Gettin Tough with a Big Red Truck

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Being an urban dweller that is not in the construction industry, driving a pickup truck was not on my radar.   However, I like the idea of ‘big’ and have caught myself gazing at the Ford F150’s in my ‘hood.  I therefore could hardly say no to test one out for a few days.  I picked up the truck and drove home in the gorgeous 2012 Ford F-150 FX in bright red with a big grin on my face, riding high over the crowded roads of Vancouver feeling the thrill of being the biggest kid on the road.

The first thing I noticed was despite the size and height, this is a very nimble vehicle.  It managed to navigate the tight downtown streets and haphazard driving skills of myself and my fellow road travelers with ease.  This is helped by their new ecoboost 3.5 litre V6 engine that felt like a V8.  I purred along. I also loved the Hill Start Assist. Willingdon and Boundary Road red lights have always caused me trepidation, especially on rainy days and having not only the 4×4 auto mode that senses loss of traction, but the security of the Hill Start Assist stopping me from rolling back gave me a lot more confidence in driving in our wide range of weather conditions.

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Parking in town is another issue with bigger vehicles and I will freely admit that I did NOT try to parallel park this baby.  I avoid parallel parking in my own car. However, we fit in the tight spots at the various malls and so on that we hit during the week.   The length is really the only issue to contend with when finding parking and the bigger doors too.  I noticed this issue with the Ford Explorer too.  Big doors mean bigger parking spots needed.

Big doors also mean easier to get kids in and out.  The back seats of the super cab have an insane amount of leg room, more than any car – SUV or sedan – that I have been in.  We had no trouble fitting Tara’s Britax car seat in the middle the anchors we were easy to reach and didn’t make for too much problems with the buckle systems on either side.  I find most anchor systems on bench style seating are still designed more for having the car seat on one side or the other instead of the safer and more practical centre.  I like having the older kids separated by the car seat and they like being the one’s by the HUGE windows too.

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I am sad to say that the timing was not right to take the truck out of the city.   I think the true test of a truck is not how pretty it is, but how well that technology does when putting a truck to work.  I would love to try towing something with the truck; a tent trailer would be a nice idea.  I know many people buy trucks like the F-150 as their vacation towing vehicle and I would love to see how well their technology does it making that a less hairier experience for the uninitiated like me.  This truck came with the truck brake controller and an amazing dash display showing the trucks angle and stability for traversing off road scenarios.

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This 2012 model had many bells and whistles to enjoy too.  The kids liked the tailgate step and handle to help you climb into the truck bed.  I loved the moon roof and automatic sliding rear window too.  The folding giant rear view mirrors are a must when you don’t trust the parking abilities of your neighbours. The rear view camera is a must on a long vehicle like this.  I was surprised it didn’t have the Proximity Alert feature that many of the Ford vehicles have.  With just a big vehicle, and if I was towing, I would love that.  Ford Sync is a joy in all their vehicles as is their many hands free or steering wheel controls.

What I was pleased with was that if fit our family of 5 plus dogs with relative ease, and if we had a cab for the back or some sort of storage for ‘stuff’ it would be a fun if not a tad expensive second vehicle to maintain.  The HUGE 136 litre gas tank would be a bit pricey to fill.  It laughed at my paltry $25 contribution to refilling the tank and only a little over a quarter tank was used in my test drive.   However, for a family like mine IF we had a nice caravan parked in our drive, this would be a great second vehicle to explore the great outdoors.

2012 Ford Edge Made Me Look Cool

That was a nice ride. So nice that I honestly did not take the time to take my own photos of us using the car. We were too busy using the car and enjoying it.  For a family, this is an awesome alternative to a mini van.  I still lean toward the Explorer for the extra seating, but for CARGO, kids and looking good – this is my first choice.  However I have not yet tested the Ford Flex and that has the seating and ‘fun’ right?

The 2012 Ford Edge with Ecoboost  four cylinder engine promises great performance with style and practicality.  This crossover promises fuel economy without cutting back on performance.   I drove this around town and in pouring rain on the highway to Chilliwack and back and it felt fast, comfortable and safe.   It also had plenty of power and control to get us up Sumas Mountain onto gravel roads.

The Ford BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with cross traffic alerts and collision warnings gave me the confidence to handle poor driving conditions.  Add the auto wipers and the auto lights and I was in control of the road.  Fords feel safe now.   We were never impressed with our old Focus, so driving the newer Fords is a true pleasure to see the efforts that have been made in improving them.

I was also thrilled that after the Explorer and Lincoln failed me (or I them) the Sync finally worked with iPhone.   The kids love the car warning me to pay attention to my driving and not all the pretty buttons on the dash.  I did love the steering control…made life easier too.

Ease is what Ford is all about.    This car managed all the things a busy mom with a larger family needs. I could fit three kids with one in a car seat no problem apart from a bit of an awkwardness reaching the seat belts.  However, the kids were comfortable and happy in the seats.  Had we only TWO kids, they would have enjoyed a great centre console with storage and cup holders.

I had the kids and a neurotic dog in the car.  The dogs crate fit nicely in the back with room to spare.  I loved the cargo space with the removable tray for easy clean up.   Moon roofs and sun roofs made us all happy too.    So did the heated seats on a cold dreary day.

This was the first Ford that my husband also really liked.   This was a model and style that certainly appealed to him, as did the price range.

The Ford Edge Limited starts at $38,000. The one we drove had extras that brought it up to $45,000.

Lincoln MKX: Luxury Family Style

I will first admit that for me, words luxury when tied to a car usually means ‘clean’ or ‘cup holders for all.’   Our Pacifica is getting on in years, but with it’s lovely leather seats and auto rear hatchback, we thought we were doing pretty good in the luxury department. However, as a person who LOVES big cars, I have stared longingly at the Lincoln Navigator for many years.  THAT is a car.  So needless to say when I was asked if I wanted to check out the 2011 Lincoln MKX…what could I say?

2011 Lincoln MKX

Car and Driver has a great review of the MKX.  If you are interested in all the technical aspects.  What they say about the MyLincoln Touch is true.  If you have used it already, great.  Otherwise the slidey controls take a bit of getting used to and the touch pad is a bit slow when the car is chilly.  However, being that you can heat pretty much ANY part of the car at will, from the steering wheel to the seats, the car is never chilly unless you want it to be.  Not to mention (if you can figure it out) the majority of features are voice controlled.   What also helps too is that the majority of the features on the main control panel are duplicated on the steering while and the dash.  This allows you to keep your eyes on the road instead of leaning over staring at the centre controls.

Navigation Control

This is particularly useful when you are using the Navigation system.  The centre dash has the larger map of the area, but the screen on the drivers dash is nice and clear showing you exactly where you are going.   And don’t forget the dulcet voice that tells you if you are ‘doing it wrong.’

Fabulous view of directions

Like the Ford Explorer, I could NOT get my phone to SYNC with this car.  I am obviously NOT a techie person when it comes to vehicles.  I did watch the videos on Youtube of people happily using it though.  So it does work for SOME people.    What did work and what was the DVD players on the back of the driver and passenger seats.  This was like the second coming for my children who had to play dvd’s even when we were just driving home form school.  The only drawback to this dvd set up was that Tara (in the middle) did not get to hear the shows, which only worked on head sets.

Indeed. This crossover model fits 3 in the back with one in a car seat.

kids fit nice in the lincoln

The kids had ample leg room and LOVED the two GIANT sun roofs.   The cargo space is enormous.  This car could be a six seater and still have cargo space (thought for future redesigns).  I never thought I could say a LINCOLN would be a great camping vehicle, but this one could.

Apart from the great cargo space, from a mom’s point of view, it is the safety features that make this a great luxury vehicle.  Ford and the Lincoln models have made incredible strides in driver and passenger safety.

Take this for instance – for parents with driving teens:  “MyKey allows owners to designate keys that can limit the vehicles top speed and audio volume.”

The Blind Spot Information (BLIS) with Cross Traffic Alert: “helps detect vehicles in blind spots during normal driving and while reversing out of parking spots.”  This was amazing to see in use and saved me when a neighbour came whipping into our court as I was backing out. This was with the rear camera view too.

The collision warning system is great too.  Loved it in the Explorer and loved it in the MKX.   I drove this car all over the city and on the freeway in rainy and slick conditions and between the super sensitive breaks, all wheel drive, auto head lights and the auto windshield wipers, I never felt nervous.   This is a vehicle that wants you safe.

I wasn’t too impressed with the mileage on this vehicle.  I thought the Ford Explorer did a bit better.  It took about 300 klicks to empty the tank in a weeks worth of  heavy city driving.   I would love to see the hybrid of the MKX in action.

But this is a beautiful vehicle.   The engine has a lovely deep purr and shifts into higher speed with no effort.  We all found the car easy to get in and out of including getting a toddler into the middle position in her car seat.

If you like looking good on the road and STILL have your family to transport around…this is a vehicle to consider