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A Ford showcase of winter performance

Notre-Dame-de-la-Merci, QC – Depending on where you live, winters in Canada can be harsh with snow- and ice-covered roads to tackle on everyday commutes. 2017 has taken that a step further as piles of snow have touched down across the country from the west to east coast.

Some may see this cold and snowy weather as a negative, but there's another side to this coin, and that's how much fun you can have in it. Snowboarding or tobogganing are always great choices, but Ford had a different plan in mind, and that was to show off two very distinct vehicles in its production line – the Ford F-150 Raptor pickup and the Ford Focus RS.

The Raptor and Focus RS are high-performance variants, and Ford wanted a host of journalists to see how well they can tackle the snow, ice and even muddy tracks of the Mecaglisse Motorsport Complex, a few hours north of Montreal.

Both products were fitted with winter foot gear: BFGoodrich All-Terrain T/A KO2s for the Raptor and Michelin Pilot Alpin PA4s for the RS, which switched to studded tires for a closed-course off-road session.

The all-conquering Ford F-150 Raptor

The Raptor is all about conquering various terrain, and the ice and snow of Mecaglisse would be no exception. To fully test the truck out, a street and off-road trail section were set up. We won't get too much into the street portion, as it did its business in routine fashion. The few takeaways were a quieter ride than expected, as well as a smooth transition of gear changes up and down its new 10-speed unit. Outside of that, it charged through the snow and handled those skinny roads gracefully. When needing to back out or make a three-point turn, it was still as challenging as any truck would be.

The true test came down to the off-road trail that was littered with icy patches and a splashy mud pit. With its 3.5-litre EcoBoost V-6 engine producing 450 hp and 510 lb.-ft. of torque – increased numbers from the outgoing V-8 – the Raptor had no issues getting going; it was just a matter of staying on track.

Most of the time, staying balanced on ice has more to do with the driver than the vehicle. If the driver understands the proper techniques of lifting and accelerating when necessary to gain traction, the truck will do the proper work. However, all of that was achieved with once again, a smooth determination that stayed relatively balanced and comfortable at all times. There was no bouncing, sliding or vibrating around the cockpit, leading to a composed ride that felt lighter, thanks to a weight savings of 227 kg from the use of military grade, aluminum alloy for the body and high strength steel for the frame.

The driver's decisions could be key in any icy situation, but it was the Raptor that cut through those divots like a champ, especially the mud pit. With exceptional ground clearance and absorbent FOX Racing Shox under the chassis that stiffen the suspension, the Raptor powered through without any damage to the underbody. We even put it in Sport mode on the second run, and the same results were achieved at a quicker pace.

Slip and sliding with the Focus RS

The Ford Focus RS was made for extreme conditions. Perhaps, Ford had in mind some race tracks and rally courses littered with pavement and dirt, but the icy and drift-worthy track of Mecaglisse fits right in. The combination of the RS' 2.3-litre EcoBoost inline-four that produces an impressive 350 hp and 350 lb.-ft. of torque, a standard six-speed manual gearbox, and an all-wheel-drive (AWD) system with torque vectoring, makes for one eventful day in a hot hatch.

On this particular day, we wouldn't be testing out its straight line speed; rather we would see first hand its handling prowess, stability, braking abilities and pure fun factor. Just like the Raptor, the Focus RS handled a different closed off course with ease. Its twin-scroll turbocharger assisted on initial acceleration which quickly responded and pushed ahead, never getting bogged down in the snow. Furthermore, it was able to stop in a quick fashion when needed.

There are four drive modes: Normal, Sport, Track and Drift, but drift would be the only option on this day. The most notable moment was around an icy circle without any traction. The RS slid its way tippy-toeing at first and then gradually finding traction on the outside snow in pure drift style. Much of this balance is due to the AWD and torque vectoring that can send 70 of its engine power to its rear wheels, and 100 percent of that to either side, eliminating any understeer. The system works in such a rapid pace through the monitoring of multiple vehicle sensors 100 times per second.


It's rare for the Ford F-150 Raptor and Focus RS to come together at one event, but this true winter test showed the extreme capabilities of both variant products. The Raptor and Focus RS stayed balanced and wanting more, and the best part about it was, you knew both machines could be pushed even further.

The starting prices of $48,418 for the Focus RS and $68,399 for the Raptor won't be the cheapest out there, but that's what makes them variants. This was only a winter test, but if they can be so smooth and effective in these situations, can you imagine what both are capable of the rest of the time?

Ford F-150 going luxury with new Limited trim

Ford has raised the bar for pickup trucks with the addition of the new upscale F-150 Limited, expected to go on sale later this year.

The Limited trim will be slotted above the current top-of-the-line Platinum to cater to what Ford is calling the “growing, untapped needs of luxury customers looking for exclusivity.” With the trend of consumers going for the more high-end Lariat, King Ranch and Platinum trims, and the non-existence of luxury automakers in the pickup truck segment, this addition only seems natural and can showcase what Ford is capable of.

“The F-150 Limited sets a new bar for what discerning customers should expect in a high-end truck,” said Raj Nair, Ford group vice president, Global Product Development. “We’re adding segment-exclusive technology, and features that improve productivity, convenience and capability with distinctive style.”

It sits on unique 22-inch polished aluminum wheels, and will feature satin-chrome door handles and chrome exhaust tip, as well as a unique grille with a satin-finished chrome badge on the tailgate. If you're looking for even more pop, a raised dimensional LIMITED script is stationed on the hood.

The upscale touches continue in the interior with seats that are made out of Mojave leather that are complemented by fiddleback eucalyptus wood and aluminum accents throughout. The instrument cluster and floor mats are unique to the Limited trim to go along with a laser-engraved VIN plate on the centre console.

The luxuries don't end there, as the front passengers are treated to massaging front seats that has never been featured in any Ford product before. Advanced technologies will include a 360-degree camera system, BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with cross-traffic alert, Lane-keeping assist and Sync3 with AppLink.

As an option, Ford is offering a segment-first Pro Trailer Backup Assist that will help to back a trailer or boat in your driveway. All you would need to do is turn a knob in the direction you want, while the F-150 controls all of the steering inputs.

The only engine offered will be a 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 that produces 365 hp and 420 lb.-ft. of torque that's mated to a six-speed automatic transmission.

The pickup truck segment is ever-changing with a demand for versatility, handling, cargo, towing and fuel efficiency all-in-one, and now it looks like luxury has been added to the growing list. This F-150 Limited does seem like the most advanced and luxuries truck ever. The question is, will everyone else follow suit?

  • Published in News
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