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After big changes the last two years, 2014 is a relative year of calm for Ford, with the Blue Oval looking forward to a slew of redesigns scheduled to hit in 2015.
That doesn’t mean that 2014 is without its charms though, as it marks the introduction of the Fiesta ST and a new 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine that will make its North American debut later in the year.
The diminutive Fiesta subcompact welcomes the Fiesta ST to the stable this year, which offers plenty of driving fun in a small, five-door package. The ST (Ford’s performance trim) features a 197-hp, 1.6-liter EcoBoost engine and a six-speed manual. It’s our favorite performance bargain as well, starting at just $21,400.
Ford’s three other passenger vehicles (the compact Focus, midsize Fusion, and full-size Taurus), return for 2014 with minimal changes.
The Focus is one of the more flexible vehicles in Ford’s lineup, coming in both sedan and hatchback varieties, as well as a Focus ST version of its own that serves as an older brother to the peppy Fiesta ST. Eco versions of the Focus return up to 40 mpg on the highway, and the compact offers an emphasis on technology with a self-parking system and MyFord Touch among other tech options.
Redesigned in 2013, the Fusion also has an exciting new addition in 2014 with Ford’s new 1.5-liter EcoBoost engine joining the Fusion’s engine options. It is one of the most attractive cars in its class, with swept back styling that brings to mind Aston Martin (especially from the front). The Fusion is also sold as a Fusion Hybrid which offers 47 combined mpg.
Ford’s most iconic car is the Mustang, a nostalgia inducing muscle car that keeps its live rear axle and tire shredding horsepower for the new model year. This is the last year of the truly retro Mustangs, it is headed for a 2015 redesign that will include an independent rear suspension among other changes.
An emphasis on increased fuel economy spawned the development of the C-Max Hybrid, which offers comfortable seating for five, lots of cargo room, and excellent fuel economy of its own (47 combined mpg).
The uniquely styled Flex returns for 2014 sans major updates, as does the Escape which was redesigned in 2013. The Escape’s redesign introduced a brand new visual look for the compact SUV, to go along with improved fuel economy and a powered rear liftgate that can be opened by waving your foot beneath the rear bumper. The five-seat Edge is also unchanged.
Ford also offers several options for those looking to haul more than five passengers in the Explorer, Expedition, and the even larger Expedition XL.
Looking ahead, the Ford F-Series of pickup trucks, including the best-selling F150, are set for major changes in 2015. But for 2014, they are the first vehicles in the Ford lineup to get its update MyFord Touch infotainment system. Ford’s engineers have heeded customer complaints and have added more physical controls to the system to make it easier to use, a welcome addition. The F250 and F350 are still around for jobs which require a heavy duty solution.
Zero percent financing, employee discount, cash back, out-the-door price tags...
Most dealers work hard to offer the public competitive prices. These incentives can grab your attention, but they can also obscure the actual terms you're getting on your purchase.
How can you fully understand incentives to get the lowest possible price on your car?
Most state franchise laws prohibit manufacturers from selling cars directly to the public, so the dealer will be your middleman. But in terms of financing and insurance, you can choose a bank or the dealer directly.
How can you determine what's in your best interest?
Destination charges, taxes, license and title fees, advertising fees... When going to a dealership, you must ask for an explanation of any fee you don't understand. But you need to choose your battles wisely. Your local car dealer may have taken a loss or slim profit along the way, and your fighting over something like a doc fee when the deal is nearly wrapped up may be counterproductive.
In any case, there are many fees and charges in the sale process: some inevitable, others questionable.
How do you tell them apart?
If you currently own a car, it probably represents profit. The question is, whose profit will it be?
With few exceptions, you'll get the most money for your used car by selling it privately. That's because dealers pay wholesale prices — not retail prices — for used cars, and they sell them at retail.
Your current car's value can be used to lower the price on your new car. However, most people underestimate their used car's value when going to a dealership.
How can you maximize your value?
The car manufacturer holds back a fraction of the price of all vehicles the dealership sells. Then, it returns the money to the dealership, usually on a quarterly basis.
Dealer holdback began its life as a safety net that ensured the manufacturers would have a security deposit of sorts if a dealership missed payments, and the dealerships would have money on hand to cover overhead costs when the holdback was returned.
How can you take advantage of dealer holdbacks to get the bottom line price?
Unlike consumer incentives, dealer incentives are factory-to-dealer incentives that reduce the dealer's true cost to buy the vehicle from the factory to below invoice.
Manufacturers offer these incentives on a regional basis to generate sales on specific models. These incentives are sometimes referred to as "spiffs," and they can touch off competition among dealers to move slower-selling stock.
For instance, a dealer incentive may kick in when a certain sales target is reached, with each subsequent sale resulting in a higher factory-to-dealer rebate.
How can you benefit from that?
We use your ZIP code to find accredited dealers in your area who will quote you their best internet price.