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Ford. The name is a staple in American history and the Ford Motor Company is known as one of the “Big 3” car manufacturers. Headquartered in Michigan, Ford has millions of loyal customers and is probably best known for its trucks and SUVs. The brainchild of Henry Ford, in 1903 the car company began with the goal of building a car “for the masses.” To do so required manufacturing processes to change, and Ford introduced the moving assembly line. This innovation created the conditions in which a car could be well made and affordable. And the Model T was born, becoming the car of choice for over 16 million Americans. By 1914, Ford’s methods of large-scale manufacturing on the moving assembly line became known around the world as “Fordism.”
By 1925 Ford was expanding into the luxury car market and purchased the Lincoln motor company. Further innovation produced a line of full-size (F-Series) trucks beginning in the late 1940s, the Thunderbird (T-bird) in the 1950s and the Mustang in the 1960s. The 1980s brought the extremely popular Taurus and Escort models, and Ford also purchased Aston Martin and Jaguar. Expanding even further in the 1990s, Volvo was purchased, and Ford also released the Ford Explorer. Today, Ford continues to innovate and offers alternative-fuel vehicles that use compressed natural gas, flex fuel, hybrid and plug-in electric, as well as hydrogen cars.
Throughout all this change and growth, the mainstay of Ford was their line of trucks. In fact, the F-series truck is the best selling truck in America. With multiple sizes, trims, and audiences, the Ford truck has become an American icon.
The popularity of these vehicles helped Ford’s meteoric rise to become the fifth largest automaker in the world based on sales. With around 90 manufacturing and facilities plants worldwide, Ford has expanded its line of services. Now, the Ford name also has a parts division, builds busses and tractors, and even a financial services division.
Heralded as Ford’s first compact SUV, the Bronco seems to fit the bill for most things. The Bronco seemed designed for a wide range of uses: family sedan, a civil defense vehicle, a sports-style roadster, or working on a farm. Having gone through five generations, the Bronco’s history is generally divided in to two categories: early broncos which were two-door SUVs best suited for off-roading, and the “big broncos” which introduced families and car enthusiasts to the brand as well.
The Ford Crown Victoria has a long and storied past. The first car released with that name was in 1955; it was a two-door six seater coupe-style car which was part of the Fairlane line. More recently, the Crown Vic was available from 1992-2007 as a rear-wheel drive full-size sedan. Popular with families and executive types, the car has been long known for its huge trunk space, and its durability. Available in two trim levels, this six seat sedan has long been a staple for cab-drivers and companies which need plenty of seating and even more trunk and cargo space. Due to its popularity for certain duties, the Crown Vic was available until 2011 for law enforcement and other agencies, long after it ceased consumer production.
E-Series Van (Econoline)
The Ford E-series (Econoline) is a line of full-size vans for cargo and passenger use. Three models round out the line: the 150 as the base model, the 250 which comes in two lengths, and the super duty 350. Revealed in 1961, the E-series has been produced through four generations, but was replaced by the Ford Transit in 2014.
The Ford Edge is a mid-sized crossover SUV (actually defined as a CUV) which seats five. With handling and a quiet ride similar to a car, the Edge was introduced in 2006 with a six-speed automatic and came in four trim levels. A second generation (2015) of the Edge made the EcoBoost engine standard and added the option of all-wheel drive. This appealing model has an airy interior and a long list of extras making it a great choice for families wanting to do it all. As evidence, Parents Magazine listed the Ford Edge as one of the “Best Cars for Families” in 2007, and the Edge earned a “Top Safety Pick” rating for models built after January 2007.
The Ford Escape is a car known around the world. Jointly developed and released with Mazda of Japan, the Escape is also known as the Mercury Mariner and the Mazda Tribute. Smaller than the Ford Explorer, the Escape is one of America’s best-selling small crossover SUVs. Its appeal is derived from its practicality: it has the driving and attributes of a midsize car, plus the styling, fold-flat back seats, and four-wheel drive ability of a traditional SUV. This compact crossover was first revealed in 2001 and comes with both rear and four-wheel drive options, as well as two lengths and three trim levels.
Three generations of the Ford Escape have produced a vehicle that is keeping up with the times. A hybrid option has been introduced and safety features have been enhanced. For example, all Ford Escapes come standard with SecuriLock, which has an RFID chip embedded in the key. Without the confirmation signal from the key, the vehicle will not run, even if the key is perfectly cut to match the original. Extras such as these keep theft, injury, and collision losses among the lowest in its class.
In 1997, Ford replaced the Bronco and released the full-sized SUV named the Expedition. Still in production today, the V8 Expedition is based off the ever-popular F-150 and it is Ford’s largest truck-based, tow-capable SUV. Up till 2006, the Expedition sat nine (then bucket seats were added up front). Available in regular- and extended length versions, the Expedition has been through three generations and a 4th is in the planning stages.
In 1991 Ford once again introduced a new car that changed the way Americans think about their rides. The Explorer is credited with initiating our love of the SUV. This mid-size sport utility sits comfortably size-wise between the smaller Ford Edge and the larger Ford Expedition. With comfort and versatility as its mainstays, this SUV provided something that the minivans and station wagons couldn’t: seating, style, cargo size, and handling – all in one package. In 2001, the Explorer Sport (three-door) was released. The Explorer became so popular and lived up to its reputation so well that it was name North American Truck of the Year in 2011. These days the Explorer sports three rows of seating, and in 2012 it was redesigned out of the SUV category and into the crossover (CUV) style.
In 1975, Ford introduced a half-ton pickup called the F-150. Created to bridge the gap between the F-100 and the F-250 (to avoid certain emission control restrictions), the F-150 is a personal use truck that has been the best-selling vehicle in the United States for over 30 years, and the best-selling pickup for over 40 years. This full-size contemporary truck became part of Ford’s Super Duty line in 1999, and was awarded Motor Trend Truck of the Year Award (2009).
The Ford F-250 is a three-quarter ton truck that is designed as a “work” truck to meet the demands of massive payloads, while still being comfortable use. The F-250 currently has three body styles and five trim levels to satisfy those who often call their truck “the office.”
The Ford F-350 is a huge one-ton work truck built in Kentucky. With a dual rear-wheel set up (dually) and two- or four-wheel drive, the F-350 is a work truck that hauls payloads comfortably. From 1990-1997, the F-350 was quite similar to the F-150 but with added strength for more towing. In 1999, the F-350 became part of Ford’s Super Duty line. Easy to drive and comfortable to ride in, the F-350 is available with a boggling number of options from body style, powertrain and trim levels. There was even a Harley-Davidson package which included black leather trim and boasted plenty of chrome badges.
Built in Kentucky, the F-450 is part of the Super Duty pickup truck line from Ford. Heavier and larger, the F-450 is more work truck with more than 24,000 pounds of towing capacity or 2 tons of payload capacity. Due to the suspension and setup required for such power, the ride is stiff with a load to haul. With an aggressively styled front end, attractive interior and an array of luxury features, the F-450 currently comes only in the Crew Cab style with a large eight-food bed and dual rear wheels. With five trim levels from which to choose and standard four-wheel drive, this Super Duty pickup is a serious workhorse.
Beginning in 1976, the subcompact Ford Fiesta is a supermini car and one of Ford’s best selling lines. Available in sedan or hatchback styles with three trim levels, the Fiesta sports both refinement and style not usually found in economy cars. The ever popular Fiesta has seen seven generations and is also a motorsport car of choice. Further, it was the first minicar to achieve a Top Safety Pick designation.
In 2009 Ford released the Flex, a full-sized cross over utility (CUV) based a Ford D4 platform. As they tried to move away from mini-van styling, Ford produced the Flex to seat up to seven (or six if the second row captains chairs are chosen). Also considered an SUV by many, the Flex originated with three trim levels and is much more a stylish wagon than it is mini-van. To accommodate families, both back rows fold flat for cargo, and the body remains boxy to maximize interior volume and style. This roomy and comfortable ride is complemented by horizontal grooves in the doors which give it a “woodie” look.
One of Ford’s most popular cars around the world, the Ford Focus is a compact car available in both sedan and hatchback styling. The Focus was created and released in 1998 to not only replace the Ford Escort, but also to help Ford become truly competitive with Japan. One of the most common cars on the road in Great Britain, the Ford Focus was awarded European Carof the Year in 1999. The Focus has been through three generations of models, and is offered with a range of gas engines, and to keep up with demand, an all-electric version has also been made.
The midsized Ford Fusion has a spacious cabin and tons of family-friendly amenities. Envisioned as the “next Taurus” the Fusion provides style and a quality build. Billed as the “Not your father’s Taurus” the Ford Fusion placed second in Car and Driver’s ranking of top-selling mid-size cars. Sized between the compact Ford Focus and the full-size Ford Taurus, the Fusion filled the need for a mid-size sedan. This sedan, in its second generation, was the first produced that offered the options of a gas engine, an EcoBoost engine, a hybrid model, and a plug-in hybrid model. In 2010, the Fusion won Motor Trend Car of the Year and its hybrid verion won the North American Car of the Year award. Beginning in 2006, the Fusion also became the new body style for Ford in NASCAR races, again replacing the Taurus. Interestingly, the Fusion also set the fuel-cell ground speed record of over 207 mph.
The iconic Ford Mustang began in 1965 as a two door, two seat coupe. But it was like no other, and the Mustang created the “pony car” class of automobiles: sports-car like coupes with long hoods and short rear decks. Distinct style (a two door fastback or two door convertible) and plenty to offer under the hood, the Ford Mustang won the Motor Trend Car of the Year in 1974 and 1994. Twenty years separated these awards, and still the Mustang draws people in. It has been the Car and Driver Ten Best list six times. Known for responsive handling, plenty of engine, and don’t-mess-with-me styling, the Ford Mustange was even featured in a James Bond film (1971).
Since 1998, the Ford Ranger pickup truck was been a common sight on American roads. Although the name has been used on three distinct model lines, the Ranger has had relatively few revisions in the three decades it has been in production. Sold internationally, this pickup truck comes with a wide choice of tim styles and has lived through multiple generations which have updated the styling, but not substantially changed the vehicle.
The Ford Shelby came to be in the late 1960s when Ford teamed up with Carroll Shelby, a racing legend, and produced the high performance GT350 Shelby. Two years later, the GT500 arrived with a 428 cubic-inch big block V8 and changed the car landscape forever, becoming the ultimate performance version of the Ford Mustang. Even better, it is available in both coupe and convertible body styles.
The Ford Taurus is a name unto itself. Beginning in 1986, the front-wheel drive, mid-sized car gave drivers a roomy cabin and responsive handling at an affordable price. This combination was immediately appealing and throughout its first decade in production, the Taurus was consistently one of the best selling cars in the country. Having been produced through six generations with a seventh in the works, it spent four years (1992-1996) as the best-selling car in the United States. In 2008, the Taurus changed designations from mid-size to full size.
It doesn’t get much more classic than the Ford Thunderbird. In 1955, Ford introduced the idea of drivers having a “personal luxury car” and revealed the Thunderbird. A two-seater with V8 power, a nice ride and great styling, it also had simple construction and a reasonable price. Things really heated up in 1958 when the T-bird, as it had become known, became a four-seater in either a couple or convertible style with a blocky body that earned the nickname “Square Bird.” The 1960s saw sharper-edged lines for the body, but under the hood remained mostly the same. Unfortunately the Thunderbird went through a wide range of changes through the following decades and dropped markedly in popularity. The new millineum, however, brought the T-Bird back as a two-seat roadster that had great style and flair, but ended production after four years.
The first product of the merged Ford of Europe, the Ford Transit is a line of compact and affordable Euro-style vans. With the form and function of a utility van, the Transit line is a range of light commercial vehicles produced by Ford since 1965. With multiple different settings, the Transit is primarily sold as a cargo van, but is also available as a passenger van (Tourneo since 1995), a minibus, and a pickup truck. With a car-based architecture and economical engine, the Transit has been the best selling light commercial vehicle in Europe for forty years, and is the third best-selling van of all time.