The Ford EcoBoost® Challenge toured nearly a dozen major metropolitan areas across the nation in 2013, including one that I attended in the Los Angeles area. Specifically, the event was held in the Rose Bowl Stadium parking lot in the hills of Pasadena, one of the most famous venues for college football.
Guests were able to drive several EcoBoost-powered vehicles, including the 2014 Ford Fusion and 2014 Ford Escape. I was encouraged to drive these Ford vehicles as if I were from an automotive magazine doing a review of braking, steering, ride quality and acceleration. I was given the opportunity to compare the driving experience head-to-head with the competition.
As a bonus (from my perspective), the Ford ST Performance Academy was integrated into the EcoBoost Challenge. I got my hands on the 2014 Ford Focus ST and had the opportunity to test the handling of the car around cones on a closed course. I was also able to drive the 2014 Ford Fiesta ST.
As part of the event, Ford also had the Hypermile Instruction on hand where guests could discover how to get the most out of fuel-efficient hybrids.
The Fusion, with its available 4-cylinder 2.0L EcoBoost, was the vehicle that brought me to the EcoBoost Challenge. I had driven the F-150 and Taurus SHO with EcoBoost engines at previous Ford driving events, but I didn’t have an opportunity to drive a vehicle with the 2.0L EcoBoost engine before this event.
Driving the Fusion was the perfect opportunity to see what this sedan, equipped with available all-wheel drive along with a powerful turbocharged and fuel-efficient engine, was all about. I was mainly concerned with the comfort and handling of a midsize sedan. As I got into the driver’s seat, I found the Fusion to be quite comfortable, and the size of the vehicle was just right for me. I am definitely a midsize sedan kind of guy, and this was the course for me. No cones were harmed.
The course had a straightaway, winding section, 25-mph slalom and evasive lane changes. As expected, the Fusion was quick off the line in the straightway. The Ford product specialists wanted us to really test the brakes. By test, they meant applying the brakes hard towards the end of the straightaway so I could feel all of the stopping power. I was really impressed with the suspension and balanced handling around turns and curves. Having power to all wheels made a huge difference. I thought that the Fusion reacted quickly to the evasive lane changes, and I lazily brought the vehicle back to the start/finish line. My run was done. Oh yeah, I had completely forgotten I was driving a turbocharged 4-cylinder vehicle!
I think the most intriguing thing about this event was the amount of interest people had in the Ford hybrids. Surprisingly, the line at the Hypermile Instruction was longer than the lines at the EcoBoost Challenge and ST Performance Academy.
There are quite a few Ford EcoBoost® Challenges left this year, but space is limited, so click here to find the event near you and register to reserve a spot for yourself.
This article was guest written by Tom Fong, a Ford enthusiast, to share his experience from the event.