Ford has issued the following press release on the new Five Hundred (see attachment for its sibling, the Mercury Montego):
"Redefining the North American sedan is a tall order, but that’s what we set out to do with the all-new Ford Five Hundred, our new flagship. With the phenomena of trucks, sport utility vehicles and crossovers in full swing, we had to take a new approach to the sedan market. We took a look at the attributes that make crossovers popular – like high-package ‘command’ seating – and sought to deliver some of those qualities in a sedan. While the industry tries to create new car-based crossovers, the Ford Five Hundred stands alone as the first crossover-based car." Phil Martens, Group Vice President, Product Creation, Ford North America
Ford Motor Company is launching the Year of the Car by introducing six new car and crossover models in 2004. One of the five that will wear the Blue Oval badge is the most significant, all-new sedan the industry has seen since the 1980s – the Ford Five Hundred.
The Five Hundred represents no less than the reinvention of the family car. It is a four-door sedan that boasts many of the advantages associated with sport utility vehicles and crossovers, including cargo capability, versatility, command-of-road seating and all-weather confidence.
Five Hundred accomplishes this by marrying the body of an upscale, contemporary sedan to an all-new, purpose-built crossover vehicle platform. The result is much more than a typical passenger car.
Five Hundred packages a big-car interior in a midsize body and includes one of the largest trunks available anywhere. It redefines comfort with highly flexible, upright command-of-road seating that positions drivers as much as four inches higher than traditional mid-size cars. And it offers Ford’s industry-leading safety technology – including state-of-the-art, side-impact and rollover protection.
Five Hundred’s all new continuously variable transmission and six-speed automatic provide an unprecedented combination of performance and economy. Its European-inspired chassis delivers a satisfying, responsive driving experience on North American roads.
New Ford Flagship
The all-new Five Hundred is designed to be the flagship sedan in the Ford stable, setting the stage for a complementary lineup of all-new Ford vehicles that will roll out over the next few years. As the only car in its competitive group offering all-wheel drive, Five Hundred is expected to draw new customers to the Ford brand, including some who might otherwise have purchased an import.
The Five Hundred is one of five new cars and crossovers set to enter Ford showrooms in 2004. Joining it are the all-new Ford GT supercar, the 2005 Focus, the all-new Freestyle crossover and the all-new Mustang.
Added to the recent Ford F-150, Freestar and Mercury Monterey launches – and next year’s debut of the Mercury Montego and the Ford Escape Hybrid – this amounts to one of the most far-reaching product lineup renewals in Ford Motor Company history.
Comfort a High Point
Five Hundred’s high package interior brings SUV-like command seating to the premium sedan segment, giving drivers and passengers a clear view of the road.
To create this environment, Ford engineers designed the seating around a high "H-point," which is ergonomic terminology for the pivot point of the human hip joint. Legroom statistics are important, but unless H-point dimensions are considered, they don’t tell the whole story.
For Five Hundred’s front-seat passengers, the distance between the H-point and the vehicle floor is up to four inches higher than in other midsize sedans. The distance is even greater for second-row passengers. And overall legroom is best in class for both front and rear occupants.
Premium features include 17-inch wheels (18-inch wheels are standard on SEL and Limited), entry keypad, one-touch "up" front power windows, plus a host of options like all-wheel drive, leather seating with power adjustments (including power recline for the driver), fold-flat front passenger seat, reverse parking assist and moon roof.
Design Statement: Five Hundred a Premium Sedan
Five Hundred’s exterior design, with its clean geometric lines and stately proportions, makes it clear this is a confident, capable sedan.
Classic Ford design cues include the trapezoidal, diamond-patterned grille, the window graphic with elegant chrome surround and, of course, the blue oval Ford badge centered along the rear of the trunk lid.
The interior styling builds on the same theme, with inviting materials and surface treatments – from smooth metal door handles to soft-touch paint finishes and high-quality fabrics or leather surfaces.
Performance Plus Efficiency
The Five Hundred’s two innovative transmissions – including one of the industry’s largest applications of a continuously variable transmission, or CVT – deliver strong performance from an engine that also is designed for fuel efficiency and low emissions.
The CVT is standard on all-wheel-drive and some front-drive versions of the Five Hundred.
Both transmissions offer overall wide spans from the lowest to the highest gear ratios. That translates into strong off-the-line acceleration, as well as high mileage on the highway.
The improved Duratec 30 3.0-liter V-6 engine also is designed to meet California Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV) II standards, which call for 55 percent less smog-forming pollutants than California Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV) rules.
Dual-piston aluminum front brake calipers and large front and rear brake rotors provide strong stopping power and fade-free performance. Five Hundred’s fully independent suspension, stiff body structure and precise rack-and-pinion steering contribute confident ride and handling.
Sure-Footed All-Wheel Drive
The all-new Ford Five Hundred is available with all-wheel drive inspired from a proven Volvo system. This application uses an electronically controlled, electro-hydraulic Haldex limited-slip coupling positioned just ahead of the rear differential to transfer torque to the rear wheels as needed whenever front wheels begin to slip.
For Customers Who Carry People and Cargo
Five Hundred is about 3 inches longer than a Taurus but roughly a foot shorter than the Crown Victoria. Despite its size, Five Hundred’s efficient packaging provides exceptional rear-seat knee room and more trunk space than any sedan on the market.
Safer by Design
Acknowledged safety leader Volvo made a key contribution to the technology packed into the new Five Hundred. To begin with, the Volvo-inspired platform is engineered to offer class-leading stiffness with relatively soft crush zones designed into impact areas. When equipped with Ford’s Safety Canopy™ and side air bags, Five Hundred is expected to earn top crash test ratings.
In frontal impacts, energy is absorbed by the frame rails, where an innovative bumper plate design – submitted for patent protection by Ford in North America – is employed. Excess energy is transferred around the passenger compartment into a high-strength safety cage. A patent-pending new design tailors the steering column’s collapse to the driver’s size and safety-belt use for optimum protection.
Rear-impact performance is so advanced that it is designed to meet proposed future federal crash standards. Side-impact protection is a particular strength of the new Five Hundred, thanks to a combination of Ford’s industry-leading air-bag technology and structural features that safeguard occupants from intrusion by channeling crash energy away from the passenger compartment. An innovative cross-car beam under the front seats reinforces the structure between the B-pillars, while directing energy away from passengers to an engineered failure point under the center console.