Ford uses Volvo roots to help cut costs on new Five Hundred flagship sedan
CHICAGO - Ford Motor Co. hopes to lure baby boomers with a tall, all-wheel-drive sedan that traces its origin to Volvo.
The 2005 Five Hundred is the Ford brand's new flagship. It's a mid-sized car with European-inspired handling and interior design.
To woo SUV enthusiasts, the vehicle offers an optional Haldex awd system from the Volvo XC90. The Five Hundred's front seat is 4 inches higher than that of a Taurus.
The Five Hundred and the front-drive 2006 Ford Fusion sedan will replace the Taurus.
The Five Hundred is based on Volvo's fwd P2 vehicle architecture, modified to cut cost.
The architecture is used in the Volvo S80 and XC90.
The architecture was re-engineered for the 2005 Ford Freestyle sport wagon.
The Five Hundred and the 2005 Mercury Montego sedans were added as derivatives, said Ray Nicosia, vehicle engineering manager, at a media event here.
Ford calls its version of the architecture D3. For the Ford and Mercury vehicles, "we needed to lessen the cost. We couldn't copy Volvo or use all Volvo components," Nicosia said.
For example, the rear suspension cradle is nearly identical to Volvo's. But the Ford uses steel while the Volvo uses costlier cast aluminum.
The Five Hundred is longer and wider than Volvo sedans. But the size adds weight - the base Five Hundred is 337 pounds heavier than the 2005 Taurus SE sedan.
The base Five Hundred SE has a $22,795 sticker price, including $590 destination. Awd is a $1,700 option. Standard equipment includes ABS, a power driver's seat and CD player. Sales begin next month.
By comparison, the 2005 Taurus SE carries a $21,145 sticker, including $660 transportation. ABS and a power driver's seat are optional.
Competitors include the Chevrolet Impala, Chrysler 300 and V-6-powered Toyota Camry.
Paul Mascarenas, executive director of medium and large fwd vehicles, said Ford tried to create "a well-equipped vehicle, a great value."
Ford also sought to create a European vehicle-like interior. For example, door handles are finished in satin aluminum.
"We spent money on the inside to provide high levels of craftsmanship, nice appliques, quality materials, where it counts," Mascarenas said.
Noise and vibration levels as well as handling, emulate Europe's sedans.
"We focused a lot of our attention on road noise, powertrain noise, wind noise (to create) a relaxed, long-distance, touring-type vehicle," Mascarenas said.
The Five Hundred and Montego are identically engineered. The Montego starts at $24,995, including transportation.