Ford F-150 First Drive, Cadillac ATS And Lincoln MKC Crash Test Scores: The Week In Reverse

October 17, 2014

This week, we're spending quality seat time in Fords great and small. At the small end: the Fiesta ST. With nearly 200 hp for just 2,700 pounds of city-savvy hatchback goodness, and a base price of $22,195, the Ford Fiesta ST has to be one of the best-value driver's cars available today. Powered by a 197-horsepower, turbocharged four, stocked with a quick-shifting manual transmission, and set up to handle like nothing in its class, the Fiesta ST is a flyweight with heavyweight grip. If you're looking for seductive performance in a package that's practical and versatile in all the ways a small hatchback should be, then it's tough to imagine doing much better than this.

Pickup trucks have been locked in a utility battle for decades, but the new front is fuel economy--and nothing shoots for the moon like the new aluminum-bodied Ford F-150. We went for a first drive of the new F-150 in Texas, testing its lighter-weight body on the street, off the pavement, and in towing--and we're impressed. The new F-150 offers four different engines, but the 2.7-liter turbo V-6 in the middle of the lineup is the big news; it's a small-displacement V-8 at just a $795 upcharge over the base V-6. The heavy-duty users will need the 5.0-liter V-8 or the twin-turbo V-6 to get the job done, but Ford has put enough hard work into the F-150 to deliver 3,300 pounds of payload capacity and up to 12,200 pounds of towing--numbers it says are the best of any full-size light-duty pickup. With fuel economy promised at 5 to 20 percent better than last year's truck, the F-150 is the most consequential new vehicle in the past 25 years--the Chevy Volt included.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau has just published a report on U.S. car thefts that may serve as a wake-up call to owners of older vehicles (and drivers of pickup trucks). Of all the vehicles stolen in a 30-month period, some 88 percent of the newer vehicles were recovered--but older vehicles didn't fare so well, as the overall recovery rate was just 50 percent. The most-stolen car in 2013 was the Nissan Altima, with the Ford F-Series, Fusion, Chevy Impala, and Toyota Corolla rounding out the top five. California accounted for nearly 20 percent of all thefts; Florida came in second, with Texas in third, and Michigan at number four.

The 2015 Cadillac ATS remains one of the safest sport sedans you can buy, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA recently tested the compact luxury sedan again, and gives it top scores once more, including five stars in the driver and passenger side barrier subcategories, as well as the side pole test, which simulates a sideways impact with a utility pole or tree. It should be noted that these results don't extend to the ATS Coupe, which is new for 2015 and hasn't yet been tested by either of the safety agencies. All ATS sedans include eight airbags; rear side bags can be added; and a long list of active-safety features are available, including rear cross-traffic alert, side blind-zone alert, full-color head-up display, adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, lane keep assist.

Finally this week, the news isn't quite as good for the 2015 Lincoln MKC. The NHTSA has tested the new compact luxury crossover vehicle, and has rated it at four stars overall, which puts it shy of the top echelon for safety. The MKC earned excellent five-star scores for side impact protection, but the NHTSA notes that the left rear passenger door unlatched and opened during the side impact test—something that would increase the likelihood of occupant ejection. The relatively new federal side pole test, which simulates the side impact with a narrow, fixed object like a utility pole or tree, also returned an excellent five-star rating for the MKC. The MKC scored four stars in front-impact protection, like the vehicle it's related to--the Ford Escape. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the other major U.S. safety authority that crash-tests vehicles, hasn't yet tested the MKC—although the related 2014 Ford Escape did earn a worrisome 'poor' rating in that agency's small overlap front test.


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