Tag: Ford

2017 Ford F150 Raptor

2017 Ford F150 Raptor

We were all set. I was even contemplating an appointment with a chiropractor to follow my week in the 2017 Ford F150 Raptor. The Raptor is essentially an ultra high-performance version of the Ford F150 pickup truck that is nearly race-ready, minus a few necessary safety features. The fascinating thing is that I don’t really believe in the benefits of Chiropractic.

The few days prior to the Raptor’s arrival were spent obsessing over whether there was a need for kidney belts that hold your guts in place to prevent your innards from getting beat up. By week’s end, it was clear I would need to find another way to meet my medical insurance plan deductible.

It’s a Trophy Truck…almost.

2017 Ford F150 Raptor
2017 Ford F150 Raptor

It’s an impressive truck. Starting with what is essentially a Ford F150 pickup truck, Blue Oval engineers have utilized the latest in military-grade aluminum alloy as seen in other F150s, and placed it on a modified boxed-steel frame chassis designed specifically for the Raptor.

Power for the Ford F150 Raptor comes from a Ford EcoBoost twin turbocharged 3.5-liter V6, which is the basis for the somewhat tamer version found in the Ford SHO Taurus and Ford Police Interceptor vehicles. In the case of the Raptor, it offers 450-horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque in its High Output configuration. Power gets to the rear or all four wheels via Ford’s 10-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters to flick your way through, should you think your brain is more adept at quick changes than the millions-per-second from the Raptor’s CPU.

2017 Ford F150 Raptor
2017 Ford F150 Raptor

From there, it heads to an AWD/4WD transfer case whose function varies according to sensors that provide torque on-demand between the front and rear wheels, as well as a 4×4 Hi and 4×4 lo locking differential.

Ford’s Terrain Management System makes the 2017 Ford F150 Raptor behave essentially like a Land Rover, because it is similar to the TMS developed for the English-brand while their were under Ford stewardship. With it, drivers can select between two, four and All-Wheel drive modes with protocols built in for specific driving conditions ranging from street to snow to gravel to nearly everything in between.

The Killer.

If looks could kill, the 2017 Ford F150 Raptor would be on Death Row. Featuring a wider face with bold Ford lettering, twinkle running lights, and a six-inch wider gait thanks to the special issue BFGoodrich on/off high performance meats all around, it’s clear this is a purpose-built vehicle. In fact, the only difference between this and the Raptor that competed in the 2016 Baja 1000 was the addition of a full roll cage and other safety equipment as dictated by the off-road corporate racing honchos at SCORE. When all is said and done, the Raptor looks like an off-road Trophy Truck, as seen running down the Baja Peninsula in Mexico.

2017 Ford F150 Raptor
2017 Ford F150 Raptor

The ten speed automatic transmission never sent us on a hunt for the proper gearing and still managed to turn in the minimal EPA mileage expectations of 15 city / 18 highway with an actually observed 18 mpg average.

But wait! What is going on here? This ride is surprisingly plush! What we were truly expecting was a jarring, teeth-rattling drive whether on-road or off. Instead, what we got was a floaty-boaty cruiser heading down to Miami thanks to the Fox-branded High Performance shocks developed in conjunction with Ford Performance. Growing half an inch from 2.5 to 3.0-inches in diameter over the shocks from the previous Raptor, they offered a ride that even the spousal unit loved. Still, her love of high heels was likely the cause of grumblings about the high step in required to enter our truck. For those with a larger brood, the Raptor can be ordered in the larger SuperCrewCab option.

Daddy’s Money.

The new grille had a big bad-assed look to it with the aggressive FORD grille up front and minus the racerboy RAPTOR stickers all around the rear. To see the Raptor in plain view would have you think you were looking at a standard, but higher-riding version of the F150, modified with a liberal dusting of “Daddy’s Money.”

2017 Ford F150 Raptor
2017 Ford F150 Raptor

Interior-wise, our Raptor SuperCab had newly bolstered front seats with the requisite Raptor embroidery, and a bin under elbow that was large enough to store the latest MacBook Pro. Ford’s Sync3 system worked flawlessly, offering great tuneage through the Raptor’s high-end audio system. In the cheap seats, there was enough room to carry photography gear for several photo shoots, thanks to the flip-up rear bench seat. Tossing the seat bottoms into their upright and locked position meant you could actually store a 50-inch wide flat screen TV from Costco, on one of those secret-right-before-the-Super Bowl binge buys, only to return it the Monday after. By the way, anything over 50-inches could be carried in the step-equipped cargo box behind the cab.

We were surprised the Raptor did not include a telescoping steering wheel. At first glance, we thought we would be subjected to a week of contortionistic moves while trying to find a comfortable seating position. That was until we found the adjustable foot pedal switch that allowed us to move the pedals forward or back for an optimal driving position. The ventilated seats helped keep our backsides comfortable, which was essential during the peak of Hurricane season which starts with a feeling that once you leave an air conditioned dwelling, its as if you have become blanketed by a, uh, warm, wet blanket.

The 2017 Ford F150 Raptor is not for the meek of heart, or those who don’t wish to attract attention from others. Thankfully our example did not include the big screaming decals on the rear flanks that yell “look at me, look at me, I’m a Raptor!” Instead we were treated to a subtle yet aggressive vehicle that manages to talk softly but pack that extra wallop that appears once you step on the skinny pedal.

Sure, it’s not as eardrum piercing as the spawns from the Mother of Dragons on “Game of Thrones,” but this Raptor is a Mutha in its own right.

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor

Story and Photos by Mark Elias

Base MSRP: $48,325. As Tested: $61,685.

Includes Equipment Group 802A, $9,345; Tailgate Step, $375; Raptor Technology Package, $1,950; Spray-in Bedliner, $495; Destination and Delivery, $1,195.

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2018 Ford F150 First Drive

2018 Ford F150 First Drive

With its predecessor already an award-winning vehicle, what does Ford do for an encore? The 2018 Ford F150 holds tough with a new, bolder grille, bringing it closer in line with its bigger Super Duty brethren. But is that enough to keep this aluminum wonder relevant into the new model year?

With the aluminum bodied F150 already well received, Ford revisits engine configurations and choices, adds more design cues, more safety features, more payload, more, uh, more. Are pickup trucks still sexy? Let’s find out.

What’s New?

Ford flew us to their backyard, in Ann Arbor Michigan, where they displayed a beautifully ancient Model TT truck and a 1950s-era Ford F1 pickup, following the axiom that you need to see where you’ve come from in order to see where you are going.  Even though the brand has been successful with over 26 million F-Series pickups sold to date, the company still tries to push the envelope. Not content with the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” ethos, Ford designers and engineers, following their successful redesign in 2015, decided to tweak a few outside appearance items and then go whole hog on the powertrain. That, and the fact they are constantly aware of what is happening with their around-town rivals, the RamTruck Ram 1500, Chevrolet Silverado / GMC Sierra twins, and the Texas-bred Toyota Tundra.

New on the 2018 Ford F150 are revised C-Clamp headlamps with available LED lighting that help to add some swagger to the twin bar grille. As a result, there’s no mistaking what another driver sees in their rearview mirror. Returning: Ford’s trademark “drop down” side glass is back for an easier sideview of the road. New design cues on XL, XLT and Lariat series trucks mimic that of Ford Super Duty models, while the premium King Ranch, Platinum and Limited series up the ante even more.

Ford F150
Ford F150

New for 2018 is the base 3.3-liter V6 engine, which is smaller, but puts out eight more horsepower and an additional 12 lb-ft of torque than the base 3.5-liter V6 it replaces. In current trim, it’s good for 290 horsepower and 265 lb-ft of torque.

That engine is joined by a revised second-generation 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 engine. It includes port and direct-injection, and now features 325 horsepower and an additional 25 lb-ft of torque, up to 400 lb-ft.

Finally, a revised Five-Point-Oh (5.0-liter) V8 is offered, which like the 2.7-liter V6, now includes port and direct-injection, along with friction-reducing enhancements that boost it up an additional 10 ponies to 395-horsepower and 13 more lb-ft of torque to 400 lb-ft.

Ford F150
Ford F150

Ford, in an effort to keep the entry price low, mates the 3.3-liter exclusively to a six-speed automatic transmission, while the 2.7- and 5.0-liter receive a 10-speed automatic gearbox. These and other enhancements help the F150 achieve a maximum gross combined weight rating (GCWR) of 18,400-pounds, with a 1,000-pound increase in towing capacity to 13,200 lbs. As far as rocks in the box, you can haul up to 3,270-pounds of cargo in the 5.5-, 6.5-, or 8-foot boxes. Cab configurations start with a regular cab setup, a SuperCab and a SuperCrew cabin for the full E-ticket ride.

Safety First.

The Blue Oval reportedly included a new 12-corner front crush horn to throw off energy in a frontal impact. Ford has determined that it helps to increase occupant safety in such a shunt.

Adaptive cruise control is also in the mix with stop and go measures for truck applications, including towing. According to Ford, the system operates by using radar to bring the F150 down to a complete stop, depending on following distance.

An available Pro Trailer Backup Assist guides drivers in backing up with trailers to boat ramps or driveways. Also on board: an optional Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) which works with trailers up to 33-feet long, causing the system to add in the extra towing length when considering the blind spot. Combine that with the available 360-degree camera system for a total view around your ride.

Behind the Wheel.

Always a competent runner, we found the new 2018 Ford F150 only improving on its legendary abilities. Sufficiently quiet on Michigan back roads, we found normal conversations possible, even from the back seat. When we were in a mood for tuneage, the Bang & Olufsen audio system provided clear and crisp dBs of sound, despite what was emanating from under the hood.

Ford F150
Ford F150

Power from the 5.0-liter V8 was flawless even at high speeds, which saw the new 10 speed automatic transmission trying to get to its top cog in an effort to achieve fuel sipping nirvana. Lower speed jaunts around town found it skipping a gear or two for added efficiency. No matter, as it is probably very easy to get lost within 10 gear sets.

On an impromptu off-road course, the F150 admirably displayed added functionality from such features as the 360-degree Around Vehicle camera system and vehicle sensors. When cresting up a hill, all it took was a flick of the switch to turn on the front-view camera, to see what lie below before descending on the other side.

Plowing through the water hazard was just plain fun and a good indicator of how the F150 will perform under trying conditions. Slip it into 4-low and the powertrain supplied all the grunt needed to pull us up and away from a simulated shallow river crossing.

Add that to the thoughtfully designed tailgate step and other around-truck features, and it’s easy to see why the 2018 Ford F150 will likely continue its dominance in the half-ton pickup truck segment.

2018 Ford F150

Story and Photos by Mark Elias. Additional pics by Sam Varnhagen/Ford.

F150 Specs:

Base prices:

XL: $28,675; XLT, $34,265; Lariat, $41,980; King Ranch, $52,895; Platinum, $55,450; Limited, $61,815.


3.3-liter Naturally Aspirated V6

2.7-liter EcoBoost Turbocharged V6

3.5-liter EcoBoost Turbocharged V6

5.0-liter Naturally Aspirated V8



Six-speed Automatic with manual shift mode

10-speed Automatic with manual shift mode



Wheelbase: 122.4-163.7 inches

Length: 209.3-250.5 inches

Width: 79.9 inches

Height: 75-77.5 inches

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2017 Lincoln Continental AWD Reserve

2017 Lincoln Continental AWD Reserve

Ford’s Lincoln division as of late has undergone a Phoenix-like rise from the ashes. First attempts with the MKS, and MKT felt like the brand had two broken wings. Follow up efforts with the MKZ and MKC resulted in more widespread acceptance, but the brand still lacked a flagship. That was until the appearance of the 2017 Lincoln Continental.

A few Lincoln Continental concept cars had appeared through the years, and some were actually handsome. In 2015, Lincoln introduced a Continental concept that made the rounds at all the auto shows to great acclaim. The future looked bright. Eventually the concept was green-lighted, which caused Town Car fans and limo operators alike to rejoice. Production of the new Lincoln Continental began in 2016 as a 2017 model.

It is a gorgeous car. But sadly it looked as though something was lost in translation from concept to production car.

Not a large barge.

Borrowing design cues of land yachts like Bentley and Rolls-Royce, among others, the 2017 Continental does not appear very big. Still, the EPA tags it a full-size luxury sedan. So large, it does match the wheelbase of the late and lamented 1980-era Continentals. Yes, the ones with the velour interiors. The only thing missing are suicide rear doors. Oh don’t get us wrong, there’s a few other things missing as well, but we’ll get to that later.

Built utilizing the Ford CD4 platform, which it shares with the Fusion and MKZ, the base Continental is powered by a buyer’s choice of 3.7-liter Cyclone V6, a 2.7 liter EcoBoost twin turbo V6, or in the case of our top-line AWD Reserve model, the 3.0-liter EcoBoost twin turbo V6 that makes 400 horsepower and 400 lb-ft of torque. That engine is mated to a six-speed Selectshift automatic transmission with gear selection buttons located to the left of the Lincoln Sync3 audio system. We are chuffed by the 3.0-liter EcoBoost, but wonder where the missing eight-speed automatic transmission is. Six-speed just seems so 2002 these days.

Our Continental received its motivation from a transverse-mounted and compressed V6 engine sending power to all four wheels. The rear wheels feature a torque vectoring function that speeds up the outside wheel in a turn, which shortens the car’s turning radius, for tighter cornering. Continuously controlled dampers allowed for on the fly suspension adjustments, which varied ride quality over the roads of South Florida. The ride was not too far off from Town Cars of old.

The Lincoln Continental competes directly against such segment stars as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the BMW 7-series and the Lexus LS. We’d say it has a bit of catching up to do, but with a few tweaks, it will be off to a good start.

The Continental was gorgeous to look at, except for the rubberized leather stretched across the dashboard. Shortcomings like that manage to kill a brand’s return to glory and in this case, Lincoln can’t afford a misstep. In Reserve trim it has virtually the entire Lincoln parts catalog in place, for the full E-ticket experience. Our tester featured the 30-way Perfect Position seating system in front with articulated seatbacks and massage functions for the upper and lower parts of the human body. There’s nothing quite like getting your back and butt massaged while doing 80 mph.

Controls throughout are a bit understated, clearly from the less-is-more school of interior design. Although they have been around for a few years, the PRNDS buttons are a still not doing it for us. Add to that the excessive use of bright chrome inside, that to our eyes appears a bit over done. Perhaps it would be wise for them to use the brushed aluminum as seen around the Revel audio system, instead.

As Matthew McConaughey so aptly demonstrated in those commercials where he goes swimming in a tuxedo, the back seat is really where you want to sit in this car. With the Lincoln Continental preparing to make waves in China, it is truly the car that we would love to be chauffeured in. With the fold-down center console, and reclining rear seat, it’s a place that allows occupants the ability to decide everything from which Sirius XM channel to listen to and at what temperature.

2017 Lincoln Continental AWD Reserve
2017 Lincoln Continental AWD Reserve

Amazing and adjustable massaging seats aside, there are other cool bits including slick electric pushbuttons on the door that make for a simple push to exit. Conversely, if you don’t use enough force to close the doors, the Lincoln will cinch them shut for you. That’s it. The outside placement of the door handles are high along the Conti’s beltline, as well as attention grabbing. Still, we miss having the suicide doors that would have made us feel like part of the cast of Entourage.

Gorgeous open-pore wood veneer accents are simply beautiful to look at and touch. If you came to this hotrod Lincoln in hopes of seeing the same glossy plasticized faux wood trim pieces that you grew up with in Mom’s old Country Squire, you are sadly in the wrong place.

2017 Lincoln Continental AWD Reserve
2017 Lincoln Continental AWD Reserve


This Lincoln does snap your neck with power on demand from the twin turbo EcoBoost V6. It is a great performer that actually belongs in many of the other cars in the Ford and Lincoln portfolio. Despite its head snapping abilities, it still managed to deliver a 24.3 mpg average on a trip to Marathon in the Florida Keys, without even breaking a sweat. Now if we could only convince Ford to put this engine in the Fusion and Mustang…

Overall the Lincoln presents with a nice grunt coming from the engine compartment. Ride quality is admittedly floaty-boaty, but after all, isn’t that the reason you’d buy such a rig in the first place? Mind you, this is not a corner carving track car. Instead, consider it a boulevardier that will cruise you across country leaving you refreshed and fatigue-free at the same time.

This is full-blown luxury from Lincoln.



Story and Photos by Mark Elias

 2017 Lincoln Continental AWD Reserve

Base MSRP: $56,075   As Tested: $75,770

3.0-liter Twin Turbo EcoBoost engine, $3,265; Luxury Package, $5,000; PerfectPosition Seating, $1,500; Rear Seat Package, $4,300; Continental Technology Package, $3,105; 20-inch Polished wheels, $750; Continental Climate Control, $850; Destination Fee, $925.

Key Specs

Cylinders:                                    6

Displacement:                            3.0-liter Twin Turbocharged V6

Power:                                          400 hp @ 5,750 rpm

Torque:                                        400 lb-ft @ 2,750 rpm

Fuel System:                               Gasoline Direct Injection

Drive Type                                   AWD

Unladen Weight:                        4,547-pounds

Length:                                         201.4-inches

Width:                                           82.3-inches w/mirrors

Height:                                          58.5-inches

Wheelbase:                                   117.9-inches

Cargo Volume:                             16.7-cubic feet

Fuel Economy                              16 city/24 highway/19 combined

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2017 Lincoln MKZ 3.0T Black Label

2017 Lincoln MKZ 3.0T Black Label

2017 Lincoln MKZ 3.0T Black Label

Testing a Lincoln with a Concierge.

Story and photos by Mark Elias

 Inside the 2017 Lincoln MKZ 3.0T Black Label AWD, a driver and passengers will feel as though they are being well coddled with an abundance of creature comforts that do their part to make them feel as though they really belong.


Since it’s not the flagship of the line, the MKZ can coast a little bit, as far as the heavy lifting is concerned. That’s all better left for its Lincoln Continental big brother. Still, Lincoln saw fit to upgrade the MKZ’s grillwork to bring it in line with the Conti’s front opening. Now in its second generation, the MKZ has been on the market for around four years. It is built in Hermosillo, Mexico, using the Ford CD4 platform, which it shares with the Ford Fusion in North America, and the Ford Mondeo in other markets around the world.

Think of it as someone wearing a dark suit to a black tie optional dinner party. You will still not feel underdressed.

The 2017 Lincoln MKZ 3.0T is available in four trim levels ranging from base Premiere, mid-level Select, high-zoot Reserve and ultra-luxe Black Label versions. Power comes in three flavors, starting with a standard 2.0-liter, 245-horsepower turbocharged four-cylinder. Next up is a 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas/electric hybrid combination, with 188-horsepower, that the EPA says is good for 40 mpg combined.

Finally, a twin-turbocharged aluminum-blocked 3.0-liter V6 is on offer that can be had with 350-horsepower (FWD) or 400-horsepower (AWD) depending on your drive configuration. In the case of our AWD version, the EPA says to expect 20 mpg. We’d say they are about right. All are coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission. Plenty quick, the twin-turbo V6, which shares parentage with the Ford 2.7-liter V6, is good for a zero to 60 romp in 4.8-seconds.

Black Label.

Of the four trim levels, our Black Label version shares trim found in the top-shelf Reserve version, including a 20-speaker Revel Ultima audio system and an upgraded leather interior that includes heated and ventilated front seats, with massage, FTW (!). Above our heads was a faux suede headliner. It also includes mobile showroom, remote vehicle delivery, pickup and drop off of your car when servicing is required and an extended premium service plan. Our Black Label was equipped with 19-inch Michelin Primacy radials, but truth be told, we think the overall look of the MKZ deserved a set of 20-inch tires, at least, to fill out the wheel wells.

Lincoln’s Sync 3 connectivity system has been revised to offer traditional buttons and dials rather than the rather awkward touch-sensitive systems of the past. The new voice activated navigation system offers pinch-to-zoom and swipe functions for more responsive control.

The multi-contour seating had us in a comfortable spot for the long haul. The only thing that seemed to disturb us was the merlot-based interior hue that seemed a bit out of place. Perhaps a case of Maranello tan would be more appropriate, at least in the case of our pearlized white metallic exterior finish was concerned.

The rear seat was comfortable enough for three passengers of the not-so-large persuasion, although we did hear of some discomfort from our middle passenger. Perhaps it was because of the armrest / ski pass-through as a backrest feature, or the performance Michelin tires that skinned our 19-inch alloy wheels. And besides, is the ski pass-through really necessary? From a practical standpoint, the MKZ is most likely the last car we would expect to find on the slopes near Vail and Jackson Hole.

We do think, however that the slab-sidedness of the MKZ is like a visiting relative, in the sense that it is just on the verge of overstaying its welcome.

Drive time.

We found the MKZ’s 3.0-liter twin-turbo pulled like a bat out of hell, quickly dispensing with most challengers during stoplight flash bang excursions. Ride quality was generally good, but there was a distinct drone that seemed to come from the tires that caused a louder than normal hum to appear. Road surfaces seemed to embellish it further, with it simply disappearing on pristine surfaces.

Handling was as though the MKZ was substantially lighter than the scale would have you believe. Our vectored AWD system even managed to shorten the turning radius when rounding a corner at a higher than average speed. It’s here that we found our driving nirvana. Compared to an Acura TLX, and Lexus ES350, the 2017 Lincoln MKZ 3.0T Black Label is definitely in the hunt.

2017 Lincoln MKZ 3.0T Black Label AWD

Base MSRP: $49,560. As tested: $61,765.

Includes: 3.0-liter Twin-Turbo V6, $4,000; Panoramic Roof, $1,795; Technology Package, $2,395; Climate Package, $695; Destination, $925.

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