A Nip and Tuck Face Lift Is Added To EV Boost & Tech
Ford apparently had ants in its pants earlier this week. The 2019 Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid midsize sedan will make its public debut at next week’s New York Auto Show, but the Detroit automaker just couldn’t wait—the company revealed details about the car on Wednesday, a week before the New York show’s media days. Here’s what we know.
Nearly 20 Percent More Electric Only Driving Range
The 2019 Ford Fusion Energi doesn’t receive any mehcanical updates, but the plug-in hybrid gets a battery capacity boost that gives it a longer electric-only driving range of a projected EPA rating of 25 miles. That’s up from the 21 miles of electric driving of the outgoing 2018 model, or a nearly 20 percent improvement. That’s not a huge boost, but it’s enough to get the Fusion Energi up to the same 25-mile range rating as the 2018 Toyota Prius Prime, the best-selling plug-in hybrid in the U.S. so far this year.
EV Boost and grill tweak for 2019
How did Ford engineers accomplish that while maintaining the same size of the existing battery pack? Specifically, they came up with a new chemistry for the 84 individual lithium-ion cells that’s slightly more energy dense. The capacity of the air-cooled battery pack has risen from 7.6 kilowatt-hours (kWh) to 9.0 kWh.
Ford said data generated from existing plug-in hybrid owners shows the 2019 Fusion Energi should have sufficient range for up to 80 percent of owners’ daily commutes, with the support of both home and workplace charging, assuming the vehicle is fully charged daily at home and at work. Even without workplace charging, the automaker estimates approximately 48 percent of plug-in hybrid customers could potentially get to and from their jobs on electric power alone.
Ford did not yet have a projection for the 2019 Fusion Energi’s combined gasoline and electric range; this year’s figure is 610 miles. Regardless of that EPA rating, the plug-in 2019 Fusion Energi still qualifies for a $4,600 federal income-tax credit for buyers.
A Horde Of New Safety Tech
The 2019 Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid, along with the hybrid and gasoline models, will be Ford’s first model to get its Co-Pilot 360 Protect safety systems, just announced a week earlier at the Ford Uncovered sneak peek. Standard on all Fusion models, Co-Pilot 360 Protect includes automatic emergency braking with pedestrian detection, blind spot information system, lane keeping system, a rear backup camera and auto high-beam lighting.
New safety tech puts Fusion Energi in front of other Fords
Beyond the standard Ford Co-Pilot 360 Protect is a more advanced bundle of optional driver-assist technologies called Co-Pilot 360 Assist. It adds adaptive cruise control with stop and go, which automatically accelerates and brakes to a full stop when traffic halts, while maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle ahead. It also includes voice-activated navigation, along with SiriusXM Traffic and Travel Link. Fusion SE trims and above get SYNC 3 with an 8.0-inch touchscreen, in addition to an embedded 4G LTE modem with WiFi hotspot support for up to 10 devices.
A Mild Refresh
The Fusion Energi has always been a Clean Fleet Report favorite when it comes to styling. For 2019, the Fusion Energi receives a new chrome mesh grille, while other models keep five horizontal bars. There’s also a new lower front and rear fascia, and a new LED taillamp design with a distinctive new horizontal chrome garnish across most of the rear deck, just above the lamps. There are no significant changes to the interior.
We’ll have more details and pricing information on the 2019 For Fusion Energi closer to its launch in late summer.
Related Stories on Plug-in Hybrids:
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Ford Moves to Electrify Its Lineup; Stays with Trucks
Ford gathered the media this week to say what virtually every other automaker has already explicitly stated—cars and trucks are getting electrified. The subtext was: Ford is not going to be left behind, but the company is also not going to step away from its cash cow pickups and SUVs.
Clean Fleet Rerport was there. Ford led with its trucks and followed with its SUVs, then brought hybrids and electric vehicles into the discussion as the clean up.
The F-150 is the king of the hill at Ford
The Ford F-150 is the king at Ford. It’s been the best-selling vehicle in the U.S. for 37 years; the best-selling pickup for years beyond that. In its presentation, Ford boasted that the company brought in $41 billion on that model alone. If the F-150 were a stand alone company, it would have more revenue than Nike or Coca-Cola. Ford has dropped EcoBoost engines into the F-150 and intensified the use of aluminum throughout the truck, dropping weight and increasing fuel efficiency.
Up next for the pickup is a 3.0-liter diesel engine that comes later this year, followed by a hybrid powertrain in 2020. The goal as always is to increase efficiency while maintaining capability for customers.
In addition, Ford will reintroduce the compact Ranger next year.
After Trucks Come SUVs
Number two at Ford are SUVs. Ford’s Explorer broke the category open in the 1990s and they haven’t let up since. The compact Escape and the current Explorer carry the bulk of Ford’s SUV sales right now, but the just-introduced subcompact EcoSport will be part of an eight-vehicle lineup by 2020. Five of those SUVs will have hybrid powertrains.
Ford sees a big future for SUVs
Probably acknowledging the juggernaut that is cross-town rival Jeep, the new SUVs will not only have the environmental credentials from their hybrid powertrains, but will also stress off-road capability and performance (borrowing from the F-150 Raptor phenom).
As it showed with its move to aluminum in the F-150, Ford is not afraid to throw its volume products into radical change. That’s the rationale it presented to media this week. While not the full-shift of a Volvo committing to electrify all of its product line in a few years, Ford did say it would hybridize its high-volume models—the F-150, Mustang, Explorer, Escape and Bronco.
Ford promises that its next-generation hybrids will not be as space-intrusive as the current ones (check out storage in the Fusion and C-Max) and, at least as important for the customer, less expensive. The reduced packaging and cost are behind Ford’s expanded embrace of the technology.
Battery Electrics Too
With its only battery electric (BEV) offering the compact Focus, Ford has not made any inroads into either the market or public consciousness. At the last Detroit Auto Show, Ford teased its next BEV. The implication in the grainy video was it combined the performance of a Mustang with spaciousness of a crossover, but all under electric power.
Ford’s pledge is to take hybridization mainstream–Mustang/F-150/Explorer
The 2020 model will be the first of six BEVs Ford will put on the market during 2020-22.
Ford also renewed its commitment to the commercial vehicle segment (where it commands a 38 percent market share), though without any nod to increased efficiency (other than the new diesel engine in the Transit Connect).
In addition, Ford said it was bundling its driver-assist technologies in a package branded as Ford Co-Pilot360. It’s also moving to implement over-the-air- updates to software, something that Tesla has done for years.
Maybe one of most significant announcements Ford made is that its goal is to accelerate the new product cycle for the company. It’s current showroom product averages 5.7 years in age. By 2020 it says that age will drop to 3.3 years. The reliance on trucks and SUVs, which tend to have longer product cycles, may have lulled Ford into this type of product cycle. The good news, if as they cite, 50 percent of vehicles by 2020 could be SUVs, the customer expectation is they will respond like most passenger cars, which get a two-year refresh and full redo every four years.
The bottom line is Ford has stepped up to the bar and said it intends to complete with advanced technology and electrification, hedging only that they will continue to offer what they see as the vehicles most want—trucks and SUVs.
Related Stories You Might Enjoy: Ford News & Tests
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ACEEE Says You Can’t Go Wrong With This Mix Of Green Cars
Choosing a car that meets your household’s needs is one thing, but if you are environmentally conscious your selection might go beyond comfort, cargo room and available options. If you want to reduce your environmental impact, minimize fuel costs or cut the petroleum pipelines from foreign countries, then buy the greenest vehicle that still meets your transportation needs.
To help shoppers choose a greener car, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) in Washington, D.C. compiles an annual survey of what it determines is the most environmentally friendly cars on American roads. Not surprisingly, battery-powered electric and gasoline-electric hybrids are the sole winners for 2018, the 21st year for the list.
The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Green Vehicle Guide only looks at traditional tailpipe pollutants, the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) produced per mile and fuel economy. The ACEEE uses a complex formula that considers the emissions associated with a vehicle’s entire life cycle–from manufacturing to disposal impact–and the fuel it uses, whether gasoline, diesel or electricity.
The Council also analyzes automakers’ test results for fuel economy and emissions as reported to the EPA and the California Air Resources Board (CARB), along with other reported specifications. In addition, the group looks at lifecycle impacts of the car, taking into consideration criteria pollutants, greenhouse gas emissions, looking at upstream emissions of the vehicle’s fuel and also manufacturing and disposal impacts. Four basic data points form the core of the ratings—tailpipe emissions, fuel economy, vehicle curb weight and battery mass and composition (for the hybrid and plug-in vehicles). Finally, they factor in an environmental damage index that tallies the gram-per-mile pollutant rate multiplied by a cents-per-gram of damage costs.
If you’re ready to go shopping for an Earth-friendly new car, here’s the list of the 12 Greenest Cars Of 2018. We are noting their green scores and fuel economy, including the “MPGe” equivalent for EVs. (Beyond the list of 12 environmental winners, the ACEEE also provides car shoppers with lists of more environmentally friendly choices in all car classes at: https://aceee.org/. To add some more data to the mix, we’ve also included links to our road tests and news stories about these models.
Base prices are before any federal, state or local incentives.
2017 Ioniq Electric Vehicle
Leading the pack for the second year in a row is the midsized Hyundai Ioniq Electric. It compiled a “Green Score” of 70 out of a 100, which is the highest rating for a passenger car ever recorded by the ACEEE. The all-electric version of the Ioniq hatchback leads all comers with a class-leading fuel economy equivalent. Base Price: $29,500. EV Range: 124 miles: MPGe: 150 city/122 highway.
Smart Fortwo Electric Drive
Slotting into the number two ranking with a Green Score of 69 is the two-seat Smart ForTwo Electric Drive. Not only is this the cheapest car built by Mercedes-Benz, it is among the greenest rides on the road. However, it is hampered by a limited driving range, a seating capacity of two and a small cargo capacity, but it offers something no other electric car does: the option to drop the top. Base Price: $23,800. EV Range: 58 miles; MPGe: 124 city/94 highway.
A Green Score of 68 was high enough to earn the BMW i3 BEV third on the list in ACEEE’s 12 Greenest Cars Of 2018. This rating is for the odd-shaped i3’s newly available 94 amp-hour battery pack. The i3 is also offered with a small range-extender gasoline engine with fewer EV miles (97), but can travel an additional 83 miles on gasoline. Base Price: $47,650. EV Range:114 miles; MPGe: 129 city/106 highway.
Tesla Model 3
While a Green Score of 67 places the Tesla Model 3 Long Range in fourth place, the wait time for this new car could take up to a year or longer, due to production delays and pre-production demand. This is for the $9,000 optional long range battery Model 3. Base Price: $44,000. EV Range: 310 miles; MPGe:136 city/123 highway.
Chevrolet Bolt EV
One of America’s favorite EVs, the Chevrolet Bolt’s 66 Green Score places it in the number five position. The hatchback compact car offers the latest tech and safety features along with a spacious interior, and an operating range that is sufficient for a typical week’s commute. Base Price: $36,620. EV Range: 238 miles; MPGe 128 city/110 highway.
The Hampster lovin’ Kia Soul EV tallied a 66 Green Score to tie the Chevy Bolt. The boxy Soul EV is roomy and comfortable with a nicely appointed interior. However, it is only available in California and nine other states. Base Price: $32,250. EV Range: 111 miles; MPGe: 124 city/93 highway.
Hyundai Ioniq Blue Hybrid
With a Green Score of 65, the Hyundai Ioniq Blue is the top hybrid on this year’s ACEEE’s list of greenest cars. With handsome styling inside and out, the compact Ioniq hybrid tops all hybrids with its impressive fuel economy. It’s also available in plug-in hybrid and electric models. Base Price: $22,200. MPG: 57 city/59 highway.
Toyota Prius Two Eco
The Toyota Prius Eco slipped into second place among conventional hybrids on this year’s ACEEE’s list with a Green Score of 64. Still America’s best-selling hybrid, the Prius Eco Two trim offers the top fuel economy in the Prius lineup. Base Price: $25,165. MPG: 58 city/53 highway.
Ford Focus Electric
A Green Score of 64 lands the Ford Focus Electric in the number eight spot. This compact electric hatchback is affordable, thanks to the one-time $7,500 frederal tax credit and the large cash rebates from Ford. Base Price: $29,120. EV Range: 115 miles; MPGe: 118 city/96 highway.
Kia Niro Plug-in Hybrid
Kia’s Niro Plug-in Hybrid tops the plug-in hybrid class with a Green Score of 63. Also available as a standard hybrid (52 city/49 highway mpg), the plug-in version gains battery-only range, but is less efficient in hybrid mode. Base Price: $27,900. EV Range: 26 miles; MPGe: 105; MPG gas: 46 combined.
Honda Clarity Plug-in Hybrid
Honda made this year’s ACEEE list with the Clarity Plug-in Hybrid that had a Green Score of 62. The plug-in-hybrid version joins EV and fuel-cell Clarity variants, and it’s the only version of this premium sedan that can be purchased outright. Base Price: $33,400. EV Range 48 miles; MPGe 110; MPG gas: 42 combined.
Chevrolet’s Volt is among the dozen “greenest” cars for 2018 with a Green Score of 62. The Volt is equipped with a small range-extending gasoline engine that provides a virtually unlimited operting range, as long as you can find a sas station. But the first 53 miles comes solely on electricity. Base Price: $33,320. MPGe: 106; Gas: 42 highway.
The tally of the Top 12—seven electrics, three plug-in hybrids and two hybrids. Four from Hyundai-Kia, two from General Motors and one each from BMW, Daimler, Ford, Honda, Tesla and Toyota.
An American Sport Sedan
No, Clean Fleet Report is not discarding our focus on fuel efficient cars, pickup trucks and SUVs. But, as an editor and writer for the publication, I have not discarded my lust for more horsepower or driving performance, which started as a teenager and still lingers. That brings me to the 2017 Ford Fusion Sport.
Fusion adds “sport” without losing “family”
For 2017, Ford dropped a new model in its Fusion sedan lineup that didn’t have a four-cylinder engine, the Fusion Sport. It raised the performance bar for mainstream four-doors to almost European luxury-sport levels. It satisfies customers who might have a family, but still like to do a bit of spirited driving now and again. In other words: the 2017 Ford Fusion Sport is a family sedan first and a driver’s car second.
The 2017 Ford Fusion Sport comes in only one trim level (there are no changes for the 2018 model year). Base pricing, at $34,350, is about 10-grand over a base Fusion; but it’s hardly worth comparing the two as they are really two different cars.
Government fuel economy ratings come in at 17-mpg city/26 highway/20 combined. Not exactly a fuel sipper, but not bad for a car that adds some serous fun to the driving experience. If an EPA city fuel-economy rating of 17-mpg bothers you, go read about the Fusion Hybrid and plug-in hybrid models. It will relieve any anxieties about our covering vehicles that achieve high fuel economy numbers.
A 325-Horsepower V-6 EcoBoost Engine
Ford dropped in the 2.7-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 borrowed from the F-150 and the Edge Sport between the Fusion’s front fenders. That makes it the only car in its class to claim 325 horsepower and a thudding 380 pounds-feet of torque while simultaneously going completely unnoticed. Unlike the heyday of the 1960s and 70s, it’s the first modern midsize family sedan to break the 300 horsepower barrier.
One of the horsepower rewards is, this family car will shoot past 60-mph in just a tick more than five seconds. Take it to the drag strip and you’ll see the quarter-mile in 13.7 seconds at 101 mph—muscle car territory.
The shifter goes round
However, the above numbers, including horsepower and torque, don’t apply everywhere. That’s because the engine will only make that much power when it’s drinking 93 octane premium gasoline. Some areas of the country, like California, 91 octane is the norm and 93 octane is not readily available.
The six-speed automatic transmission is a heavy-duty unit controlled by paddles attached to the leather-wrapped steering wheel. Behind that, there’s a standard computer-controlled all-wheel drive system, which operates in front-drive mode until it detects any wheel slip, or you harshly apply your foot to the accelerator pedal.
Basic suspension hardware is thoroughly addressed with stiffer springs, bigger anti-roll bars, and wider 235/40 Goodyear Eagle F1 tires on 19-inch dark-finished alloys. Summer-only tires are also available. But, the biggest deviation from the standard Ford Fusion playbook outside of the engine compartment is the solenoid valve-controlled continuous damping system. The system keeps a dozen watchful electronic eyes on the road and adjusts shock absorber response every two milliseconds in a bid to firm up the ride without sacrificing comfort in the process. It also incorporates something Ford engineers have labeled “pothole detection.” It attempts to lock a strut in its stiffest setting and allow the wheel to “glide” over a pothole in the road with more grace than the expected up-and-down motion.
Still a Pacesetter for Artsy Design
The style still makes you want to follow
This generation of the Fusion has been on the market since the 2012. The Fusion is essentially a Ford Mondeo sold in European markets. The design was created by Ford’s European design group and follows the company’s “kinetic” styling themes.
Five years into it, the Fusion’s bold aerodynamic styling still looks fresh. It’s characterized by a wide lower front air dam and a hexagonal Aston-Martin-like grille that is wider and slightly more angular for 2017. The Fusion Sport is differentiated by its more aggressive front bumper with deeper air intakes and glossy black mesh grille insert. The grille is flanked by narrow headlamps that sweep gracefully into muscular front fenders. Thin roof pillars and a slopping roofline suggest a sense of lightness, while LED taillights and four polished exhaust tips dress up the backside.
The Inside Story
The cabin treads a similar kinetic styling design path. The center console has been redesigned around a new rotary shift dial, adding a media hub, a cell phone storage pocket, a larger console bin, and a longer center armrest. The overall look is sleek and somewhat premium. Framing the center stack of controls in a simple metallic ring that leaves a striking graphic imprint on the cabin.
Inside, Ford kicks up the premium look-and-feel
Our car had voice-activated navigation and an 8.0-inch center touchscreen with swipe and pinch-to-zoom capability. It uses Ford’s latest Sync 3 system, which is far more user-friendly than before and compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The Sport Upgrade package included digital displays in the instrument cluster, dual-zone climate control, ambient lighting, and more.
Touch points are soft and every inch of the interior uses high-quality materials that project a high-end look and feel. Standard upgraded sport seats with suede inserts and carbon fiber-like trim were firn yet comfortable and infinitely adjustable. Rear seating can accommodate three adult passengers with good legroom. The rear sloping roof cuts into headroom, but shouldn’t be a deal breaker.
The Fusion Sport is jam-packed with safety and convenience features, including stability control, a plethora of airbags including ones for knees and side curtains. The test drive car came with Ford’s full array of driving assists, including pre-collision warning with pedestrian detection, automated emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, a rearview camera, blind-spot warning, lane-keeping assist and automatic high-beam headlamps. Also included was automated guidance into parallel or perpendicular parking spots.
Driving the Fusion Sport
I found the 2017 Ford Fusion Sport’s ride comfortable even after a few hours behind the wheel, thanks in part to the soft, supportive seat cushion. I particularly appreciated the adjustable steering column and extensively adjustable driver’s seat, which allowed me to find the right driving position and maximize visibility.
If you are like me, and taut, responsive driving is to your liking, you won’t feel shortchanged by the decision to buy the Sport version of the Fusion. That’s because the basic mechanicals under the sheetmetal come from one of Europe’s best-handling family sedans.
Polished efficiency on the road
There was a polished efficiency to city driving; the suspension ironed out the worst of urban lumps and dispatched neglected potholes with ease. The Fusions Sport is quick, but it’s also obvious that Ford made ride comfort a top priority. The cabin is pleasantly quiet at highway speeds, and so is the engine, which only sounds rowdy at wide-open throttle.
Pushing the S button in the center of the new dial-operated shifter sharpened the Sport’s reflexes. It tightened the adaptive-damping system, increased steering effort and quickened throttle response. The all-wheel-drive system doled out the power well, and the steering felt well engineered and corners could be approached with confidence. The transmission gave more control through the standard paddle shifters. It upshifted automatically at 6,000 rpm no matter what I did with the paddles, but it held gears through corners and rev-matched downshifts under braking.
During our week with the 2017 Ford Fusion Sport we clocked 537 miles, 149 of which were tallied on a round trip from Olympia, Washington, to Seattle. An additional 137 miles were clocked on a leisurely Saturday drive up and back on the Hood Canal. The balance of the miles was split 60 percent in-town driving and 40 percent two-lane highways. When we gave the keys back to Ford, the combined fuel economy came in sligthly higher than the EPA’s estimate at 21.2 mpg.
With the Fusion, Ford brought to its American buyers the same world-class road manners that overseas owners of the Mondeo have long enjoyed. With the Fusion Sport American EcoBoost
Modern American muscle under the hood makes a difference
engine, Europeans may be envious.
All things considered, the 2017 Ford Fusion Sport is an excellent family hauler and commuter sedan with handsome styling, a quiet cabin, nimble chassis and smooth ride. Then, when the urge can’t be denied, the Fusion Sport becomes a sport sedan that you’d prefer to park your butt in and find some backcountry roads.
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Clean Fleet Report is loaned free test vehicles from automakers to evaluate, typically for a week at a time. Our road tests are based on this one-week drive of a new vehicle. Because of this we don’t address issues such as long-term reliability or total cost of ownership. In addition, we are often invited to manufacturer events highlighting new vehicles or technology. As part of these events we may be offered free transportation, lodging or meals. We do our best to present our unvarnished evaluations of vehicles and news irrespective of these inducements.
Our focus is on vehicles that offer the best fuel economy in their class, which leads us to emphasize electric cars, plug-in hybrids, hybrids and diesels. We also feature those efficient gas-powered vehicles that are among the top mpg vehicles in their class. In addition, we aim to offer reviews and news on advanced technology and the alternative fuel vehicle market. We welcome any feedback from vehicle owners and are dedicated to providing a forum for alternative viewpoints. Please let us know your views at email@example.com.
New Century To See New Interpretation of Performance
Car enthusiasts of a certain age will likely recall the Ford Mustang Mach 1 pony car. Offered on the 1969 fastback model, it was a wicked-looking machine with window louvers and optional shaker hood scoop. Well, Ford is going to resurrect the nameplate for a 2020 vehicle.
The scene of the tease
However, it won’t be a Mustang and won’t have a V-8—or any engine. It will be a “Mustang-inspired” crossover, and it will be electric.
Ford’s executive vice president, Jim Farley, revealed the bold plan at a pre-event prior to the opening of the Detroit auto show after announcing the next-generation F-150 pick-up will be available with a hybrid powertrain option, claiming Ford “won’t stop there. We’re also thinking about performance vehicles. Mach 1, a performance battery electric [vehicle is] coming in 2020 and we can’t wait. It’s the beginning of a whole new world for our customers and electrifying the best of Ford.”
He then pointed to a big screen behind him where a Mustang and an Explorer drive into Ford’s secretive Detroit area Corktown “Team Edison” electric vehicle facility, suggesting that the Mach 1 will combine the best attributes of its legendary sports coupe and the practicality of its popular SUV. The company then simply rolled a short teaser video about the project, which showed the Mustang and Explorer pulling into the Corktown building just before a bolt of lightning strikes. The garage doors begin to come back up, but the video cuts before anything is revealed.
Rather than offering any details, Farley asked the assembled media, “Can a battery electric vehicle stir the soul?”
Appropriately, the Mach 1 reveal came at an event where Ford also showed off a performance gas SUV in the Edge ST and a “Bullitt” special edition of the Mustang. Whatever Mach 1 is, it appears the Tesla Model X will face some competition in 2020.
$11 Billion Electrification Investment
During the same event, Ford announced it would more than double its investment in the production of electric vehicles, promising to spend $11 billion on the technology by 2022. The Detroit automaker said it will roll out 16 fully electric cars within five years, the first of which would arrive in 2020.
All we have for now
This was seen to be a response to crosstown rival General Motors, who last week said it plans to roll out at least 20 new electric cars by 2023, a goal that puts it in a position to bring battery-powered driving to the mainstream, joining Volkswagen, Hyundai-Kia and Toyota in strong electrification drives. Last week GM also unveiled a concept electric autonomous car without steering wheel or pedals.
Other Stories from NAIAS 2018:
News: 2019 Toyota Avalon Hybrid Introduced
News: Chevrolet Silverado Diesel Signals Resurgence
News: Infiniti Q Inspiration Concept Introduced
News: Smart Releases 10th Anniversary Edition
News: All-new 2019 Honda Insight Coming
News: 2018 Ford F-150 Gets a Diesel