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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 09-01-04, 04:02 PM Thread Starter
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US:2005 Ford Five Hundred & Mercury Montego

2005 Ford Five Hundred
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Ford redefines family sedan

By Paul Lienert, and Anita Lienert / Special to The Detroit News

DETROIT U.S. automakers would have us believe that 2004 is the Year of the Car. But here in the hometown of the domestic auto industry, it really is shaping up as the Rebirth of the Family Sedan.

The battle for Car of the Year honors is being waged most fiercely between two crosstown contenders, the 2005 Chrysler 300 and the 2005 Ford Five Hundred all-new flagship sedans for their respective brands that resurrect number nameplates from the 60s on modern hardware thats as good as anything Detroit has ever built. 

If the big Chrysler four-door reeks of sass and presence and muscle, the new Ford is all about finesse, refinement and sophistication.

The two rivals are priced within spitting distance of each other the 300 starts at $23,920, the Five Hundred at $22,795, including destination. Both models seat five adults in comfort, and both are available with all-wheel drive.

But the Ford Five Hundred, in nearly every other respect, couldn't be more different. Phil Martens, Ford's group vice president for product creation, bills it as an affordable dream for middle America.Curiously, its roots lie across the Atlantic.

Like Chrysler did with the 300, Ford tapped its European affiliate in this case, Swedish subsidiary Volvo for help in developing the new Five Hundred sedan and its sister vehicle, the 2005 Freestyle wagon.

Volvo provided the basic architecture a corporate front-wheel-drive platform known internally as P2X as well as its expertise in all-wheel drive and safety.

While the European influence is evident in design and vehicle dynamics, the end result is a new kind of Ford that no doubt will help reshape Americas perception of a mid-priced family sedan.

That's not to say the Five Hundred is midsize; its overall proportions and mass put it squarely in the full-size segment. At 200.7 inches, the Five Hundred is longer than the Chrysler 300 longer even than a Buick LeSabre. Its also wider and taller than both of those models, although Ford notes that the Five Hundred is still nearly a foot shorter than the big Crown Victoria sedan that has been the brand's full-size staple for decades.

When the new Mazda-based Ford Fusion sedan arrives in fall 2005 as a 2006 model, the midsize Fusion and full-size Five Hundred will straddle the bracket now occupied by the Ford Taurus, which is being phased out of production over the next two years.

Although their exterior and interior dimensions are remarkably similar, the Five Hundred feels less like a traditional domestic sedan than the 300, which rides on a rear-wheel-drive chassis developed with assistance from Mercedes-Benz.

Where ride quality and comfort are the 300s forte, thanks in part to its ample 120-inch wheelbase, the Five Hundred handles with more grace and agility, and feels more like a Volkswagen than a Mercedes.

A wheelbase that's 7 inches shorter than the 300, coupled with four-wheel independent suspension and front and rear stabilizer bars, contribute to the car's suppleness.

Chrysler made a point of offering several engine options on the 300, including a massive 5.7-liter Hemi V-8 that packs plenty of muscle, in the best Detroit tradition. Not so the Five Hundred, which despite its size comes with only a single engine a relatively modest, twin-cam 3.0-liter V-6 that makes 203 horsepower.

On front-wheel-drive models, the V-6 is mated to a new state-of-the-art six-speed automatic transmission purchased from Japanese supplier Aisin AW, while all-wheel-drive variants are fitted with an equally advanced, continuously variable automatic transmission developed in cooperation with German supplier ZF.

Chrysler offers only a choice of four- and five-speed automatics (the latter sourced from Mercedes-Benz). We sampled prototypes of the Five Hundred in various configurations, and thought the 3.0-liter V-6 had surprisingly good acceleration initially, with both transmissions providing smooth and seamless shifts at different speeds.

But the Five Hundred is a surprisingly hefty vehicle the base model weighs more than a LeSabre, while a well-equipped all-wheel drive edition is nearly two tons and the V-6 quickly runs out of torque as vehicle speeds increase.

Ford has no plans to offer a V-8 on the Five Hundred, and a larger, more powerful V-6 is several model years away.

The Five Hundred steps away from the 300 in another significant respect its elegant, understated cabin, which looks like a distinctively American interpretation of a fine European-type cockpit.

The instrument binnacle houses a complement of traditional round analog gauges, while the center stack incorporates simple and well-thought-out controls for the audio and climate systems.

Ford designers under group design vice president J Mays employed soft-touch materials on the dash and satin-aluminum trim on door handles and other pieces. The base SE model has carbon-fiber appliques, while the mid-level SEL and top-of-the-line Limited get rich-looking burled-wood appliques.

All Five Hundreds come with a nice array of standard equipment, including 17-inch wheels and tires, power driver's seat, power mirrors, air conditioning, remote keyless entry, power windows with one-touch up/down for the driver, an overhead console and an AM-FM stereo with CD player.

The SEL and Limited versions add more equipment, although a rear DVD entertainment system is not yet among the options. Ford designed a command seating position for driver and passenger that is four inches higher off the floor than usual for a family sedan. Optional power adjustable pedals ($175), available only on the Limited model, will help shorter drivers adapt.

Mays and his cohorts refer to the design of the Five Hundred as high package,meaning the roof is taller than usual. Indeed, the car stands three inches taller than the LeSabre and an inch and a half taller than the 300. That translates into generous interior space and a cabin that's larger than those of nearly every competitor in the segment including the 300.

Cargo space is also plentiful; Ford says the Five Hundred's trunk is larger than that of the full-size Crown Victoria and is far and away the largest in the class.

Safety equipment is a mixed bag. Four-wheel disc brakes with antilock brakes are standard on all models, while traction control is standard on all-wheel drive models and optional on others. An unfortunate oversight is the lack of stability control, which provides even better all-weather safety and security than traction control. An optional reverse sensing system ($250) is available on SEL and Limited models. Curiously, Ford made side air bags for front-seat occupants and side curtain air bags for front and rear occupants an extra-cost option on all Five Hundreds $795 on the base SE and $595 on SEL and Limited.

A final word about styling: Martens says the Five Hundred was designed to appeal to a wider audience than the Chrysler 300, so it is deliberately not as edgy or controversial as the big Chrysler. We think the exterior design of the Five Hundred errs on the side of caution, which may hold great appeal for a broad range of buyers in different age groups.

The Five Hundred, Martens says, is aimed at the person who makes $50,000-$70,000 a year and wants a car that looks more expensive than it is.

Which brings us back around to pricing. Although Ford product planners originally envisioned a premium sedan that would start at around $26,000 or higher, the company elected to aggressively position the Five Hundred to better compete with the Chrysler 300 and the two best-selling mid-size family sedans, the Toyota Camry and the Honda Accord (which, incidentally, are considerably smaller than the Ford or Chrysler).

Ford has priced the various Five Hundred models in logical stair-steps. A base SE with all-wheel drive, for instance, starts at $24,495, while a mid-level SEL with front-wheel drive is priced from $24,795. A range-topping Five Hundred Limited with all-wheel drive has a sticker of $28,495, which can be nudged over $30,000 with just a few options.

The final skirmish in the Battle of Family Sedans will be fought in driveways across middle America. But will red states opt for the more sedately styled Ford and blue states swing to the splashier Chrysler?

Check back with us after the election for the final tally.

How the Five Hundred measures up
Five Hundred 300 LeSabre Custom Camry LE Accord LX
Wheelbase 112.9 in. 120.0 in. 112.2 in. 107.1 in. 107.9 in.
Length 200.7 in. 196.8 in. 200.0 in. 189.2 in. 189.5 in.
Width 74.5 in. 74.1 in. 73.5 in. 70.7 in. 71.5 in.
Height 60.1 in. 58.4 in. 57.0 in. 58.7 in. 57.1 in.
Curb weight 3,643 lbs. 3,711 lbs 3,567 lbs. 3,340 lbs. 3,109 lbs.
Engine DOHC 3.0L V-6 DOHC 2.7L V-6 OHV 3.8L V-6 DOHC 3.0L V-6 SOHC 3.0L V-6
Output 203 hp 190 hp 205 hp 210 hp 240 hp
Base price $22,795 $23,920 $27,150 $22,895 $23,790
* Prices include destination; Source: Automakers, Kelley Blue Book

My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 09-12-04, 09:30 PM Thread Starter
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Re: US:2005 Ford Five Hundred

2005 Ford Five Hundred

The Five Hundred Spells Out The Future Of The Car At Ford, Though Don’t Say Bye To The Taurus


ON SALE: Now Base Price: $22,795
POWERTRAIN: 3.0-liter, 203-hp, 207-lb-ft V6; fwd, CVT
CURB WEIGHT: 3664 pounds
0 TO 60 MPH: 8.5 seconds (est.)

"One of the hurdles we’re going to have to overcome is the 203 horsepower."

So confessed Amy Marentic, marketing manager for the Five Hundred, at our daylong introduction to the vehicle at Ford’s Michigan Proving Grounds. Not exactly what one expects to hear about an automaker’s brand-spankin’-new offering—and certainly not about what Ford has hailed as "Redefining the North American Sedan" in its press materials.

But we appreciate the honesty. The fact is, the Five Hun-dred has a few hurdles to overcome—least of all its horsepower—but when it comes to overall packaging, the Five Hundred does a decent job of addressing the ever-increasing requisites of the family sedan.

First off, Ford says don’t mistake the Five Hundred for a Taurus replacement. The venerable Taurus will continue to be offered, says Ford, increasingly so to fleets (at least until next year when a new midsize called Fusion may put it to bed for good). But at 200.7 inches long, the Five Hundred could certainly pass for such a car, with just 3.1 more inches of length packaged between its nose and tail and 1.5 more between the doors than the 73.0-inch-wide Taurus. The wheels get pushed farther to the corners, shrinking the relative front and rear overhangs, with a 4.4-inch-longer wheelbase (at 112.9 inches) and 3.0/2.9-inch-wider track, front/ rear (at 64.6/65.0 inches). But inside, those dimensions result in just 2.7 cubic feet of additional passenger volume—hardly a huge departure from the Taurus—and most of that benefits the rear passengers. In fact, the Taurus provides more front headroom (by 0.6 inch), hip room (by 0.7 inch) and legroom (by 0.9 inch) than the Five Hundred, as well as rear hip room (by 2.0 inches!).

So what sets the Five Hundred so much apart from the Taurus? It could be its trunk, which, at 21.2 cubic feet (or eight golf bags’ worth), eclipses anything in its segment (the Taurus has 17.0 cubic feet; the Toyota Camry, 16.7; Honda Accord, 14.0; Chrysler 300, 15.6). Or it could be what Ford calls Command Seating.

Command Seating allows front and rear passengers to sit at least four inches higher than in comparable vehicles, but still about five inches lower than in an SUV like the Explorer, says Ford. This higher position not only allows for better ******d visibility, it makes getting in and out of the Five Hundred much easier.

Mostly, though, it’s technology that sets the Five Hundred apart.

Unlike the Taurus, the Five Hundred has available all-wheel drive, a feature people have become familiar with in trucks and are increasingly looking for in their cars. The Ford’s system forgoes the use of viscous couplings, as found on so many other awd vehicles, in favor of an electronically controlled electrohydraulic limited-slip unit. Ford says this system responds much more quickly than a comparable viscous coupling system, reacting at a slip of just one-seventh of
a turn of a front wheel.

Any Five Hundred model can be ordered with awd, but it only comes paired with the continuously variable transmission, or CVT.

If you’ve never tested a CVT, the experience can be a little off-putting at first as there are no shift points, no geared steps in the transfer of torque from the engine to the wheels. The engine simply revs more or less as needed.

We found power delivery through the CVT more satisfying—if a little strange—than with the six-speed automatic. If you’re attuned to the way a traditional auto tranny sounds and feels when it’s doing its thing, the lack of shift points with the CVT makes the Five Hundred feel deceptively
slow off the line. But keep your right foot planted and the Five Hundred gets up to speed before you realize it. The six-speed, on the other hand, is frustratingly slow on downshifts.

During our drive around the proving grounds, the Five Hundred felt solid on the road, displaying a confident ride and fairly responsive handling through the twisty evaluation course. There is a decent amount of feedback through the steering wheel, and the car brakes impressively for its mass, the four-wheel discs—12.5-inch dual-piston vented fronts, 13.0-inch solid rear—handling aggressive stops with little drama.

Then there is that 203 hp, courtesy of a slightly revamped version of the 3.0-liter Duratec V6 found in the Taurus.

The problem with that figure—and the cause for the confessional—isn’t so much that 203 is egregiously low. After all, a base Accord or Camry comes with only 160 hp of four-cylinder power (though at significantly less cost). But both Honda and Toyota offer optional V6 power, up to 240 and 225 hp worth, respectively. The Chrysler 300 even makes its 5.7-liter, 340-hp V8 Hemi available—for considerable more cash, to be sure, but available nonetheless.

No such alternate powerplant can be had in the Five Hundred. If you opt to go full-zoot—awd, CVT and all—the Five Hundred’s curb weight can reach upward of 3815 pounds. That means that every horsepower cranked out by the 3.0-liter has to haul around 18.8 pounds. Compare that to its rivals, decked out in similar fashion (most powerful available engine and heaviest curb weight): Accord, 14.1 pounds per horsepower; Camry, 15.3; 300C, 12.0. Even the Taurus, with 201 hp, only had to haul 16.4 pounds per horse.

Choose the base trim, the front-drive CVT model, and the Five Hundred does beat its entry-level rivals, at 18.0 pounds per horsepower—but it will cost you more than all except for the Chrysler.

A Five Hundred starts out at $22,795, including destination. That’s only $1,125 less than the 300 but over $6,000 more than a base Accord and almost $4,300 more than a base Camry.

The Five Hundred does come with a generous list of standard features. SE models come equipped with six-way power-adjustable driver’s seat, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, cruise control, tilt steering, remote keyless entry, power-folding side mirrors, air conditioning, auto up/down driver’s window and an AM/FM stereo with in-dash CD player. The mid-level SEL model adds heated side mirrors, fog lamps, chrome accents, a message center with compass and outside temperature display, eight-way power driver’s and two-way power passenger seats, fold-flat passenger seat, six-disc in-dash CD player with MP3 capability, leather steering wheel and shift knob, steering wheel audio controls, perimeter lighting, dual-zone climate control and 17-inch aluminum wheels. The line-topping Limited gets 18-inch wheels, bright grille, chrome mirror caps, leather seating surfaces front and back, an analog clock, memory settings for seat/mirrors/pedal positioning, audiophile system, trunk cargo net, Homelink, four-way power passenger seat and heated front seats.

The short options list consists of the awd, power-adjustable pedals, leather, power moonroof, reverse-sensing system and side airbags and side curtain.

Also expect the Five Hundred to get superb fuel mileage for a vehicle its size, with front-drive six-speed models getting 29 mpg highway/21 city. CVT-equipped front-drive models are rated
at 27/20 mpg. All-wheel-drive Five Hundreds (all of which get the CVT) still do well, at 26/19 mpg.

No doubt Ford will sell bucket loads of Five Hundreds, with that generous equipment list and loyal customer base (and certainly some attractive incentives) keeping them rolling off showroom floors. But we can’t help but be a bit disappointed. Like we said, the Five Hundred has more than just its horsepower hurdle to overcome.

The Five Hundred constitutes one of the most conservative styling efforts we’ve seen from Ford in a generation, a convic-tion amplified by the concurrence of its launch with—and the excitement generated by—Chrysler’s 300.

The 300’s bold, no-holds-barred design has garnered a lot of attention and sparked even more discussion. Many hate it; many more, from our experience, love it.

The Five Hundred, on the other hand, engenders little passion. Of the handful we’ve heard actually talk or inquire about the car, few have had anything particularly negative to say about its design, but none have gone buggy over it.

Five years ago Ford owned 12.7 percent of the car market in the States and 19.1 percent overall. Through this July those numbers have dropped, to 7.5 percent and 15.0 percent. Which begs the question: Should an automaker in the position Ford finds itself—with a dearth of product, geriatric lineup, shrinking market share and measly profits—play it so safe with, arguably, its most important product?

Maybe Ford should have a few more Years of the Car.

My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 09-12-04, 09:35 PM Thread Starter
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Re: US:2005 Ford Five Hundred & Mercury Montego

Crazy ’bout the Montego
Mercury version of the Five Hundred worth the extra cash


BASE PRICE: $24,995
POWERTRAIN: 3.0-liter, 203-hp,207-lb-ft V6; fwd, CVT
CURB WEIGHT: 3667 pounds
0 TO 60 MPH: 8.5 seconds (est.)

Take a Ford Five Hundred, dress up its face with a “waterfall” grille, add some nifty HID head- and LED tail lamps, sprinkle some nice aluminum trim touches inside and break up all that monotone surface treatment, and voila! Say hi to the Mercury Montego.

We’re not joking, either. The difference between the cars is entirely of the aesthetic nature. Oh, and there are only two trim levels instead of three.

The base Luxury model is about equivalent to the Five Hundred’s SEL, while the Montego Premier adds roughly the same equipment as the Limited, except the Mercury gets a gray woodgrain trim instead of brown, and perforated leather seating surfaces.

The side airbags and curtain remain options, as do all-wheel drive and the power-adjustable pedals, leather seating surfaces, power moonroof and reverse-sensing system. In addition, the Montego has available a comfort package that
includes the premium sound system and power driver and passenger seat recline.

The improved aesthetics of the Montego go a long way toward address- ing one of our biggest complaints with the Five Hundred: The Ford is simply dull, dull, dull.

The Montego has a more distinctive look, in large part due to that big, aluminum grille and those bright, technical-looking LEDs in back. But it’s inside, where you’ll find a two-tone theme in place of the Five Hundred’s yawn-inspiring monotone look, that the Montego really outdoes the Five Hundred. It’s the details that make this car work where the Five Hundred falls flat.

The Mercury Montego should be hitting showrooms now, with a sticker starting at $24,995, delivery included.

My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 10-08-04, 12:40 PM Thread Starter
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Re: US:2005 Ford Five Hundred & Mercury Montego

New Ford Sedan has Large Aspirations, and Delivers

Press Release
By: John Fossen | Ford Communications Network
Photo's by

The 2005 Ford Five Hundred promises a lot of car for the money. With available all-wheel drive, sophisticated styling and state-of-the-art transmissions, it also delivers. For more information, visit

DEARBORN, Mich.-- Just as Ford claims that the new Freestyle crossover vehicle bridges the gap between cars and sport utility vehicles, its mechanical cousin, the new Five Hundred sedan, serves a similar purpose for the car market.

Only three inches longer than the midsize Taurus, the Five Hundred offers the interior room of a Crown Victoria and one of the most spacious trunks in the world. The new vehicle is expected to draw customers from segments such as the midsize Toyota Camry V-6 and the Chevy Impala, as well as large cars that include the Toyota Avalon and the Chrysler 300.

"We are targeting baby boomers -- people in their upper 40s and early 50s -- who are undergoing a life-stage change," explained Amy Marentic, marketing manager, Ford Five Hundred and Freestyle. "They are becoming empty-nesters and are moving out of minivans and SUVs."

Ford hopes that the Five Hundred's impressive list of features coupled with an attractive price will lure current Taurus owners and those of competitive brands. The base SE model with four-wheel antilock braking system (ABS), 17-inch aluminum wheels, command seating, traction control, power locks and windows, remote keyless entry and other standard items lists for $22,795.

The 2005 Ford Five Hundred has one of the most sophisticated interiors in the industry. With 21.2 cubic feet of space, the trunk can hold eight full-size golf bags.

"When people see the vehicle, they expect it to start at $25,000, and what we're doing is surprising them with a very well-equipped vehicle at a lower price than they anticipated," said Marentic.

"We are going to advertise price point because we think Five Hundred is a tremendous value. You can get optional all-wheel-drive and still pay less than $25,000. Our research indicates that the average price for an all-wheel-drive sedan is $37,500. That's a huge difference," explained Marentic.

Marentic also said the power of the Five Hundred's Duratec 30 V-6 engine is strong. Two new automatic transmissions, a CVT and 6-speed, make the 200-horsepower V-6 engine feel smooth and responsive.

"Our 0-60 miles per hour time of 7.45 seconds, as verified by an outside testing company, is even faster than the Chrysler 300 with a 250-horsepower engine. So we have nothing to be sorry about," said Marentic. "Plus, the Five Hundred rides and handles better than any of the competition and gets up to 29 miles per gallon on the highway."

Ford Division has begun sending mailers about the new Five Hundred to prospective customers who, for example, may already own a Ford SUV and a competitive sedan. In addition, the company has staged several consumer product drives around the county with encouraging results.

"Reaction has been very positive," said Marentic. "The exterior is very interesting, and once they get in the vehicle, they notice the quality of the interior materials. Then, they drive the car and experience its exceptional ride and handling. The fact that the car is based on a Volvo platform is yet another selling point. We are confident that the Five Hundred will bring customers to the showroom."

Advertising for the Five Hundred is scheduled to begin in mid-October when dealers are expected to have sufficient quantities of Ford's all-new sedan.

My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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