Ford Focus on Pace to Retain Global-Sales Crown

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For the first half of 2013, Ford is on track to hang onto its title as global-sales leader, and it has China to thank for the early lead. According to a Ford analysis of vehicle-registration data from automotive-industry information provider R.L. Polk, the Ford Focus was the best-selling nameplate in the world for the first half of the year, putting it in a good position to snag the title for a second consecutive year. Meanwhile, the Fiesta ranks as the fourth-best-selling vehicle overall, potentially giving Ford additional bragging rights of having the most-popular subcompact in the world, as well as the only automaker with two vehicles in the global top five.

According to Polk, Focus sales surged by 20 percent in the first half of the year compared with the same period in 2012, with 589,709 registrations. The spike is largely attributable to increased demand from China and other Asian nations such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand, Ford stated. "Focus in China is up 137 percent from 2012, to a total of 202,380 vehicles, making China the single biggest global market for the car with one-third of Focus sales," the automaker said in a statement.

By Matt Schmitz | October 24, 2013 | Comments (3)

Ford, Toyota Crash-Avoidance Systems Target Pedestrian Fatalities

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As pedestrian versus car fatalities continue to rise in the U.S., automakers are working on new technologies to help address the problem. Most recently, both Ford and Toyota have developed new safety systems that use both automatic braking and steering to prevent the vehicles from striking a pedestrian or other obstacle in the roadway. Both announced their innovations last week, with Ford revealing a test car using its Obstacle Avoidance system, and Toyota announcing the development of its Pre-collision System with Pedestrian-avoidance Steer Assist.

Ford's test car, a Focus introduced at its proving grounds in Lommel, Belgium, uses automatic steering and braking to avoid collisions with vehicles that are stopped or slowing in the same lane ahead, or to avoid hitting a pedestrian. The system first issues warnings when it detects slow-moving or stationary obstacles; if the driver fails to steer or brake following those warnings, the system automatically steers and brakes to avoid a crash. Ford developed the Obstacle Avoidance-equipped Focus as part of a research project in cooperation with a consortium of 29 partners creating active safety systems to intervene in imminent collisions.

By Matt Schmitz | October 14, 2013 | Comments (3)

Honda Accord, Civic Remain Top Targets for Thieves

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If you own a Honda Accord or Civic, or a full-size Ford pickup truck, you might want to take a moment to make sure your auto-insurance payments are up to date. You drive one of the top three most-stolen vehicles in the U.S. That's according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau's just-released "Hot Wheels" list, which examines annual vehicle-theft data submitted by law-enforcement agencies across the country to the National Crime Information Center to determine the makes and models most-frequently reported stolen during the previous year.

As in past years, Honda Accords and Civics by far were the most-stolen vehicles in 2012, totaling 58,596 and 47,037, respectively, with full-size Ford pickups coming in a distant third with 26,770 thefts. Older Accords and Civics eclipsed newer Hondas in theft frequency, which NICB attributes to improved anti-theft technology. Most of the makes and models return from the previous list; the only newcomers were the Nissan Altima (No. 9) and Nissan Maxima (No. 10), knocking the Ford Explorer and Nissan Sentra off this year's roster.

By Matt Schmitz | August 20, 2013 | Comments (4)

Recall Alert: 2012-2013 Ford Focus Electric, 2013 Focus ST

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Ford is recalling 6,308 model-year 2012-2013 Focus Electric vehicles and model-year 2013 Focus ST vehicles due to a problem with the headlamps, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The affected Focus Electrics were manufactured from Sept. 15, 2011, through May 6, 2013, and the Focus ST models from Feb. 16, 2012, through May 7, 2013; check your vehicle's build date on a sticker on the driver-side doorjamb. These vehicles are equipped with high-intensity-discharge headlights that have a wiring issue that could cause the front side marker lamps to fail. "Without the proper illumination of the side marker lamps, the vehicle may be less visible in night time conditions, increasing the risk of a crash," NHTSA said in a statement.

Ford will notify owners beginning in mid-August, and dealers will modify the headlamp assembly wiring for free. Owners can call Ford at 866-436-7332 or NHTSA's vehicle safety hotline at 888-327-4236 for more info.

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Check Out Other Recalls

By Jennifer Geiger | August 12, 2013 | Comments (0)

IIHS Tests 12 Compact Cars: Six Pass, Six Fail

A half-dozen compact cars have earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's Top Safety Pick+ honor, the nonprofit vehicle-safety advocacy group announced today. Of the 12 models evaluated, top awardees included the two- and four-door versions of the 2013 Honda Civic, 2013 Dodge Dart, 2013 Ford Focus, 2013 Hyundai Elantra and 2014 Scion tC. All of these received Good or Acceptable ratings overall in five different crash tests.

Six other cars — the 2013 Chevrolet Sonic, 2013 Chevrolet Cruze, 2013 Volkswagen Beetle, 2013 Nissan Sentra, 2013 Kia Soul and 2014 Kia Forte — earned Marginal or Poor ratings. "In some cases dummies' heads struck hard structures like the windshield pillar and instrument panel," IIHS media relations associate Kristin Nevels said in a statement.

By Matt Schmitz | August 8, 2013 | Comments (8)

Ford Updates Multimedia Systems, Again

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Ford’s latest update to its Sync and MyFord Touch systems aims to streamline voice recognition, enlarge on-screen buttons and simplify smartphone pairing. The updates also apply to MyLincoln Touch from Ford’s luxury division.

The Sync updates should simplify some of the system’s multistep voice commands, and MyFord Touch/MyLincoln Touch will get larger touch-sensitive areas along the four-quadrant home screen to reach specific menus (navigation or audio, for example), the Detroit News reports. Ford should unveil the free online download next week for Ford and Lincoln drivers with the system, the newspaper said.

It’s the latest in a string of updates Ford has sent to owners, either through mailed USB drives or online updates, for its MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch systems. The largest came in November 2011, when Ford tried to simplify the system’s fonts and reduce lag with a major software update. We tested the new system, and it didn’t live up to its billing.

The updates come as Ford weathers criticism — from ours to J.D. Power and Associates’ quality scores — over its touch-capacitive controls. The automaker announced in June it would bring more buttons to future versions of MyFord Touch and MyLincoln Touch that would follow the layout in Ford’s F-Series pickup trucks. That system retains most buttons, as opposed to the button-avoidant panels in the Explorer and Edge SUVs.

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Ford to Add More Physical Buttons to MyFord Touch
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By Kelsey Mays | August 6, 2013 | Comments (0)

Ford Hopes Focus EV Price Cut Sparks Sales

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If you've noticed automakers like Nissan, Honda and GM reducing the prices of their electric vehicles in recent months, then Ford's plan to slash the 2014 Focus EV's price won't come as a shock. Despite Ford's insistence that it would not follow suit, the Detroit automaker is now wooing mainstream buyers with a $4,000 discount on the EV for 2014, according to the Detroit News.

The new base price for the Focus EV is $35,995, including a $795 destination charge. That's down more than 10% from the previous base price, though still more than $6,000 costlier than the Nissan Leaf, the newspaper noted. A $7,500 federal tax credit knocks the price down to $28,495, including destination; in California, an additional state tax credit takes the price down another $2,500.

By Matt Schmitz | July 11, 2013 | Comments (0)

Cars.com's Issues With MyFord Touch

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The news today that Ford is rethinking its capacitive touch-heavy MyFord Touch multimedia system isn't a shock to our team of editors. Since we first tested it in a 2011 Ford Edge there has been a nearly unanimous cascade of criticism from our team.

Ford to Add More Physical Buttons to MyFord Touch

"While there's plenty to like about the 2011 Ford Edge, its electronics remind me of my not-so-smart phone: bedazzling in theory, befuddling in practice," editor Kelsey Mays said in that first review. "A number of editors got behind the wheel, and the verdict among them was unanimous: MyFord Touch needs a lot of work, and it's worth sticking to an SE or lightly equipped SEL trim to avoid it."

That was in January 2011, a year after Ford introduced MyFord Touch to raves prior to the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.

Our disdain has carried on to the most recently upgraded system found in the redesigned Ford Fusion. "The Sony system is busier with many more capacitive buttons — none of which feature an audible click or send a pulse of feedback through the panel to confirm you've actually achieved the desired result of your finger pressing," said Managing Editor David Thomas in his review.

By David Thomas | June 17, 2013 | Comments (1)

What's the Most Affordable Compact Sedan?

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Car shoppers want a long list of features in a new car, even if that car is a compact sedan that starts around $16,000. That starting price usually doesn't include what many consider "must-have" features — chief among them an automatic transmission.

We took 11 compact sedans and looked at their prices when equipped with the following features:

  • Automatic transmission
  • Cruise control
  • USB input
  • Remote entry
  • Tilt/telescoping steering wheel
  • Steering-wheel audio controls

It may seem like a simple search, but if you're looking at a new Nissan Sentra, Dodge Dart or Volkswagen Jetta, you'll need to know the specific trim level, options and option packages to ensure you won't regret not having that one missing feature.

We took those as-equipped prices and then added five years of fuel costs to come up with the most affordable compact sedan on the market.

Having recently purchased our long-term Honda Civic that has all of these features in a base model, we thought it had a good shot of scoring well here. But the results were somewhat surprising, especially in terms of what car was No. 1.

By David Thomas | May 8, 2013 | Comments (15)

Ford Escort Concept: First Look

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  • Looks like: A more formal Ford Focus sedan
  • Defining characteristics: Multi-element headlights, extended wheelbase
  • Ridiculous features: None really, it looks ready to build
  • Chance of being mass-produced: A slightly longer Focus aimed at the biggest part of the Chinese market? Chances are good

The compact car segment is the largest global segment, with more compacts sold around the world than any other kind of car — and China is rapidly becoming the biggest market for such cars. In China, however, the compact car segment is further divided into three types: low, mid and high.

Ford has the high-compact segment covered with the fairly expensive Focus, and now it's looking to see how it can get into the even bigger midcompact segment with a new concept car just unveiled at the Shanghai motor show. Behold the Ford Escort Concept, a thoroughly new car with a classic Ford name.

By Aaron Bragman | April 19, 2013 | Comments (7)

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