• Jul 14, 2008
It's been a while since we've heard about FoMoCo's development of large rear-wheel-drive vehicles for Ford and Lincoln – no surprise considering the current climate. With fuel prices continuing their upward trajectory and CAFE standards looming on the horizon, Ford is apparently reevaluating the efficacy of offering RWD vehicles in a market starving for fuel efficient whips.

In addition to this morning's story that Ford is considering offering an EcoBoost four-cylinder on its F-150 pickup, Automotive News is reporting that Ford's use of turbocharged, direct-injected engines could expand to beyond 500,000 vehicles annually by 2012.

On the small side of the product front, Ford will likely equip the base Fiesta with a naturally aspirated 1.4-liter four-cylinder that would deliver around 40 mpg when it arrives in the U.S. in 2010. Ford is also considering a 1.0-liter, EcoBoost engine in the Fiesta, which could migrate into the Focus after 2012.

V8 engines will remain the sole source of power in Ford's large truck and SUV lineup until the end of the decade, when the EcoBoost V6 arrives and begins to expand throughout the Ford lineup. The boosted six is expected to produce between 290 and 390 hp, depending on the application, and could spell the end of bent-eights in many of Ford's range-topping products. When the redesigned Mustang arrives in 2010, Ford intends to continue its use of the 4.0-liter V6 and 4.6-liter V8, but both engines will give way to the 3.5-liter V6 and 5.0-liter V8 soon thereafter. Don't ask us why they're not rolled out at launch.

New diesels are also in the cards, including a 6.7-liter V8 (codenamed "Scorpion") currently being developed for Ford's Super Duty trucks and full-sized vans. A 4.4-liter, V8 turbo-diesel is also in the works and will find a home under the hood of the F-150, Expedition and Lincoln Navigator – assuming the two 'utes survive into the next decade.

[Source: Automotive News (1) (2) - Sub. Req.]


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  • 44 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      I owned 2 FWD cars, and I will never ever ever ever ever own one again...! From a driving standpoint they are terrible, but from a long term maintenance standpoint they ruin your wallet.
        • 6 Years Ago
        you are...a liar
        • 6 Years Ago
        Ever? :-)
        • 6 Years Ago
        You must not have had very good cars then! Don't give up on all FWD vehicles. I own a Toyota Matrix and a Scion tC and don't plan on giving them up anytime soon! I have had no major issues with either car and that includes cross-country trekking from Alabama's gulf coast to Wisconsin once or twice a year!
        • 6 Years Ago
        You must be one hell of a driver on a closed course with nothing else to do! I have driven both Domestic and import FWD and have never had a failure before 100k. We drive a fleet of 34 cars and must hire the perfect drivers because we spend only for the basics.

        PS. if you are that good of driver that FWD isn't up to your standards then you must be a Race car driver... zoom zoom....
      • 6 Years Ago
      Let me be the first to ask ... how exactly is RWD any LESS efficient than FWD? They are exactly the same.
        • 6 Years Ago
        @LS2LS7

        Your second statement is in error. There is such a thing as conservation of angular momentum. It doesn't require more energy to keep something spinning on axis unless there are frictional losses. Last time I checked, the Earth was still spinning around it's own axis. Asteroids go on spinning about their CG as they hurl thru the void of space.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angular_momentum
        • 6 Years Ago
        There are more drivetrain losses in a RWD car vs FWD. It's just physics.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Having said that, I can't complain if companies keep making FF cars, because this way I at least have something I can swap into my MR car in the future :)
        • 6 Years Ago
        No, RWD is less efficient.

        Energy is lost spinning the drivetrain up and down. So increasing the length of the driveshaft from 5 inches to 5 feet means you lose more energy spinning the drivetrain up and down.

        Additionally, energy is lost just spinning the drivetrain. Anything that is moving wants to keep moving in a straight line, and by spinning it on axis, you have to apply constant centripetal force because you are constantly changing its direction of motion.

        So yes, RWD is less efficient than FWD, always has been, as long as motors have been in the front.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Oh yes 2% wow...
        • 6 Years Ago
        ItGuy: Last time I had a track event, there was a fellow with a G35 sedan. The only cars he was going faster than were a 1996 Jetta and a 2007 Forester. I'd lap him once a session in my 2007 GTI. Before you go off on me, I just want to point out that the G35 is only 100 lbs heavier than a GTI. Mine's chipped for 250 hp, but that's still less than the 260 out of the G35. Here's a comparison of their interiors... both are very similar in size:
        http://autos.msn.com/research/compare/interior.aspx?c=0&n=3&i=0&ph1=t0&ph2=t0&tb=0&dt=0&v=t98311&v=t104187

        I'd attribute the massive difference in track speed to chassis dynamics, suspension (not just the springs, but the the whole chassis), overall power (as opposed to peak), and rotating mass/drivetrain loss.

        -- I get 35 mpg when taking it easy on a highway.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Agreed. This sounds more like a cost cutting issue for the company and nothing to do with fuel economy.

        Too bad, because I know a couple Ford designers and they keep telling me to wait and see the cool stuff coming from Ford once they get a RWD platform in production.
        • 6 Years Ago
        If you want to be the first to ask that, you're gonna need a time machine.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Probably is less efficient but not that bad.

        Just got back from a long 1k mile road trip. 2004 G35 sedan 6MT (RWD) and averaged 26MPG through the hills of Vermont. Was ticking around 27MPG on the level highway.

        This was all reported on the factory nav screen.

        RWD can and does rock - great handling, 260HP in a platform that will ourtun most cars on the road and decent economy.

        Love it!
        • 6 Years Ago
        Also, who says all RWD cars have to be large and offer V8 engines? I'd love a small Mazda3 sized and priced car that was RWD with a peppy I4 engine.

      • 6 Years Ago
      In spite of all the peaks, and even more valleys, that Ford has had over its history, those who control the development pursestrings have learned almost nothing about why they have had wild successes at times. That they cancelled the 6.2 engine development, restarted it again much too late, and are now virtually cancelling it again is proof enough of their continuing boneheaded waffling.

      To compete on the world stage, they need some RWD models. RWD can be made fuel efficient. And turning engine crankshaft torque to power the front turning wheels is often no more easy than powering the rear wheels. Sometimes I think the bureaucratic process that somehow leads to a new model in spite of itself is so out of whack its a wonder that companies like Ford are still around.
      • 6 Years Ago
      mk -

      You're right - curb weight affects it. The fact is that the weight of the drive shaft, and the heavier rear differential and axle assembly is weight that is better shifted toward having something the majority of the market wants, namely a back seat.

      For all the talk about how fuel efficiency shouldn't push the market toward front wheel drive, the fact is that rear wheel drive cann't meet the new CAFE standards easily. In fact, BMW told the federal government it can't be done, period. In late June, BMW, in its official comments, posted in the government’s regulatory docket, said the administration proposal as written “is not feasible” for its products. BMW’s comments are among the first from automakers to appear in the docket.

      All you rear wheel drive enthusiasts had better bank on this: Rear wheel drives' comeback in the North America is going to be both short lived, and what rear wheel drive offerings there will be are going to be drastically reduced because of CAFE.
      • 6 Years Ago
      What bothers me most is that the term "RWD" is being sold to the general public as equivalent to "gas hog". Yes, RWD is less efficient than FWD, but not by an amount significant to most people. The problem is that RWD only seems to be applied to large sedans, trucks, and sports cars, all of which are either heavy or designed for high performance. Stick a comparably-specced FWD drivetrain in these vehicles and fuel consumption is not going to drop by much if at all. Why not make a RWD subcompact? Give me a Honda Fit powered by the rear wheels and I'll be smiling. I don't need 200+hp or 4000 lbs to enjoy a RWD car. I had an E30 BMW from the late 80s with the Eta engine that I absolutely loved, and it didn't have much more than 120 hp. I got 28 mpg on mixed driving with a lead foot, and I smiled every time I steered into a turn. Unburdened by power, the front wheels gave excellent steering feedback.

      Truth is, FWDs are easier to manufacture-- the packaging is tidier on the assembly lines-- and that is why auto companies migrated to that layout to being with. FWD handling characteristics are inherently worse than those of RWDs, though you can engineer them to be good. The current Cobalt SS, while a complete turd in styling and fit/finish, is an example of a good-handling FWD. However, physics rules in favor of the rear-drive setup if chassis dynamics are important to the driver.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I agree, weight is the enemy of both performance and efficiency, and it's a concept that Americans in particular have failed to grasp for decades.

        However, I did a comparison of the aforementioned 1-Series and Mazda3 available in Europe. The baby Bimmer is offered in a couple of small-engine versions (1.6L and 1.8L I believe, and also as a diesel), but also with a 2.0L gas engine that would be better accepted here (good acceleration). Likewise, the Mazda3 is available with a 2.0L four. On the European combined cycle, the BMW is rated at 44 mpg and the Mazda at 36 mpg, despite the BMW weighing 130 lbs more and being "handicapped" with RWD.

        Granted, this isn't a true apples-to-apples comparison given these are different makes, but they are both 5-door cars with similar sized engines and roughly 3000lb curb weights. However, it at least shows RWD, which is generally accepted to have better handling dynamics than FWD, can exhibit good or better fuel economy as well. And on the bright side, the 2.0L gas engine is the thirstiest of the fours BMW offers in the 1-Series. Go smaller or diesel and it gets better.

        BMW can do better in the States, they just don't want to tarnish their "premium performance" image. If they get smart, though, I'll take my BMW 120d with the manual and in white, if you please.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Agreed, the RWD setup is definitely heavier. But how much heavier? It's hard to say whether it is significant, given that you can't cross-compare the same make with the two drivetrain layouts. Driveshafts themselves aren't that heavy, particularly those used with lower-output engines, and I'm not sure a transmission and diff would outweigh a FWD transaxle by much. Chances are, it's less than the weight of a passenger.

        BMW's problem with CAFE isn't weight, it is the fact that the products they market in the States are all on the high-performance end of their portfolio. The 1-Series had great potential, but they offer it only as a 6-cylinder here in the US. Across the pond they offer small gasoline and diesel engines that get excellent fuel mileage. Had the 1-Series 5-door been made available here with the sub-2L four bangers, I think it would have been a great alternative to the Mazda3.
        • 6 Years Ago
        How significant the extra weight of RWD, when considering meeting CAFE, is something that people outside of the auto industry have a hard time grasping.

        I've been a sales rep (currently looking for a new job) for auto suppliers, here in Detroit, for over two decades. The answer to how significant the extra weight of RWD, when considering meeting CAFE, is that every engineer I know is looking at fractions of an ounce to get rid of, anywhere and everywhere in the car or truck they're working on. And this doesn't matter if you're an engineer working for Ford, BMW, or Toyota.

        And I have to differ with you on BMW problem not being curb weight. Let's face it, BMW's many attributes is that they're very solid cars. But that solid feel comes from being very heavy. A BMW 3 series, a compact, with an automatic weighs as much, and in some cases more, than some front wheel drive mid size sedans. Weight can be a big factor, and the automakers are looking for savings any where they can get it. Since the vast majority of the mass market are not driving enthusiasts, keeping rear drive fans happy has fallen off the radar.
        • 6 Years Ago
        When all of the automakers have to take weight out of a car to get the mileage up high enough to meet CAFE, RWD does become equated with "gas hog", even in small cars. I'll answer you much as I answered mk - the weight of the drive shaft, differential (especially the housing) and the rear axle assembly (especially with the added weight and complexity of IRS) makes it weight that doesn't serve a fuel-economy-oriented-useful-purpose. Period.
        To achieve a fleet average of over 35 MPG, for every vehicle you sell that only gets 25 MPG, you need to sell two that get 40 MPG. If your fleet currently has no RWD products above 22 MPG combined city/highway, oh, like BMW, then you're up sh*t creek without a paddle. Even their MINI Copper division is all FWD, and that should tell you something. If BMW isn't producing a RWD that gets the MINI Cooper's 32 MPG combined city/highway, then no one is going to produce such a vehicle.

        Take that, plus BMW's own comments, that they placed in the federal regulatory docket, calling the new CAFE standards “not feasible for its (BMW's) products", into consideration when you go around calling for a high MPG RWD car.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Probably not. Here's an even better question, who exactly is going to buy a four cylinder F-150? What was Ford's big reason for not redesigning the Ranger again?
      • 6 Years Ago
      Hopefully ford make the falcon available in the US next generation, the new FG model looks pretty good here in AU
      • 6 Years Ago
      Axe Theme... The last thing we need is a another Ford... hahaha...

      The Reason i Hate Ford is Cause every Ford iv'e had since 98-06 have broken down or had some problem with them in September 06 i said F*ck it im going to try something else so i bought a 06 Corvette Z06 and it's been doing fine ever since... But... im NOT !!! a Fanboy i just pick the best and fastest and go with it... the only automaker i hate is Ford...
        • 6 Years Ago
        The model of Ford i had Was the Mustang GT. and also an 03 Ford Explorer. i had trouble with those... Models

        Btw i also Own a 02 Camaro SS since 06. and thats been fine also no problems what so ever...
        • 6 Years Ago
        ZR1, must your tagline be "I hate Ford" in every post? I'm sure your experience was poor with them, but perhaps it was the particular models you drove more than the overall brand. I'm not a big Ford fan myself, but I'm not sure moving to a GM model gives you a better position from which to launch grenades. Last time I read Consumer Reports, Ford's reliability rating absolutely smoked that of Chevrolet. And the Vette in particular contributed to that poor rating.
      • 6 Years Ago

      Will a 4-cylinder F-150 be able to get out of its own way?
        • 6 Years Ago
        It has more hp and torque than the current 4.6 V8, not to mention the 4.2 liter V6. Those who want a roomy V6 work truck will certainly buy a 4 that has more power and better mileage. Those who must have a V8 for the sound/glory or higher pulling power won't.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Compare current V6 (202hp@4350, 260ft-lbs@3750) & 4 speed automatic

        against a turbo direct injection 2.5 I4 (250hp@5500, 250ft-lbs@2750) on regular grade fuel.
        coupled to an 8 speed automatic

        If Ford decides to do this, it will be mechanical fine, but unmarketable.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Ford should keep with the full-size RWD program but add a 4-cyl Ecoboost and come to think of it if it's possible to add a variant who use the Miller cycle like the one in use for the new-gen Mazda 2? http://www.autobloggreen.com/2007/05/31/japanese-market-mazda2-gets-new-miller-cycle-engine/ (and some European Duratorq I4 and V6 diesel engines made in joint-venture with Peugeot-Citroen, I wonder if someone from Europe could give us additionnals infos about them?)
      • 6 Years Ago
      This is just getting ridiculous now. No wonder US automakers are all going bust.
      • 6 Years Ago
      And i wanted a Capri from Mercury =(
        • 6 Years Ago
        You and me, both, brother.

        A Capri or a Cougar, modern-style RWD alternatives to the retro Mustang.

        I've been asking/advocating for a moderate-size RWD Sedan and Coupe pair for Mercury, as an alternative to Ford FWD and Mustang, and also a competitor to the G37 Infiniti, and Audi A4/A5, and undercutting the 3-series sedan and coupe, and CTS sedan and forthcoming coupe.

        All of those premium brands have a RWD or AWD Sedan/Coupe pair, except Ford. And Mercury is starving for product, and this is sportier than Lincoln, and can get away with a bit less luxury, if the price and performance is appropriate.
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