Words: Stephen Spyropoulos
Photography: Stephen Spyropoulos
Published: September 8, 2016
OAKVILLE, Ontario – Due to the seamlessly endless amount of technologies available in the automotive world, it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep track of who brought what. Take Key-Less Go for example. Many people see this as the new industry standard, but most forget just who brought it to the world. Mercedes-Benz did in 1997.
I could keep pointing out examples but what is important is that these industry firsts fundamentally changed the way we move around and get from point A to point B. Our forefathers could only dream of a car with adaptive cruise control.
Striving to add their name to the growing list of automakers that changed the world is Ford. They’ve been heavily invested in expanding from just being a run of the mill car manufacturer to a company that actively conducts research into the way humans use transportation and the technologies we need to make our lives easier.
Ford Motor Company of Canada has invited us out to their headquarters in Oakville, Ontario to show us some this new technology that they’ve been working on for the past decade, including a few industry firsts. At the event we were introduced to Pro Trailer Backup Assist for F-150s, FordPass with Ford’s SYNC3 Connect, the Fusion V6 Sport’s pothole mitigation feature, and automated perpendicular parking.
Picture this; you’re up north at the cottage with your in-laws and significant other. Your father-in-law comes to you and politely asks if you could hop in his Ford F-150 and back up the trailer that is holding up the family’s prized $250,000 speedboat towards the boat launching ramp. If you have never backed up a trailer in your life this situation sounds like a total nightmare. However, if your in-law purchased a 2017 Ford F-150 Limited you’d have a saving grace. Ford has unveiled an industry first, dubbed “Pro Trailer Backup Assist”.
This system, operated with the use of a rotary dial close to the driver, and the proficient use of cameras and mirrors will help just about anybody back up a trailer as if they have been hauling and trailering for years. Although I was skeptical at first, I was coached by a Ford employee that assured me that even though I had never trailered in my life, that this would be a piece of cake.
The system is quite clever, requiring the application of a checkerboard-like sticker to the trailer and requiring the operator to measure some distances with a measuring tape, and then to finally input these four or so measurements into the vehicle’s abacus. Within seconds you’ll be good to reverse just about any trailer. The key to doing this right the first time, is to be smooth with the dial and to avoid cranking it left and right as if it were a broken dial on that pesky laundry machine that just won’t get into the rinse cycle.
It will feel weird relinquishing control of the steering wheel but as you reverse, the steering wheel will rotate back and forth automatically only requiring you to cover the brake and gearing. Grab the wheel, and the system will shut off asking you to come to a full stop and then repeat the process over.
On my first attempt I was able to place the trailer where I wanted it to go, a feat that I’m sure would have taken me at least three tries. For pros, this assistance feature isn’t mandatory to use, but does come standard on higher trim Ford F-150s and will be available when you opt for the towing and trailering package.
Ford had more in store for us including the FordPass application that is available for download right now in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store. This app allows you to wirelessly connect with your car as if it was like a really expensive home alarm system. Simply put, you can track your car, lock it, unlock it, and remote start it from just about anywhere that has a cellphone signal. You can also set a routine start up. For example: weekday mornings at 7 am.
The app is designed to help with keeping us safe, and to assist with keeping us mobile, in the most efficient manner – plus we all know how vital a remote start is during a Canadian winter. Currently FordPass is only available with cars with SYNC3 Connect, such as the Escape and Fusion. Ford expects to have it across the whole lineup within the next few model years.
Lastly, we were shown the Ford Fusion’s pothole mitigation feature, currently only featured on the Fusion V6 Sport. Thanks to the road conditions we endure, the pothole mitigation feature is essential when traversing pothole riddled roads. Once a pothole is detected, the shock absorbers in the Fusion stiffen up to stop the wheel from bottoming out. This message is relayed to the rear shocks so that they do the same.
I had a chance to try it out, and the system worked flawlessly. I drove over potholes that I would ordinarily avoid like the plague, but the Fusion performed brilliantly, with only the ride oscillation from the uneven ground being noticeable. Even though we went over sharp jagged potholes, it felt as if we were driving over large speedbumps.
We have to thank Ford for inviting us out to check out this new technology. With these new features, Ford is giving consumers a chance to see what they’re really made of. These features were just an idea ten years ago, but with the dedication and determination of their employees, they’ve turned these dreams into a reality.