In-Car Tech

Ford starts PowerUp over-the-air update program to enhance tech in vehicles

Ford PowerUp brings technology updates to existing vehicles.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford PowerUp has launched, bringing with it the ability to keep vehicles up-to-date with the latest software technology, so long as their systems can handle it.

"Software updates are common across billions of connected devices but not yet for vehicles. Ford Power-Up software updates will change that by quickly bringing it to millions of people," says Alex Purdy, director, business operations, enterprise connectivity, Ford Motor Company. "We've invested in more seamless technology so updates can happen while you're sleeping – making your next ride a better experience."

Introducing Ford Power-Up | Innovation | Ford www.youtube.com

The first PowerUp updates happened in March. Ford F-150 and Mustang Mach-E customers were the beneficiaries. Now the company is accelerating the program pushing out over-the-air updates to over 6 million vehicles already on the road. In order to receive those updates, vehicles must have an embedded modem. Nearly all new models have the feature.

The wireless upgrades enhance features, quality, experiences, capability, and convenience. The fresh technology is able to update the vast majority of vehicle computer modules – more than 110 on higher end models – and reduce the need for a trip to the dealership for service.

As part of the PowerUp rollout, Ford is also adding embedded Amazon Alexa to vehicles with three years of free connectivity. The voice command functionality allows users to be connected to their vehicle as well as the Amazon services in their home.

At first, 700,000 vehicles in the U.S. and Canada will get the tech with millions more to follow. The first models to get connected will be Bronco, Edge, F-150, Mustang Mach-E, and Super Duty that are equipped with SYNC 4 technology.

"Democratizing technology and putting it within reach of millions of customers has been a part of Ford's DNA dating back to the Model T, and our new collaboration is a continuation of that legacy," says Ned Curic, vice president, Alexa Automotive. "We can't wait for Ford customers to experience the best of what Alexa and voice AI can do while on the road – including new features and capabilities that will be delivered seamlessly through future over-the-air software updates. We love the vote of confidence from Ford to deepen our work together and continue making the driving experience more connected, entertaining, and productive."

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New automotive program

The Grand Tour returns soon with new special

A new special drops on December 17.

The Grand Tour - Amazon

The Grand Tour is returning, and soon. Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hamond, and James May set out in Carnage a Trois, the second special produced during the COVID-19 pandemic. French cars are the subject of this special, and there looks to be plenty of action and potentially hilarious situations. Amazon Prime subscribers can watch the new special on Prime Video starting December 17.

Due to travel difficulties and a general state of worldwide unease, the trio have stayed close to home. The first special, Lochdown, took place in Scotland and this one in Wales. Though James May confirmed that a special in Russia is still a possibility, global travel conditions are still tough and unpredictable.

The Grand Tour Presents: Carnage A Trois | Official Trailer | Prime Video youtu.be

The Grand Tour premiered in late 2016 after the three hosts' relationship with the BBC ended. For three seasons, the show followed a similar format to Top Gear, which was created by Clarkson and his partner, Andy Wilman. At the end of season three, the trio announced that the show's familiar format would move from the studio tent to the field, where all subsequent episodes would be the longer travel specials that the three are best known for.

The announcement of the new special made its rounds on social media, where reactions (as always) were mixed. Some say the show is too scripted now and that it's just not fun anymore, but many disagree. At this point, with the hosts' ages and difficulties producing media of any kind, it's a bonus to have a car-oriented show, scripted or not.

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New compact pickup truck

2022 Ford Maverick: A small truck with big ability

The Maverick can tow up to 4,000 pounds when properly equipped.

Ford

Pickup trucks are big. And, over the past two decades as sales have skyrocketed in this segment of the automotive market, mid-sized, full-sized and Super Duty-sized trucks have grown more popular and larger in nearly every dimension. Bigger was better. However, for Ford and many buyers now, the option of a pickup with tidy dimensions is . The 2022 Ford Maverick is the revitalization of the compact truck and this all-new model is filled with a host of surprises and appealing features. Among the surprises are clever design and storage solutions, with the built-in opportunity for DIY customization, as well as a long list of available accessories.

2022 Ford Maverick The Maverick's bed can swallow 4x8 sheets of plywood.Ford

The Maverick starts at $19,995 and comes standard with a hybrid powertrain. A 2.0-liter four-cylinder EcoBoost engine is available. Ford says over 100,000 customers have already ordered the entry-level pickup that comes with a 4.5-foot bed and a crew cab body style only. Both front-wheel-drive and all-wheel-drive versions are available, although AWD can be optioned with the gasoline engine. The mini-truck comes in XL, XLT and Lariat trims, with an available FX4 package that adds toughness and technology for off-the-road terrain. The package adds different suspension tuning, underbody protection, all-terrain tires, and backcountry drive modes, like Mud/Ruts and Sand, as well as Hill Descent Control. A First Edition Package offered for the first model year only comes on the Lariat trim and brings unique graphics, trims, and wheels. Sized like Ford's Ranger and other compact trucks of the past, Maverick is the solo offering in this reborn segment, although some might cross-shop it with the all-new Hyundai Santa Cruz that has a truck bed, but is pitched as a sports activity vehicle.

The Maverick is built on the same unibody platform and high-strength steel subframe as the Ford Escape and Bronco Sport. In the right light, it even looks a bit like the "baby Bronco" from the front with an upright body style, an eye-attracting front face and Ford's drop-down side windows. Standard LED headlights flank the grille while bed rail caps are vertical and extend from the bed to the top of the back window. One of the most appealing features of the truck is Flexbed that offers many different ways to organize and stow cargo within the bed's box 54.4-inch back end that can accommodate 4 x 8 sheets of plywood and has low sides for easy access along with a multi-position tailgate. Of note, Maverick has standard built-in 12-volt electrical power prewired on both sides of the bed at the rear to help with DIY electrical projects, plus two available 110-volt 400-watt outlets (one in the bed and one in the cabin) to power phones, laptops, small TVs and small corded tools. Fun features are under-the-bed stowage and a tailgate cleat that serves as a bottle opener.

2022 Ford Maverick An eight-inch touchscreen is standard. Ford

The base powertrain's hybrid is motivated by a 2.5-liter Atkinson-cycle four-cylinder that is shifted through Ford's PowerSplit CVT transmission; the internal combustion engine joins with an electric motor to improve fuel economy and bring a power boost. This Maverick version has 191 combined horsepower sent to the front wheels and 155 lb.-ft of torque while the 2.0-liter EcoBoost directs 250 horsepower and 277 lb.-ft of torque to either the front wheels or all (for the AWD) and is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Drive modes include Normal, Eco, Sport, Slippery and Tow/Haul. The hybrid has a payload of 1,500 pounds that can accommodate an ATV in back and a tow rating of 2,000 pounds, which will allow the truck to tow a pair of personal watercraft or small camper. The EcoBoost-powered truck equipped with the optional 4,000-pound Tow Package can tug a 21-foot boat.

We sampled a few different trucks and performed some towing and hauling exercises on roadways in the Nashville, TN environs. Top of our "likes" list is the hybrid powertrain that garnered great fuel economy and moves quickly when motivated by the throttle, as a result of good torque-on-tap. We were impressed by the backcountry prowess of the FX4 model that we motored on a dirt tow track that included a modest uphill climb and a section with a small rock ledge. The truck performed well with no slippage or drama. Of note, the AWD set-up has a more sophisticated rear suspension, a multi-link configuration in place of the front-driver's torsion-beam design.

2022 Ford Maverick Two powertrains are offered, including an incredibly efficient hybrid.Ford

The Maverick interior is somewhat simple and utilitarian, with materials and surfaces that favor function over form. The doors have large pockets that can hold a one-liter water bottle, and there are cupholders to hold up to 18 beverages, plus store a tablet or notebook. Base trucks are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto-ready with a 8.0-inch touch screen for infotainment and ride on painted 17-inch steel wheels. Uplevel trucks get a few extra goodies, with wheel options that include 18-inchers. The five-passenger, four-door truck has a clever and deep stowage well under the rear seat that can even hold a fully-inflated basketball. The compact truck is projected to get better fuel economy than a Honda Civic; Ford says the hybrid can achieve up to 40 mpg city and has a 500-mile-long range on a single tank of gas. During our day-long drive exercises, we actually had a slightly higher rating.

There are a number of standard safety features onboard with Ford Co-Pilot 360, such as Pre-Collision Assist with Emergency Braking and Automatic High Beams Headlights and a list of optional safety technologies that includes Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go, Blind Spot Information with Cross Traffic Alert and more.

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