Ford F-150 buyers love their special editions, and I must admit the new 2017 Lariat Special Edition added to my SuperCrew 3.5 Ecoboost 4×4 tester is one I could definitely fall for as well. This…

2017 Ford F-150 Lariat 3.5 Ecoboost Special Edition

2017 Ford F-150 Lariat 3.5 Ecoboost Special Edition
This is one damn hot looking pickup truck. Notice those red lines between the grey grille strakes? (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Ford F-150 buyers love their special editions, and I must admit the new 2017 Lariat Special Edition added to my SuperCrew 3.5 Ecoboost 4×4 tester is one I could definitely fall for as well.

This thing looks fabulous! I can’t tell you how many rubbernecking stares I got while driving around town, and my neighbourhood is one of the rarer places to find pickup trucks, at least when it comes to those that live here. There are plenty of plain white work trucks with side signage scattered across the myriad building sites throughout my ever-burgeoning inner-city-like suburb, while the streets are literally littered with the bourgeois supercars of the nouveau super riche, from Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, McLaren, and the like. Cars like that are commonplace, but a truck like this totally stands out.

2017 Ford F-150 Lariat 3.5 Ecoboost Special Edition
The painted bumpers and lack of chrome make this Lariat Special Edition look sporty from all angles. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Lariat sits third amongst seven trims, the others being XL, XLT, King Ranch, Platinum, Raptor, and Limited. We really should consider the Raptor a completely unique model due to exclusive body panels and an extreme off-road specific driveline, but for the time being we’ll just leave it alone, being that Ford has promised a full week’s test with one in the near future.

Back to the Lariat, while third-rung up the F-150 ladder, its $46,149 price tag is somewhat higher than the XL’s $28,249 starting point, or the XLT’s $30,549 base window sticker. Then again the King Ranch starts at $63,349, which is well into premium-branded luxury mid-size SUV territory, and the Platinum delves even deeper into the luxe class with a sticker of $65,549. The Raptor, incidentally starts at $68,399, while the end-all-to-be-all luxury trucks (or at least Ford would like to have us think of its F-150 Limited this way) is a highfalutin $73,149: ranch owners and contractor/developers only need apply.

2017 Ford F-150 Lariat 3.5 Ecoboost Special Edition
Lots of red highlights in the cabin set the Lariat Special Edition apart. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

All of a sudden this Lariat is looking pretty approachable, even with its fancy additions. Upgrading to the four-door SuperCrew cab with the five-and-a-half-foot short box, the 3.5-litre Ecoboost V6, new 10-speed automatic (yes, a 10-speed, just like the bike my big brother got when I was relegated to a 5-speed) with auto start/stop, and four-wheel drive elevated that Lariat price to $58,249 (back up to mid-size luxury SUV territory again), while its Ruby Red paint adds another $450.

That black stripe down the side and its black hood decal are part of the Special Edition package mentioned a moment ago, as are the strips of red running across the otherwise grey-tone grille. There’s much more to this $2,400 package than that, mind you, such as LED headlamps with dark housings (my tester also had the Luxury package, so expect halogens in lesser equipped models), body-colour front and rear bumpers, unique 20-inch alloys on 275/55 all-terrain tires and a set of black running boards between them, unique red and black fender and tailgate “F-150” badges, and finally a unique squared off chrome tailpipe finisher on the outside.

2017 Ford F-150 Lariat 3.5 Ecoboost Special Edition
There’s a lot of tech in the new F-150, and plenty of luxury features. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Inside, the F-150 Lariat Special Edition gets an exclusive red-stitched leather-wrapped steering wheel, red-stitched detailing on the unique instrument panel and doors, a red-stitched console top, and a very fine looking set of red-accented, leather and psuede-trimmed Special Edition seats, plus all of the features that come with the Lariat and the Luxury package noted a moment ago.

The latter is a $4,900 package that adds whollops of high-end features like those LED headlights that are actually comprised of very cool looking dual-stacking beams and infused with auto high beam technology, while the taillights are upgraded to LEDs as well. The package normally comes with 18-inch chromed wheels and a whole host of chromed exterior trim, all of which gets nixed for the Special Edition package above, but the normally chrome-capped side mirrors (black as-tested) benefit from power-folding capability, auto-dimming, LED side-mirror security approach lights, blindspot monitoring warning lights, and more, while rear cross-traffic alert is also part of the 502A Luxury upgrade.

2017 Ford F-150 Lariat 3.5 Ecoboost Special Edition
Love those seats, and enamoured with that fabulous panoramic sunroof. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Additional kit from this package includes rain-sensing wipers, a universal garage door opener, a heatable steering wheel rim, a powered tilt and telescoping steering column with memory, 700-watt 10-speaker Sony audio (with a sub), satellite radio, voice-activated navigation, Sync Connect services, and heatable rear seats.

We could leave it there, but you might notice the addition of the $1,250 Technology package in the photos, which ups the ante with a 360-degree parking monitor with a split-screen display and Dynamic Hitch Assist, plus lane keeping assist.

A $550 spray-in bedliner made the box much more serviceable, while Ford’s exclusive (and still brilliant) $400 Tailgate Step made getting in and out much easier (money well spent for the 50-plus crowd). Likewise for the $300 retractable Box Side Steps, and there were more extras added on, but I will leave it there as this is supposed to be a “Garage” piece, not a complete review.

2017 Ford F-150 Lariat 3.5 Ecoboost Special Edition
Old man steps… a must-have for my aching back and limber-less limbs. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

That means I’ll be back soon with that full road test review where I’ll talk about how the modern-day legend 3.5 Ecoboost mates up to its new 10-speed partner, and how intrusive (or not) the auto start/stop system is. Fuel economy matters a lot in this class and was one of the key reasons Ford spent all the crazy money needed for this truck’s fully aluminum body shell, so will go over in detail, plus hauling specs, and of course the experiential stuff, how it drives in town, rides overall, pulls away from a stoplight, manages highway speeds, handles, coddles, comforts, etcetera.

Come back soon for a full report…

North America loves its F-series trucks. In 2016 Ford sold 820,799 F-series pickups in the United States. Canada sold nearly 150,000. Ford likes to boast that it’s been Canada’s best selling vehicle…

2017 Ford F-150 Lariat 4×4 SuperCrew

The new 2017 Ford F-150 Lariat 4×4 SuperCrew

North America loves its F-series trucks. In 2016 Ford sold 820,799 F-series pickups in the United States. Canada sold nearly 150,000. Ford likes to boast that it’s been Canada’s best selling vehicle for 51 years and it’s easy to understand why. The closest competitor to the F-series line was the Ram Pickup having sold 89,048 last year, followed by the GMC Sierra with 51,091 and then the Chevrolet Silverado at 44,932.

So what makes the Ford so appealing to the Canadian consumer? Pickups are a different breed today than they were in decades past. Trucks were used for heavy lifting and towing and usually thought of as a tradesman’s tool. However, many have developed luxurious traits that are normally only seen in luxury sedans and SUVs.

The interior of our test model is spacious with tasteful aluminum accents and comfortable bucket seats that are covered in leather. The dash is well thought out and very easy to become accustomed to. There is plenty of room in the back row, which can easily seat three adults side-by-side.

If you love chrome look no further than the Ford F-150 Lariat 4×4 SuperCrew.

This model also has the Lariat Chrome appearance options package ($1,000), which includes a chrome three-bar style grille with chrome surround, chrome mesh inserts, two chrome front tow hooks, chrome skull caps on the exterior mirrors, chrome door handles with body-colour bezels, chrome angular running boards, and of course a single-tip chrome exhaust.

The aesthetics aren’t the only discernable factor about this new model. Our F-150 Lariat 4×4 SuperCrew is also well equipped, this truck featuring a $2,300 equipment package that includes blind spot information, rear cross-traffic alert, trailer tow monitoring, SYNC connect (for your smartphone), Sirius XM satellite radio, 10-speaker audio, voice-activated navigation and LED puddle lamps.

The LED headlights and the chrome grille on this Ford F-150 help give it a rugged look.

It’s easy to get caught up marveling at all the technology and dazzling chrome accents, however the truck’s unseen components make it truly outstanding. The F-150 Lariat comes with a choice of three engines. First, the 2.7-litre V6 EcoBoost comes standard and develops 325 horsepower and 375 lb-ft of torque while only consuming 12.2 L/100km city, 9.3 highway and 10.9 combined.

The second available engine is the $900 optional 5.0-litre V8 with twin independent variable cam timing. It’s fast thanks to 385 horsepower at 5,750 rpm and 387 lb-ft of torque at 3,850 rpm. This means it will reach 100 km/h in 6.3 seconds from standstill. The 5.0 is surprisingly fuel-efficient for a V8, but nowhere near the EcoBoost engine. At 16.0 L/100km city, 11.8 highway and 14.1 combined the V8 has comparable fuel economy to the other trucks in its class, including the GMC Sierra SLE 5.3-litre V8 that has a 15.9 L/100km city, 11.1 highway and 13.8 combined rating, and the Ram pickup with the Hemi V8, although not the Ram’s similarly potent EcoDiesel.

Fantastic interior equipped with an awesome infotainment system.

The third available engine is the $1,650 3.5-litre V6 EcoBoost developing 365 horsepower at 5,000 rpm and 420 lb-ft of torque at 2,500 rpm. The fastest of the three, it will reach 100km/h in 5.8 seconds. At 15.6 L/100km city, 13.2 highway and 14.5 combined, this engine is the thirstiest as well, but offers a lot of pulling power. Also, when compared to competitors’ top engine choices it’s a fuel economy leader, partially due to an all-new 10-speed automatic transmission with auto start/stop.

Unfortunately, the 2.7-litre V6 EcoBoost and the 5.0-litre V8 are not yet available with the new 10-speed automatic, and come with a proven six-speed automatic transmission instead.

Depending on the engine, drivetrain, and body style, each F-150 model differs in maximum towing capability and maximum payload capacity. The smallest base 2.7-litre V6 EcoBoost has a maximum towing capability of 3,855 kg (8,500 lbs) and a maximum payload capacity of 1,002 kg (2,210 lbs) when mated up to the Regular Cab body style and 4×2 drivetrain, whereas the largest 5.0-litre TI-VCT V8 with the Regular Cab 4×2 has a max tow rating of 4,989 kg (11,000 lbs) and a max payload capacity of 1,483 kg (3,270 lbs). Finally, the 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 with the Regular Cab and a 4×2 drivetrain has a max towing capability of 5,533 kg (12,200 lbs) and a max payload capacity of 1,470 kg (3,240 lbs).

The F-150’s ability to provide strong performance despite its sizeable proportions isn’t just about engine performance, but more importantly can be attributed to a completely new light truck philosophy at Ford. As part of the 2015 F-150 redesign it switched from utilizing steel for its body and bed to a combination of “military-grade” aluminum and high-strength steel.

In the upcoming review we’ll give you a taste of what it’s like to sit behind the wheel along with a detailed description of the infotainment system that truly impressed us.

Stay tuned for a full review…

The original Focus ST dates back to the model’s first-generation when it became the blue-oval brand’s VW GTI killer in 2005, but like so many fabulous cars offered in other markets it was never brought…

2017 Ford Focus ST

2017 Ford Focus ST
The Focus ST continues its strong challenge against the hot hatch crowd. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

The original Focus ST dates back to the model’s first-generation when it became the blue-oval brand’s VW GTI killer in 2005, but like so many fabulous cars offered in other markets it was never brought across the Atlantic to play in our sandbox. Sure we had the 2002–2004 SVT Focus with a significant 170 horsepower, but that was still 52 ponies shy of the KKK-Warner turbocharged Euro version, whereas the ST variant of the Focus ZX4 built from 2005–2007 hardly deserves mention due to just 151 horsepower.

We’d have to wait a total of six years after ex-Boeing CEO Alan Mulally took the reigns in Dearborn so that his “One Ford” strategy could be more fully implemented before the 2013 Focus ST made its U.S. and Canadian debuts, followed quickly by the equally entertaining 2014 Fiesta ST (ironically the year Mulally was ousted).

2017 Ford Focus ST
The Focus ST makes a striking pose no matter which angle you see it. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Forget for a moment that the both small Fords are some of the most outdated models in their respective classes, or maybe I should call them two of the oldest models in their subcompact and compact car segments, because despite being in our market for five and four years apiece they’re still more advanced than many of their peers.

It’s just that they’re up against a phenomenally good new Honda Civic (that now comes in four body styles as well as a duo of new high performance Si models and an ultra-aggressive Type R), a much-improved Hyundai Elantra (in sedan and GT hatchback trims), and a better-than-ever Toyota Corolla (now with the Scion iM joining its ranks), while most others in the class than have been redesigned more recently.

2017 Ford Focus ST
The centre-mounted dual exhaust is an ST exclusive. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Nevertheless, one glance at the 2017 Focus ST ¬(or its insanely powerful Focus RS sibling—another previously Euro-only model introduced here last year, but available since 2002 in Europe) and you probably won’t care, as it looks fabulous, comes stuffed full of two of the best Recaro sport seats in the entire compact class, and scoots like someone lit its tail on fire.

I half expect to see flames thrown from its tailpipes in between shifts when I see one burning up the street in my import-tuner and supercar dominated neighbourhood, and yes the Focus ST should be considered an import despite wearing a decidedly domestic badge due to the cooperative group of global Ford performance divisions that came up with the idea, incubated it, brought it to life, kept it on life support when bean counters wanted it killed, and resuscitated it for this current generation. Let’s hope it remains, along with the aforementioned RS, to top off the next-gen Focus, which is expected sometime next year.

2017 Ford Focus ST
The performance-oriented cockpit is plenty luxurious too, plus filled with the latest tech. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Before sharing most of the reasons why I love the Focus ST in an upcoming review of this exact car, let me fill you in on some cold, hard facts: 252 horsepower, 270 lb-ft of torque, a 2.0-litre turbocharged, direct-injected Ecoboost I-4, a short-throw six-speed manual gearbox, a unique lightweight fully independent sport suspension design, lightweight 18-inch alloys on low profile summer performance tires, and a 1,462-kilo (3,223-lb) curb weight. Does that sound like something that’s got what it takes to get a move on? You betcha!

Strap yourself into those deeply sculpted leather Recaro sport seats, grab hold of its leather-wrapped flat-bottomed sport steering wheel, give a firm tug on its carbon-fibre trimmed parking brake lever, take hold of its carbon-fibre and leather-clad shift knob, find your footing on its ideally placed aluminum pedals, glance over at its trio of ancillary mini-gauges with turbo boost pressure atop the dash (just for fun), and don’t forget to select your favourite tunes on the 10-speaker Sony audio system. You’re now ready to rhumba! Believe me, it may not be the 350 horsepower Focus RS, but time well spent with a Focus ST won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

2017 Ford Focus ST
These leather-covered Recaro sport seats are some of the best in the biz. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Keep in mind the $33,698 2017 Focus ST is also $14,720 more affordable than the RS, so you’ll still have enough to buy a new Fiesta for a family member or friend. Seriously though, it’s a great value as far as brilliantly fun super hatches go. Plus it’s not exactly all go and now show either.

As mentioned earlier, its unique front grille and fascia, extended rocker panels, larger rear rooftop spoiler, and redesigned rear bumper cap with exclusive centre-mounted chromed tailpipes totally set the Focus ST apart, while other standard exterior features include auto on/off LED signature enhanced HID headlamps, black bezeled fog lights, heated power-adjustable side mirrors with integrated turn signals, and more.

2017 Ford Focus ST
A sports car with room for five. Something you could live with? (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Proximity-sensing keyless access gets you inside while pushbutton start gets the little turbo-four percolating, the Focus ST receiving most of the items previously mentioned as standard equipment, as well as the nicer soft touch interior panels of the Focus Titanium, plus metal “ST” branded scuff plates, ambient lighting, one-touch up/down powered windows all-round, a 4.2-inch high-resolution colour TFT multi-information display, cruise control, variable intermittent wipers, a heated steering wheel rim, heatable front seats, an eight-way powered driver’s seat, leather upholstery, an overhead console, a powered moonroof, and dual-zone auto climate control, while the carbon-fibre trim mentioned earlier can also be found on the door grab handle inserts and the bezel surrounding the dash-top mini gauges.

2017 Ford Focus ST
The practical theme continues with a large cargo area and split-folding rear seatbacks. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)

Tech fans will love the ST’s standard 8.0-inch centre stack-mounted touchscreen incorporating a backup camera with active guidelines and Ford’s new Sync 3 infotainment interface featuring tap, pinch and swipe capability, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto phone connectivity, the previously noted Sony audio system, enhanced voice recognition, satellite radio, dual smart-charging USB ports, etcetera.

Additionally, standard safety features include a perimeter alarm, hill start assist, tire pressure monitoring, sport-tuned ABS, traction and stability control, a full assortment of advanced airbags including one for the driver’s knees, plus plenty more.

My tester is fully loaded, which means navigation with detailed mapping adds $800, the machine-finished alloys with black painted pockets are an additional $600, and that eye-searing Triple Yellow paint increases the bottom line by $550, the total options coming to $1,950.

You might gather from my enthusiasm that I’m in for a very good week, so if you don’t hear much from me in the coming days you’ll know why. I’ll have a full review on this sensational little road rocket soon…

The Fusion has long been a fashionable car and it’s even more appealing after its most recent 2017 mid-cycle refresh, while this top-line Energi Platinum receives even more style along with zero-emissions…

2017 Ford Fusion Energi Platinum Road Test

We certainly have a lot of engine alternatives these days. While oil burners are becoming less prevalent amongst cars due to Volkswagen's Dieselgate scandal, various types of hybrid and full electrics are available from most manufacturers.

"Energi" is Ford-speak for plug-in hybrid or PHEV, a technology that straddles the middle ground between an HEV (Hybrid Electric Vehicle) and EV (Electric Vehicle) by providing pure electric capability for short commutes as well as the ability to continue driving without recharging at all, a best of both worlds scenario that seems to have found common ground amongst environmentally conscious buyers.

The Fusion Energi was one of the earlier plug-in adopters, arriving on the scene in February of 2013. It was by no means first in North America, Chevy's Volt starting things off on a mass scale in 2010, which beat Fisker's Karma and a small run of Ram 1500 PHEVs to market by a year or so. Toyota's Prius Plug-in Hybrid arrived in early 2012, Read Full Story
You’d think for a car available non-stop since 1965 there’d be more than six generations to the legendary Mustang’s credit, but Ford ran the first generation (the many iterations of which any genuine…

2017 Ford Mustang GT Convertible

2017 Ford Mustang GT Convertible
A week with a Mustang is always good, and one with a GT Convertible even better. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
You’d think for a car available non-stop since 1965 there’d be more than six generations to the legendary Mustang’s credit, but Ford ran the first generation (the many iterations of which any genuine car enthusiast equally loves and lusts after) for eight years and made even better use of the 1979–1993 third-gen Fox bodied model. I don’t think you’d get much argument from all but drag racing fans that the current rear independent suspension-enhanced sixth-gen model, available since 2015, is the best Mustang ever.
2017 Ford Mustang GT Convertible
The side most competitors had better get used to seeing. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
It takes little coaxing for us to accept a week in any of its trims, the first of this type being a 2015 Mustang GT Premium Convertible, which was followed by the new 2.3-litre turbo four-cylinder 2016 Ecoboost Fastback and a 2016 GT Convertible, the latter much like our most recent tester other than its eye-searing Triple Yellow paintjob.
2017 Ford Mustang GT Convertible
Love the GT’s available red on black interior detailing. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
Actually, this 2017 GT Convertible Premium is coated in the same Ruby Red exterior paintwork and its seats covered in identical Red Line leather as the 2015 example (the Ecoboost Fastback was finished in Oxford White on black, if you must know), these two cars appearing near identical if it weren’t for the same GT Performance Package as added to the Ecoboost Fastback, that upgrade beefing up the wheels to glossy black 19s, plus a whole lot more.
2017 Ford Mustang GT Convertible
This is how we like to roll. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)
At the heart of the GT is a 435 horsepower 5.0-litre V8 with 400 lb-ft of torque, capable of sling-shooting the 1,756-kilo (3,863-lb) ragtop to 100km/h in less than five seconds with standard launch control engaged. Ford was kind enough to include its six-speed manual transmission in this tester, which is the best way to go if you don’t mind a lot of DIY activity in city traffic. I’ll comment on its refinement and all of the car’s other driving dynamic details in my upcoming review, plus remind you of the many improvements Ford made to this model when introduced as a 2015 model, while filling you in on specific 2017 upgrades (and downgrades) as well…