By Chris Haak
We just got word from Ford PR that the power ratings for the 2011 Ford F-150 pickup’s new optional 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6 have been published. Actually, the power figures for the entire 2011 engine lineup for the F-150 was released today. You may recall that the 2011 F-150 is receiving an all-new engine lineup for the 2011 model year, set to improve the power and economy (at least theoretically) of the best-selling vehicle in the US.
To recap the engine lineup, the base engine is a 3.7 liter V6, marking the return of a six-cylinder to the F-series lineup for the first time since 2008. This engine produces 302 horsepower at a high-revving 6,500 RPMs and 278 lb-ft of torque at 4,000 RPMs, which is amazing for a base six-cylinder truck engine. GM’s 4.3 liter V6 base engine, in contrast, produces just 195 horsepower and 260 lb-ft of torque. According to Ford, the base engine can tow 6,100 pounds.
By Kevin Miller
Volvo today announced R-Design packages for their new S60 and V60 sedan and wagon, that will make their debut at the Paris Auto Show at the end of this month. The S60 is already on sale in Europe, and is hitting US Volvo dealerships this month, in the T6 launch trim with 300 HP from a 3.0 liter inline 6 and AWD, delivered through a 6-speed Geartronic automatic transmission. Other powertrains will become available sometime after the initial launch of T6 models, but no manual transmission is planned for any S60 models in the US.
By Charles Krome
About 10 years ago, I had an interesting opportunity to drive some expensive metal—an Aston-Martin V8 Vantage, Jaguar XKR, Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG, Corvette ZR-1, etc.—around some of the most challenging tracks in the world. True, the wreckage I left behind likely equalled the GDP of a number of small countries, but the whole experience only set me back about $40, as near as I can remember.
And while I haven’t popped “Gran Turismo” in the ol’ Playstation in quite some time, it was obvious even back then that there was plenty of overlap between gearheads and gamers. Thus, we’ve seen a steady stream of OEMs leveraging video games as advertising opportunities, from running actual in-game ads to licensing virtual versions of their lineups for ever more realistic gameplay. It’s a trend that has now reached its logical conclusion with the recent news that Jeep would take things in the other direction and launch a special edition Wrangler based on a video game.
By Chris Haak
GM’s main brand in Europe, Opel, has really been struggling for the past few years. In spite of critical acclaim for many of its new models, including the awarding of the then-new Opel Insignia (known in the US as the Buick Regal) as the European Car of the Year. Unfortunately for GM, the financial uncertainty surrounding Opel until fairly recently has put a damper on sales. Opel’s sales, particularly in Germany, are down further than the overall market, with the result being market share losses. Ominous signs, to be sure, and many – including us – are questioning whether GM’s turnaround plan will do enough to stem the bleeding and get Opel on Old World consumers’ radars again.
Following the launch of the Insignia, the follow-up act was the new Astra. The Astra has been for sale in Europe for several months, but the car’s lineup is not yet as full as it had been during the car’s previous generation. GM is aiming to partially rectify that situation with a sleek three-door sport hatch set to make its debut at the Paris Motor Show. Called the GTC Paris concept, the attractive compact coupe builds upon the Insignia’s and four-door Astra’s design cues, including the upswept “blade” on the car’s flanks. The concept car has giant 21-inch wheels and a 2.0 liter gasoline direct injection four cylinder under its hood. While the car is likely demonstrating 90 percent or more of what a production Astra GTC would look like, the wheels are likely to be downsized, the LED lighting likely cut, and the engine may remain intact in one form or another.
By Charles Krome
At the beginning of summer, as I was chatting with my friend Rod about the curvaceous lines of my third-gen Ford Taurus, he asked me how many miles I had on the odometer. When I told him I was just about to hit six figures, he gave me a knowing look—Rod’s a Ford quality engineer—and mentioned I’d probably want to start searching for another ride in the not-too-distant future.
Sure enough, a few days ago, with about 103,000 miles on the clock, I heard the two words no one ever wants to hear from a mechanic: “head gasket.”
Now, the car itself was cosmetically very clean, with no rust issues, and I had long been telling everyone—with a certain amount of seriousness—that one day it would be a classic. This 1996-1999 generation was the fruit of the first comprehensive Taurus redesign, and, truth be told, the reception was positively Aztek-like. There was nary a straight line to be seen on the car’s exterior, which its designer supposedly likened to a pair of slippers, and that ovoid design theme carried through to the Taurus’ interior, with similar results.