New Upon Old
Frank S. Washington, Sun, 08 Nov 2009 10:49:44 PST
DETROIT You can call it grafting the new upon the old.
That's what Ford Motor Co. has done with a series of cars that feature SYNC provided by Microsoft. The system is a technophiles dream.
In a phrase, its hands free everything. There's Bluetooth which turns compatible cell phones into hands free car phones. But SYNC doesn't stop there. The system allows you to access any device that is plugged into the auxiliary jack and command it by voice.
If you've got a device with a playlist connected that can be voice commanded, too. The system allows you to receive and send text messages. In short, anything having to do with the audio system can be voice commanded by Microsoft's SYNC system.
But since we've suffered a few physical setbacks, our diction sucks. In other words, we really couldn't take advantage of SYNC. So we concentrated on the car. In our case, we had a Mercury Sable premier all-wheel-drive model which we found simply delightful.
It was a full-size sedan that we found awfully useful. The first thing that struck us was the car's high seating position. We're not exactly sure at what height the hip point was set but it seemed almost in line with a minivan. We never felt overwhelmed by anything on the road.
It was awfully cold during our week-long test drive. We found our Sable's seat warmers particularly useful. We do wish they would have kicked on a little quicker but once they got started, our fanny was rapidly toasted.
The Sable also had plenty of trunk space. We spent a lot of time at the grocery store and running errands. The Sable's trunk handled an average supply of groceries without any trouble. There weren't any lift over problems and it had plenty of space.
There was nothing out of line with the Sable's finish either but the fit could have been a little better. Although nothing was wrong overall with the fit, we do think there could have been less space in the gaps. That was our only real complaint with the Sable.
Our car was powered by a 3.5-liter V6 that made 263 horsepower and 249 pounds-feet of torque. The test car wasn't overly quick but it was responsive. It handled nicely and though we had no need of all-wheel-drive it was nice to know that we had it, if needed.
The car stayed relatively flat in the corners. Acceleration was acceptable and it handled the expressways here without any real problems. What's more, the powertrain was really smooth. The Sable's six-speed automatic transmission shifted effortlessly.
One thing we found particularly utilitarian about the Sable was its 20-gallon fuel tank. In today's world, the longer you can go between fill-ups the better off you're going to be. The Sable had an EPA rating of 17 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on thigh hwy.
Our test vehicle was chock full of equipment. It had 18-inch wheels, fog lamps and heated power mirrors with memory. In addition to heated front seats, there was an eight-way power driver's seat, voice activated SYNC and a fold flat passenger seat.
Options included a moonroof, a navigation system, satellite radio, a reverse sensing system, adjustable pedals and dual zone climate controls.
We think the Mercury Sable is a decent utilitarian Sedan. It won't turn heads but it won't cause you any major problems either. Our test vehicle was priced at $34,200.