- New more powerful, PZEV-certified, 3.5-liter V-6 and six-speed transmission deliver nearly 30 percent more power and better performance
- New Fusion-inspired exterior design aligns Five Hundred with the future of Ford car design
- Sharply appointed cabin adds new, more sophisticated materials and additional storage, convenience to industry-leading cargo and interior space
- Available Ford AdvanceTrac® and all-wheel-drive provide confident ride and handling in all weather conditions
- More standard safety features – including side curtain airbags – ensure five star ratings in all four government crash tests
First launched in 2004, the Five Hundred has earned significant customer praise for its comfortable ride, spacious interior and overall packaging. The vehicle's safety repudiation – thanks to five stars ratings in all four categories of government crash tests – is one of the best in the industry.
"Customers love the Five Hundred's ride and package, and its safety reputation is excellent," says Cisco Codina, Ford's group vice president of North America Marketing, Sales and Service. "For this year, we've dialed up the appeal with a new, more expressive look, a more powerful engine and more than 500 changes to make this great car even greater."
The Five Hundred now features Ford's new 3.5-liter Duratec V-6, an engine that delivers an estimated 260 horsepower – a nearly 30 percent increase over last year's 3.0-liter engine – and 245 lbs.-ft. of torque. The new Five Hundred also now benefits from the same smooth shifting, six-speed automatic transmission as the new Ford Edge and the same available all-wheel-drive system. Importantly, even with the upgraded powertrain and nearly 30 percent increase in horsepower, real-world fuel economy for the front-wheel-drive model is expected to be similar to the current model – thanks to advancements in powertrain technology.
The 2008 Five Hundred puts a fresh face into the large car segment. New from the A-pillars forward, the extreme makeover includes a new grille and front fenders, a new hood and new front and rear fascias, with new fog lamps and taillamps.
"This is more than just a refresh," says Mark Conforzi, chief designer for the Five Hundred. "A refresh is usually done simply to make the newer car look different from the previous model. The Five Hundred is more of a progression, using Fusion inspiration to bring the Five Hundred into alignment with the future of Ford car design."
The new design centers on the Fusion-inspired three-bar grille, sweeping horizontally across the exquisitely designed headlamps and back across the fenders. A strongly sculpted hood adds a touch of crisp detail and a new front fascia is slightly chamfered at the outer edges, adding structure to the design.
"The new face is much lower and straighter," adds Conforzi. "We wanted to stretch it and make it as wide as possible. It has a stronger face now and there are definite corners in this design. The little chamfer in the hood lowers the profile, making the entire vehicle look more sleek."
Conforzi notes that extra attention was focused on the grille's three chrome bars, meticulously sculpting it to balance performance, aerodynamics and, most importantly, functionality.
"We had to be careful with the adjustment of some of the shapes," says Conforzi. "The difference between a five millimeter radius and a 10 millimeter radius can mean the difference between air going into the grille and cooling the vehicle and air going over the top, increasing vehicle drag and degrading fuel economy." The redesigned grille will also improve customer satisfaction thanks to reduced windnoise.
Both SEL and Limited models come with fog lamps mounted in chrome bezels along the lower edges of the fascia. Side marker lamps are integrated into the wrap-around headlamps.
Five Hundred's sleek profile is clean and uncluttered, simply accented by a Ford-signature chrome side vent mounted on the front fender just ahead of the door. The chrome side vent adds some visual interest to the profile and makes the Five Hundred as recognizable from the side as it is from the front.
Limited models add an extra touch of brightwork with chrome accent door handles and chrome mirror caps. The new side mirrors are now smaller and lower on the door providing better visibility and reducing wind noise.
The horizontal theme across the front end is carried to the rear of the car in the form of new taillamps that feature horizontal bars running through an almost clear lens – yet another modern design cue inspired by the Fusion. Limited models add a chrome accent strip above the license plate recess.
The new rear fascia features a cutout for the dual chrome-tipped exhaust. "We wanted to have an exterior visual cue to mark the new more powerful engine," says Conforzi. "I think the chrome exhaust tips announce that loud and clear."
Customers can choose from three new wheel styles for 2008. The SEL comes standard with a 17-inch, eight-spoke, two-tone aluminum wheel with machined aluminum spokes and metallic painted inserts. The Limited comes with standard 18-inch, eight-spoke aluminum wheels. An 18-inch, seven-spoke, chrome wheel is available on both models. Seventeen-inch wheels wear P215/60Rx17 BSW tires while 18-inch wheels are wrapped in P225/55Rx18 BSW tires.
Three new exterior colors – Dark Ink Blue, Light Ice Blue and Light Sage – join the lineup for 2008.
The Five Hundred features the most spacious interior of any large sedan in the segment. Features like Command Seating™ offer SUV visibility and provide easy ingress and egress for both front and rear seat passengers. And everyone rides in comfort thanks to best-in-class legroom front and rear.
Five Hundred's interior is as flexible as it is spacious. A cavernous, 21 cubic feet of class-leading trunk space can swallow up to eight golf bags. And the fold-flat, 60/40 split second row seats and the fold-flat front passenger seat work together to provide space to stow items up to nine-feet long.
A two-tier clamshell center console, new for 2008, offers flexible storage options. The cover can be opened to expose the upper tier, a 10.75 cu. ft. storage bin that is large enough to accommodate cameras, cell phones, MP3 players or small purses. Opening both lid and upper storage bin gives access to a second, larger storage area that goes all the way to the vehicle floor, offering secure, out-of-site storage for important items. The center console comes with a new auxiliary audio input jack and an additional power point, bringing the vehicle total to three power points.
The 2008 Five Hundred has a cup/bottle holder in each door, two in the center console and an additional two cup holders integrated into the rear-seat armrest, bringing the vehicle total to eight cup holders.
The Five Hundred's occupants are surrounded in traditional luxury with a modern twist.
The Dusk Gray of the instrument panel and flow-through center console is carried onto the tops of the door panels creating the feel of a cockpit for the front seat passengers. This use of Dusk Gray also provides a nice contrast to the rich Camel or Light Stone seats, console cover and lower door panel trim. The pillars and headliner are trimmed in a lighter Camel or Light Stone shade to enhance the Five Hundred's ample headroom.
The Limited Series features a strip of high-gloss Curly Koa wood trim that runs the width of the instrument panel, adorning the top of the console and providing a backdrop for the switches on the tops of the arm rests. Curly Koa features a unique opposing vertical and horizontal grain that adds a modern edge to the traditional look of wood.
"It's a traditional high-gloss, honey-brown color, but it's beautiful in its depth and how the lights and darks play off of each other," says Evelyn Bowman, interior designer for the Five Hundred.
An optional wood package adds a wood grain insert to the top of the steering wheel and on the shift knob. Alternatively, Limited customers can choose to be surrounded by the rich monotone of Charcoal Black.
A redesigned instrument cluster is trimmed with bright chrome bezels. A chrome strip accents the new, more ergonomically designed console shifter and the edges of the rectangular air vents. Fine chrome rings define the edges of the audio and climate controls.
The SEL is trimmed in Lacrosse Ash on the instrument panel, console and doors. The deep wavy grain pattern adds a surprising touch of high-gloss luxury to the cabin.
SEL comes standard with fabric seating. New leather seating, available on SEL and standard on Limited, features contrast stitching and a new technical perforation pattern that is echoed on the door panels. The rectangular-shaped perforations give the interior a more progressive, contemporary look.
SEL models come standard with a six-way power driver seat; 2-way power and fold-down passenger seat; leather-wrapped, manual-tilt steering wheel with redundant audio controls; leather-wrapped shift knob; air conditioning and woodgrain appliqué on instrument panel. Optional equipment includes leather seating, eight-way adjustable power driver's seats with memory, and heated driver and passenger seats. A power moon roof is available on all models. Adjustable pedals are also available.
What may well impress customers the most is the new level of quietness in the Five Hundred's cabin. Engineers focused heavily on reducing interior noise levels, utilizing precedents set by the Lincoln MKZ and Ford Edge.
"People will be surprised by how quiet and refined the new Five Hundred is," says Ben Winter, chief engineer of the 2008 Five Hundred. "Our tests have shown that cruising at 65 miles-per-hour, Five Hundred is as quiet as many vehicles sold as luxury sedans."
The 2008 Five Hundred has a completely revised sound package that includes such technologies as expandable foam pellets in the A-Pillars to help reduce wind noise and the use of a sound-deadening material called Sonosorb™ in the doors, headliner and pillars. Sonosorb increases sound-deadening efficiency by 20 percent while retaining the same thickness as the material it replaces.
Upgraded mastic in the floor and the addition of sound deadening material in the door, trunk and under the carpet further reduce road and wind noise.
Engineers also reduced road noise by stiffening the area where the rear package shelf meets the floor pan. The package shelf was specifically shaped for optimal acoustic performance to reduce vibration.
An improved, quieter climate control system uses a large piston compressor and redesigned air delivery to greatly reduce interior noise.
"Nearly every part of the heating and cooling system was changed, from how we blended the air to changing the shapes of ducts to smoothing out the ripples," says Winter. "At max fan, the new climate control system is 50 percent quieter than the outgoing model and delivers improved performance."
"We're seeing tremendous improvements in zero to 60 times. The vehicle just feels so much more powerful," says Chief Engineer Winter. "It should now be among the leaders in the segment."
The improved performance, however, should not come at a cost of fuel economy. Early indications are that real-world fuel economy of the 2008 Five Hundred will be similar to the previous-generation model, despite a nearly 30 percent bump in power. The new, 3.5-liter Duratec 35 and standard six-speed transmission are simply more efficient, and the vehicle benefits from a fuel-saving electric power steering system. Final numbers, measured under the new-for-2008 EPA standards, will be released closer to the vehicle's on-sale date.
The 60-degree, V-6 engine benefits from a strong, lightweight die-cast aluminum block and lightweight four-valve, direct-acting, mechanical-bucket valve train to provide smooth, refined operation at high engine speeds.
The intake system was designed as a single system, from the throttle body to the intake valves, to specifically provide performance without unwanted harshness. It utilizes a dual-plenum intake manifold and intake variable cam timing (i-VCT) to help ensure a smooth idle and broad torque curve. The i-VCT uses a hydraulically actuated spool valve to control the movement of the cam phaser and can rotate up to 40 degrees, shifting in less than half a second. A 10.3:1 compression ratio helps improve performance further, and updated, close-coupled catalysts help reduce emissions.
The six-speed automatic transmission uses a wide-ratio, 6.04:1 gear span to deliver maximum performance. The low, 4.48:1 first gear provides solid acceleration at launch while the tall, 0.74:1 overdrive sixth gear provides steady fuel economy on the highway. Short steps between intermediate gears enhance performance by allowing the engine to quickly find the right gear for the most efficient operating conditions.
A single intelligent control module shared by the Duratec 35 and six-speed automatic transmission has a learning function that collects data each time the transmission shifts, measures the response and then improves shift quality by adjusting parameters.
"By tying the transmission and engine calibration together you get less vibration and smoother, cleaner shift," says Winter. "You also benefit from reduced production variability. You can get much tighter tolerances around the overall powertrain."
The new engine's exhaust system has been tuned specifically for Five Hundred to provide the optimal performance. Engineers also reduced NVH through changes made to the internals of the resonators and the mufflers.
The Five Hundreds ultra-quiet, confident and plush ride starts with a solid foundation.
Engineers improved on an already-good chassis structure by reinforcing several areas to provide an even more rigid and safer structure.
The under hood sheet metal was redesigned, raising the shock towers to increase the travel of the revised Macpherson strut and rear facing L-shaped lower control arm front suspension.
"We increased the front suspension travel by 10 millimeters, which may not seem like a lot, but it is," says CJ Lammers, vehicle engineering manager. "It is about a 10 percent increase. Greater suspension travel equals a smoother, plusher ride."
The Five Hundred's Duratec 35 V-6 and six-speed transmission are bolted to the body with hydraulic mounts to reduce vibration. The engine is mounted to the frame using a pendulum mount system that offers a greater reduction in NVH and provides for much better ride and handling.
"On the 2007 model, we bolted the engine to the sub frame," says Lammers. "With this new system, the engine is bolted to the frame rails. By not having the roughly 600-lb powerpack sitting on the sub frame, the design of the sub frame can be focused on the suspension's requirements instead of the powerpack's requirements. We're now able to stiffen the sub frame allowing better tuning of the suspension and improving the ride."
New dampers and springs and a revised and re-tuned independent rear suspension work with the new front suspension to the deliver Five Hundred's smooth, confident ride.
A new, power steering system uses an intelligent electric pump that interprets the driver's intentions, providing extra steering assist when needed for such tasks as parking, and dialing down the assist when it's not needed, for example, when cruising on the freeway.
"The benefits are a better steering feel at both low speed and high speed," says Lammers. "Efficient use of the pump also results in a real-world improvement in fuel economy without sacrificing any performance."
Four-wheel disc brakes with four-channel ABS have larger 9 x 9-in. brake booster master vacuum assembly, replacing an 8 x 8-in booster, an increase of 12.5 percent. The larger booster along with new lining materials results in an improved pedal feel, reduction in brake noise and vibration and improvements in stopping performance.
The Five Hundred now utilizes the same all-wheel-drive (AWD) system found on the Ford Edge, Fusion, Mercury Milan and Lincoln MKZ and MKX.
"We get the economies of scale and the benefits of common engineering," says Lammers. "This is important. We're not engineering a lot of different AWD systems. We're engineering one and adapting it to our vehicles."
The Five Hundred's available intelligent all-wheel-drive system is tuned to provide confident driving in all weather conditions. Intelligent AWD uses an active, on-demand electronic center coupler to allocate a precise amount of torque from front to rear, up to 100 percent to either axle. This system can also anticipate wheel slip before it happens. Under heavy acceleration, for example, the system will proactively allocate toque to the rear wheels before the front wheels begin to slip.
The Five Hundred is already among the segment leaders in safety, earning five stars in all four categories for government crash tests. Five Hundred was also the first Gold Award winner from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and is the leader in its class for rear crash.
"We're not just maintaining that leadership, we're improving on it," says Chief Engineer Winter. "Because of all the improvements we've made, the new Five Hundred is carrying over its five-star crash ratings without the need to retest. Traction control is standard on the new Five Hundred and we're also offering AdvanceTrac stability control for the first time on Five Hundred."
AdvanceTrac interacts dynamically with the vehicle while it's traveling. The system can predict the vehicle's intentions using a sensor to detect and measure oversteer and yaw by monitoring the vehicle's speed, throttle position and steering wheel angle. When the system senses wheel slip or the loss of traction, it reduces engine torque and applies braking where needed to keep the car tracking safely on its intended path.
AdvanceTrac compliments the Five Hundred's available AWD system providing added stability.
"When you take a vehicle with AWD, it already provides all-weather stability and comfort. Add AdvanceTrac to that, you've got a vehicle that is second-to-none in terms of vehicle dynamics and the ability to help avoid accidents," says Winter.
For 2008, new reinforcements in the foot well area provide for better crash protection. Side impact protection is improved with pressurized crash sensors in the doors and thanks to a redesigned structure beneath the armrests in the front door panels.
The 2008 Five Hundred now comes standard with six airbags including dual-stage driver and passenger front air bags, seat-deployed side air bags for driver and front passenger and Ford's Safety Canopy™ side curtain rollover air bags for both rows. The advance side air curtains feature "roll-fold" technology. If occupants are resting their heads against a window, the curtain is designed to slide between the glass and occupants as it inflates. In the event of a roll-over, the curtains remain inflated for several seconds to enhance protection during an extended crash event.
An all-new restraint system includes height-adjustable lap and shoulder belts for front outboard seating positions. The front seats have multi-load limiter retractors and buckle pyrotechnic pretensioners along with seat positioning sensors for the driver and seat weight sensors for the front passenger.
An all-new steering wheel features a center design that recesses the air bag 15 millimeters into the wheel and farther away from driver.
The Five Hundred comes standard with BeltMinder™ safety belt reminder for driver and front passenger, child safety locks on the rear doors, the LATCH system and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System. Reverse sensing system is also available on both SEL and Limited models.
Security features include SecuriLock™ passive anti theft system, remote keyless entry and keypad standard on all series and available antitheft perimeter alarm and perimeter lighting. Wiper-activated headlamps are offered standard on the Limited and available on the SEL.