Ford Is Driving the Future Forward

A few weeks ago, I gave you a little teaser about my adventurous day with Ford. But I mainly focused on how totally awesome it was to go see the American Idol finale. I mean, Oh my Gaga, it was absolutely amazeballs. I saw Beyoncé in the flesh, flirted with Ryan Seacrest, and rubbed elbows with other stylish stars at the sizzling Fox after-party. But now it’s time I talk about why Ford really hosted me in L.A. It was highly educational and extremely professional. Okay, that’s a lie. We toured the town and got driven around by stunt drivers. Jealous? Sync up your phone and start your engine: I’m taking you for a vicarious ride in the fabulous new (and improved!) 2012 Ford Focus.

Focus on This

The new generation of the Ford Focus is sleek, cool, and highly advanced. With forward-thinking technology systems and upscale features, this vehicle stands out as a leader in its class.

But it's the little things that really make a difference. Like the optional rearview camera that automatically displays what's behind you when you shift into reverse. Or the fact that you can connect your MP3 player through the media hub with two USB ports. You have an audio/video jack for game systems and an SD card slot for uploading images, and you can even stream tunes from your Bluetooth-enabled phone. Focus also includes Wi-Fi capability, so you're pretty much an Internet hub on the go. How cool is that!?!

Finally, you might find this next detail a bit silly, but it shows how much thought went into creating the 2012 Ford Focus: It's a cap-free, leak-free fuel tank, so your hands will never smell like gasoline again. (Don't you just hate that?)


Technically Speaking … Sync with traffic, directions, and information leverages voice-recognition software, integrated GPS technology, and a Bluetooth-capable mobile phone to deliver personalized traffic reports, precise turn-by-turn directions, and up-to-date information including business listings, news, sports, and weather.

Not-So-Technically Speaking … Upon entering my red-hot Ford Focus, I synced my BlackBerry with the system so that I could make and receive calls hands-free. Safety first, friends! The car could even read my text messages out loud — which proved to be quite embarrassing considering a new blogger friend was in the passenger seat. (Wrong time to notify me that the the dog is having tummy issues, Mom!)

Line Drive

I’m a nervous driver. Actually, that’s not true. I’m usually fine. But when I have a stranger in the passenger seat, that’s when the jitters set in. It all stems from an evil driving instructor who hit me every time I did something wrong. Literally, the man would slap my hands. It was traumatizing and, in retrospect, illegal.

As I mentioned, I had a fellow writer riding along, so the pressure was on. (It didn’t help that he was carrying a clipboard and shaking his head… Just please, please don’t hurt me.) Fortunately, the ride was smooth, and the car was highly intuitive. We worked as a team and, thanks to the navigation system, rolled up to our destination on time, without any hurdles … or hand slaps.

Up in the VIP Club of Dodger Stadium (our final stop!), we admired the vast view while munching on delicious Dodger Dogs. Not too shabby. Too bad I’m a Red Sox fan. (Yes, I know, I’m from New York — deal with it!)

Look, Mom, No Hands!

Technically Speaking … Active park assist uses an ultrasonic-based sensing system and electric power-assisted steering to position the vehicle for parallel parking, calculate the optimal steering angle, and quickly steer the vehicle into a parking spot.

Not So Technically Speaking … I got to try this optional system, and was completely blown away. As one of the few city girls who keep a car in Manhattan, I would love, love, love to have this feature. It’s so simple and makes parallel parking almost effortless.

Basically, here’s how it works [nerd voice]:

1. The driver (in this case, moi!) starts the system by pressing a center console button, which activates ultrasonic sensors that measure and identify a feasible parking space.

2. The system prompts me to accept parking assistance. The steering system then takes over and auto-steers the car into the parking space hands-free. (Seriously, like, I could fully air-guitar with my available fingers.) I still operate the transmission and control the accelerator and break pedals.

3. A visual and audible system advises me about the proximity of other cars and provides simple instructions. Success!

Easy-breezy. Surely I wouldn’t have failed the road test threetimes if this were available back in my day.

If Vehicles Could Talk

Technically Speaking … Ford has built the first-ever prototype of intelligent vehicles that wirelessly talk to one another, warning of potential dangers to enhance safety and flag impending traffic congestion to help improve the environment. This technology could potentially help in 81 percent of all police-reported light-vehicle crashes involving unimpaired drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Ford is also partnering with other automakers and the federal government as well as local and county road commissions to create a common language that ensures all vehicles can talk to one another based on a common communication standard.

Not-So-TechnicallySpeaking … In short, if vehicles could talk they would say, “I know something you don't know.” Seriously, this is the future of the automobile industry. And it’s pretty cutting-edge. I took the backseat as a stunt driver sped up and slammed the breaks to show us multiple scenarios in which this developing technology could help save lives. (So, this is why they had me sign a liability waiver.) I did scream my head off as our Ford Explorer drove way too fast toward another Ford Explorer, but in the end, I’m still in one piece. And hopefully this feature will soon ensure that many other people remain whole too.

My day with Ford was pretty extraordinary. They enabled me to see J. Lo and schmooze with the Idols. But this incredible company is also driving the future and striving to make our lives easier and safer. And, in the end, that's cooler than any Lady Gaga performance. Well … almost.

*Lauren Barth was invited by Ford to attend this event. Airfare and hotel was paid for by Ford. No compensation was provided.