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Want to Drive a Ford Ranger or Toyota Hilux? Better Talk to Uncle Sam

Want to Drive a Ford Ranger or Toyota Hilux? Better Talk to Uncle Sam

U.S. Military wants pickups and SUVs that blend into wartime locations

The global Ford Ranger, along with the Toyota Hilux and Land Cruiser 76 and 79 models aren’t available in the U.S. thanks to safety and emissions regulations. However, the U.S. Military has secured a contract with an Ohio-based company to upfit 396 of the trucks and SUVs with armor and communication equipment for duty in regions where the vehicles are commonly found.

It’s the perfect form of camouflage, actually. The enemy is far less likely to spot a Land Cruiser than a Humvee or MRAP.

The contract is between the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida and the Battelle Memorial Institute of Columbus, Ohio. The five-year contract is worth $170 million for as many as 556 vehicles. According to Military Aerospace, 396 of the vehicles will be armored with the remaining 160 vehicles retaining their OEM looks.

Battelle will add various levels of crew protection like armor, along with stronger suspension and braking systems, frame and body reinforcements, and run-flat tires on special wheels that can withstand small arms fire. Infrared lighting for blackout mode will be included, along with C4ISR equipment, otherwise known as command, control, communications, computer, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance equipment. These upfitted vehicles will mostly consist of the Land Cruiser.

It will be a while before these vehicles see combat, however. Battelle will need time for developing the specialized add-ons for these specific vehicles. The prototypes then have to pass the military’s grueling evaluation process and qualification testing. At that time, the government may issue delivery orders for production. Yep, none of this is set in concrete. Battelle expects to have the contract finished by 2023.

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2017 Ford F-150 Raptor

2017 Ford F-150 Raptor

Ford’s baddest truck gets reborn

Truck enthusiasts and journalist alike have long swooned over the Ford F-150 Raptor. Introduced in 2010, the Raptor proved Ford could make a Baja trophy truck and sell it to the average Joe. First equipped with the old 5.4-liter V-8 and then the updated 6.2-liter V-8, the Raptor has always been a heavyweight bruiser when it came to off-road performance and muscle.

Things are changing for the Raptor – and for the better. Completely all new for 2016, the Raptor moves to the new F-150 design that incorporates the aluminum bodywork, beefy high-strength steel frame, upgraded interior, and yes, even Ford’s EcoBoost technology. That’s right, the Raptor is ditching the 6.2-liter V-8 for a high-output version of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6.

While some may be concerned the Raptor has lost its mojo, Ford says the new high-strung EcoBoost puts out more than the old 411-horsepower, 434-pound-foot V-8. The engine is then backed by a 10-speed automatic transmission and controlled by a new Terrain Management system and new transfer case.

Add to that the reduced weight of the V-6 and the new aluminum skin, and the Raptor tips in 500 pounds lighter that the outgoing model. While that’s not as much as the 700 pounds the standard F-150 lost, the 200-pound difference is tied up in the Raptor’s strengthened frame. Yes, strengthened beyond the newly upgraded 2015 F-150 frame.

Other improvements include a dual exhaust system that exits under the shorty rear bumper, larger FOX Racing shocks with more suspension travel, and BFGoodrich’s newly released All-Terrain K02 tires.

Update 07/25/2016: Leaked documents show the 2017 Raptor will start at $48,325 for the SuperCab and $51,310 for the SuperCrew. A slew of packages and options was also released. Check the “Price” section below for the full run-down.

Click past the jump to read more about the next Ford F-150 Raptor.

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Ford Announces 10-Year Renovation Plan for its Dearborn Facilities

Ford Announces 10-Year Renovation Plan for its Dearborn Facilities

Modern, green, & high-tech campus said to foster innovation

Ford Motor Company has announced plans for a complete revitalization of its Dearborn, Michigan facilities over a 10-year period. The plan include new buildings with better workflow layouts and high-tech connectivity upgrades, walking paths, roadways for autonomous shuttle vehicles and eBikes, and courtyards for employees to enjoy – all done with green energy building practices.

“As we transition to an auto and a mobility company, we’re investing in our people and the tools they use to deliver our vision,” said Ford President and CEO Mark Fields. “Bringing our teams together in an open, collaborative environment will make our employees’ lives better, speed decision-making and deliver results for both our core and emerging businesses.”

The transition to an auto and mobility company Fields talks about will have Ford not only building cars, trucks, SUVs, and vans like today, but will expand into building autonomous vehicles and becoming a “leader in connectivity and mobility,” along with tapping into customer experience, data, and analytics.

Construction is set to begin by the end of April 2016 at the Ford Research and Engineering Center and should be done by 2023. Work on the Ford World Headquarters will begin in 2021 and is scheduled for completion in 2026. The two-phase project will deliver more than 1.3 million square feet of space.

Ford expects both locations will achieve at least a minimum silver certification through the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design process. All newly constructed buildings are planned to meet LEED Gold certification, meaning they are environmentally constructed and use less energy than a conventional building.

All this is aimed at replacing Ford’s current facilities, which are more than 60 years old.

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Ford May Bring Bronco & Ranger Back in The U.S.

Ford May Bring Bronco & Ranger Back in The U.S.

It appears Ford’s watchful eye on the revival of the midsize truck market has determined there is room for the Ranger after all. Yep, after four years without a U.S.-spec Ranger, the Blue Oval is currently (and more openly) discussing the possibility of bringing back the compact truck. What’s more, the Bronco SUV is being mentioned as well.

The discussions are taking place between Ford and the UAW, with the union seeking promises on job security at the Michigan Assembly Plant. The plant currently builds the Focus and C-Max, both of which are scheduled to be relocated to another manufacturing facility after 2018. Ford now needs something to fill the gap and the business case for a less-expensive, more fuel-efficient truck is growing.

In order for the Ranger to work, the truck would have to cost $5,000 to $6,000 less than the F-150 and get 30 percent better fuel economy, according Ford’s truck group marketing manager, Doug Scott. That means the Ranger would have to have a base price of roughly $21,000 and get nearly 28 mpg combined.

If Ford didn’t start with a fresh design, the automaker would have to modify the current global Ranger to meet U.S. emissions and safety regulations. General Motors did the same with the 2015 Chevy Colorado and 2015 GMC Canyon trucks, both of which are loosely based off the global Colorado.

On the Bronco side, reports suggest the Bronco would be a midsize, body-on-frame SUV perhaps based on the Ranger. Again, Ford already has this vehicle in production in Thailand for sale in markets across the globe. Called the 2015 Ford Everest, the SUV would compete with Jeep in offering a competent off-roader.

If the Ranger and Bronco get the green light, expect them for the 2019 model year.

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2015 Ford F-150 by Roush

2015 Ford F-150 by Roush

I’m not going to lie. When a Roush-tuned Ford F-150 showed up in my news feed recently, I instantly pictured a modern-day Ford Lightning or at least some sort of off-road performance truck to tide the market over until the 2017 Ford F-150 Raptor arrives. Boy, was I disappointed.

Instead of a truck version of Roush’s 670-horsepower 2014 Stage 3 Mustang, this F-150 is essentially just a styling package with a minor suspension upgrade. That being said, Roush did put a lot of work into creating a custom, performance look for the F-150, and with as many lifted F-Series trucks that I see riding around on oversized wheels and tires, there’s no doubt that truck lovers and F-150 and Roush loyalists will eat them up.

The lack of any performance mods will probably be cancelled out by the fact that truck customers can get the 2015 Roush F-150 at select Ford dealerships, and in addition to the factory warranty, the truck’s changes will be backed by Roush for three year or 36,000 miles.

Continue reading for my full review of the 2015 Roush F-150.

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Ford Recalls F-650 & F-750 Over Seatbelt Anchorings

Ford Recalls F-650 & F-750 Over Seatbelt Anchorings

The massive F-650 and F-750 medium duty trucks from Ford might not be the first vehicles that come to mind when thinking of safety compliances, but that’s just the case with roughly 26,400 F-Series trucks built between 2011 and 2015. According to Ford, the front right passenger and center passenger seat belt anchors may not be attached in the proper position, which could potentially lead to an increased risk of injury during a crash.

The safety compliance violation has to do with FMVSS 210, the code for seat belt anchorings in school buses, commercial trucks, and similar vehicles. In Ford’s case, the seat belt anchors might not be positioned correctly in relation to the seat bottom.

Thankfully there are no known injuries from the seat belts, but Ford isn’t taking the chance. The seat belt mounting points will be corrected, though Ford admits it is still working on the solution. The solution will have to include variances for the many cab and seat configurations offered on the medium-duty trucks.

The affected trucks were built at the Escobedo Assembly plant and include the 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015 model years. Some 417 models are estimated to be in Canada with the remaining 25,941 trucks in the U.S. and its territories.

Ford will be contacting owners of the affected trucks, letting them know how they can participate in the recall. Like all such safety recalls, the service will be done without cost to the customer.

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Ford 2.7 EcoBoost Falls Short of Engine Award Due to Poor Fuel Economy

Ford 2.7 EcoBoost Falls Short of Engine Award Due to Poor Fuel Economy

Despite having “eco” in its name, the Ford F-150’s newest engine, the 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6, did not woo Wards Auto in its yearly 10 Best Engines test simply because of fuel economy. Wards’ independent testing showed the turbocharged V-6 only averaged between 17.6 and 19 mpg over a 253-mile test loop in a 4WD supercab truck. What’s worse, checking the fuel economy manually by filling up the tank and dividing miles by gallons revealed a dismal 15.6-mpg average.

That’s a far cry from the EPA’s estimated fuel economy of 20 mpg combined and 23 mpg highway.

Adding insult to injury, Wards claims to have gotten better fuel mileage in the naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V-8. While the author didn’t dive into details, the EPA rates the Coyote V-8 at 15 mpg city and 21 mpg highway.

Wards had a lot of good things to say about the 2.7-liter EcoBoost, despite its poor fuel ratings, however. “This all-new F-150 pickup engine is compelling for several reasons, particularly the “hybrid” block construction that uses compacted-graphite iron for the upper part and aluminum for the bottom, as well as aluminum heads with integrated exhaust manifolds.”

Also mentioned were the fracture-split connecting rods, the variable-displacement oil pump, composite oil pan, and “smooth-functioning” start/stop system. In other words, the EcoBoost is a marvel of modern engine building. Sadly, it failed to deliver on its promise of fuel economy – at least for Wards.

While we hold in high regards the validity of the results, we have to wonder if the particular F-150 tester was having issues. We’ll reserve judgment until a broader field of trucks show the same symptoms.

Click past the jump for more information

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Ford Put The 2015 F-150 Through Torture Tests

Ford Put The 2015 F-150 Through Torture Tests

Building the F-150, America’s best-selling truck for 37 consecutive years and best-selling vehicle for 32 years, is not an easy task, and Ford knows it must raise the bar with each new generation or facelift.

The Blue Oval already did that in 2014 by gifting the 2015 F-150 with an aluminum-alloy body, a benchmark in the truck industry, but lighter sheet alone won’t cut it. The new F-150 needs to remain tough and become more capable, and with the new CAFE regulations just around the corner, more efficient.

The brand-new 2.7-liter EcoBoost V-6 might just be enough for the job, but with no official performance and consumption figures in sight, we can only speculate about its capability to take on the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, the most fuel efficient light-duty, full-size truck you can buy nowadays.

As far as toughness is concerned, Ford invested a lot of effort and money into testing the new truck by putting it through a series of grueling trials. The 2015 F-150 endured both extremely hot and freezing temperatures, got its body and chassis twisted for days, took corrosion baths and had 55-gallon drums dropped into its bed over and over again.

While some of these tests aren’t exactly new, Ford did develop new ways to test its trucks. Among its new torture equipment there’s a special rack that twists and shakes the vehicle seven ways simultaneously, with forces stressing both the frame and the body. And that’s just one of the extreme tests the new F-150 has been subjected to, with nine more available below.

Click past the jump to view the torture tests.

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2007 - 2010 Ford Explorer Sport Trac

2007 - 2010 Ford Explorer Sport Trac

Build on an extended platform of the Explorer SUV, the Ford Explorer Sport Trac offered a perfect compromise between the dynamic performances of a genuine SUV and the utilitarian character of a full sized pickup truck.

Though, despite the innovative idea behind the concept, the Explorer Sport Trac never managed to maintain the market’s interest alive and had a pretty short life span, being sold between 2001 and 2010.

Ford tried to spice things up a little and gave the vehicle a small facelift in 2007, but it wasn’t enough to change the sad faith of its Explorer Sport Trac.

The 2007 facelift added a few exterior changes, some interior upgrades and also a new V8 engine together with a few tweaks for the old V6 unit.

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2001 - 2005 Ford Explorer Sport Trac

2001 - 2005 Ford Explorer Sport Trac

The first generation Ford Explorer Sport Trac was launched in 2001 and it was placed between the Ford Ranger and Ford F-Series.

The vehicle was based on the small Ranger pickup and was available only on the North American market. The Explorer Sport Trac was basically a crew cab midsized pickup that went head to head with models like the Honda Ridgeline and Chevrolet Avalanche.

The Explorer Sport Trac was received with opened arms by the market and after the launch the sales were booming. The vehicle was also the first body on frame sport utility truck.

The truck features GVWR (gross vehicle weight rating) of 6250 lbs which is better than any other mid-sized pickup available on the market. Unfortunately, after only two generations, the model was discontinued in 2010.

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2010 Ford Courier

2010 Ford Courier

The Ford Courier is a small pickup truck sold on the South American and other emergent markets. The vehicle was designed as a compact utilitarian work horse and it’s based on the 1998 Ford Fiesta hatchback. The Ford Courier pickup has a load capacity of 1543 lb. and it’s powered by a 1.6 liter engine which develops 103 hp @ 5500 rpm.

The Ford Courier pickup competes against models like the Fiat Strada, Peugeot Hoggar and Chevrolet Montero. The truck is available only in single cab configuration and power is sent to the front wheels by means of a five speed manual gearbox.

The Courier name is also used by an Australian version of the F-150 pickup. But despite the name coincidence, the small South American Courier it’s totally different than the big Australian pickup.

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2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor

2011 Ford F-150 SVT Raptor

When we are talking about pickups, the word sporty is usually left out off discussion. Yet there is a special breed of trucks which have something more than only huge towing abilities and a big ground clearance.

When Ford launched its new F-150 SVT Raptor, the tag “performance truck” was on everybody’s lips. The new Raptor is considered by many the ultimate off-road production truck and there is no wonder why, as its sporty pedigree contains everything it needs to make your adrenaline levels explode.

Since 2011, the truck is offered in both extended and double cab configurations and is powered by a monstrous 6.2 liter V8 which cranks out 411 hp and 484 lb.ft of torque.

The Ford F-150 SVT Raptor comes with a 4x4 traction system and has a maximum towing capacity of 8000 lbs. Though, this nice toy doesn’t come cheap at all, as it has a starting price of $45,290.

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2003 - 2008 Ford BA Falcon RTV Ute

2003 - 2008 Ford BA Falcon RTV Ute

The previous generation Ford Falcon RTV (Rugged Terrain Vehicle) ute sold between 2003 and 2008. It was designed as a working vehicle which offers a perfect compromise between comfort and utility. The old Falcon ute was available only with 2WD configuration, but this small impediment never stop it to attack the rugged terrains with poise. To be suited for off road driving, the old Falcon RTV Ute received a high ground clearance and a full locking rear differential.

The 2003 Falcon had a starting price of $30,615 and was offered with a choice of three engines which developed 182kW, 156kW and 220kW.

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2003 - 2006 Ford Courier

2003 - 2006 Ford Courier

The Ford Courier was especially developed for the Australian and South African Markets and features a tough character that helped it gain a tremendous reputation among pickups.

The truck is offered with both 4WD and 2WD configurations and has a maximum towing capacity of 1800 kg.

Power comes from either a 2.5 petrol or a 2.6 turbo intercooled diesel unit. The truck’s exterior design has been refreshed in 2003 and the same year has also marked a few technical upgrades and some interior modifications.

However, the most significant change to the Courier line-up was the addition of an all-new Super Cab model fitted with reverse opening doors that can be open only together with the front doors.

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1997 - 2004 Ford E Series

1997 - 2004 Ford E Series

Ford’s trucks have a very long history behind and one of the best sold models in the company’s lineup was the legendary F Series.

In its long life, the truck has received a lot of upgrades and even today it continues to keep the standards high.

The previous generations were fairly capable as well and the F Series was always considered the perfect choice for those seeking for a reliable and strong working partner.

One of the most significant upgrades made to the F Series was marked by the year 1997. Back then, the F Series received new engines, dual airbags, side impact protection, new suspensions and a new exterior design. Also new for 2007 was the introduction of a third access door for the rear compartment for all SuperCab models.

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2003 - 2008 Ford E Series

2003 - 2008 Ford E Series

The biggest players in the commercial van segment are part of GM and Ford teams. Everybody knows that the Ford E Series has always struggled to stay in front of its rivals and most of the time had succeeded.

The E Series is around since 1992 and since then, it received a lot of upgrades which helped it stay on top of the sales chart. However, Ford’s E Series has its roots planted back in 1960 when it was known as the Econoline.

Ford’s van was always considered a practical, utilitarian workhorse and every generation was stronger and more refined than the previous one.

The 2003 model received a few major upgrades and was available in a wide range of body configurations. The 2003 upgrades included new engines, a new transmission, standard rear disc brakes, four new exterior colors, standard battery saver, optional AM/FM/CD audio system and remote keyless entry on cutaway models.

The 2003 Ford E-Series gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) ranged from 6,700 lbs. to 19,000 lbs, depending on the engine.

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2008 Ford FG Falcon Ute

2008 Ford FG Falcon Ute

The Ford Falcon ute is one of the sportiest pickup from the market and it’s only real rival is the Holden SV6 ute.

The vehicle was born after Ford decided to chop off the back of its high class Falcon sedan and added a set of chassis rails with a live axle and leaf springs.

The vehicle was especially developed for the Australian market and it’s unlikely to be seen in other areas. Ford has also came up with a sportier version of its pickup, but the standard model was left to deal mostly with utilitarian purposes as it has a more serene and rugged character.

The Ford FG Falcon ute has a starting price of $27.795 and offers a generous payload of 1240kg.

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2004 - 2008 Ford F-150

2004 - 2008 Ford F-150

The Ford F-150 was for a long time, America’s best selling pickup. Unlike the actual generation which can be considered both a life style vehicle and a work partner, the older Ford F-150 models were designed mainly as utilitarian work horses.

The 2004 generation was sold until 2008 and compared to the previous version it was built on an all new platform which gave it better driving dynamics and off road abilities. Apart from the upgraded underpinnings, the 2004 model had also received a set of exterior modifications the most obvious, being the adoption of the stepped driver’s window from the Super Duty trucks and the completely new front fascia.

The 2004 Ford F-150 was available in regular-, extended-, and crew-cab body styles. All versions have four doors and are 6 inches longer and 4 inches wider than their predecessors. The powertrain lineup includes two engine choices, namely a 4.6 liter and a 5.4 liter, both mated on an automatic transmission.

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2003 - 2008 Ford Fiesta Van

2003 - 2008 Ford Fiesta Van

The old generation Ford Fiesta van was far behind the current model, but despite this fact it still managed to make a compelling case for itself.

The previous model was sold between 2003 - 2008 and was based on the three door version of the Fiesta passenger car. The Ford Fiesta van looked pretty good and was fairly agile around town, offering a pretty ergonomic cabin as well.

There were two basic engines on offer namely a 1.3 petrol and 1.4 diesel. For those looking for sportier performances Ford also offered a 1.6 liter engine that was the quickest in the range.

The Ford Fiesta van was priced from $ 15500 and payload capacity varied from 512 kg to 543 kg depending on the engine.

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2011 Ford F-150

2011 Ford F-150

The F-150 is one of the best known pickups produced by Ford and its part of the famous F Series which is around for 60 years.

The F-150 is also one of the best sold trucks in the United States and was designed as a tough work horse able to tackle any kind of terrain with poise. Thanks to its versatile nature the F-150 is also able to deal with a wide range of applications and can be used for family transportation as its available in both single and double cab configurations.

Since its inception, the Ford F-150 was continuously improved and the latest models have anything they need to keep their head up against their competitors with dignity.

The 2011 Ford F-150 comes with a choice of four engines including a 3.7 liter, 5.0 liter, 6.2 liter and 3.5 liter units which develop between 302 and 411 hp. When proper equipped, the vehicle is able to tow 11.300 lbs and has a maximum payload of 3120 lbs.

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2011 Ford Ranger

2011 Ford Ranger

The Ford Ranger has arrived to its third generation and its latest upgrades were made in 2011. The new model features a new exterior design and also improved driving dynamics and upgraded engines.

The latest generation Ford Ranger was developed to be suited for both personal use and commercial applications offering a better compromise between comfort and utility.

In order to raise its new Ranger to the expectations of modern buyers, Ford decided to completely redesign it from the ground up. The company says that the vehicle is completely new and it’s available in a wide range of body styles including regular cabs and double cabs. Depending on the version, the Ford Ranger’s maximum payload ranges from 1.090 kg to 1.309 kg which is slightly above average.

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2006 - 2011 Ford Ranger

2006 - 2011 Ford Ranger

The Ford Ranger is around from some time now, and when it was first launched in 1992, it managed to attract a lot of interest thanks to its generous size and payload capacity which placed it slightly ahead its competitors.

The Ranger’s rivals however, didn’t remained long time behind and after a pretty short period of time they’ve recovered the lost ground and came up with better products.

The battle between the Ford Ranger and its rivals continued over the years, and the year 2006 brought a new set of cosmetic and technological upgrades for the American pickup.

Though, despite the fact that the Ranger remained on top of the sales charts, its old platform never managed to catch up with the high standards imposed by its Japanese competitors which are currently the segment leaders when it comes to quality and performances. Even American pickups from Chevrolet, Dodge and GMC are positioned slightly ahead of the Ranger.

Leaving apart the cons, Ford Ranger is offered in two cab configurations (Standard and SuperCab) and two bend length options at a pretty competitive starting price of $ 21.700. Two wheel-drive models can tow 750kg unbraked or 1600kg braked, while four wheel drive Rangers can deal with up to 3000kg braked.

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