REVan Media Inc.
June 10, 2015

On Friday, June 5th, Ford Motor Company brought its EcoBoost Challenge to Orlando and gave us motoring scribes a hands-on experience with the latest EcoBoost-equipped Ford vehicles. The EcoBoost Challenge provides media and the general public a chance to drive Ford vehicles in a series of challenges including the Mustang EcoBoost autocross course, the ShiftPhobia area for those wanting to learn how to drive a manual without pressure, ST Reaction Time Challenge, and an EcoBoost Challenge Drive that lined up Ford’s products against the competition.

FoMoCo’s award-winning EcoBoost engines graces the lineup, and makes its way into the all-new 2015 Ford Mustang pony car. Of course, we headed straight for the EcoBoost Mustang autocross course. Four S550 Mustangs, powered by the turbocharged 2.3L Ecoboost engine capable of 310 hp and 320 lb-ft of torque, sat under the hot morning sun ready be put through the paces. After being given a quick rundown of the course, we opted for the manual EcoBoost in Triple Tri-Coat Yellow.

“With EcoBoost engines now available across 100 percent of our U.S. light-duty lineup, the EcoBoost Challenge lets consumers experience this innovative technology that helps Ford deliver better fuel economy with a more engaging driving experience than the competition,” said Michele Bartlett, Ford group marketing manager for large cars and SUVs. “Not only is the EcoBoost Challenge a lot of fun, but getting people in the driver’s seat is the best way for them to experience the craftsmanship, innovation and performance of the Ford lineup.”

Truth be told, we babied it at first. But then cranked it up as we became comfortable. After picking up the pace, we realized the amazing balance and handling—the acceleration was quick, and it seemed nimble and fast to respond with everything we asked it to do. It was an all-around fun car to drive.

Since we knew how to shift a manual, we decided to skip the ShiftPhobia event. And with that, we proceeded to the ST Reaction Challenge. There was a quick rundown under the tent with the rules, and a drag tree was set up in the parking lot to test reaction times. We had our pick of either the brand new Focus ST and Fiesta ST. We opted for the Focus. Having owned a manual hatchback many years prior, we wanted to see just how quick this little car was. The ST was easy to get used to and our reaction times got better and better, with each launch. It takes a little rpm and a smooth release to get the most out of the ST off the line.

Next, we jumped in the new Ford Escape and learned all about Ford’s Parking Assist. Yes, the car parks itself whether in parallel or perpendicular situations. In this situation, it was a lot full of perpendicular parking spots, and we were taught how the car senses a parking spot, then you give the okay with a click of a button, the reverse camera turns on, and the car judges the distance between the two vehicles next to it, and literally parks itself. Amazing!

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After that, we headed to drive Ford’s other vehicles, including a 2015 Ford Explorer, which is incredibly nice by the way, an Edge, another Escape, and the all-aluminum F-150. Ford provided a competitor so we also drove the Chevy Silverado around the course. The Silverado seemed a bit clumsier than its rival F-150, but was an overall nice truck, too. The turns seemed a bit sloppy, and the Ford was more a pleasure.

With time to spare, we headed back to the Mustang autocross challenge and hopped in a Competition Orange convertible. We whipped it through the cones, this time being much braver. Frankly, we couldn’t get enough. Heck, we wanted to trade our 2006 Mustang GT at the nearest Ford dealer on the way home!

The EcoBoost Challenge was a blast, and if you haven’t made it to one of the venues this year, there are still a handful left. If not, we hope they bring back this event again for next year.

There are a few events let, and participants must register. Pre-registration is live at Space is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Events are open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. in most markets. Locations and dates are:

  • San Francisco: Oakland Alameda Coliseum, June 13
  • Rochester, New York: Monroe Community College, June 13
  • Minneapolis: Mall of America, June 20

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