Cars, Ford, Spyshots

SPIED: Ford Puma ST caught completely undisguised


Occasionally, if our spy photographers are really lucky, they manage to capture forthcoming cars completely undisguised. That is indeed the case here, where the Ford Puma ST was caught without a shred of camouflage covering its blue body.

Enthusiasts have been up in arms over Ford recycling a name previously reserved for a coupé for yet another crossover, so a hotted-up version is perhaps the Blue Oval’s way to make amends. Not much can be gleaned externally at first glance, as this car sports a similar look to the ST Line version of the standard car, incorporating the same larger air intakes, deeper side skirts and body-coloured cladding and rear diffuser.

Look closely, however, and you’ll realise quite a bit is going on underneath. Up front, there’s a deep chin spoiler that adds a touch of purposeful sportiness, while a bigger intercooler appears to be wedged behind the centre inlet. Also appearing to be bigger are the front disc brakes that fill the 17-inch alloy wheels much better than the weedy standard items, while the rear end gets a pair of round tail pipes.

Inside, the most notable change is the beefier Recaro seats, complementing the ST Line’s flat-bottomed steering wheel and unique gearknob. Since the Puma is based on the Fiesta, the ST should get the latter‘s 1.5 litre turbocharged three-cylinder engine that makes 200 PS and 290 Nm of torque, along with a six-speed manual gearbox. Expect the zero-to-100 km/h sprint to be slightly slower than the Fiesta’s 6.5 seconds.

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Cars, Ford, International News

2020 Ford GT adds more power, Liquid Carbon edition


Even though the Ford GT made its debut a few years ago, the Blue Oval hasn’t stopped development work on its flagship sports car, and has released a slew of upgrades for the 2020 model year. These include more power, a new exhaust system as well as two new appearance options for customers to choose from.

Starting with what’s under the hood, the GT’s 3.5 litre twin-turbo EcoBoost V6 engine now makes 660 hp, which is a 13 hp gain from previous models. Ford says the revised engine calibration also sees a broader torque band, and the mill benefits from features developed for the track-only GT Mk II, including gallery-cooled pistons and higher-energy ignition coils.

The 2020 GT also gets additional engine cooling and airflow updates, which sees redesigned air ducts on the buttress that increases air flow by 50%, while larger intercoolers help to keep charge air temperatures cooler.

The powertrain revisions also include a new Akrapovic titanium exhaust system that now comes as standard, shaving four kilograms over the previous system while providing a more pleasing engine note. Other changes sees increased suspension damping in track mode to enhance handling and body control, particularly on high-speed transient sections of circuits.

If those changes aren’t appealing enough, maybe the Liquid Carbon edition will do the trick. For those who want to show off the GT’s carbon-fibre body, the new trim level comes with a special clearcoat that clearly showcases the GT’s unique carbon-fibre weave.

The Liquid Carbon spec sheet also includes carbon-fibre wheels as standard, and owners can opt for titanium lugnuts, six-point racing harness anchors, five interior options, five brake caliper finishes and body stripes.

Customers who prefer the iconic Gulf livery seen on the Le Mans-winning GT40 will be glad to know the design has been tweaked to include a black pinstripe to divide the distinct blue and orange colours. Additionally, carbon-fibre wheels are also offered in lieu of the aluminium-alloy units.

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Cars, Ford, International News, Technology

Ford develops 3D-printed wheel nut as thief deterrent


Have you been a victim of wheel theft? Well, Ford has come up with an impressive solution to stop these unrelenting thieves dead in their tracks, and it involves 3D-printing. The technology behind it is rather interesting, so here’s how.

Ford has teamed up with EOS, a leading supplier for high-end solutions in additive manufacturing, to create locking nuts with contours based on a driver’s voice. Yes, voice, which Ford claims can be used as a unique biometric identification.

Engineers do this by recording the driver’s voice for a minimum of one second (an admittedly simpler process compared to smartphone voice assistants), using regular phrases such as “I drive a Ford Mustang.” A special software then converts that sound wave into a physical, printable pattern, which is then turned into a circle and used as a geometric design for the locking nut’s indentation and key.

With that in place, the nut and key are designed as a single piece, then 3D-printed using acid- and corrosion-resistant stainless steel. There’s also a secondary security feature that prevents the nut from being cloned or copied by thieves. There are unevenly spaced ribs and indentations on the inside which widens towards the bottom. That way, thieves won’t be able to make a wax imprint of the pattern, because the wax will break when it is pulled from the nut.

The nut design isn’t just limited to the driver’s voice. A person can choose, for example, specific designs such as the Mustang logo or his/her initials to design the geometric pattern. In fact, if the Sepang Circuit is your favourite racetrack, its layout could be used to design the nut as well.

Ford Advanced Materials and Processes research engineer, Raphael Koch said: “It’s one of the worst experiences for a driver, to find their car up on blocks with all four wheels gone. Some alloy wheels can cost thousands to replace, but these unique rim nuts will stop thieves in their tracks. Making wheels more secure and offering more product personalisation are further proof that 3D printing is a game-changer for car production.”

Ford is doubling down on 3D printing technology, a manufacturing process which helps reduce development time for new vehicles, and at the same time is more environmentally friendly because it produces less CO2. Ford is already 3D-printing parts found in the Ford GT, Focus, and Mustang GT500.

On its production line, Ford uses the technology to create assembly line tools that are up to 50% lighter, which makes repetitive tasks less physically stressful and helps improve manufacturing quality. Many of these tools are made of nylon, so Ford introduced a recycling programme that turns old 3D-printed pieces and plastics into 100% recycled nylon. It also creates 3D-printed safety equipment such as protection sleeves for use on the production line, which prevent operators from incurring finger and arm injuries.


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Cars, Feature Stories, Ford, Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Volkswagen

2019 year in review and what’s to come in 2020 – Ford, Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Volkswagen in Malaysia


After reporting on how the premium brands fared in 2019, we continue with the fourth edition of our year-end recap, where we now shift our focus to other carmakers that are also part of the local automotive landscape, which include Ford, Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Subaru and Volkswagen.

While some brands focused on strengthening its core offerings, others have been more active by improving their operations to retain loyalists while enticing newcomers. So, let’s take a closer look at each of the five aforementioned brands to see what they have done, and what we can expect from them in the year to come.

Ford’s Power Rangers

The Blue Oval had a relatively quiet 2019, with the latest Ranger being much of its focal point after it was first introduced in the year prior. In March, the performance-focused Raptor variant in the pick-up truck line-up received two new colour options, with Absolute Black and Arctic White joining the existing palette for a total of four colours.

Later in October, Ford dabbled in the e-commerce space by partnering with Lazada to launch the Ranger Splash in conjunction with the site’s 11.11 Shopping Festival. The model featured a number of extra goodies over the existing 2.0L XLT Plus variant, and was limited to just 19 units, with every single one snapped up promptly after sales began.

Another limited-edition version of the Ranger would arrive in December, with the launch of the 2.2L XLT Special Edition in December. With a number of additional equipment and features over the regular 2.2 XLT Automatic variant, the model is currently being offered in limited units, although the exact amount wasn’t revealed by Sime Darby Auto ConneXion (SDAC).

In 2020, we are expecting the facelifted Mustang to finally make its debut here after being previewed at the 2018 Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show. At the time, the updated pony car was originally scheduled to go on sale here in 2019, but nothing has materialised up until now.

Additionally, the Ranger received a small update in Thailand in November that also includes the availability of a new FX4 2.2 Hi-Rider variant, which is a possibility for us, along with other equipment revisions. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that we’ll see the latest generations of the Fiesta and Focus to make their way here.

Isuzu D-Max gets a new heart

It was a long wait for Isuzu fans, but in 2019, the company finally introduced the latest-generation 1.9 litre Ddi BluePower turbodiesel engine in Malaysia, with the D-Max pick-up truck being the first model to get it here.

The introduction of the oil burner comes as part of the pick-up truck’s second facelift in the country, with the RZ4E-TC 1.9 litre common-rail four-cylinder unit replacing the old 4JK1-TCX 2.5 litre unit – the 4JJ1-TCX 3.0 litre turbodiesel is retained.

Aside from a lower road tax that comes with the smaller displacement, the downsized mill is superior to the 4JK1-TCX by offering better performance – 150 PS and 350 Nm versus 136 PS and 320 Nm – as well as a 19% improvement in fuel efficiency, with a combined consumption figure of eight litres per 100 km.

However, just a month after the facelifted, second-generation model went on sale in Malaysia, the third-generation of the pick-up truck celebrated its global debut in Thailand. Completely overhauled with new technologies and a revised design, it isn’t known when and if the latest version of D-Max will make its way to our part of the world.

Pick-up truck aside, the MU-X could get a second update to match the Thailand-spec model, which is now powered by the 1.9 litre Ddi BluePower turbodiesel engine, matching the engine line-up of the D-Max it is based on. The seven-seat, ladder frame-based SUV first arrived in Malaysia in 2015, and was given its first facelift in 2017.

Mitsubishi Triton gets a new face, continuous updates

Like Ford and Isuzu, Mitsubishi prioritised its own pick-up truck, kicking off 2019 with the launch of the facelifted Triton in January. Highlighted by the company’s imposing “Dynamic Shield” face, the entire Triton range also shares a 2.4 litre MIVEC turbodiesel and four-wheel drive, with a choice of six-speed automatic or manual transmission depending on the selected variant.

The Triton would continue to be revised over the year, with new features being introduced, like the Flying Sports Bar, digital video recorder, all-round monitor (ARM) as well as support for Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

The passenger-centric version of the Triton would later be joined by the workhorse version with the Quest making its debut in November, with the low rider truck being powered by a 2.5 litre commonrail turbodiesel as opposed to the 2.4 litre MIVEC unit.

A limited-edition version of the Triton would arrive in early December with the launch of the Knight, which is based on the range-topping Adventure X variant, with just 120 units being made available. While it matches the Adventure X in terms of price, the Knight benefits from additional accessories and unique touches to make it stand out.

Going into 2020, Mitsubishi could be poised to finally introduce the Xpander as an alternative to other seven-seat crossover MPVs in Malaysia like the Perodua Aruz, Honda BR-V and Toyota Rush. The model first made its global debut in Indonesia in 2017 before arriving in Thailand a year later, but has yet to be launched here.

Subaru EyeSight comes to the popular Forester

In terms of launches, the most significant for Subaru this year was the fifth-generation Forester, which we had the chance to try out on a journey from Penang to Bangkok. Not only does it ride on the Subaru Global Platform (SGP) like the XV, the Forester also became the second model in the local line-up to come with the EyeSight suite of safety driver assistance systems after the Outback.

Another model that made its debut in 2019 was the XV GT Edition, which gets several aesthetic enhancements to give it more visual presence compared to a standard XV. These 17-inch two-tone alloys, front and rear bumper lip extensions, side skirts, a roof spoiler and two-tone leather seats. The XV GT Edition also comes with a side view monitor system, with cameras located on the lower half of the side mirrors to give a better view of what’s beside the vehicle.

Other initiatives made by Subaru over the course of the year were focused on improving the customer experience, including updating its flagship showroom in Petaling Jaya. The company also began offering a more comprehensive five-year/100,000 km warranty for vehicles registered from April 25, 2019 onwards, and switched to Motul lubricants since January.

In the year to come, we’re expecting the sixth-generation Outback – first revealed in April 2019 – to make its way to Malaysia. The latest iteration of the jacked-up wagon rides on the SGP, which is also used for the upcoming, second-generation Levorg, although the latter has yet to make its debut in production form.

There’s also the Forester GT Edition, which was previewed during this year’s Subaru Palm Challenge in Singapore, and follows the same path as the XV GT Edition with a number of visual improvements. A more distant possibility is the availability of the EyeSight suite for the XV in Malaysia, although we’ve previously been told this won’t happen until the crossover receives its first major facelift.

Of course, Subaru has yet to reveal a global facelift for the XV, but it should be noted the Impreza – on which the XV is based – did get an update in October. so a facelift for the crossover might not be far off.

Saying goodbye to the iconic Volkswagen Beetle while waiting for new sedans

It was a busy 2019 for Volkswagen, as it kicked off the year by improving the ownership experience with the launch of the Volkswagen Cares app and the accompanying Volkswagen Care Plus membership programme for owners with a vehicle that is five years and older.

This was followed by an update for the Tiguan, with the SUV gaining the advanced Active Info Display as well as revised LED tail lights. The Sound & Style Editions of the Golf, Passat and Tiguan arrived later on, with existing owners also offered the chance to outfit their vehicles with some of the enhancements found on these models later on.

July marked a bittersweet moment for the brand, as it bade goodbye to the iconic Beetle with a limited-run model called the Collector’s Edition as well as a massive party that saw 405 Beetles – both new and classic – gathered.

Volkswagen would continue to improve the ownership experience again in the same month by providing the Passat and Tiguan with an additional two years free maintenance. The company would also open the order books for the Arteon in July, a few months after the fastback model made its first Malaysian premiere at the inaugural paultan.org Premium Auto Car Expo (PACE) in 2018.

Volkswagen’s global used car programme, Das WeltAuto, would be launched in August, providing customers interested in purchasing a pre-owned Volkswagen with peace-of-mind ownership thanks to a comprehensive 133-point check, a one-year extended warranty and one-year roadside assistance. In addition, Volkswagen cars older than five years get to enjoy Volkswagen Care Plus benefits.

The love affair with the Beetle continued in November, with the launch of the Retro Edition at this year’s PACE. Limited to just three units, the rare Beetle featured an accessories kit that includes aluminium side scuff plates, retro-style 17-inch ‘Circle White’ alloy wheels tyres, a rear spoiler and VW Tint.

For 2020, we’re expecting the Arteon to finally make its launch debut along with the facelifted B8 Passat. Originally, both sedans were supposed to arrive in the second half of the year, but it looks like those plans have been pushed back.

This post is one of several in our multi-part “2019 year in review and what’s to come in 2020” series, which covers a variety of major brands, albeit in different groupings. You can check out our earlier posts focusing on other brands as listed below:

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Cars, Ford, International News, Technology

Ford turns McDonald’s coffee waste into headlights


Many automakers are looking to incorporate sustainable materials in vehicle production, and Ford is not excluded from this. The company recently announced that it will collaborate with McDonald’s to use coffee beans in vehicle parts such as headlights, as part of efforts to reach its goal of using recycled and renewable plastics in vehicles globally.

According to an official release, millions of kilograms of coffee chaff – the dried skin of the bean – naturally comes off during the roasting process every year. Both companies discovered that chaff can be converted into a durable material to reinforce certain vehicle parts by heating the chaff to high temperatures under low oxygen, mixing it with plastic and other additives and turning it into pellets, which can then be formed into various shapes.

The resulting composite material meets Ford’s quality specifications for parts such as headlight housings as well as other interior and under bonnet components, while being about 20% lighter. Additionally, the heat properties of the chaff component are better than what is used currently, while requiring 25% less energy during the moulding process.

“McDonald’s commitment to innovation was impressive to us and matched our own forward-thinking vision and action for sustainability. This has been a priority for Ford for over 20 years, and this is an example of jump starting the closed-loop economy, where different industries work together and exchange materials that otherwise would be side or waste products,” said Debbie Mielewski, Ford senior technical leader, sustainability and emerging materials research team.

The successful experiment isn’t just for theatrics either, as McDonald’s is expected to send a significant portion of its coffee chaff in North America to Ford to be incorporated into vehicle parts. “By finding a way to use coffee chaff as a resource, we are elevating how companies together can increase participation in the closed-loop economy,” commented Ian Olson, McDonald’s senior director, global sustainability.

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Cars, Ford, International News

Ford Ranger Raptor, Focus ST Wagon – UK’s cop cars


When baddies start upgrading their getaway cars, authorities must be able to keep up. Meet the UK’s latest police patrol vehicles, the Ford Ranger Raptor and Ford Focus ST wagon.

The two new cop cars are currently being trialled across the UK, with South Wales Police being among the first to get their hands on the Ranger Raptor. The liveries are striking – both models are the product of Ford’s Special Vehicle Preparation division based in Essex, and the pair gets all-round emergency lights and sirens.

Mechanically, the Ranger Raptor and Focus ST wagon are bone stock. The pick-up truck is powered by the automaker’s new 2.0 litre EcoBlue bi-turbo four-cylinder diesel engine, making 213 PS and 500 Nm of torque. A Getrag 10R80 10-speed automatic transmission provides snappy acceleration and responsiveness, and the Fox Racing Shox dampers, 33-inch BFGoodrich all-terrain tyres, and high ground clearance make it the ideal chase car in rural locations.

Off-road numbers include an approach angle of 32.5 degrees, ramp over angle of 24 degrees, departure angle of 24 degrees, and water wading depth of 850 mm. Ford’s Terrain Management System is standard with six drive modes to cycle through. Off-road specific ones are Grass/Gravel/Snow, Mud/Sand, Rock and Baja – the last setting primes the pick-up for maximum dirt performance.

Moving over to the city slicker, the Focus ST is powered by an all-aluminium 2.3 litre EcoBoost twin-scroll turbocharged unit offering 276 hp at 5,500 rpm and 420 Nm of torque from 3,000 rpm to 4,000 rpm. A six-speed manual transmission is standard, but a seven-speed automatic can be specified as well. The 0-100 km/h sprint is done in 5.8 seconds for the manual.

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Cars, Ford, Local News, Mitsubishi, Toyota

Five-year maintenance costs for Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger, Mitsubishi Triton pick-up trucks compared


This is among the more frequent questions that we get – maintenance costs for pick-up trucks. The interest in one-tonne pick-up trucks as urban machines for daily use has been rising over the years, and it’s now common to see trucks sporting features – whether convenience or safety – that are on par with passenger cars.

The seemingly good value of trucks compared to the garden variety sedan or SUV also helps – it does appear like one’s getting a lot of metal for the money. And that’s before taking into account the natural attributes of a truck that’s perfect for urban warfare – high ground clearance and water wading capability for floods, and a high vantage point of a driving position. Of course, they look really macho doing it, too.

It’s only natural then that maintenance costs for these robust 4WD trucks are higher than the typical passenger car, but how do they compare with each other? The three most popular pick-up trucks in Malaysia by sales are the Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi Triton and Ford Ranger. We’ve obtained the official service menu from the manufacturers and collated the figures for you here.

Click to enlarge

These are figures comparing service costs up to five years or 100,000 km. We’ve picked the range-topping variants to compare – the Toyota Hilux 2.8L (RM140,088 for the Black Edition), the 2.4L Mitsubishi Triton Adventure X (RM137,900) and the Ford Ranger 2.0L Bi-Turbo (RM144,888 for the Wildtrak). All these big boys have automatic transmissions and 4×4.

Not everything is like-for-like – for instance, the service interval for the Hilux is 5,000 km or three months, versus the 10,000 km/six months of the Triton and Ranger. Along with the shorter service interval (which not everyone might be happy with), Toyota recommends mineral oil while the other two use fully synthetic engine oil.

There are other variables too. Automatic transmission fluid (ATF) change is included in the Triton’s 100,000 km service menu, whereas it’s recommended for the Hilux owner at the 80,000 km service. You won’t find the ATF mention in Ford’s menu because a recommended change is very far down the road at 250,000 km, costing RM721.10.

Click to enlarge

So, as you can see, based on official figures, the Triton Adventure X will cost the least to maintain in five years at RM5,903, followed by the Hilux 2.8L at RM6,427. The Ranger 2.0L Bi-Turbo will need RM7,347 from you over five years. It has to be said that the differences aren’t huge for vehicles that are priced some way above RM100k, but they are there.

Also, this is purely comparing maintenance and service costs. Total ownership costs will differ once you factor in things such as road tax (the 2.0L Ranger owner will pay significantly less than 2.8L Hilux owner, for instance) and fuel consumption. Of course, the length of the factory warranty matters, and in this department Mitsubishi is the clear winner – the Triton comes with a five-year/200,000 km warranty, ahead of the Hilux at five years/150,000 km and the Ranger at three years/100,000 km.

It must also be said that no one makes a purchase decision purely based on dollars and cents, especially since the top tier trucks are all trading on design and lifestyle as much as things such as FC and running costs. Buy something that you truly like.

Clockwise from top: official service menus for Ranger, Hilux and Triton. Click to enlarge

While compiling the figures, we noticed a couple of things. Mitsubishi’s service menu is the most comprehensive, listing down the services and parts that need to be done and/or replaced at each point. Prices for each Triton service is generally higher than that of the Hilux (there are two sessions that breach RM1,000, for instance), but bear in mind the service interval difference – Hilux owners will need to send their truck in twice more than the Triton owner, and the Toyota’s 80,000 km service is the costliest one listed here, at RM1,247 (inclusive of ATF change).

In terms of the price difference between services, the Ford Ranger owner can afford to “close eyes” and handover the credit card, as prices are the most consistent – you’ll be paying around the same fee each time (ranges between RM571 and RM928). On the other hand, Hilux servicing costs range from RM117 to RM1,247, so you’ll better have funds in hand. Note that this is purely a guide based on figures that are publicly available – if you need a detailed breakdown and itemised billing, refer to the official service centres.

In conclusion, if you’re wondering which of the three most popular pick-up trucks in Malaysia is the cheapest to maintain, it’s the Mitsubishi Triton – plus it has the longest warranty as well. Of course, maintenance costs alone is not the be-all and end-all of truck ownership; choosing the right one for yourself goes much further than that, but since a lot of potential owners have been asking for this, well, now you know.

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Cars, EVs and Alternative Fuel, Ford, Hybrids, International News

Ford Mustang Mach-E details leaked ahead of launch – from RM182k, up to 480 km range, 0-96 km/h under 4 s


Not long after the revelation of the Ford Mustang Mach-E name for the Blue Oval’s fully electric crossover, leaked details of the new model have been captured ahead of its November 17 launch in America; these include pricing, specifications and configurations along with images of the vehicle, with the leak found on the Mach E Forum via Electrek.

Five versions have been listed: the First Edition, Select, Premium, California Route 1 and GT. The United States federal tax credit currently still applies to Ford, and therefore US buyers of the Mustang Mach E will received a US$7,500 (RM31,152) tax rebate on top of the vehicle’s list price.

Prices for start at US$43,895 (RM182,322) for the Select, on to US$50,600 (RM210,172) for the Premium, US$52,400 (RM217,648) for the California Route 1, US$59,900 (RM248,800) for the First Edition and US$60,500 (RM251,292) for the GT.

As suggested in the name, the First Edition is a limited-run version to get the model rolling; this has an EPA-estimated range of 432 km and does 0-96 km/h in the mid five-second range, comes with all-wheel-drive and rolls on 19-inch wheels. This will also come finished in the limited-edition Grabber Blue paint colour, red brake calipers and trim stitching unique to the First Edition.

The base variant for standard-run versions, the Select is rated for an EPA-estimated range of 368 km, available with either all-wheel-drive or rear-wheel-drive layouts, comes with 18-inch wheels and does the 0-96 km/h run in the mid five-second range, the leaked details say. Next up is the Premium with 480 km of range, 0-96 km/h in the mid-five second range, comes as AWD and RWD and rolls on 19-inch wheels.

Joining the range is California Route 1 Edition with an EPA estimated range of 480 km, 0-96 km/h in the mid six-second range, configured with all-wheel drive and 18-inch wheels. Rounding up the range for the Mach-E’s launch is the GT variant, with an EPA-estimated range of 376 km. This is the most athletic version, boasting a 0-96 km/h time in the mid three-second range, employs an AWD layout and rolls on 20-inch wheels.

Click to enlarge

At launch, the information here indicates that all five versions will be equipped with the Ford Co-Pilot360 Assist 2.0 suite, as well as LED projector headlamps and LED tail lamps with sequential turn signals across the board. Further standard equipment includes a wireless phone charging pad, FordPass Connect, phone-as-a-key access and a 10.2-inch `digital instrumentation with a 15.5-inch touchscreen.

The interior image here depicts a portrait-oriented touchscreen, and the accompanying specification list makes no mention of either Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, therefore Ford is likely to employ its own user interface here for the Mach-E. As for approximate charging rates, the leaked information states that the Mach-E can be charged to 75 km of battery range in 10 minutes on a 150 kW charger.

Leading the pack are the First Edition and Premium versions, which are due to be available in late 2020, with all other models set to follow suit in early 2021. This timeframe will be close to the Tesla Model Y’s delivery schedule beginning in fall next year, which will give prospective EV crossover customers two models from competing brands to choose from at around the same time.

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Audi, Audi A4, BMW, BMW 330, BMW 330 2019, BMW 330 2020, Chevrolet, Chevrolet Malibu, Ford, Ford Fusion, Honda, Honda Accord, hyundai, Hyundai Sonata, Kia, Kia Optima, Lexus, Lexus ES 350, Mazda, Mazda Mazda6, Mercedes-Benz, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Nissan, Nissan Altima, Nissan Maxima, Subaru, subaru outback, Tesla, Tesla Model 3, Toyota, Toyota Camry

IIHS Testing Finds Pedestrian Detection Systems Vary Widely in Crash Protection | News from Cars.com



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IIHS pedestrian crash system testing

IIHS images

Pedestrian crash-prevention systems with automatic braking on 16 mid-size cars vary widely in their ability to detect and avoid hitting people in the street, according to the latest round of testing by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Related: Which SUVs Have the Best Pedestrian Detection Systems?

But results overall were fairly positive. Four luxury and two mainstream mid-size cars and wagons got the top rating, called superior (out of superior, advanced, basic or none), for pedestrian crash prevention. Another six cars rated a notch lower, at advanced. Four non-luxury cars, however, earned only a basic rating or got no credit at all. Here are the 16 (some have two scores because they offer both standard and optional systems):

Vehicles Rated Superior

  • 2019 Audi A4 (standard system)
  • 2019-20 BMW 3 Series (standard)
  • 2020 Subaru Outback (standard)
  • 2019-20 Mercedes-Benz C-Class (optional upgraded system)
  • 2019-20 Nissan Maxima (optional for 2019, standard for 2020)
  • 2019 Volvo S60 (standard)

Vehicles Rated Advanced

  • 2019-20 BMW 3 Series (optional upgraded system — yes, worse than the base system)
  • 2019-20 Honda Accord (standard)
  • 2019-20 Lexus ES 350 (standard)
  • 2019 Mazda 6 (standard)
  • 2019-20 Nissan Altima (optional)
  • 2019-20 Tesla Model 3 (standard)
  • 2019-20 Toyota Camry (standard)

Vehicles Rated Basic

  • 2019-20 Chevrolet Malibu (optional camera-only system)
  • 2019-20 Chevrolet Malibu (optional camera and radar system)
  • 2019-20 Mercedes-Benz C-Class (standard system)

No Credit

  • 2019-20 Ford Fusion (standard system)
  • 2019 Hyundai Sonata (optional)
  • 2019 Kia Optima (optional)

More Cars Have Pedestrian Systems Standard

IIHS is ramping up testing of pedestrian protection, having earlier tested a batch of SUVs. The vast majority of automakers have agreed to make automatic emergency braking standard by 2022, and they’re increasingly upgrading such systems to detect and automatically brake for pedestrians, not just other vehicles. According to IIHS, about two-thirds of front crash systems offered on 2019 model-year vehicles have pedestrian detection. In many cases, these systems now are standard.

“Pedestrians are the most vulnerable road users, so it’s encouraging that pedestrian crash prevention systems are standard equipment in 12 out of the 16 mid-size cars we tested, including five out of six superior-rated systems,” said IIHS President David Harkey in a statement. The agency will factor pedestrian detection into its overall testing for Top Safety Pick and Top Safety Pick Plus awards beginning with the 2020 model year, spokesman Russ Rader has told Cars.com. It began testing pedestrian detection in February.

Halloween Is Scariest Day for Pedestrians

IIHS notes that its latest results come just ahead of Halloween, which is consistently the deadliest day for U.S. pedestrians. That’s thanks in part to trick-or-treaters and, we suspect, increasingly partying adults in awkward costumes. IIHS claims that from 2013 to 2017, the two deadliest days for pedestrians on average were Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 (after midnight on Halloween). Citing its own study of federal crash data, IIHS notes that annual pedestrian fatalities had increased markedly since a 2009 low. More than 6,000 pedestrians were killed in 2018, up 53 percent since 2009, according to the agency.

How Cars Were Tested

Most frontal crash systems use one or two cameras, in some cases augmented by radar sensors, to look for objects ahead. Vehicle software now can detect pedestrians as well as vehicles, and in some cases identify bicycles or animals. If a collision is imminent, the system alerts the driver and can hit the brakes to prevent or mitigate a crash.

IIHS tests three scenarios with dummies: an adult stepping into the street ahead of a vehicle with an unobstructed view, a child darting into the street from behind two parked cars, and an adult pedestrian near the side of the road facing away from traffic. The first two tests are done at 12 and 25 mph; the pedestrian near the side of the road is tested at 25 and 37 mph. In each test, the system has 1 or 2 seconds to stop the car to avoid the pedestrian. The tests are done in daylight on dry pavement. IIHS notes that such systems might not perform as well at night, but it says a vehicle with lights rated well in the agency’s headlight evaluations should be able to spot pedestrians.

The six superior-rated vehicles slowed dramatically in IIHS tests, in most cases avoiding the dummy or greatly reducing the risk of severe injury. Notably, the mainstream Nissan Maxima’s system avoided the pedestrian in all tests. Advanced-rated systems also achieved major speed reductions, though less consistently. The basic-rated systems failed to do so in one or more tests, while those that earn no credit failed in multiple scenarios. For example, the Ford Fusion, which got no credit, didn’t slow down at all for the simulated child darting into the street and slowed only slightly for the adult stepping into the street.

“The child dashing out from behind parked cars is a very challenging test,” said Harkey. “But it’s fitting that it was one of the main things that separated the top systems from the rest of the pack, since that is certainly a frightening scenario on Halloween or any day.”

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Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.




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