PORT CARLING, ON: Knowing what the “U” stands for in CUV/SUV is why people are switching to them in droves.
Of course the “U” means utility — whether it be for camping gear, construction materials or just plain “stuff”.
Ford has one of the most extensive lineups of sports utility and crossover vehicles in the business, so it decided to stage a media event to showcase what the brand’s got and what each model can do.
Calling it the “Back to Basics” event, the idea was to sample Ford’s range of CUV/SUVs in and around the Port Carling, ON, area where cottagers abound.
We started our two-day adventure in a 2017 Ford Edge CUV
with its lusty 2.7-litre EcoBoost twin scroll turbo inline four-cylinder offering claimed best in class horsepower and torque at 315 hp and 350 lb/ft of torque.
With a standard six-speed automatic and available in either front- or all-wheel-drive, cargo volume is 1,111 litres (39.2 cu ft) behind the second row split/fold seats and 2,078 litres (73.4 cu ft) folded.
Edge also offers a 2.0-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder in front- or all-wheel-drive with six-speed automatic producing 245 hp and 228 lb/ft of torque. Lastly there is a 3.5-litre non-turbo V6 in front-drive only with 280 hp and 250 lb/ft of torque.
I don’t think I’ve ever driven an Edge before and found it fits somewhere between the compact Escape and mid-size Explorer.
The 2.7-litre really packs a punch when you floor it, which was sometimes necessary on 400-Series highways leaving Pearson Airport and heading north.
It was a super smooth ride up to the Port Carling area to the Sherwood Inn, which is a family-oriented hotel built in the grand old Muskoka style with little wooden cabins dotted along the beachfront of the property.
Next day started early where the “Back to Basics”
plan for the event involving a rather unique scavenger hunt with the premise of surviving after being stranded out in the forest for seven days.
My co-driver and I were given $50 cash and a drive route and told to buy whatever things we would need and bring them back at the end of the day to be judged by a professional survivalist.
We started out in a 2017 Ford Flex
, our version powered by a 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 making 365 hp and 350 lb/ft of torque and six-speed transmission in FWD/AWD. Also available in FWD only is the 3.5-litre non-turbo V6 and six-speed automatic, same as found in the Edge but marginally more powerful at 287 hp and 254 lb/ft of torque.
When we first arrived at the Sherwood Inn, there was a Flex on display in what was a complete garden of plants hauled to the site.
Checking the cargo volume, this was not surprising with 566 litres (20.0 cu ft) behind the third row seat, 1.274 litres (43.2 cu ft) behind the second row and a whopping 2,355 litres (83.2 cu ft) behind the first row.
It was then we started looking around for survival gear. There are lots of fishing and camping outlets in Muskoka, but we settled on good old Canadian Tire.
With the help of very understanding store employee, we got a tarp for shelter, rope to secure it, a kit with hooks/line/bandages/matches, a stout knife, eight glow sticks and two pepperette sticks at the checkout for a grand total of $50.10, which we reduced to $49.90 thanks to 20 cents in Canadian Tire money.
Very pleased with ourselves, our mount in the afternoon was a 2017 Explorer Platinum Edition
, which was fitted with just about every amenity Ford has in the parts bin.
Ours was equipped with the 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 and six-speed automatic with 365 hp and 350 lb/ft and four-wheel-drive.
Other drivetrain choices are a 2.3-litre, four-cylinder EcoBoost with 280 hp and 310 lb/ft with six-speed auto and FWD or AWD. A third engine is the 3.5-litre non-turbo V6 with 290 hp, 255 lb/ft, six-speed auto and FWD or AWD.
Cargo volume here is 595 litres (21.0) cu ft) behind the third row, 1,243 litres (43.9 cu ft) behind the second row and 2,314 litres (81.7 cu ft) behind the first row.
The Explorer 4WD system is selected by a switch on the centre console with four modes: Normal, Mud/Rut; Sand; and Snow/Gravel/Grass.
In truth, we just cruised around the Port Carling area on our way back to the resort; enjoying the first really nice weather we’ve had this summer.
On static display were the full-size 2018 Expedition
and the one I’m really interested in; the compact 2018 EcoSport
, Ford’s new entry in the booming small crossover market.
Both will be driven and tested soon on these pages.
What we do know about the EcoSport is it will have a six-speed automatic transmission and AWD. Power will be either a 2.0-litre non-turbo inline four-cylinder or a 1.0-litre EcoBoost twin turbo inline three-cylinder.
So you’re all wondering how we did.
Frankly, we both thought we had it in the bag, but we didn’t even place.
The winners impressed the judge by buying a big can of pineapples, which they intended to eat and then use as a pot to cook things in.
And at the end of the day, all the survival gear and any money left over was donated to local charities.
It was good fun, good times and laughs among colleagues and – oh yes – the Fords were fun, too.