The Vancouver International Auto Show is underway at the downtown Convention Centre. Today and this week, the Driveway team looks at the offerings for 2014 from the Big Three domestic manufacturers…

Ford has been on a roll here in Canada; finishing out 2013 as the top selling brand for the fourth consecutive year.

There are some very big products coming from Ford over the coming year that will make a big impact on its sales and image, and you will get a peek at some of them at the Vancouver International Auto Show.

The first is the biggest introduction of any automaker this year, the all-new 2015 Ford F-150 full-size pickup truck. The F-150 isn’t just the best selling truck in Canada for almost 50 years; it is the overall sales champ, selling more than any other nameplate. Period.

Ford isn’t merely introducing an updated model. No, they went to town, developing a entirely new manufacturing process that will revolutionize the full-size truck space.

The body of the next F-150 is built of an aluminum alloy material that Ford claims is 318 kg lighter but stronger than the outgoing model. In addition, the frame is made of thinner, lighter and stronger high-tensile steel that combined with the body, produces the weight savings. This is an industry first, and a revolutionary approach to building trucks. In addition to a lighter body, the engineers have developed two new engines to compliment the existing 3.5L EcoBoost turbocharged V6 model and 5.0L normally aspirated V8 engine. The first is a new 3.5L V6 engine, replacing the outgoing 3.7L model base engine.

With a lighter truck, a smaller engine can do the work.

A smaller 2.7L turbocharged EcoBoost V6 is also going to be introduced with an auto start-stop function that switches off the engine when the truck is sitting still. Official fuel economy ratings have not been released but Ford executives tell me they hope to have best in class gasoline fuel economy.

Other enhancements to the F-150 include a new stepladder that integrates into the tailgate. Ford was the first to have this feature but it has been improved for 2015. The rear tailgate also has a soft-open feature that prevents the tailgate from slamming down, plus a light switch near the back of the truck to eliminate the bed with new LED lights.

The second vehicle that will have a big impact of Ford, but more of an image car, is the all-new 2015 Mustang. Interestingly, about 25 percent of all Mustangs are sold here in British Columbia, so this is a big deal for us.

The 2015 Mustang is now going to be sold around the world and developed as part of the “One Ford” approach to making cars they can share in every market. This means the Mustang will be sold, for the first time, with right hand drive for countries like the UK, Australia and Japan.

The stance of the new Mustang is lower, wider and more muscular, with the wheels pushed out to provide better stability. The fastback has a steeper rake and a bigger trapezoidal grille has enhanced the shark nose design. Initially the Mustang will be sold as a coupe and convertible with the base and GT trim, the higher performance models will come later.

Inside is another clean-sheet design, featuring real aluminum switches and dials, with two large gauges behind the steering wheel. The interior looks more upscale than any Mustang before.

Under the hood the GT trim continues with the 5.0L V8 with improved valves and cylinders helping to pump out over 420hp. The base 3.7L V6 is also carried over but now with 300hp. The big news is the introduction of a 2.3L turbocharged EcoBoost 4-cylinder with an estimated 300hp and 300 lb.-ft. of torque.

For years, the criticism has been the lack of independent rear suspension in the Mustang but this is no longer the case. A fully independent rear suspension will help get all the power down to the ground from all three engines plus provide improved handling. Ford is hoping with this new platform and available engines, this new model will provide as many thrills as any German sports model and for less money. Pricing has not been finalized but expect it to be in line with existing 2014 Mustang pricing.

Ford is doing well here in Canada and with all-new products; it will have a good chance of staying number one.

Contact: zack [dot] spencer [at] drivewaybc [dot] ca      

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