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January 2013, Business Fleet - Feature

Ford Fusion and Ram 1500 Earn Fleet Car and Truck of the Year

Fleet managers have spoken and the results are in. The all-new 2013 Ram 1500 was selected as the top fleet truck, while the Ford Fusion took the fleet car crown for the third consecutive year.

by Grace Suizo and Lauren Fletcher

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Boasting the highest number of car registrations among commercial fleets in both 2011 and 2012, it’s no surprise the industry has declared the Ford Fusion as the “Fleet Car of the Year” for the third straight year. And in the truck category, the Ram 1500 gained the most votes among a group of 28 trucks selected for this year’s competition.

Sponsored by Automotive Fleet and Business Fleet magazines, the purpose of the awards is to promote excellence in the fleet industry, particularly the tools and vehicles that allow fleet managers to fulfill their missions. Vehicles were voted on by qualified fleet professionals via an online ballot.

The new Fusion helps broaden the selection of fuel-efficient powertrains in the midsize car segment with hybrid and plug-in hybrid alternatives, two EcoBoost four-cylinder engines, and a normally aspirated four-cylinder engine.
The new Fusion helps broaden the selection of fuel-efficient powertrains in the midsize car segment with hybrid and plug-in hybrid alternatives, two EcoBoost four-cylinder engines, and a normally aspirated four-cylinder engine.

The Ford Fusion

The Fusion racked up the most online votes out of the batch of 43 total cars selected for the award.

“Ford is really proud to win ‘Fleet Car of the Year’ three years in a row,” said John Ruppert, general manager, Ford commercial sales. “The Fusion continues to deliver in the areas most important to fleets: size, fuel efficiency, safety and technology — and it provides outstanding resale value.”

John Ruppert (left), general manager of Ford commercial sales, and Kevin Koswick (right), director of Ford’s North American fleet, lease and remarketing operations, accept the 2012 Fleet Car of the Year award from Bob Brown, Great Lakes sales manager for Automotive Fleet (AF).
John Ruppert (left), general manager of Ford commercial sales, and Kevin Koswick (right), director of Ford’s North American fleet, lease and remarketing operations, accept the 2012 Fleet Car of the Year award from Bob Brown, Great Lakes sales manager for Automotive Fleet (AF).

The new Fusion helps broaden the selection of powertrains in the midsize car segment with hybrid and plug-in hybrid alternatives, two EcoBoost four-cylinder engines, a normally aspirated four-cylinder engine, an automatic start-stop system to shut off the engine at stationary idle, front-wheel and all-wheel drive applications, a choice between automatic and manually shifted 6-speed transmissions, and three models (S, SE and Titanium).

Fuel economy numbers certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are as follows:

  • Fusion Hybrid: 47/47/47 mpg (city/hwy/combined).
  • 1.6L EcoBoost: 25/37/29 mpg (city/hwy/combined).
  • 2.0L EcoBoost: 22/33/26 mpg (city/hwy/combined).
  • 2.5L: 22/34/26 mpg (city/hwy/combined).

The all-new 2013 Fusion was named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) for 2012.

“The new Fusion is another example of Ford’s commitment to the highest standards of safety and we are proud that IIHS has recognized these efforts,” said Steve Kenner, global director of the Automotive Safety Office.

The Fusion’s Personal Safety System is equipped with new safety belt technologies and frontal impact air bags. In addition, the Fusion offers several driver assistance and convenience technologies based on sensors, cameras and radars that enable the car to “see” and respond.
A fleet incentive of $1,000 is available for the 2013 Fusion, as well as a $500 incentive for the 2013 Fusion Hybrid.

The 2013-MY Ram 1500.
The 2013-MY Ram 1500.

The Ram 1500

The 2013-MY Ram 1500 includes a number of new and enhanced features as more customers return to the truck market.

Filling the Ram 1500’s gauge cluster is an available, 7-inch, color multi-view display. The rotary e-shift dial, available with the new TorqueFlite transmission, replaces both column and floor shifters.
Filling the Ram 1500’s gauge cluster is an available, 7-inch, color multi-view display. The rotary e-shift dial, available with the new TorqueFlite transmission, replaces both column and floor shifters.

“With best-in-class 25 mpg fuel efficiency and class-exclusive features, buyers have been anxious to get behind the wheel and check the Ram 1500 out for themselves,” said Fred Diaz, president and CEO of Ram Truck Brand.

Featuring a 3.6L Pentastar V-6 engine with variable-valve timing (VVT), the truck achieves 305 horsepower (hp) with 296 lb.-ft. of torque. The new V-6 engine features 42% more hp, 13% more torque and at least 20% better fuel economy when compared to the previous 3.7L V-6 powertrain, according to Ram.

Also available is a 5.7L HEMI V-8 with fuel-saving cylinder shut-off and VVT, which provides 395 hp at 407 lb.-ft. of torque.

The Fleet Truck of the Year trophy was presented to Jim Sassorossi (left), Chrysler’s director of fleet sales, and Pete Grady (right), VP of network development and fleet, by AF’s Bob Brown, Great Lakes sales manager.
The Fleet Truck of the Year trophy was presented to Jim Sassorossi (left), Chrysler’s director of fleet sales, and Pete Grady (right), VP of network development and fleet, by AF’s Bob Brown, Great Lakes sales manager.

A class-exclusive TorqueFlite 8-speed automatic transmission is standard with the 3.6L V-6, doubling the amount of gears compared to the previously available 4-speed. The new 8-speed is also available with the 5.7L HEMI V-8 — Ram’s first application with a V-8.

Some of the new and enhanced features on the Ram 1500 include:

  • Pulse-width modulation (PWM), which eliminates unnecessary load on the alternator and improves the durability of benefitting systems, such as fuel delivery and the forward cooling fan.
  • Thermal management system, which is designed to quickly raise engine and transmission fluid temperatures and helps improve fuel efficiency by 1.7%.
  • Stop-start, which can improve fuel economy by up to 3.3%, or about 1 mpg in the truck’s city drive cycle. The system — available on select models — shuts the engine off when the truck comes to a complete stop.
  • Uconnect versions 8.4A and 8.4AN, which provide the Ram 1500 with a built-in wireless Internet connection. Users can remotely lock or unlock doors or start their vehicles from any distance via the Web or a smartphone app. Uconnect also includes a 911 button on the rearview mirror for direct emergency assistance.

Changes were also made to the truck’s engineering, including a newly designed frame, aluminum lower control arms in the front suspension and an aluminum hood — all of which have reduced the vehicle’s total weight.

The 2013 Ram 1500 is now available with an all-new air suspension system, featuring five height settings for optimum ride and aerodynamic performance. The system operates automatically, or can be controlled manually via console or key fob controls.

MSRP for the 2013 Ram 1500 starts at $23,585, including the $995 destination charge.

Who won the 2012-MY Fleet Car and Truck of the Year in last year's awards? Click here to find out.


Read more Business Fleet articles from our January/February magazine issue here.

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