Situation Report 3

One summer, one fall and 37,968 kilometers (23,592 miles) since my last update, it’s been quite a while since my last post so I have a few interesting things to talk about.

First let’s go over fuel efficiency figures, in Situation Report 2: Spring Time I had written the following:

Since my last report I’ve done 7,224 kilometers or 4489 miles and over that period my fuel efficiency numbers have been 8.5 L / 100 km or around 28 mpg. This represents a drastic improvement since my last report where after 10,658 kilometers or 6623 miles I was averaging 9.7 L / 100 km or around 24 mpg. It’s difficult to assess the exact reason for this, but my assumptions are that I did much more highway driving over this period and also due to the warming weather I probably reduced my idling time quite a bit.

These numbers were all achieved using winter tires, so now that I’ve switched to four season tires, I’m expecting even better numbers.

This unfortunately didn’t happen, on summer tires, my number seemed to usually level off at around 8.9 L / 100 km (26 mpg). This average sometimes went down to around 8.4 L / 100 km (28 mpg) during long road trips, but eventually came back up slowly as I resumed my habitual driving. But this isn’t the whole story, as mentioned in my most recent post, during the summer I moved to another city. I used to live in the suburbs, with easy access to the highway, but now I have moved to an inner city apartment and this has had an atrocious effect on my fuel efficiency numbers.  My current average of the 37,968 kilometers is 10.7 L / 100 km (23 mpg) and it’s still going up! My guess is it will level off around 12 L / 100 km (19.5 mpg). Yes, you read that correctly, how can a crossover with a 1.6 turbo drink that much fuel?! A far cry from what Ford advertises as the city only fuel efficiency number of 8.9 L / km (26mpg).

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Fall road trip – Cape Breton Island

Over this period, a few things have happened to the car that really shouldn’t happen to a car with so few clicks on it…

First, at around 45,000 kilometers, my battery died, not dead as in I left my lights on overnight and needed a boost. Dead dead, as in even once I fully charged it, it was dead within an hour. I had it replaced at the dealership, apparently two of the battery’s cells were toast. The dealership told me this was my fault as I had too many things plugged into the car’s outlets, an iPhone charger in the 12v charger, an iPhone wire in the USB plug and a laptop charger in the 110v outlet (my car is my office). My two cents, if the battery wasn’t made to handle all these outlets, Ford shouldn’t have put them in.

Cost to me: Only time as it was still guaranteed.

Second, when I jump into the car, I sometimes close the door by placing my fingers between the window and the door panel. I’ve had to stop doing this as the panel partly rips off when I do so. I can easily pop it back it, but it’s quite lose.

Cost to me: nothing, I probably won’t get it fixed.

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Diver’s side door – Interior panel

Third, I’ve only noticed this issue two weeks ago, two of the rear window defrost strips no longer work so there is a section of the window that doesn’t defrost and stays fogged up. Right in the middle!

Cost to me: I don’t know as I haven’t taken it to the dealership yet, but probably still guaranteed.

Finally, I wasn’t planning on mentioning the following issue until I read this article on the new Honda Pilot as I am aware that I’m not driving a sports car and I don’t think the average driver would encounter this issue, but it really is a daily annoyance for me so it bears mentioning. When pushed, usually during city driving, the transmission doesn’t seem to know which gear it should be in and it usually takes quite some time to figure it out, that combined with a slight amount of turbo lag and you end up some herky jerky movements.

Does anybody else think that my car may have been built on a Friday afternoon?!

Now I’m trying to find something good about the car, something it does extra well or reasons why I would recommend it at this point and it isn’t easy. There is one thing though, recently I test drove the Nissan Rogue and Mazda CX-5 for a friend and if I were to compare the Escape solely in the driving comfort department, with regards to its drivability, driving position, cabin room, the Escape wins hands down. It handles like a car, the driving position is super comfortable and the slanted windshield makes you feel like you’re in a extra roomy vehicle. Maybe that’s why there are so many on the road… Is Ford building cars based only on passing the test drive?!?

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Missing in Action

You may or may not have noticed but I’ve been missing for several months now. For this I’d like to apologize! I’ve had a very busy summer and fall apparently, multiple road trips that allowed me to discover new parts of this country, a move to a new city and three weddings, one of which being my own! Let’s just say that it’s been hectic.

The Escape is doing alright with now over 55,000 kilometers, it has hit a few little bumps along the road which I look forward to sharing with you.

Expect some interesting posts in the coming months, which will include part 2 of the buying a used car segment, the results from my motor oil test and of course a situation report on the Escape.

Stay tuned!

Situation Report 2: Spring Time

Spring is here, which means two things for all us northern dwelling humans, first, warmer weather and second, it’s tire change time!

But before we move on to spring, I want to start by talking about the Ford Escape as a winter vehicle. It’s important to note, that I opted for the front wheel drive model in order to save on fuel. So let’s begin with the good things that it has going for it. The ground clearance is actually fairly good, which is around 7.9 inches. The Subaru Forester is the crossover that usually sets the benchmark in this category and it comes in at 8.7 inches. So you’re left with plenty of room for snow banks and the occasional off the beaten path type road without fearing any damage to important parts underneath your the vehicle. The 2016 Escape is also equipped with a couple 0f nifty features that my 2013 model didn’t have, such as heated mirrors and a heated windshield wiper dock.

Also, the AdvanceTrac system, which is Ford’s stability control system is quite good, when taking a turn on a slippery surface at too great of a speed it will control your turn by applying the brakes to the correct wheels to help the car stay on track. It’s however impossible to disable the system, so it can get kind of annoying when you’re actually trying to have so fun in the curves.

Now on to the disappointing part, the traction control system is terrible, it is far to intrusive, I would go as far as calling it dangerous. Picture this, you’re at a stop sign, the roads are snowy and you want to turn left on a road where the traffic doesn’t have to stop. It’s a busy Monday morning, but you finally have a hole where you can squeeze in so you decide to gas it… and nothing, well almost nothing, the car moves slowly forward into oncoming traffic and there is nothing you can do to make it move faster. The car has detected that the road is slippery and that it should cut the power in order to avoid the wheels from spinning out which could result in the loss of control. Even being delicate with the gas pedal doesn’t work, believe me, I’ve tried it. The only option at your disposal is to move through the settings of the on-board computer and switch the traction control off. This requires a total of 7 clicks on the steering wheel controls to make it happen, not exactly a quick process. Now, try going up a snowy hill without too much momentum with the traction control on, I don’t think I need to tell you about what is going to happen. The system is dangerous and Ford really needs to address this problem.

I had experienced this with my 2013 Ford Escape, which was equipped with the 2.0 Ecoboost and I hoped that decreased power of the 1.6 Ecoboost would make the problem less apparent, but it doesn’t. Just in case anyone was wondering, my winter tires are Toyo Observe GSi5s, which always rank among the top winter tires available.

Should I have opted for the all-wheel drive version? Probably. Even though their system is only on-demand, which means the rear wheels only come to life when the front wheels spin out, it would have been sufficient to mostly avoid the dangers mentioned above.

Since my last report I’ve done 7,224 kilometers or 4489 miles and over that period my fuel efficiency numbers have been 8.5 L / 100 km or around 28 mpg. This represents a drastic improvement since my last report where after 10,658 kilometers or 6623 miles I was averaging 9.7 L / 100 km or around 24 mpg. It’s difficult to assess the exact reason for this, but my assumptions are that I did much more highway driving over this period and also due to the warming weather I probably reduced my idling time quite a bit.

These numbers were all achieved using winter tires, so now that I’ve switched to four season tires, I’m expecting even better numbers. My new tires are the factory provided Michelin Energy Savers, online reviews are fairly poor, however, the tread pattern is basically identical to the Continental tires that came with previous year Escapes and I thought those were quite good so I’m not sure what to expect.

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Michelin Energy Saver (235 / 55 / 17)

Nothing else to report on the vehicle, everything is still running smoothly and thankfully the burnt clutch smell that I was getting after frequent accelerations is a thing of the past.

Until next time!

..

 

Oil Changes: The Basics

This week I went to a garage in order to have an oil change performed on my Ford Escape. The Escape is equipped with what Ford calls an ”Intelligent Oil-Life Monitor,” basically an engine oil monitoring system that lets you know when you need to perform an oil change. It’s there to help you save money, time, and the environment. According to the owner’s manual, the oil will need to be changed anywhere between 4,800 and 16,000 kilometers, based on different driving characteristics including highway vs. city driving, load towing, idling time, extreme weather operation, and road conditions. These systems are becoming more and more common on new cars. Make sure to check your owner’s manual to see if your car is equipped with one.

After approximately 12,000 kilometers since my previous oil change, the system had not yet indicated that an oil change was needed. However, I had some free time in my day and I had surpassed the suggested oil change distance by around 7,000 kilometers so I figured why not.

Suggested Oil Change

I want to talk a little about the suggested oil change interval that is given to you in the form of a small sticker in the top left of your windshield. Most places will write down that you need to come back in 5,000 kilometers or 3 months, whichever comes first. That number is complete garbage and is designed solely to help their business make more money. Unless you are going to the race track with your car every weekend or constantly towing heavy loads, you can probably double that amount without any problems. If you’re worried, the best thing to do is check your owner’s manual for what your manufacturer recommends. Most will suggest to change the oil at 8,000 kilometers. Going any sooner is bad for your wallet and bad for the environment.

Conventional Oil vs Synthetic Oil

Now on to the main topic of discussion. I have always used conventional oil in my cars, mostly based on two factors. First, my father had always used conventional oil in all his cars and he’s always done hundreds of thousands of kilometers without any engine issues. Second, an experienced mechanic that used to do work on our cars had told me that, in the majority of cases, conventional oil was just fine and paying nearly double the price for synthetic wasn’t worth it.

So I decided to do a little bit of research on the subject and here is what I found on a variety of websites and after speaking to a few mechanics. With synthetic oil you apparently get better engine protection, better fuel economy, better performance in extreme temperatures, and it should allow for longer intervals between oil changes. It’s probably all true, but is it worth it?

For most people, I’m guessing, the two important aspects are better fuel economy in order to save money and longer intervals between oil changes in order to save money.

Back to the question at hand. Is it worth it? I unfortunately don’t have an answer. Everyone has an opinion on the subject and I am no mechanic so I can’t tell you with any certainty what you should be using in your car. However, I’ve decided to do a test and put the fuel economy and change intervals on the hot seat. I am going to drive with the current conventional oil until the system tells me I need to change the oil. At that point, I will have an oil change performed but use synthetic oil and repeat.

I realize that this test is far from scientific. The sample size is too small and there are plenty of variables that could affect the results but I’ll have fun doing it and I can’t wait to report on the results.

Until then, if you have any questions on the subject, let me know. If I don’t have an answer I’ll be sure to try to find one for you.

 

 

 

 

 

Sync 3

Sync 3 is Ford’s new infotainment system, replacing the previous MyFord Touch system. It’s currently available on 2016 Ford Escapes and Fiestas when properly equipped. It will be available on all 2017 models.The outgoing system doesn’t generally fare well in reviews. From my experience it was slow, struggled in cold weather and it had its share of glitches, sometimes the Bluetooth connectivity wasn’t working and the entire system had to be reset in order to get it going again. The user experience wasn’t very intuitive and took some time to get used to. That being said, my 2013 Ford Escape was my first car that even had an infotainment system, so all in all, I was quite happy with it.

Now on to the new system, visually it’s more refined and the graphic user interface is much improved. The system’s functionality is where it has really grown. It is much faster, with zero wait time once you make a selection. The user experience is simpler, and functions much like a smartphone with pinch-to-zoom and swipe capability.

Sync 3 also has Siri recognition, so if you’re an Apple user, it enables you to use voice commands in order to send text messages and keep your eyes on the road. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are expected to be enabled in a system update coming in the second trimester of 2016. Most manufacturers already have this integrated into their system, but better late than never I guess.

There are however a few areas where it loses points, these issues aren’t huge problems, but nevertheless, I have to mention them.

The system features AppLink, it lets you use certain apps on your smartphone directly through the car’s interface. Unfortunately, there are currently very few apps that are compatible and most are music related apps. I don’t know about anyone else, but I don’t have a data plan on my phone that allows me to stream music all day, so it’s basically useless. Adding insult to injury, the second Apple CarPlay gets integrated, AppLink will become obsolete.

Also, and this one really grinds my gears, I get in the car, start it up, hit the voice command button to make a phone call, put the car in reverse and back out of the parking spot. Unfortunately, the system can’t handle backing up and making a phone call at the same time, so the call gets cut. Once the person has answered you’re okay to reverse, however, up until that point, even if it’s ringing, the call will cut out.

My final thoughts, Sync 3 is the best infotainment system I’ve ever had, but that isn’t saying much…

Situation Report 1: 2016 Ford Escape

I’ve now been driving my new 2016 Ford Escape for a little over 2-months now. Over that period of time, I’ve completed 10,658 kilometers or 6,623 miles.

As previously mentioned, my 2013 Ford Escape was equipped with the top of the line 2.0 Ecoboost engine, however, this time around I opted for 1.6 Ecoboost engine in order to save on fuel costs. With the 2.0 Ecoboost my fuel efficiency numbers were 11.5 L / 100 km or around 20.5 mpg. So far, with the 1.6 Ecoboost I’ve been doing 9.7 L / 100 km or around 26.1 mpg. A few things to note, every kilometer was done on winter tires (Toyo Observe GSi5), so naturally due to the more aggressive tread pattern, and therefore increased friction with the road, the car will consume more fuel. Also, when traffic permits, I usually travel on the highway at around 115 km/h or around 71 mph and I’ve noticed an unbelievable difference between the fuel consumption at that speed and when traveling anywhere between 90 km/h and 100 km/h. On cruise control at 90 km/h or around 55 mph the car will hold steady at about 6.0 L / 100 km or around 39.2 mpg. The larger 2.0 Ecoboost showed very little difference in fuel consumption at these different speeds. This is something to keep in mind depending on how fast you like to drive.

Now on to the power, there is no way around it, the car is slow. From 0 to 50 km/h it’s actually not bad, however, 70 to 100 km/h is painfully slow. That being said, I was spoiled with the 2.0 Ecoboost. So it’s all a matter of perspective, if you’re used to driving a normal small SUV or sedan that comes with a normally aspirated (non-turbo) engine which would usually range from 1.5 to 2.5 liters, you will be fine with the 1.6 Ecoboost. As for me, I’ve yet to determine if the the drop in fuel consumption, which so far isn’t all that much is worth the drop in power.

Finally, I’ve noticed that when I’m doing frequent accelerations, like when I’m doing a lot of city driving for example, I’ll often notice a burnt smell, very similar to what a burnt clutch would smell like. I’ll keep an eye on this and ask around next time I take the car in for an oil change.

Thankfully, there is nothing else to report on. In a future post, I’ll be writing about the Escape’s most notable update on the 2016 model, the Sync 3 system.

 

 

2016 Ford Escape 1.6 Ecoboost

I just picked up my new car from the dealership.

My journey begins. My objective is to provide an on-going long-term analysis of this vehicle that can help potential shoppers make an informed decision. I plan on owning this car for at least 2 years, over which time I should do about 120,000 km.

For starters, as you can see from the title, I’ve opted for the 1.6 Ecoboost this time around. The main reason for this choice is fuel economy. Be sure to read my initial review on this engine once I’ve completed a few thousand kilometers.

Other than the engine, the only notable difference in the 2016 model is the new infotainment system, now known as Sync 3. I think that the previous infotainment system, MyFord Touch, wasn’t too bad, however many reviews thought otherwise.

The new Sync 3 system has received great reviews, so I can’t wait to start playing around with it and see what it can do. Expect a detailed analysis in the weeks to come.

That’s all for today, I must go play with my new toy.