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Ford Focus PZEV less polluting than a cookout

09/19/2006
Grilling a hamburger puts out more hydrocarbon emissions than a 2007 Ford Focus PZEV does on a three-hour drive, or about 180 miles.

And a reason to not mow grass this weekend: The Focus PZEV would have to be driven more than 2,100 miles to equal the emissions generated by a 5.4-horsepower lawn mower in just one hour of use.

Ford is emphasizing the cleaner-air credentials of its subcompact Focus as an alternative to higher-priced hybrid vehicles. The 2007 Focus with a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine will be identified as a Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle, hence the PZEV badge.

Changes to the engine management software and new, low-rolling-resistance tires help the 130-horsepower engine gain 3 miles per gallon on the highway with the manual transmission - or 27 mpg city and 37 highway, and 27/34 automatic.

A vehicle must meet three criteria set by the California Air Resources Board to be PZEV-certified:

- Tailpipe emissions must meet Super Ultra-Low Emissions Vehicle standards, which are 75 percent cleaner than the average new model-year vehicle.

- It must be equipped for zero gasoline evaporative emissions, which virtually eliminate the escape of fuel vapor from the vehicle's fuel system, another source of smog-forming gases.

- Warranty coverage of emissions equipment extends to 15 years or 150,000 miles.

According to the EPA Green Vehicle Guide ( www.epa.gov/greenvehicles), the 2.0-liter Ford Focus - sold in California and the Northeastern states that have stricter emissions standards - is rated a 9.5 out of 10 for its air pollution score and 7 for greenhouse gases. That compares with 9.5/8 for Ford's Escape Hybrid and 9.5/10 for the Honda Civic Hybrid.

The PZEV Focus has a base price of $14,075 and comes in three-door, five-door, sedan and wagon body styles. Included is a five-year/100,000-mile powertrain Extended Service Plan warranty.

Visit www.fordvehicles.com for pricing and incentives.

PEBBLE BEACH LEXUS

Lexus debuted its fourth annual SC Pebble Beach Edition retractable hardtop convertible at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance Lexus Fashion Preview in August. Only 400 cars are "slated" for production in the unique cream pearlescent Starfire paint and Pimento Red leather interior with black birds-eye maple wood trim.

Other features on the hardtop convertible include special-edition brushed-chrome badging on the front fenders and center console; a Pimento red Pebble Beach logo embroidered on black carpeted floor mats, 18-inch G-Spider alloy wheels, rear spoiler, and either run-flat summer or run-flat all-season tires.

The rear-wheel-drive SC 430 comes with a 288-horsepower 4.3-liter V-8 engine (19/25 mpg) and six-speed sequential-shift automatic transmission (0-60 in 5.8 seconds).

Its $68,555 price is $2,405 more than the standard 2007 Lexus SC.

THE LITTLEST VOLVO

Volvo debuts the four-passenger C30 hatchback this month at the Paris Motor Show. Sales are limited to Europe, but the company is "evaluating the possibility" of adding the car to its U.S. lineup. A decision could be made by the end of the month.

At 67 inches long, it will be the shortest Volvo model, 8.5 inches shorter than the S40 sedan. The front-wheel-drive four-seater C30 is powered by a 218-horsepower, turbocharged five-cylinder engine.

Safety features will include whiplash protection, side-impact air bags and an inflatable roof curtain. Blind-spot detection will be an option.

TEEN FAVS FOR DRIVING TO SCHOOL

Kelley Blue Book recently released the results of its annual back-to-school car-buying poll.

Whether heading to high school or college, the 2006 study found that 43 percent of drivers ages 16-25 would like to arrive in a Ford Mustang, making it the No. 1 choice among younger drivers for the second year in a row.

Parents, however, chose the Honda Civic as the car they would most like to see their child drive. Four of the top five picks were Asian manufacturers, including small sedans from Toyota, Honda, Nissan and Mazda.

Coming in at No. 5 on the parents list was the compact Ford Escape SUV. The Mustang ranked No. 8 among parents.

"As you would expect, parents' primary concerns today revolve around safety and reliability," says Jack R. Nerad, editorial director and executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book. "Young people look for vehicles they can personalize or one that defines their personality," he says.

What 16- to 25-year-olds want to drive to school:

1. 2001 Ford Mustang 43 percent

2. 2002 Mitsubishi Eclipse 37 percent

3. 2001 Honda Civic 34 percent

4. 2001 Jeep Wrangler 32 percent

5. 2002 Jeep Liberty 23 percent

What parents of 16- to 25-year-olds want their children to drive:

1. 2001 Honda Civic 43 percent

2. 2002 Toyota Corolla 41 percent

3. 2003 Nissan Sentra 13 percent

4. 2003 Mazda Protege 12 percent

5. 2000 Ford Explorer 11 percent

AMERICA'S WACKIEST ROAD SIGNS

Hagerty Collector Car Insurance has announced the winners for its Road Sign Rally contest.

Customers across the United States submitted more than 300 photos of road signs, local business signs and homegrown signs over a period of two months to find a doozy for the contest.

Hagerty likes to find new ways to amuse and entertain customers on road trips, says Hagerty Collector Network CEO McKeel Hagerty.

"We had a difficult time narrowing down the entertaining submissions, but we definitely learned a lot about what lines U.S. roads and the sense of humor that makes each city unique," he said.

Here are the top 10 photos:

1. Used Cows for Sale

2. Unattended Children Will be Given an Espresso and a Free Puppy

3. To Go Left, Make Three Right Turns

4. Entrance ONLY - Do Not Enter

5. Duck Crossing (picturing a horse)

6. Beach Access - No Water

7. One Way (with arrows pointing in two directions)

8. Bottomless Pit: 65-Feet Deep

9. You'll Never Get to Work on Time Haha!!

10. Caution, This Sign Has Sharp Edges

The grand-prize winner, who submitted "You'll never get to work on time Haha!!" was awarded a digital camera.

The complete gallery of submissions can be viewed online at www.hagerty.com/RoadSignRally.

PORSCHE 911 TOPS ULTRAPERFORMANCE TEST

In Consumer Reports' first test of ultraperformance and luxury sports cars, the Porsche 911 edged past the Corvette Z06 to become the top-rated vehicle with an "excellent" overall score.

The 911 was tested against the Z06 and the V10-powered Dodge Viper, for the October issue of the magazine. The Viper posted a "very good" score.

The test also included five luxury sports cars: the Mercedes-Benz SL550, the BMW 650i, the Jaguar XK, the Cadillac XLR and the Lexus SC. The SL550 and the BMW 650i coupe posted the highest overall scores among those vehicles.

Here are highlights from the testing:

- The Viper SRT is the fastest car ever tested by the magazine, with a 0-60 mph time of 4.2 seconds.

- The 911's brakes rank among the best. It tied with the Viper for the shortest dry stops in this group, stopping from 60 mph in just 113 feet.

- The 911 posted the highest speed on record through an emergency avoidance maneuver, at 59.5 mph.

- This is the most expensive group ever purchased for the magazine's monthly test, costing more than $650,000.

- The SL550 is the most expensive car the magazine has tested, with a base price of $94,800 and $105,855 as tested.

MISCELLANY

Shop for IRS-seized vehicles, jewelry and more at www.Policeauctions.com. ... InterContinental Hotels & Resorts has a new two-year partnership with Aston Martin Racing. The hotel will get exposure from TV coverage of the Le Mans 24 Hours in Europe and the American Le Mans Series. Race fans can expect hotel packages for exclusive Aston Martin Racing events, driving experiences and VIP tours of the Aston Martin Racing factory. ... Bridgestone signed a five-year deal with the PGA Tour's World Golf Championships series as title sponsor for the Bridgestone Invitational at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio. ... For a demonstration and animation of General Motors' StabiliTrak electronic stability control go to www.badertv.com/safetytour.

SIDEBAR: Tips for buying cars for teens

By Mark Maynard

Copley News Service

Whether shopping for a new or used vehicle for a teenager, here are a few dos and don'ts from the editors at www.KBB.com:

- Do your homework before you buy anything.

- Check safety ratings, crash test results and rollover ratings.

- Do a side-by-side comparison of the top three vehicles you are considering. Comparisons are available at www.KBB.com, www.Edmunds.com and other online consumer automotive sites.

- Don't buy a car for your teen without driving it yourself.

- If you are considering a used vehicle, have it checked out by a local and reputable service shop or mobile mechanic.

- If the car will be bought from an individual, print the private-party value from www.KBB.com as well as Kelley Blue Book's 27-point vehicle Condition Quiz to take with you. These items will help you determine the "actual" condition and value of the vehicle.

- Always check a used automobile's vehicle identification number using a service such as www.Carfax.com, a pay site that will give a summary of when and where the vehicle was bought and how many times it changed hands, and warn of possible odometer rollback, salvage title, etc.

- Don't let your teen talk you into buying a vehicle you are not comfortable with.

- If you are a teen, do your car research before you meet with mom or dad to show them you are responsible and ready for a car.

Mark Maynard is driving in cyberspace at mark.maynard@uniontrib.com.

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Ford Focus PZEV less polluting than a cookout
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