For the past year, I’ve been teeter-tottering on the idea of buying a new vehicle. So you can imagine how excited I was when when Ford Canada invited me to Quebec’s Laurentians to test-drive 2017 vehicles. I jumped all over the learning opportunity. Here are a few nuggets of information that I walked away with.
I like roomy SUVs
I drive a sedan and while it’s a space upgrade from the hatchback I previously owned, I always feel crammed whenever I have passengers. So much so, that I only take one passenger and then make up some lame excuse why I can’t take more. It would be nice to drive all my friends and co-workers around comfortably and not lie about having no room in the back seats. I was extremely happy that all the vehicles we were driving were SUVs – the Ford Escape, Ford Edge, Ford Explorer and Ford Flex.
From the Montreal airport, I set off in a Ford Flex to La P’tite Cabane d’la Cote sugar shack. I was the passenger in the car and I didn’t feel like I was cramming the driver. There was lots of elbow room to move around comfortably and ample leg room to stretch out. After an amazing traditional sugar shack spread that included pea soup, ham, meat pies, beans, and, yes, plenty of maple syrup, we picked up one more passenger and made our way to Esterel Resort. When I was driving, I didn’t ever feel like we were on top of each other. I finally understand one reason why so many people drive SUVs. Space makes the driving experience way more pleasant.
I can parallel park an SUV
Like most motorists I dread parallel parking. I can do it. I just prefer not to do it. I’d rather drive around the block a few times to find a space that I can drive into. (Don’t make like you’ve never avoided parallel parking.) My biggest fear about buying an SUV is how to maneuver it into a tight space? Park Assist to the rescue. Park Assist can detect parking spaces that are large enough for the SUV to fit in. Then, the car figures out all the angles and actually turns the wheel for you. All you have to do is operate the gas and the brakes. I tried it in the town of Point-Claire with a Ford Edge. It’s pretty impressive seeing the steering wheel turn around without you touching it and the SUV working its way smoothly into the space. It takes all the fear and nervousness out of parking. That’s money well spent!
I would use an in-vehicle navigation system
We all own cell phones that come with navigation apps so I’ve often wonder if it’s a waste to have an in-vehicle system. Why not just use your phone for directions? Oh yeah, it’s a distraction to be constantly checking your phone while you’re driving. I was glad to see that the Ford SYNCH 3 Technology is voice-activated. You don’t have to press a bunch of buttons to program new destinations. You just press the voice button on the steering wheel and with some basic commands, the car maps out your route. You don’t even need to know the address . You can just say the name of the place where you’re going – for example “West Edmonton Mall” and it brings up directions. Of course, as with the previous generation of the Ford Synch technology, you can pre-program multiple destinations. That’s a feature that’s very useful for road trips, especially if you’re like me and love building trip itineraries.
I’d use cruise control all the time
The worst part about cruise control is having to reset it every time the traffic slows down. If you’ve driving Highway 2 from Edmonton to Calgary on a Sunday afternoon, you know that the bumper-to-bumper traffic always moves at various speeds. Well the smart technology folks at Ford have developed what they call Adaptive Cruise Control and it does exactly what it sounds like it should do. The cruise speed adjusts to the traffic speed. I tried it in the Ford Flex on our way to Esterel Resort. I set the speed at 110 km/h and when there was an incident ahead that slowed the traffic to 80km/h, the Ford Flex slowed down to 80 clicks without me having to break. When we made it though the congestion, the SUV accelerated back to the set cruise speed. It can also sense when the road curves and slows down to a safe speed. We needn’t worry about all the curvy Quebec highways.
I’m impressed by Ford 150s (but you already knew that about me)
Back in 2015 Ford started using aluminum frames in its Ford F-150s. It was a pretty big deal because it was a big change to one of its bestselling and most prominent trucks. The change to aluminum increased the fuel efficiency by 15% than previous models due to the lighter weight. At the Mecaslisse racetrack, I got to meet two Ford engineers from Detroit who told me about the 2017 F-150 Ford Raptor improvements. The 2017 F-150 Ford Raptor is far more aerodynamic than its previous models thanks to active upper and lower grille shutters, improved bumper sealing, tow hook covers and an underbody transmission shield. Watch the video below and you’ll come to your own a-ha moment like I did.
Thanks to Ford Canada and Pumpkin PR for the great opportunity.