Steve Turner
Former Editor, 5.0 Mustang & Super Fords
November 26, 2012

When what passes for fall arrives in South Florida that signals the time for Steeda's annual Stampede. This event is a combination cruise-in, open house, dyno day, and cruise.

Naturally, it all kicks off first thing in the morning at Steeda's Pompano Beach, Florida, campus. We drove down the day before so we could dyno our chariot of the moment -- a '13 Shelby GT500. That also meant we were nearby to arrive early at the stampede to grab a primo spot. It worked.

This year's event took place September 15 and drew over 130 cars (check our website for a full photo gallery). Participants were able to check out all the other cars, as well as Steeda's impressive stable of in-house test cars. Registered participants were even entered into a raffle that awarded free gear from the likes of Nitto, SCT, and Tokico. If you didn't win anything, there was still a great opportunity to score great deals on take-off and lightly used parts.

The '12 edition was timed in sync with the Fun Ford Weekend at Palm Beach International Raceway in Jupiter, Florida. When the events at the Steeda campus wound down, a group of the participants caravanned to PBIR to participate in the events there as well.

Many of the people wanted to continue hanging at Steeda, so the plans for the '13 edition of the Stampede call for expanded hours and activities. Keep your eyes peeled on Steeda.com for an announcement.

Fusion Drive

Ford has another winner in the just-released '13 Fusion. Every aspect of this mid-size sedan has been upgraded in Ford's bid to beat Toyota Camry and Honda Accord in the vital mid-size sales race, and it doesn't take long behind the Fusion's wheel to know Ford has the top contender.

Chassis rigidity already was a Fusion strong point, but it's 10 percent stiffer yet. Likewise the aerodynamics are a little slippier and weight gain has been held in check. No less than four powertrain are offered, you'll be most interested in either the 178 hp, 184 lb-ft of torque 1.6-liter EcoBoost or the 240hp, 270-lb-ft of torque 2.0-liter EcoBoost options. Amazingly, the 1.6 can be paired with a slick six-speed manual transmission complete with a stick shift and third pedal; the combination is underpowered but entertaining as the 1.6 is a silk-smooth revver and is light on its feet. It carries 25 mpg City and 37 mpg Highway ratings.

Surprisingly muscular -- a poor man's SHO -- the 2.0 liter works with a six-speed automatic only. It can light up the front tires on dry asphalt simply by rolling into the throttle from a dead stop and is rated at 22 City and 33 Highway. It can also be had with all-wheel drive.

The Fusion also introduces some new Ford technologies. The $295 optional Stop/Start system automatically kills the engine instead of letting it idle at stoplights and such. It typically returns a 3.5- percent fuel economy gain, earning 1 mpg in both City and Highway mileage ratings. It is available only with the automatic transmission. Naturally there is a full suite of the latest SYNC, MyFordTouch and other electronics on board. The Fusion Hybrid is also impressive, the first third-generation hybrid and capable of 62 miles on electric power alone. It's nearly as quick as the 2.0 EcoBoost, but tromps it in fuel economy with a 47 mpg City/Highway/Combined trifecta.

Also look for a plug-in hybrid version -- the Energi -- soon. It is expected to best the Chevy Volt with a 100-mpg economy rating. In the meantime, the tomb-quiet, surprisingly roomy Fusion is a superb daily driver, and while not a sports sedan, has the bones of one for the adventurous hot rodders among us. Expect real-world pricing in the high $20s to low $30s. --Tom Wilson

Quick Spin: '13 Taurus SHO

Having driven several of the previous iterations of the Taurus SHO, it felt quite familiar sliding into the plush seats. For your scribe, it's a bit like putting on a suit. I don't dress up often, and when I'm behind the wheel of the performance Taurus, it feels like I should be driving to a big business meeting. After getting over the formality of the super sedan, its combination of smooth power, sharp handling, and technology are seductive.

Our Performance Pack example featured nearly every possible option, save for the Adaptive Cruise Control. Obviously this drives the price up near $40,000, which is up there for a sedan. However, living with all the gadgets, like Sync, air conditioned seats, and Blind Spot Information System, make you appreciate the lap of luxury. The SHO's price point, however, makes you consider other cars in that price bracket, like a Boss 302. While a Boss is only about performance, the SHO blissfully blends luxury and performance.

In this Performance Package form, it features unique calibrations for stability control, electric power steering, and more. It also includes better braking, better cooling, and an increased final drive ratio.

In practice, this car gets around well for a hefty sedan. It turns a fine corner and has ample braking. When you're in the mood, you can take over the shifting yourself via the paddle shifter. After a bad day at the office, it can help to turn off all the electronics and just rip through the gears.

Perhaps even more impressive than its split-personality of performance and commuting is the flexibility of this full-size ride. Part of your author's tour in the car included Labor Day weekend, and that meant putting down the rear seats and filling it to the brim with family and gear from surfboards to suitcases. It swallowed it all up without complaint and still retained its suave demeanor.

Perhaps the only downside of the stealthy SHO is that it doesn't look a lot different than a standard Taurus. We love a sleeper, but for the price, some might want to express more overtly that they stepped up to the Super High Output model.

If you're a suit that doesn't wanna be late to the office, the SHO is your corporate perk.

Upshifts:

  • Power
  • Amenities

Downshifts:

  • Styling
  • Price

Sound Showing

Coincidently, Saturday September 15th, also saw another gathering of cars at Brothers Performance in Temecula, California. This was not strictly a Mustang gathering, but there were plenty of 'Stangs in attendance for the Brothers' Car Show, Exhaust Sound-Off, and Dyno Competition. Aside from the obvious car activities, Brothers also brought out some models, an MC, and even a food truck to feed the crowds. The truck in question was Bitchin' Burgers, which, as you might expect, offers a variety of gourmet burgers and hot dogs.

Variety was also the word of the day when it came to cars. Sadly, no Fords took home the $200 prize or even placed in the top three of the Exhaust Sound-Off competition. However, in the Power Adder portion of the Dyno Shootout, Joshua Foster didn't grab the top prize of $300, but he did us proud with his '03 Cobra runner-upping with 454 hp and 424 lb-ft of torque at the feet. Joshua's Terminator gets it done courtesy of an upgraded blower, cams, and long-tubes.


5.0 feedback:

5.0mailbag@sorc.com

Just Admit it

I love the new 5.0 engine, and I've read every bit of coverage on it in your magazine since its release by Ford. However, I think it's time to admit that the new 3.7 V-6 is a performance engine too: 305 hp, and 31 mpg? Two six-speed transmissions? Wouldn't we have killed for that back in the late '90s?

A new 3.7 is fully capable of painting long rubber streaks, so I hope in the very near future to see lots of V-6 tech. You can be the magazine to step up and break the idea of the V-6 being a poser mobile, because it no longer is, and someday the V-6 just might be the top engine choice in the Mustang.

What would it take to make a 3.7 hang with a stock 5.0? That could be your first article.

Name Withheld
Via email

We bear no grudge toward the 3.7 V-6. It's only problem is that it's not a 5.0 or a 5.8. It is a pretty fun little combo. You miss the torque of a V-8, but it does have enough power to make it sporting. Building up a V-6 is certainly more viable than it ever has been. We have already supercharged this engine, and it the near future we'll try one with a turbo. V-8s are our first love, but we give the V-6 attention when we can.


Seeing Red

In the story "Jalapeno Popper" in the Sept. '12 issue, you refer to Steve Hardaway's '86 GT as Jalapeno Red. I own an '86 GT convertible and it's identified as Bright Red. In Ford's list of official colors for Mustang in '86, there was Canyon Red and Bright Red--no Jalapeno Red. I'm confused.

Stan Jones
Mesquite, TX

It was indeed a factory color option in 1986. It is listed under paint code 2R. The other factory red in 1986 was Medium Canyon Red, which goes by paint code 2A. We hope that clears up the confusion.