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First Drive: 2015 Ford Edge

Smoothing out the rough edges.

by on Mar.11, 2015

The 2015 Ford Edge.

Ford has been a leader in the utility vehicle segment for the better part of a quarter of a century, going all the way back to the introduction of the first Explorer in 1990, a much more modern alternative to the bucky old Bronco.

The Explorer was a much more roadworthy vehicle, lightyears removed from the rough off-roaders of the past. Still, it took another 16 years before the Blue Oval took the next big step, introducing its first crossover model in the form of the original Edge.

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Like similar soft-roaders, it was intended more as a minivan alternative than something you’d take to the back woods. More refined looking, inside and out, with comfortable highway manners and plenty of family-friendly features. So, we were clearly curious to see how much the new 2015 Ford Edge would evolve considering the increasingly crowded and competitive nature of the midsize CUV segment.

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First Drive: 2015 Ford Mustang

Re-imagining an icon.

by on Sep.18, 2014

The new 2015 Ford Mustang GT maintains its basic design cues without looking retro.

“When you’re redoing an icon,” says Ford’s new CEO Mark Fields, you find yourself gripped by “a combination of a great honor and a great fear.” Just ask Dave Pericak, who was given the daunting job of redesigning one of those icons as the chief engineer for the 2015 Ford Mustang program.

It wasn’t just a new version of the classic pony car Pericak had to shepherd into production, but the creation of a vehicle worthy of being the 50th anniversary Mustang.  It had to be, as he is fond of saying, “the best Mustang ever.” No idle boast, but, after spending a few days watching a procession of automotive journalists get their first rides in the pony car, Pericak looked more than a bit relieved. As well he should.

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There are a few nits to pick, but they’re largely cosmetic, a few places Ford might have stretched a little further. But there’s little doubt that the coupe and convertible muscle cars Ford will be shipping to dealers around the world in the months ahead can far and away lay claim to being the best Mustang ever.

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American Automakers Dominate AutoPacific’s “Ideal Vehicles”

Koreans locked out, while Japan fall behind European brands.

by on Jul.14, 2010

The Land Rover brand may have its quality issues, but don't tell that to owners, who declared the Range Rover their ideal vehicle.

In another sign of a potential product renaissance, Detroit’s Big Three automakers dominate the latest “Ideal Vehicle Awards,” put together by the California research and consulting firm AutoPacific, Inc.

Designed to reflect the way owners rate a variety of vehicle attributes, from power to interior design, the awards focus on the cars, trucks and crossovers “owners would change the least,” explains AutoPacific President George Peterson.

The Range Rover is the top-rated vehicle in the 2010 Ideal Vehicle Awards, or IVA, reflecting the overall satisfaction owners reported with bigger vehicles.  But Large Crossover SUVs was, on the whole, the highest-rated segment.  In something of a surprise, the slow-selling Suzuki Kizashi was the top-rated passenger car in this year’s survey – and was also ranked number one in AutoPacific’s Vehicle Satisfaction Awards, announced earlier this year.

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But Japanese brands fared relatively poorly, on the whole, fielding winners in only five of the IVA’s 27 categories.  Only the Koreans, who failed to take a single segment, did more poorly.  European makers narrowly bested the Japanese with six segment wins.

Considering the historically low performance of Detroit brands in consumer studies, the 2010 IVA is likely to come as a shock to many, with the domestic Big Three landing 16 segment wins.  Ford Motor Co., in particular, was the top-rated popular brand, just ahead of General Motors’ GMC nameplate.

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