AF’s Bob Brown (center), Great Lakes sales manager, presented the Fleet Car & Truck of the Year trophies to John Ruppert (left), general manager of Ford Commercial Sales, and Kevin Koswick, director of Ford North American Fleet, Lease, and Remarketing Operations.

AF’s Bob Brown (center), Great Lakes sales manager, presented the Fleet Car & Truck of the Year trophies to John Ruppert (left), general manager of Ford Commercial Sales, and Kevin Koswick, director of Ford North American Fleet, Lease, and Remarketing Operations.

Ford has once again nabbed Automotive Fleet’s Fleet Car & Truck of the Year titles with its 2012 Fusion/Fusion Hybrid and F-150. For the second year in a row, these vehicles have proven their worth to fleet professionals and continued to uphold their reputation as strong performers for fleets.

Sponsored by Automotive Fleet and Business Fleet magazines, the purpose of the awards are to promote excellence in the fleet industry, particularly the tools and vehicles that allow fleet managers to fulfill their missions. Voters are only allowed to select one vehicle for each award.

The Fusion/Fusion Hybrid garnered the most votes among a group of 45 total cars selected for this year’s award. The 2012-MY Car of the Year nominees included vehicles from most of the major domestic and import brands, with the Fusion and Fusion Hybrid pitted against five other Ford vehicles: Edge, Escape/Escape Hybrid, Flex, Focus, and Taurus.

 “The Fusion/Fusion Hybrid have been so popular with our customers because they combine size, fuel efficiency, safety, and technology to deliver outstanding residual value,” said John Ruppert, general manager, Ford Commercial Sales.

For the 2012-MY Truck of the Year, qualified fleet professionals had 21 trucks to choose from. The F-150, the first truck to receive the honor in 2003, was the overwhelming choice, capturing the coveted title for the second year in a row for its MY-2012 offering. (The F-150 also won back-to-back awards before in 2005 and 2006.) 

This year’s F-150 offers a fine-tuned expression of last year’s revamped model with more capabilities and technologies added to the fuel-efficient powertrains, as well as a new FX appearance package.

“We continue to listen to our fleet customers and modify our content and offerings to meet their needs. An example is the addition of ‘flat towing’ on all 4x4 offerings and the removal of the HD payload package requirement from the SuperCab 8-foot box configurations. Our customers can still opt to purchase the HD payload package, but it is no longer forced on this configuration. This allows them greater flexibility in spec’ing the right truck for their needs,” said Ruppert.

Slight Changes Help Strengthen

The Fusion mid-size sedan, launched in 2005 as a 2006 model-year vehicle, is now in its seventh year of production.

There are many leading companies utilizing Fusion models in their fleet operations. “The Fusion remains so popular because all its attributes have been embraced by fleet managers and drivers. We will continue to build on the Fusion’s success by introducing an all-new 2013 model in January,” said Ruppert.

Going into the 2012 model-year, the Fusion all 6-speed transmission lineup is available with three engine choices (2.5L I-4, 3.0L V-6, and 3.5L V-6), four distinct models (S, SE, SEL, and Sport), and a Hybrid version. Ford has made the 6-speed automatic transmission now standard on the Fusion SE, as well as 17-inch aluminum wheels. In addition, the Fusion Sport offers all-wheel drive.

The vehicles achieve the following fuel economy numbers:

● 2.5L four-cylinder: 23 mpg city/33 mpg highway (FWD).
● 3.0L V-6: 20 mpg city/28 mpg highway (FWD); 18 mpg city/26 mpg highway (AWD).
● 3.5L V-6: 18 mpg city/27 mpg highway (FWD); 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway (AWD).

Boasting even more fuel economy than its gasoline counterpart with 41 mpg city/36 mpg highway, the Fusion Hybrid — first introduced in the 2010 model-year — operates up to 47 mph in electric vehicle mode and can drive a range of more than 700 miles through the city on a single tank of gasoline, according to Ford.

Providing 20-percent more battery power than the first-generation system, the 2012 Fusion Hybrid’s PowerSplit technology system uses two motors and a continuously variable transmission to optimize drive and high fuel efficiency for all operating modes. The 2.5L Atkinson-Cycle hybrid four-cylinder powertrain combines with the electric motor to generate 191 net hp.

Increased efficiency of electric components, the addition of an electric compressor used for climate control systems, and a boost converter on the battery have also helped hybrid fuel economy.

Additional improvements incorporated into the 2012 model include dampers on the front lower control arm to reduce interior road noise, enhanced door seals to reduce wind noise, and mirrors designed to deflect wind downward to help reduce wind noise.

Safety Stays at the Forefront

Both Fusion and Fusion Hybrid continue to provide a number of standard safety features, including: AdvanceTrac electronic stability control; dual front air bags, front seat-mounted side air bag, and side air curtains; Personal Safety System; tire pressure monitoring system; and SOS Post-Crash Alert System that flashes lights and sounds  a horn in the event of an accident.

The 2012 Ford Fusion offers a wide suite of customer-focused technology, including MyKey as a standard feature. MyKey allows users to program a “key limit” to certain vehicle functions to help promote safe driving habits, including limiting top speed and a persistent Belt-Minder alert.

SYNC is available on Fusion SE and above models, and provides hands-free access with simple voice commands, including traffic, directions, and information, which provides traffic alerts, turn-by-turn directions, and business search through the radio. Also available is Vehicle Health Report, which provides an online report of vehicle diagnostics, and 911 Assist, which can connect directly to a 911 operator through the paired mobile phone after an accident in which an airbag deploys.

Remote keyless-entry system with trunk release, SecuriLock Passive Anti-Theft System, SecuriCode keyless entry pad, and an auto-dimming rearview mirror are other available features.

[PAGEBREAK]Climb Every Mountain

The MY-2012 F-150 includes features that make it a more flexible and robust option for fleets, particularly when it comes to better options for trailering.

Among its most notable features is the Hill Start Assist, which helps keep the vehicle from rolling backward at a stop or hill especially when towing. With the brake pedal pressed, if sensors detect the vehicle is on a slope, the system will be activated automatically. Brake pressure is held in the braking system and the vehicle remains stationary on the slope for up to two seconds after the driver releases the brake pedal.
 
The Hill Start Assist isn’t the only new feature that will help leverage the F-150’s towing capabilities. A neutral tow capability has been added on all 4x4 trucks, making flat towing easier. An electronic locking rear axle has replaced most of the limited-slip offerings on the 3.5L EcoBoost and 5.0L engines. It is also now available in a range of axle ratios, and is even offered on 4x2 models.

Economical Operation

In these lean economic times, fuel and engine efficiency is of paramount importance, and the F-150 delivers on both these counts. All of its standard 4x2 engine options feature best-in-class capabilities, including, but not limited to, range, power, and trailering.
Engine options for the 4x2 models include the 3.7L V-6, the 5.0L V-8, the 6.2L V-8, and the 3.5L EcoBoost. Each engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission.
The 3.7L offers 302 hp and 278 lb.-ft. of torque for 17 mpg city and 23 mpg highway, and maximum trailering capacity of 6,100 lbs.

The 5.0L offers 360 hp and 380 lb.-ft. of torque, delivering 15 mpg city and 21 mpg highway. It has a maximum trailering capacity of 10,000 lbs.

The 6.2L delivers 411 hp and 434 lb.-ft. of torque for 13 mpg city and 18 mpg highway. It has a maximum towing capacity of 11,300 lbs.

The 3.5L EcoBoost delivers 365 hp and 420 lb.-ft. of torque for 22 mpg hwy. Like the 6.2L, it has a maximum trailering capacity of 11,300 lbs. It also has a best-in-class payload capacity of 3,060 lbs.

The 4x4 EcoBoost also delivers additional fuel efficiency and range. The 365 hp, 420 lb.-ft. of torque EcoBoost engine delivers 21 mpg hwy. Its 36-gallon fuel tank gives the EcoBoost a 756-mile range, meaning that it could travel halfway across the country from Silverado, Calif., to Tundra, Texas — a distance of 1,496 miles — with only a single stop at the halfway point, according to Ford data.

The EcoBoost has been particularly popular with customers, accounting for more than 40 percent of all F-150 sales, according to company statistics.

 “Fuel efficiency is an increasingly important metric for our fleet customers and an essential part of their total cost of ownership equation. Our 3.7L, 5.0L, and 3.5L EcoBoost engines introduced in the 2011-MY provide best-in-class fuel economy and outstanding performance,” Ruppert said.

The Ford F-150’s drivetrain has gotten an additional makeover from last year. On the 4x4 models, the electronic shift-on-the-fly has been replaced with a two-speed automatic on the LARIAT, King Ranch, and Platinum trim levels. The two-speed automatic gives added control to the F-150. If the truck’s automated system senses a loss of traction, it immediately transfers torque to the front wheels, making the system more seamless for the customer.

Standard Safety

Performance isn’t the only thing that has become standard on the MY-2012 F-150; safety is part of the complete package as well.

Among the standard safety features are AdvanceTrac with RSC (roll stability control); Safety Canopy System; dual-stage front airbags; SecuriLock passive anti-theft engine immobilizer system; SOS Post-Crash Alert System; four-wheel ABS; and manual lap/shoulder safety belts with height adjusters, pretensioners, and energy management retractors on outside front positions.

Updated Style

The MY-2012 F-150 delivers performance and safety in style. Most significantly, a new appearance package is available for the FX2/FX4 trim level and features a unique look with stealthy, flat black accents.

New 20-inch six-spoke wheels with a flat black paint are just one of the specialized exterior styling cues. A chrome exhaust tip, black-finished grille and blacked-out headlamps and taillamps round out the exterior upgrades.

Altogether, the 2012 model is available in nine trim levels: XL, STX, XLT, FX2/FX4, LARIAT, King Ranch, Platinum, SVT Raptor, and Harley-Davidson, giving fleet managers an option to fit any need and/or function.

The MY-2012 Ford F-150 is assembled at the Dearborn Truck Plant in Dearborn, Mich., and the Kansas City Assembly Plant in Claymoco, Mo.

Visit the Ford fleet website  at www.fleet.ford.com for details pertaining to incentives on these vehicles.

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