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Those of you who have been following our journey, would know that YallaMotor is part of the jury panel for the prestigious Middle East Car of The Year awards. An annual event that sees respected journalists from across the Middle East come together and rate vehicles to pick the ultimate Car of The Year, is a fun and exciting event for manufacturers, dealers, and jurors alike.
Ford and Lincoln came up with the winning recipe last year and replicated it this year in hope of the same results. It’s quite simple, gather all the jurors in one location (The Al Habtoor Polo Resort), have product experts on hand to answer any questions, and keep the format a free drive event wherein each juror gets a good 20 to 30 minutes with each vehicle.
This year’s line-up comprised of the all-new Ford Escort, the practical Ford Edge, the off-road annihilating Ford F-150 Raptor, the commercial yet desirable Ford Ranger, the luxurious Lincoln Nautilus, and the splendid Lincoln Aviator. Eager to try something we hadn’t in the past, we started our day by jumping into Ford’s latest econo-sedan.
A hit with fleet buyers in Saudi Arabia, the Ford Escort is making quite an impact with rental companies in the country. Good looking and practical, the Escort aims to snatch a few buyers away from the Nissan Sunny and Toyota Corolla and its strategy is quite clear. With LED Daytime Running Lights, active grilles for better efficiency, and an 8-inch infotainment screen amongst a long list of other features, it positions itself as a better value for money proposition.
While overall fit and finish is quite like that of the Ford Figo, the two cars do not share the same powerplant. The all-new Escort gets a 1.5-liter turbocharged 3-cylinder (yes, it’s a three cylinder) engine that produces 120 horsepower and 150 Nm of torque. Power is then pushed through a six-speed automatic transmission smoothly, delivering a comfortable drive at all speeds.
The Ford Edge doesn’t require much of an introduction. It’s a popular sight on the roads of the UAE, with families opting for the comfort, practicality, and tech that it has to offer over rivals such as the Chevrolet Blazer and Honda CR-V. At the Middle East Car of The Year (MECOTY) event, Ford brought along two versions of the Edge: Titanium and ST.
The former being the luxury option comes with a 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine that pushes 250 horsepower and 373 Nm of torque to all four corners. The Edge ST, being the brand’s first dedicated performance SUV, gets a larger 2.7-liter twin-turbocharged V6 that puts out 335 horsepower and 515 Nm of torque. Despite both cars sharing a lot of their components, they are significantly different, both in the way they look and drive. To watch our video review of the Ford Edge ST, click here.
Ford F-150 Raptor
It’s always a pleasure to drive this road-legal Baja truck and this time was no exception. Although we had driven the Raptor earlier, we still took this opportunity to get behind the wheel of the mighty pick-up truck and enjoy the adrenaline-filled experience that it offers. The powerful 3.5-liter Ecoboost V6 is always a pleasure to drive, with the 10-speed automatic transmission shifting through gears effortlessly. The best part about the truck we were driving was that it was the one-and-a-half door version, meaning it wasn’t as small as a single cab and not as inconvenient as the dual cab version.
The new internal bypass Fox 3.0 SHOX offer more suspension travel and adapt to terrain in real-time to maximize handling, comfort, and prevent the truck from bottoming out when driving at high speeds off-road. A comfortable ride in the city and a true off-roader off the tarmac, it’s a wonder why other manufacturers haven’t been able come up with something directly targeted towards the Raptor yet.
Fresh out of driving the Mitsubishi L200 at the Japanese automaker’s MECOTY event last week, we were well up to speed with our commercial pick-up truck speak. But wow, the Ranger had us bowled over. You see when it comes to commercial pick-up trucks, we assume it would have a manual transmission, little to no features, and be pretty uncomfortable to drive.
Hop into the Ranger, however, and from the get-go, it’s all very different. For starters, there’s an automatic transmission, and as it turns out, this option is much preferred by fleet customers. Why, you ask? Because it reduces their spending on maintenance as clutch plates tend to get worn out relatively quickly when carrying heavy loads and getting stuck in bumper to bumper traffic on a daily basis.
Unlike the L200, the Ranger also comes with a rear differential lock, which you’re probably thinking isn’t much use without a 4WD system, but actually it’s brilliant. It’s all you’ll ever need to get you out of trouble. Moreover, it also comes as a high-rider, allowing you to load a lot more into the bed without the worry about it bottoming out. And oh yeah, we didn’t even start talking about the Wildtrack yet!
The Ranger Wildtrak is the lifestyle version of the Ranger pick-up truck. It gets a 3.2-liter turbodiesel engine that produces 200 horsepower and 470 Nm of torque, along with a low-range ratio gearbox, and an electronic locking rear differential. With an 800mm wading depth and plenty of technology on board, the Ranger Wildtrak impressed us when we drove it years ago off-road and continues to do so till this day.
Introduced last year, the Nautilus is based on its more down to earth cousin, the Ford Edge, but you’d be hard-pressed to tell. Significantly more luxurious in every way possible, the Nautilus currently rocks the old Lincoln interior layout, which is set to be upgraded next year to match newer models such as the Navigator and Aviator. With a greater focus on luxury over performance, the Nautilus is equipped with a 19-speaker Revel Ultima audio system, 22-way power adjustable leather wrapped seats, and driver aids in the form of a CoPilot 360 system.
A combination of Blind Spot alert, cross-traffic alert, pre collision assist with automatic emergency braking, auto high beams, a lane-keeping system with lane centering, and rear-view camera, all work together along with the adaptive cruise control system to offer drivers a luxurious and stress-free drive. Accelerating gently and ensuring the vehicle always stays in the middle of the lane, it takes the stress out of traffic jams and allows drivers to get to their destinations unfazed.
Saving the best for last, the Aviator actually isn’t part of this year’s MECOTY nomination list but since the jurors were meeting up, Lincoln decided to throw a surprise into the mix and what an incredible surprise it was. Judging from pictures seen online, the Aviator was a good-looking car but after seeing it in person, we can confirm that it’s a great looking car.
Mimicking the style of the all-new Navigator, the Aviator is every bit as luxurious as its bigger brother and looks the part too. Matching its sporty and luxurious styling, the Aviator comes packing a 3.0-liter turbocharged V6 engine that pushes 400 horsepower and 562 Nm of torque through a 10-speed automatic transmission. Along with plenty of leather and aeronautical influences, it’s also got plenty of tech to make it a great all-round package.
All in all, we had a great day testing the newest and coolest of Ford and Lincoln and wish them all the very best in the upcoming awards.