Advanced Tech on the Rise at the Blue Oval
On a recent hot mid-July day, Ford of Canada invited a handful of automotive journalists to get a sneak peek at what’s ahead for model year 2020.
TORONTO – On a recent hot mid-July day, Ford of Canada invited a handful of automotive journalists to a parking lot at Ontario Place in order to sample some of the company’s new tech and get a sneak peek at what’s ahead for model year 2020.
I’ll get to the product updates on the all-new 2020 Escape and 2020 Explorer shortly, but first a deeper dive into the tech I experienced during my half-day on site. Of note, some of these features are already available on 2019 model year vehicles, while others (new SYNC 3) will begin to arrive in 2020.
Co-Pilot360 is Ford’s suite of driver aids designed to improve safety and help drivers avoid collisions, or at least mitigate some of their negative effects. Co-Pilot360 represents five core features that are being rolled out as either standard or optional equipment packages on several 2019 Ford models.
Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) provides audible and visual dashboard warnings of an impending collision with a stationary vehicle or pedestrian, and if the driver doesn’t apply the brakes in time or with enough force to prevent a collision, the equipped Ford vehicle will autonomously engage the brakes to produce a full stop.
BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with Cross-Traffic Alert uses amber lights in the side mirrors to alert the driver when another vehicle (or vehicles) are in the blind spot. Cross-Traffic Alert warns the driver of oncoming traffic approaching from either side while the car is reversing.
Lane-Keeping System comprises a suite of tech (Lane-Keeping Alert, Lane-Keeping Assist, Driver Alert), that alerts the driver when the vehicle is leaving its lane so they can take corrective action.
Rear View Camera, as the name suggests, provides a rear-facing image of the vehicle when the transmission is in reverse. The image, which can be adjusted to provide different viewing angles, is displayed on the vehicle’s infotainment screen to assist the driver while they are backing up.
Auto High-Beam Headlamps switch between low and high-beam settings automatically to help drivers see better during night driving. If another vehicle is detected approaching from the opposite direction, the headlamps will automatically switch to low-beam so as not to hit other drivers with high-beam glare.
I experienced these features in action (save for the Auto High-Beam, as the event was held during the day) in a 2019 Ford Edge ST and was quite impressed by not only how well the tech works, but also with how easy these features are to use. The driver doesn’t have to adjust his or her driving habits in the slightest in order to benefit from Co-Pilot360 features; all are ready to go as soon as the ignition fires.
The Pre-Collision Assist with Automatic Emergency Braking notes a special mention as it deploys precisely when need to avoid a rear-end impact. I thought my Edge tester was surely going to hit the dummy vehicle in front during a test exercise, only to see the AEB kick in and bring the vehicle to a full stop from 30 km/h while I had both of my feet flat on the floor. Impressive indeed.
Co-Pilot360 is available on the following Ford vehicles:
2019 Fusion Energi
2019 Fusion Hybrid
2019 Ranger XLT and Lariat
2020 Escape (arriving late 2019)
2020 Explorer (arriving Fall 2019)
2019 Ford Ranger XL
This package includes Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go and a Voice-Activated Touchscreen Navigation System. The former keeps the vehicle at a constant speed and at a preset distance from the car ahead once activated, without requiring the driver to use the pedals. It can also bring the vehicle to a full stop and resume autonomously. The latter uses GPS and 3D mapping to reveal points of interest and enables the driver to find addresses using voice commands.
Co-Pilot360 Assist is available on the following:
2019 Fusion V6 Sport and Titanium
2019 Fusion Energi and Titanium
2019 Fusion Hybrid SE, SEL and Titanium
2019 Fusion S, SE and SEL
Co-Pilot360 Assist +
Starting where Co-Pilot360 Assist leaves off, this package includes Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go and Lane Centering, Evasive Steering Assist and a Voice-Activated Touchscreen Navigation System. Essentially, it adds the lane centering feature to adaptive cruise along with steering support to help avoid a stopped vehicle or an impending collision. This package is available as an option on all 2019 Edge models except the base SE.
New SYNC 3
During the event I also got a first look at Ford’s new SYNC 3 infotainment software, which is being developed in-house by the company’s teams in the U.S. and Canada. The first vehicle to offer this updated version will be the 2020 Explorer which is set to begin arriving in dealer showrooms in early Fall.
There’s a lot to unpack here, so I’ll save a more detailed accounting of the system for when I’ve had a chance to spend time driving a 2020 Explorer, hopefully later this year.
For now, I’ll hit some of the highlights, which were shown off in a ’20 Explorer ST:
New look and feel – the new SYNC 3 has a new colour palette and an available 10.1-inch portrait vertical screen layout (first ever for Ford); 10.1 is standard on Platinum and optional on ST, while lower grades get smaller horizontal screens.
Mixed Mode Presets – audio presets can now be made up of AM, FM and SiriusXM stations
Smart Phonebook Search – contact list is now filtered by showing only results that have letters or characters typed
SYNC Analytics and Diagnostics – with user consent, new SYNC 3 can track and capture user data that can be submitted to Ford in order to fix bugs and improve system performance. Feedback can also be sent directly to Ford engineers; information is transmitted when the vehicle has a Wi-Fi connection.
Finally, Ford also had some pre-production copies of the 2020 Escape (one) and 2020 Explorer (three) on hand for walk-around presentations, but we weren’t allowed to drive them as they’re not final production models. At any rate, here are the highlights:
Ford’s bestselling SUV will go on sale in late 2019 with gas and gas hybrids arriving first, followed by a plug-in model sometime in early 2020. I’m guessing Spring, but it’s just a guess. Ford has yet to officially confirm the model range, but it appears we’ll be getting two gas-powered EcoBoost engines (1.5L 3-cylinder, 2.0L 4-cylinder), while the hybrids will be powered by a 2.5L Atkinson-cycle 4-cylinder. An 8-speed automatic (gas) and CVT (hybrid) will power both front and all-wheel drive variants.
The 2020 Explorer should begin reaching dealers by early Fall, and it’ll be available in four models for Canada: XLT, Limited, ST, and Platinum. The ’20 Explorer is built on a new rear-wheel drive architecture that is shared with the 2020 Lincoln Aviator. All Canadian-spec models are 4WD only and utilize a 10-speed automatic.
The XLT and Limited are powered by a 2.3L EcoBoost 4-cylinder (300 hp / 310 lb-ft.), while the ST and Titanium receive the 3.0L EcoBoost V6 (365 hp / 380 lb-ft. in Titanium, 400 hp / 415 lb-ft. in ST). The Limited is also available with a 3.3L V6 hybrid powertrain (318 hp / 322 lb-ft.).
Of note, 2020 marks the debut of the high-performance ST model, and the Explorer now has a maximum tow rating of 5,600 lb. (3.0L EcoBoost), a 12 percent gain over the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 in the outgoing model.