Ford F-150 Fuel Economy, More Airbag Recalls, Minivans Flunk Crash Tests: The Week In Reverse

November 23, 2014

Since we first drove the 2015 Ford F-150 this summer, its fuel economy has been an open question. Now that question has been answered: Ford has posted the aluminum truck's EPA gas mileage ratings, and they're a big improvement over the last truck--but not as much a competition-killer in base versions. The most efficient F-150 is the one powered by the 2.7-liter turbo six, at 19 miles per gallon highway, 26 city, and 22 combined. It's 3 to 4 mpg higher than Ford's comparable V-8 F-150 from last year, but it's behind the Ram 1500 EcoDiesel, which gets a 28-mpg highway rating. The F-150's 3.5-liter turbo six is rated at 17/24/20 mpg. The base V-6 is the least improved: Ford quotes 18/25/20 mpg for the F-150, while the Ram V-6 posts identical numbers and GM's trucks are just a mile per gallon behind on the EPA highway cycle.

If you've been following the news, you've heard about the massive recall of Takata airbags, which now affects more than 14 million vehicles worldwide. While the Feds tussle with the Japanese supplier on an official action, Honda has quietly agreed to replace airbags on all affected models, no matter where they were sold or registered -- but only if customers ask. In numerous cases, the bags have ripped upon deployment, and in some instances, vehicle occupants have been pelted with shrapnel. Takata airbags have been linked to five deaths, three of which occurred in the U.S.

In this week's other recalls, Ford is recalling roughly 65,000 Fusion, Fusion Hybrid, and Fusion Energi sedans from the 2014 and 2015 model years to fix a software problem that could allow vehicles to roll away under certain conditions. The flaw allows the Fusion's key to be removed from the ignition switch 30 minutes after the vehicle has been shut off, whether or not the transmission is in park. If the emergency brake isn't engaged and the vehicle is on an incline, this can allow the Fusion to roll away.

Also, German automaker Volkswagen is recalling some 2011-2013 Volkswagen Jetta sedans and 2012-2013 Volkswagen Beetles. The automaker says a flaw in the vehicles' rear suspension could cause a trailing arm to fracture, leading to a loss of control. Volkswagen knows of no accidents or injuries linked to this issue in the U.S., although two incidents have been reported in Asia.

The 2015 Subaru Legacy sedan and its rugged Outback wagon counterpart have aced the NHTSA's New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) crash tests. And with top scores already in from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), these two mid-size models can rightly be called two of the safest cars on the market. Both 2015 models achieve five-star ratings in absolutely every frontal and side subcategory from the federal government, as well as top ratings from the IIHS in every single subcategory—including a top ‘superior’ crash prevention rating and IIHS Top Safety Pick Plus (TSP+) status. As such, we’ve raised our Safety ratings of both the 2015 Subaru Outback and 2015 Subaru Legacy to a perfect ‘10.’ Safety played a large role in why The Car Connection named the Legacy our Best Car To Buy 2015.

And finally this week, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has finally put some of the most popular minivans through its newest small-overlap crash test--and for a trio of vans, the scores are not good. The Toyota Sienna earned an Acceptable rating in the new test, making it a Top Safety Pick+. However, the Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan twins, as well as the Nissan Quest, were rated Poor in the small-overlap test. The IIHS went so far as to say the Quest had one of the worst performances it has seen yet in the new test.

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