Ford Falcon 2010 Ute Road Test, Review or Report - 50th Anniversary FG Turbo
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The 50th anniversary of Falcon was celebrated by Ford with special edition Sedans and Utes. It was about the time I was fed up with my 2008 VW Transporter so I purchased a 50th Anniversary Automatic Turbo Falcon ute. This report will cover its life with me. This first edition is after 4 months ownership., with updates. Last update at 12 months. This car is owned by Jeff Lacey, the Author of this article.
The 50th Anniversary only came in 6 colours however to me Lightning Strike or silver was the classiest.
I have always liked Fords, out of the last 3 cars I have owned 2 have been Fords and I have been happy with them, in fact after I bought the VW transporter and still had not sold my XLS BA Falcon ute I was wondering why I was selling it as it drove better than the VW.
I really am in love with this one. It is so silky, you touch the accelerator and it purrs, push the accelerator and it howls, lineal power, oh Bliss. How can you pay $40K for a car and have so much fun? There cannot be another vehicle at the price that offers so much grunt. But there is more, it is silky and feels like a beast that is always ready to be unleashed, but is very tame as long as you treat it correctly. It also does everything so easily. Steers well, great brakes and everything works a treat. Ford have done a very good job and it is a real pity that sales are not higher.
What is it.
The 50th Anniversary package adds the following to the standard Turbo Ute. 19 inch wheels with argent (grey) finish, a black dashboard out of the G6E which also has individual climate control and a full colour screen. Leather seats embossed with 50th anniversary logo and the instrument panel also has the same embossing. 50th anniversary mats, premium sound with 6 stacker and 50th anniversary scuff plates and decals. The turbo has premium brakes, and a limited slip diff over the standard XR6, it is a very desirable package.
I paid Less than $40.000 on the road, then added darkest legal tinting for the windows, front and rear parking sensors. I must admit I fell in love with the electronics and the dashboard, and when I first drove one it was many things the VW could never be. Quiet, smooth turbine like acceleration, great headlamps, electronics that are seemingly a generational step, 10 years or more in advance of the VW (the VW was on a par with my 97 XR6) Oh the power of the Turbo is intoxicating; you just seamlessly accelerate, with virtually no noise. Oh you can hear it but it is muted and I just cannot describe the sound. It is like being fired out of a slingshot. The most powerful car I have ever owned was an E Type Jaguar with a much modified 327 Corvette block, that ran high 14's due to high ratio rear end, something like 2.7. . It was all top end but this Turbo ute would leave it for dead, as the power is there from start to finish.
I would have preferred something a bit higher off the road, with a front end, in particular not so low, but just about all other boxes were ticked. Enough room in the back to carry a load of easels, the ability to do long fatigue free trips, and every driver comfort.
Engine and Gearbox
Fords 4 litre motor with turbo is one of the best 6 cylinder engines ever. Smooth and quiet it develops 270 kw @5250 RPM and 533 newton metres of torque The torque peaks and is flat from 2000 rpm to 4700 rpm. The power is instantly available. The gearbox is the wonderful ZF 6 speed. Mostly I do not have a clue what gear I am in and changes are generally undetectable. Like modern gearboxes it changes down as you decelerate, so you are always in the right gear. The kerb mass of the Utility is 1785 kg.
Road Noise/Sound Insulation
The one thing that really threw me when I first hit coarse bitumen was the appalling noise levels, it sounded way too high and came from the rear. The rear bulkhead is separated from the tray by about 35 mm and has two holes in it, actually they are the vents for the flow through ventilation. These are covered inside by a relatively thin cover which has vent holes at the bottom. The rear bulkhead has no insulation except for 3 pads that are like carpet underlay. No wonder the din was appalling. The cover for the bulkhead is easy to remove, 3 plastic screws and with a bit of manipulation you can remove it from the cabin, with the seats still in the car. I first applied a layer of Dynamat on the B pillar between the door and the bulkhead but soon ran out, then I applied some neoprene sound deadener to the entire Bulkhead and over the Dynamat. Then I put DBkill over the entire lot. Big improvement. I had choked off the flow through ventilation, but honestly I could not tell the difference. However a trip up the Hume to Wangaratta with a load of easels told me it could still be better on coarse chip. My son uses industrial sound deadener to mute huge generators he sells so I bought 5 metres off him, I removed the liner, put another layer and even poked it under the carpet as far as I could get it. Results another improvement, but on Coarse Chip it is still sort of noisy but at a seemingly lower tone. Other road surfaces, whisper quiet. The relatively muted exhaust tone also disappeared. The sticky Dunlops are the coarse chip noise culprits and short of trying to find quieter tyres I do not know what I can do. But Ford, seriously, you could have done a lot better. Here is a wonderful quiet engine and very well insulted front of the car, but at the rear, you did virtually nothing behind the seats to reduce the noise levels.
The wheels are 19inch shod in 235x35 Dunlop tyres. I confess I was concerned about them before signing the dotted line. The tires cost about $430 each and only last 30.000k, plus they do not offer much protection from gutters for the wheels. The wheels do look great. Hopefully by the time the tyres wear out the price will have dropped. Within days I had marked the side of the LH front rim. It is so easy to do as you only need to touch a curb when parking and the outside of the rim is scored. I then marked the back ones trying to back down a narrow curving drive lined with rocks. Oh boy, after that I was a lot more circumspect. Straight line grip from the tires improved as they were run in. Traction could be relatively easily broken during the first 2000 km , but since then traction has improved so much so that to break traction on a dry road in a straight line is not so easy. They are very good in the wet as well. I am quite mindful of how much power is under the right foot and at all times squeeze the accelerator and even solidly accelerating in the wet does not break traction. Mind you I do not try to defy the laws of physics on wet roads.
June 2011 I bought a set of 17x8 XR6 rims and fitted Falken 245/45/17 tyres. I wanted to reduce the road noise and get a little bit more comfortable ride. I will add a photo soon, but I am pleased with my decision. It rides better and the tyre noise has definitely dropped back. It actually made driving more pleasant. I have not wanted to do a really long drive such as to Sydney but now these issues have improved I would now happily do such a trip. Grip of the Falkens seems OK in the wet and I have yet to determine what it is like in outright acceleration. I fitted the Falkens on recommendation of Tyrepower Mornington. They were $235 each fitted and balanced. I bought the rims on Ebay, they were new and cost less than $600 delivered for the set. Since fitting the 17's coarse chip noise is much subdued, dry bitumen grip is very good, on a rolling start, flat to the floor acceleration, you do not break traction but from a standing start you do. On a wet road you can get it sideways, until the ESP kicks in. With reasonable wet road acceleration you do not break traction. Handling is good, on a series of sharp country bends the ute just flowed around them at twice the recommended speed.
As a baby boomer I was brought up on Holdens and Falcons that had good ground clearance and short overhangs. Parking nose in, you stopped when the front wheels hit the gutter. When I ordered the FG, I ordered a nudge bar for some frontal protection, but on the day of delivery I was told that, due to the inter cooler, a nudge bar could not be fitted. The FG has a lot of overhang and is also low at the front, and very difficult to judge with curbs. I soon scratched under the front parking nose to curb. I then had front parking sensors fitted; they work over about 400mm when you have your foot on the brake. However they do not see curbs!!! Perfect for other cars and walls though. Now I hang back from the curb, and with a long Ute I feel that is asking someone parking next to you, to clip you as they swing out of the park. But I see no alternative. I really would have preferred Ford to go back to the old days of short overhangs and higher clearance at the front. I have also had to modify the way I enter my own drive to stop the long low front scraping on the drive. If I had my choice I would take a hacksaw to the long low nose!!!
After the hopeless headlamps in the VW the lights on the FG are great. Low beam is entirely adequate, high beam penetrates well and the fog lights provide plenty of supplementary light. Well done Ford.
Leaf springs on the rear.
I have seen plenty of negative comments about the fact that the Ute has leaf springs. You do not notice them during normal driving. Mind you, I never plan to drive on corrugated dirt roads where leaf springs may cause a bad ride. Tyre wear will be uniform. Independent rear ends and load carrying will prematurely wear out the rear tyres due to camber changes. It is not an issue with the Falcon. I have had negative comments about over steer (from someone owning a Volvo!!) and comments about potential trouble in the wet. Having owned plenty of RWD cars, with leaf springs, with reasonably powerful motors, it is not an issue for me. Over steer is just a matter of too much power or controlled power, and spinning the steering wheel, no big deal. In the wet it is not a handful, if you do get the back out of shape, the ESP kicks in and the back end goes back to where it should. The steering is quick enough to keep up with any up with any out of line exercises. I have since driven on a not very well maintained dirt road and the rear end behaved itself so much so you would think it was independent.
The tub on the Falcon can be removed easily. Underneath the Cab Chassis and the SSB are the same. If you want an alloy tray it is a simple matter to fit one. Originally I was going to buy an alloy tray XR6 but the extras in the 50th anniversary package were so attractive I went for the SSB. I know that I can at any time replace the tub and that is reassuring to me. The tub has a plastic tub liner and a Tonneau cover that clips in rather than using elastic straps and hooks. It works well except when the ute is sitting in full sun it can get very hot to touch and clipping it in is not pleasant!
Fit and finish.
As far as I can see everything is as close to perfect as it could be. The body has no rattles, everything works perfectly, the paint finish is beautiful. Well done Ford. There is a free 3000km service to fix any problems such as rattles and niggles, but I did not bother as there was nothing to fix.
There is no doubt that the XR6Turbo is a genuine high performance car. My son (motor mechanic, who has been a service manager at Ford and Holden dealers and now owns another business) says that if you know what you are doing you should be able to get under 5 seconds for 0 to 100KPH and under 13 seconds for the standing quarter. I am still not certain if he meant by driving technique or performance fiddling with chips etc. Wheels Magazine in Nov 2010 tested the new GT(supercharged) Falcon manual with a separate test of a G6E Turbo auto (Same motor/gearbox as my car but a heavier body) and the GT was slower until you got to speeds like 180KPH. Driving the a turbo six with the 6 speed ZF auto is like driving a turbine. No Turbo lag and instant seamless power. Unlike a V8, the turbo has a flat torque curve with maximum torque arriving at around 2000 rpm and holding to 4750 rpm. You take off like a slingshot when you flatten the accelerator. The ute has traction control that is electronic as well as a limited slip diff. I would expect traction is the determining factor in any timed run. Here the Dunlops on the 19 inch wheels really come into their own. A bit of delicate control of the accelerator will prevent wheel spin which has not been an issue at all, particularly since the tyres are run in. I do not have access to an off road facility to do performance testing and it will never be thrashed like they do in Top Gear etc and I am sure most motor writers love to thrash cars, if given the opportunity. This is nothing more than a road car and I will be giving it lots of loving tender care, plus a little tough love if the mood hits me.
Other performance car owners do some strange things though. I am starting to lose count of the number of times when I have been on the speed limit, and they will suddenly blast past me, usually at highly illegal speed, as if to issue a challenge, or to demonstrate they can do it. Mind you I have actually let my head go a few times at traffic lights, up to the legal speed, and never been headed, at least, not until I have backed off. The power is quite intoxicating, unfortunately.
My son also said that the turbo motors, are built to a higher standard than normal Falcons, and that there is nothing likely to give a problem, particularly the way I drive. I assume he meant I do not thrash cars and that the Turbo is tougher than a normal Falcon, because the drive train is designed to handle the Turbo power without breaking.
The only time you experience Turbo Lag is when the engine is cold, and then it is very minimal. Once the engine is hot there is no lag.
As I write this I have covered 4700 km. First tank I got 12.8 litres per 100. The next tank, 11.8. Best so far has been 11 which included a lot of highway running. I am running it on 95 octane and will do so until I consider the motor run in. The long-term average of my BA was 11.5 overall. I am getting about 11.7 with plenty of short runs and a few freeway trips. After 12 months this has improved, on a long country trip expect around 9 litres per 100 or 800km from a tank.
On a return trip to North of Sydney I filled 3 times and checked fuel consumption by how much went in the tank and distance covered. Running on standard unleaded, I got 9.6 litres per 100 first fill, 9 Litres per 100 second and 9.2 the third. The trip computer said 8.8. During the trip cruise control was set at 112 (actual 111) in the Hume Highway 110 zones and I happily used the power to merge with traffic after roadside stops. The ute is great for those trips with one exception. If you take a power nap you take it in the same position as you drive because you cannot recline the seats. I drove 1000k in one day and my body was not neither stiff nor sore.
I love a good sound system, the Ute's premium system supposedly has 8 speakers although can only count 6 enclosures. The rear speakers on Falcon Utes are not much good. In the previous ute I replaced them with much better ones but because of the location and the enclosure it made little difference. When I went the full sound deadening route on the Turbo, an unexpected side effect was it dulled the rear speakers so they are hardly worth having.
Full Ipod integration works very well BUT you cannot select Genres, which I like to do. The Ford system totally controls the ipod, so you cannot select genres on the ipod itself and expect the Ford to play that. You can only select play list, artists and album through the cars system. What you are playing is displayed on the colour screen in the dashboard. It is a pain when my house mate is a passenger as she only likes Country Music and Abba. Try picking those two out of the 16000 tracks I have on my ipod, when you cannot actually select the Country Genre. to solve the problem I purchased an AUX cable and plugged the Ipod into it. I can can now play whatever I like using the ipod controls, however nothing shows up on the cars display screen. I only use the AUX plug when the housemate is a passenger which is very rare.
The ute should also have a USB port for memory sticks. I used to carry memory sticks full of music, as they do not collapse in a hot car like an ipod can. I solved the hot weather problem by buying some cheap generic MP3 players on ebay for less than $20 each. They do not have screens but played through the AUX input they sound as good as the Ipod and will not melt in hot sun. I prefer using the Ford system though rather than the AUX cable. I love the steering controls and the large full colour screen. The Ipod information is clear and easy to read.
The Bluetooth is very basic, it does not auto answer and the ringing does not go through the sound system . You miss calls if the music drowns out the phone. You have to answer the phone by pressing a paddle on the wheel, assuming you heard the phone ring first. The sound system then goes silent and you are in full bluetooth mode. You cannot dial through the sound system but must dial using your phone, when the phone is answered it then operates through the sound system. All pretty primitive compared to the aftermarket system I had in the VW. But it works well, radio reception good and clear in both AM and FM. Many FM stations display information such as name of current track playing.
The trip computer is comprehensive. You can display anything in the trip computer in a screen between the Tacho and Speedo. I always leave the trip computer as a digital speedo as it is extremely clear and easy to read. It is also reasonably accurate. The speedo error measured against a GPS is 1% high. The trip computer is also reasonably accurate. The fuel tank is supposed to hold 80 litres but when the computer tells me I only have 50 k to drive I can only pump in about 70 litres. The trip computer tells you how many litres you have used as well and it is generally a little lower than actual fuel usage. When it said my average consumption was about 10.6 I measured it tank to tank over the distance as 11k per 100. At 100 the needle on the speedo is dead vertical. Overall I am pretty pleased as what is there all works very well within its limitations. In my experience aftermarket systems can be a bit hit and miss, ie my last so called premium aftermarket sound system was great with Ipod and Bluetooth but has a terrible AM and ordinary FM. The Ford clock and exterior temperature displays are clear and the clock is easy to reset.
Driving Position. - Seats
I am 6 foot 3 inches tall, and in my previous VW I started suffering badly due to the poor driving position. In the Falcon I have the seat back as far and as low as it goes and the steering wheel as high as it goes and it is a very comfortable position. The seat is fully electric except for backwards and forwards. The back and forward slide is very stiff. The last car I had with leather seats was the FJ Holden, I bought when I was 18 and kept until I was 36! The Ford leather seats are very comfortable and you sit in rather than on them, the leather was slightly slippery and although it is supposed to be luxurious I guess it is lost on me. I also love sheepskin and ended up buying a set of 6 star sheepskin covers. They fitted well but considerably changed the profile of the seats. In the centre of the sheepskins there is padding which seemed to fill the centre of the XR6 seat, so now it is more like sitting on the seats rather than in. I am still not sure whether I prefer the seats with or without the sheepskins! I have not done a really long trip to fully test the driving position, but in my BA which was similar the driving position caused no comfort or body problems. I have since driven the ute to Sydney and seats were OK.
One criticism of Falcons you regularly hear is the seats do not go low enough. I wholeheartedly agree. It was graphically brought home to me when after driving a hired Corolla for a weekend interstate I jumped back into the ute at Tullamarine and I had less room behind the steering wheel! The seats need to go lower and it is ridiculous that a big ford has less room than a Corolla. The Corolla sedan also had a much lower centre console giving the left leg more room, particularly when the left foot is planted in front of the seat.
Steering Wheel. Cruise Control
The steering wheel is very comfortable. It tilts and telescopes and has just enough movement. It has wonderful paddle controls for the trip audio, phone and cruise control. It is also leather clad and in just about every car I have ever owned I have fitted a steering wheel cover to bulk up the wheel, but so far I have not worried about it as the wheel is comfortable to grip. It also looks good with a little flat section at the bottom. Horn is also quite loud and manly. The cruise control works well, one tap of a paddle adds 1kph, hold down the paddle and it increases speed until you release. When you coast down a hill the automatic changes down gears so that the speed increase is at the most 5kph. The speed set shows up in the centre of the dashboard. If previously set, then reactivated, acceleration is leisurely until you reach the set speed. Some months after writing this I added a sheepskin steering wheel cover. Not sure why but I have always liked very chunky steering wheels. The controls on the steering wheel are not lit but you soon gain familiarity as every button has a distinct feel. I also got rid of the sheepskin steering wheel cover aftr a few weks.
It has 5 stars, front side and thorax airbags, premium brakes with Emergency brake assist, Electronic brake force distribution, Dynamic Stability Control, Traction Control, with Limited Slip Differential and premium brakes, which work very smoothly and efficiently.
The Ford goes where you want it to go and stays comfortably on a straight line on a freeway cruise. On a long trip the ute clings to the road like a limpet and the steering seems to do the work for you.
The suspension could only be described as sports firm. But it does not crash bumps and bounce down the road, it grips and although you feel bumps they are well ironed out considering how thin the tyres are. Cornering is quite flat and you feel well connected with the road. Changing to 17 inch tires improved the ride comfort factor significantly. In all honesty you are not aware it has leaf springs in the rear. I eventually did drive on a dirt road that was not very well maintained and the rear end did not hop around. The ute handled the road with aplomb.
Vision - Holden - Ford
One of the reasons I chose a Ford was drivers vision. They have improved it a lot over the old BA but the B pillars still restrict vision considerably and it is impossible to tell how close a car is parked to your rear. I suppose I should have looked more closely at Holden, but I hate the fat A pillars on Holdens and would never consider a Holden until they are slimmed down, so as a consequence I never even looked at Holdens. Besides Holden do not have a motor to compare to the Turbo 6.
You simply cannot tell where the ute ends from the drivers seat, so I had the dealer fit reversing sensors, cost $500. They work Ok. I later had Autobarn fit front sensors cost $300. It would have cost less and been better to have Autobarn fit the front and rear, as they come with a small screen that tells you which sensor is working and how far you are away. I have that for the fronts now but not the rear. I will always fit front and rear sensors from now on. Once you have them you wonder how you coped previously. The fronts are great for parking.
My comprehensive insurance premium with AAMI is $519 for the full year. I live in a low risk area and have never claimed on insurance, despite holding a licence for 43 years, owning 30 plus cars and driving something like 1.2 million kilometres plus, touch wood. Who said performance cars were expensive to insure. Surprisingley as the car got older the insurance grew. I was payin close to $800 in the last year with an excess of $1100
I confess I love the climate control, one touch, it works very well. Your passenger can set their own environment, distinct from the driver. It has stopped a lot of complaints from an irregular passenger! Heater and air con work very well.
A Christmas Surprise From Ford
Ford rang me a couple of weeks before Christmas 2010 to verify my address. A few days later I received a surprise parcel of rubber backed car rug, folding drink cooler with aluminum frame and a key ring, all good quality and in 50th anniversary colours to match my ute. Nice touch Ford, and much appreciated.
12 Month report.
I love it more than when I bought it! Particularly since I put the 17inch wheels on it. It has not given me any trouble whatsoever, drives like a dream, is and economical on the open road. I have only covered 11,000 km as I no longer do interstate delivery trips. On the open road it just purrs along and road noise is not intrusive anymore. On the longest trip I have done to N.E. Victoria I used 9.6 litres per 100 which included some local running about at the destination and a couple of short trips once I was back home before I could fill it and some full blooded accelerations joining freeway traffic. I started off with a full tank and could have covered 800km between fills. Around town I am getting 11 litres per 100, however this is improving as the engine is run in. On the long trip I was relaxed and comfortable and after 4.5 hours behind the wheel without a stop, arrived fresh. I have never had a car before that was so good at a long trip. In November 2011 I drove to north of Sydney and back in 3 days fuel consumption overall was about 9.3 litres per 100 and I was not driving for fuel economy. After a 12 hour stint I felt reasonably fresh and ache free.
I had the car serviced after 12 months, at Jeff Wignall Ford in Mornington. Cost $325 and they could not have been more helpful or efficient.
27 month report.
The ute is a good one. It has given no trouble except that the hinge pin on the rear tailgate rusted and the U bolts on one of the rear springs loosened making an awful noise. Both were quickly fixed under warranty. I still like the ute as it is so good to drive. I discovered two things. To start it you give the key a quick twist and let go, the starter motor does not stop until the car is running and the cruise control can be increased in 10KPH increments by holding the button down on the steering wheel. Funny but it took some time to pick those things up. I still enjoy driving it, but I guess I drive a bit like an old man and do not indulge in traffic light derbies anymore, well most of the time. The second service was around $350. Open road economy is very good around 9 litres per 100 and in general I am using less than 12 per 100. I now do a lot of relatively short trips to the Post Office, Bank and Bunnings. I still find the drivers seat a little too high. Drove to Sydney for a delivery. Great Car, steers like on rails, really enjoyed the trip. I still love how responsive the motor is. Not sure how I will be able to give that up, one day.
Just returned from a month in the USA. Hired Two Chevrolet Impalas, it was a co incidence I got the same car. They were V6 FWD about the size of a Falcon. Drove nearly 3000k. Not a patch on our cars. Really sloppy steering, always having to correct the line, not great presentation inside, soft suspension, ideal for USA roads. A new model was out just as I left and I trust they did a better job. I did like the softer suspension as it makes cruising easy Our roads are really poor compared to the USA They do not have Coarse Chip and the lanes seem wider, verges better. They have interstates or freeways everywhere. Make our roads look like goat tracks.
Had uteserviced at Tyrepower Mornington, cost $250 including rotation and balance of tyres and a front end alignment. I heartily recommend them. Delivered easels to Toowoomba, had about 500KG in the back. Got 10 litres per 100k on the way up and 9 on the way back. Ute ran like a top. Never got sore in the drivers seat, 3500k covered in 6 days. Total distance covered so far about 35000K. Still very happy with the ute!!!
If you want one of the fastest accelerating cars in Australia this is great value, and great fun, with a comprehensive list of equipment, well finished, well made and very well designed. Good to drive and practical to use, you should buy one of these. Resale is supposed to be very good for Turbo utes. I am very pleased with my purchase. Australians do make great cars. I remember after owning the VW for a few weeks I told myself, I was stuck with it and basically it was all down hill from there. With this Falcon to drive it is to love it the smile has not left my face.
The power and smoothness. Great 6 speed auto, the wonderful interior, pretty well the entire package.
Do not like,
Low, long front overhang, road noise from 19 inch tires. Note, I replaced the 19's with 17's and road noise no longer an issue.
May 2014 - The End
Every story has an end. I sold the Ute. time to move on It was a great buy for the new owner. I loved the ute but for my 65th birthday I bought a Toyota Prado Kakadu and I love it. O' boy, Jeffrey and cars, Unfortunately I canot help myself. Why did I sell the ute, well I guess it was a great motor looking for a car, I just wanted more room better vision less road noise and sprawling comfort. The prado has all that and the best resale of just about anything on the market. I asked around, my mobile mechanic said Prado, my sons father in law has owned one for 14 years with 250000k covered and no problems at all. Every bit of research told me they were reliable as sunrise, and those who own them are very happy. Add me to that list.
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Written by Jeff Lacey. I was born in 1949, got my licence on my 18th birthday and have never lost it, I have owned over 30 cars, mostly Australian and American, generally of the more sporting type, and driven approximately 1.2 million Kilometres.If you would like to email email@example.com All opinions in this article are those of Jeff Lacey and no third party has had an influence at all.