Ford EcoBoost Challenge


The Ford EcoBoost Challenge toured nearly a dozen major metropolitans across the nation including the Los Angeles area. If you are familiar with Los Angeles, technically, the tour swung by the beautiful city of Pasadena. Up in the picturesque hills is one of the most famous venues in college football, and the Rose Bowl with its enourmous parking lot hosted this Ford driving event. We were able to drive several EcoBoost powered vehicles including the Fusion Titanium and Escape. We were given the opportunity to compare our driving experience head-to-head with the Japanese competitors Honda and Toytoa.  The Ford ST Performance Academy was integrated into the EcoBoost Challenge. We got their hands on the performance oriented Focus ST cornering around cones on a closed course.  We were also able to drive the Fiesta ST not yet available in the North American market. Ford had the Hypermile Challenge where guests can discover how they can get the most out of fuel-efficient hybrids.  We were encouraged to drive these available Fords like we were from an automotive magazine doing a review of braking, steering, ride quality and acceleration.  In my case, I am making my first contribution The Gentleman Racer.

Fusion with its 2.0L Inline-4 EcoBoost was the vehicle that brought me to the EcoBoost Challenge. I had driven the EcoBoost powered vehicles F-150 and Taurus SHO at previous Ford driving events, but I have not had the opportunity to drive a vehicle with the Inline-4 EcoBoost. I wanted to see what the hype was all about. Was this turbocharged 4-banger really awesome?  Driving the Fusion Titanium was the perfect opportunity to see what this car and engine was all about.  I have had enough experiences with full-sized vehicles like Taurus SHO and Mustang which are heavier and more gargantuan than Fusion. But how would a mid-size sedan with all-wheel drive handle? As I got into the driver’s seat, Fusion was quite comfortable. I am definitely a mid-sized sedan kind of guy and this was the course for me.

The course had a straightaway, winding road, 25 MPH slalom and evasive lane changes. Fusion Titanium with was quick off the line in the straightway. You can really feel the motor breathing well with the turbo and having all-wheel drive are key features.  The Ford product specialists wanted to us to really test out the brakes. By test, they meant slamming it at a line towards the end of the straightaway so you can feel all that all-wheel drive stoppage power.  I was really impressed with the suspension and balanced handling around turns and curves.  Fusion reacted quickly to the evasion lane changes and I lazily brought the vehicle back to the start/finish line.  Now it was time to drive the Toyota Camry. The Camry’s front wheels squealed when I launched. I felt more body roll around turns and curves since Camry was heavier and bigger. I felt the weight shift from the inside to the outside while performing evasive lane changes. Was the Camry fun to drive? If you like your car being thrown with loose suspension, sure.  I decided to skip the Escape vs. CR-Z battle since there were too many people in line.

Surprisingly, the line at the Hypermile Challenge was longer than the lines at the EcoBoost Challenge and ST Performance Academy. There was also an incentive to test drive the C-Max Hybrid and Fusion Hybrid. The driver with the most MPG won a prize.

I don’t know how to drive a manual transmission. So, at the ST Performance Academy I watched the Focus STs and Fiesta STs running the course from behind the fence. There were roughly a dozen of these performance hatchbacks which were bright, bold and sounded pretty damn good.  You can hear the tires screaming around the turns as every driver aimed at getting the fastest time.

It was a good morning in Pasadena.