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Ford Falcon FG Ute: Stronger, Safer, Swifter

Motoring Channel Staff - 12/May/2008

Ford FG Falcon Ute
Ford FG Falcon Ute

Ford FG Falcon Ute
The XR6 Falcon Ute with cab chassis body
offers a much larger tray for moving goods

Ford vs Holden

Ford's new FG Ute make an impressive showing, with a range of features, new designs, more powerful engines, better quality interiors, the list goes on. It'll be a hot seller for the Blue Oval, but its most difficult task will be overcoming it's arch-rival, the Holden VE Ute.

Holden already has a head start and has improved sales of its utes with the new VE models after positive reviews and a bold new look, so Ford will be facing an uphill battle. But with the XR6 Turbo leading its counter attack, Ford is expected to strike back strongly.

Furthermore, Ford will provide cab chassis models with flat trays for larger loads and some models can be optioned with a third seat - both of which Holden does not offer.

While ABS, EBD and traction control are offered, there has been no mention of DSC (dynamic stability control), which is one area where Holden takes the lead by offering ESP standard across the range. However this battle pans out, there'll be a war of words from both camps, and stay tuned for hands on impressions.

- Feann Torr, Editor

Ford FG Falcon Ute
This is the new Ford FG Falcon R6 ute,
which is the half sports, half trade model

Ford FG Falcon Ute
The range-topping XR6 Turbo Ute makes 270kW
of power and will demolish the 0-100km/h dash,
expected to record times of around 5.5 seconds

Ford FG Falcon Ute
The entry-level Falcon Ute cab chassis is propelled
by a 195kW 4.0-litre inline 6-cylinder powerplant

Ford FG Falcon Ute
This is the XR8 Falcon Ute, fitting with the XR Luxury
pack that adds 19-inch wheels among other things

Ford FG Falcon Ute
The interior of the XR6 Falcon Ute, priced
at $34,090, boasts a more advanced design

Ford FG Falcon Ute
Ford's FG Falcon Ute could set the benchmark
for rear-wheel drive light commercial vehicles

Melbourne, Australia — Hot on the heels of Ford Australia's all-new Falcon sedan is the FG Falcon Ute, which will go toe-to-toe with Holden's acclaimed VE Ute.

Like the new Falcon sedans, Ford's full-sized rear-wheel drive utes are more powerful, safer, more comfortable and better equipped with more technology than their predecessors. 

One-tonne models can haul more than 1200kg of cargo in the tray, and can tow braked trailers weighing up to 2300kg.

Like the sedan range, the new Ford Ute's will be powered by three different engines to shift cargo with minimum fuss: 6- and 8-cylinder engines, including the cult favourite turbocharged 6-cylinder 4.0-litre engine available on the XR6 Turbo Ute.

On sale in June, pricing for the new FG Falcon Ute line-up is as follows:

Falcon Ute Cab Chassis: $27,795
Falcon Ute Styleside Box: $28,195
R6 Cab Chassis: $29,795
R6 Styleside Box: $30,195
XR6 Cab Chassis: $34,090
XR6 Styleside Box: $34,490
XR6 Turbo Styleside Box: $38,490
XR8 Styleside Box: $38,490

The next generation Falcon Ute boasts a range of features including all-new virtual pivot control link front suspension and monotube shockers for improved handling, sporty new exterior designs, advanced cockpits and more power and torque for all models including the increasingly popular sport utes.

Ford will even offer some models with a third central seat adding even more practicality, where the 5-speed automatic gear shifter is relocated from the middle of the cabin to the column shift near the steering wheel.

"The all-new FG Falcon represents another step forward for automotive vehicle design in Australia," said Ford Australia's President Bill Osborne.

"The FG Falcon Ute range offers no compromise performance and functionality, with the ideal mix of truck-like capability and car-like comfort, driveability and safety," said Mr Osborne. 

All Falcon Ute's come with dual airbags and can be optioned with another pair of side head airbags.

"Each model in the new Falcon Ute range represents a unique mix of workhorse and recreational elements, which ensures the job gets done during the workday week, as well as on weekends when its time to getaway," added Osborne.

"It is an exceptional passenger-derived ute package that delivers outstanding performance, fuel efficiency, refinement and safety to meet the needs of a wide variety of customers," said the President of Ford Australia, Bill Osborne.

On top of the new features, Ford has also added a new model to the range.

The R6 sits underneath the XR models (XR6, XR8, XR6 Turbo) but still has a number of sports car features, including alloy wheels, flush-fitting tonneau tray cover, sports suspension, fog lamps.

Ford calls the new R6 Falcon Ute "a fresh combination of sports ute dynamism with renowned workhorse capabilities".

In total there are four models in the new Falcon range. 

The workhorse entry-level model is simply called the Falcon Ute, followed by the new semi-sports R6 Ute, and then there are the XR models which comprise the XR6, the XR8 and the ball-busting XR6 Turbo. 

There are three engines powering the new models, all of which benefit from increased power:

  • 4.0-litre I6 (Ute, R6, XR6)
     Power: 190 to 195kW
     Torque: 383 to 391Nm
     New Stuff: 5-speed auto replaces old 4-speeder

  • 4.0-litre Turbo I6 (XR6 Turbo)
     Power: 245 to 270kW
     Torque: 480 to 533Nm
     New Stuff: Launch control, overboost

  • 5.4-litre V8 (XR8)
     Power: 260 to 290kW
     Torque: 500 to 520Nm
     New Stuff: SAM (Semi Active Muffler)

While the new engines are more powerful, the old 4-speed automatic gearbox has been replaced by a new European-built 5-speed auto, which was described as "streets ahead of the Holden 4-speed gearbox and marks a significant win for Ford" with "good pre-emptive intelligence when left in its fully-auto mode" by Feann when he tested the Falcon sedan models early in 2008.

All models come standard with the 6-speed manual transmission, a high performance Tremec gearbox designated TR6060. All models can be optioned with the 5-speed automatic, while the range-topping XR8 and XR6 Turbo sports models get optional 6-speed automatic transmissions.

Ford will also make available an LPG "E-Gas" kit which is packaged with the older 4-speed automatic gearbox.

While all models will be significantly faster off the line - especially the XR6 Turbo - and most likely more fuel efficient too (Ford hasn't released fuel consumption specifics yet), the new Falcon Ute range also improves comfort and safety levels.

Featuring the new HMI or human machine interface derived from the FG Falcon sedan, a more advanced instrument panel and more intuitive steering wheel controls, the FG Falcon Ute is an altogether easier-to-operate vehicle.

Safety has also been improved with what Ford collectively terms the Intelligent Safety System, "a combination of latest generation safety devices and electronic management tools that combine state-of-the-art restraint systems with intelligent monitoring of crash severity and occupant positioning".

With a sleek new look, the Falcon Utes also feature dual stage driver front passenger airbags as standard equipment across the range while head protecting side airbags are also available on every Falcon Ute model. 

As Ford Australia's chief engineer of virtual engineering Adam Frost said, the airbags are activated by "highly technical door pressure sensors and dual upfront sensors" that "provide earlier detection of potential crash incidents than ever before".

According to Frost, "No other Australian-built vehicle incorporates advanced crash sensors such as those on the new Falcon. Detection of crash situations is instantaneous, as the sensors literally hear the event occurring through pressure waves – before the panels have even started to deform.

"Importantly however, they also provide enhanced discrimination between different types of events to determine the level of response required. Appropriate safety responses for each individual situation are then activated according to incident severity, positioning of occupants and seat belt usage."

Ford's new Ute range gets ABS, EBD and traction control on some models, but stability control has not been mooted.

Some of the options available on the new Ford Utes include a satellite navigation system. Like the FG Falcon sedan, it is an SD card-based navigation system that includes

 All-new display and menu
 New "shut-down-delay" mode – the system does not need to recalculate guidance after a short stop/key off scenario (e.g. refuelling at petrol station)
 The ability to display critical journey information in the home screen – such as arrival time and distance to destination
 New V14 Sensis map data
 New 2D/2.5D perspective view map mode, for easy recognition and understanding
 Infrared remote control

Bluetooth phone and iPod music player integration are also available, and there's also an auxiliary jack for any other MP3 and music device to play through the stereo.

Unlike it's main rival, the Falcon will be offered in two body types. 

The Holden VE Ute has only one body type, while the Falcon Ute is offered in a styleside box similar to its rival and a cab chassis configuration which can be set up with a completely flat tray for cumbersome loadings. All models except the XR6 Turbo and XR8 are offered in both body types.

 Styleside Box - Falcon Ute, R6, XR6, XR8, XR6 Turbo
The SSB ute has been redesigned and reshaped according to Ford, and the gap between the rear of the cab and the front of the box has been reduced, creating a more seamless appearance. 

It gets a new flush fit soft tonneau cover that securely fastens to the aluminium top rails that join the bedliner and exterior sheet metal according to Ford. 

The soft tonneau cover can be peeled up from any side and easily snaps back down into the groove like a snap lock plastic bag according to the car maker, vastly improving access to the load bed and making it physically easier and quicker to open and close.

Furthermore, elasticised clips on the inside of the cover can be pulled down and hooked onto the aluminium side rails to allow the tonneau to sit in a higher position than its normal fitment point, thereby creating a higher load space.

Adjustable load tie down hooks "provide a more user friendly approach to securing odd shaped loads" says Ford, and can be added and removed.

 Cab Chassis - Falcon Ute, R6, XR6
While the cab chassis configuration doesn't look quite as integrated as the styleside box, it offers more loading room thanks to the flat tray. Made from hard-wearing aluminium, the tray doesn't mind being scuffed or knocked claims Ford.

Falcon Ute and R6 cab chassis models are fitted as standard with one-tonne suspension systems for improved load limits.

Ford will also offer a range of value packs, including the Technology Pack, Safety Enhancement Pack, XR Sports Pack and XR Luxury Pack, the latter of which adds leather sports seats, 6-disc in-dash CD, 8-speakers,a premium audio system with 7-inch colour ICC screen, and 19-inch alloy wheels with large 245/35 R19 tyres.

Falcon Ute Dimensions:

  • Length: 5096mm (5382mm cab chassis)

  • Width: 1934mm (1908mm cab chassis)

  • Wheelbase: 3104mm

  • Turning Circle: 11.5 metres

  • Luggage Space: 235 litres

Related Articles:
- Ford FG Falcon (First Drive)
Ford FG Falcon Launch (2008)
Ford Focus RS (2009)
Ford Mondeo (Road Test)
Holden Commodore vs Ford Falcon (Road Test)
- FPV F6 X (2008)
- Ford Fiesta XR4 (Road Test)
Ford Focus Diesel (Road Test)
- Ford Focus XR5 Turbo (Road Test)
Next-Gen Ford Falcon in Detroit (2008)
Ford Territory Turbo (Road Test)

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