents have positive experiences as well.  “Parents get in the cars with teens.  For the most part they have not had professional driving safety training either.  They learn a lot as well.  Parents love the program.”

The program has saved lives in Illinois.  Outside Peoria 15 teenagers died in 1 year period.  DSFL went in to help address this issue.  They worked with the state and community and thus far there have been no new fatalities in the county.  They are now operating in the whole state and now there is a 50% reduction of teenage vehicle fatalities in the state of Illinois.  Great work!

DSFL also has help from celebrities to get the word out.  Kate Voegele, a musician and singer, talks with teenagers about safe driving habits through DSFL programs.  Colin Braun, a NASCAR driver, and Toby Keith, a country musician, have also contributed.  Braun spreads the message at tracks and through his social media network.  Keith made a Public Service Announcement (PSA) “No text message is worth your life” for DSFL.  The newest celebrity addition to the DSFL arsenal is Courtney Force, drag racing champion, and daughter of legendary drag racer John Force.  Courtney will be speaking with teenagers about safe driving habits around the country.

Ford not only aims to have DSFL events to teach teenagers and parents about driving, but to bring updated information right to you with their website.  “Learning to drive successfully is a life long learning experience.”  says Graham.  This is reflected in the vast content on the website which includes a safe driving simulator, educational materials, tips, videos, etc.  There are even downloadable school programs for teachers.  It's an all around resource for updated information regarding safe driving and how to develop better habits.

Driving Skills for Life is fully funded by Ford Motor Company.  The company even developed the program and will continue with it for a long time to come, as the number of newly licensed drivers grows every year.  In short, DSFL is a great service to the community that is saving lives.