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Bells & Whistles - Ford's in-car SYNC 3 infotainment system

Bells & Whistles – Ford’s in-car SYNC 3 infotainment system

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Bells & Whistles – Ford’s in-car SYNC 3 infotainment system

If you combine the words information and entertainment you get ‘infotainment’ – and this is exactly what you’ll get in the 2020 Ford Explorer. The Ford Motor Company has come up with the perfect combination of a car stereo with an information and navigation system – SYNC 3.

Anticipating your needs

Smartphones and tablets are becoming more intuitive and easier to use with each new generation. Up until now, infotainment systems have often seemed like an after-thought, and operating them seemed counter-intuitive.

Not only do these systems need to be secure, functional and seamless to use, but they also need to keep you, and your family, safe while driving. “The SYNC 3 has been based on customer feedback – by the same people who are driving and interacting with their Ford vehicles every day,” says Chuck Gray, director of electrical and electronic systems engineering at Ford.

This is the first version to be fully designed in-house at Ford, and was recently unveiled at the company’s high-tech Connectivity and Innovation Centre (CIC) in the Ottawa suburb of Kanata.

More than good looks

The SYNC 3 might seem familiar to use, because it’s based on Blackberry’s QNX operating system. It’s no longer a scavenger hunt to find functions, and you’ll immediately feel connected.

It has a thoughtful, common sense layout. You can identify things clearly and navigate efficiently. You can also adjust the screen’s brightness and font size to help avoid squinting, so that you never have to take your eyes off the road for too long.

Minimized multi-tasking

The number of steps that are required to complete a task have been minimized on the SYNC 3. Many functions can also be accessed via voice control. Some controls have been moved from the console cluster to SYNC 3. Everything is easier to find, and if you’re not sure how something works, there’s an animated visual indication or a video to explain it to you – no manual required.

All your radio audio presets (AM/FM/XM) appear on the main screen, regardless of the media stream. You can switch from an AM news channel, to a rock station on the FM dial, and then to the Beatles channel on SiriusXM.

SiriusXM radio enthusiasts will appreciate the smart favourites and tune start features. The former buffers the last 30 minutes from your XM favourites as soon as you turn on the engine, and the latter ensures that the song begins on the first note when you switch to your favourites.

A first on the 2020 Ford Explorer’s platinum trim package, is the 10.1-inch, high-definition, portrait display. Other models have an eight-inch-wide screen. It’s positioned vertically on the dashboard, at a height and an angle, that makes it easy to see.

Always improving

With the customer’s consent, the SYNC 3 can capture analytics in terms of how its being used. Real-live testing and improvements are ongoing. At Ford’s Accelerated Life Test Lab, the software stability team simulates the software running in a vehicle in order to detect any pain-points.

When hitting the road, it’s comforting to know that the practical application of ‘infotainment’ is as reliable as the technology that we’ve come to expect in our homes.

Greg Gazin is a syndicated tech columnist, blogger, podcaster (host and producer), and contributes to canoe.com, Troy Media and Active Life magazine.



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Sneak peek: Pickup Trucks

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Sneak peek: Pickup Trucks

Here’s an excerpt from Herb Ellis’ review of the 2019 pickup trucks running in our Oct/Nov issue.

 Ford F-150

After big changes in 2018, the 2019 Ford F-150 offers add-ons that make your job easier. The F-150 has a pickup bed with available features including flexible, configurable BoxLink system, stowable loading ramps, tailgate step with lift assist, and a remote tailgate release that lets you lock, unlock, and lower the tailgate.


The BoxLInk system is worth a mention. It comes with four lockable cleats that plug into ports – two on each side of the box. They will let you use a wide range of aftermarket accessories such as cargo dividers and stowable loading ramps.

Box side steps are available on all cab configurations.

Backing up a trailer involves navigating two vehicles at the same time – the truck often going one way and the trailer going in the opposite direction. The available Pro Trailer Backup Assist makes this often-tricky manoeuvre as easy as turning a knob. Simply rotate the knob left or right in the direction you want the trailer to go.


F-150 offers standard trailer sway control, part of AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control.




13,200 lbs.


2.7L V6 (10AT)
3.3L V6 (10AT)
3.5L V6 (10AT)
5.0L V8 (10AT)
3.0L V8 (10AT)


14.2L/10.8L/100 km


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Ford Transit Connect

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Ford Transit Connect

The Connect Van is little changed from 2107 and that includes the sticker price of $24,604 for the basic XL model. That’s lower than the original price of $25,754 when the Connect debuted, a saving of $1,150. Who says there’s no such thing as progress!


There’s no choice of engines with the cargo van. The only option is the 2.5L, four-cylinder Duratec which churns out 169 horsepower and 171-lb.ft. of torque. The Duratec comes with a six-speed SelectShift automatic with overdrive.

With its boxy shape, it may not be stylish, but it’s practical. There’s access from the side and rear doors. The passenger seat folds flat for use as a writing service or for laptop use.


Also available are 180 degree, 50/50 swing-out rear cargo doors or a rear liftgate.

As with the Transit, the customer can have their Connect custom-fitted to meet their need for rooftop ladder racks, storage cabinets, dividers, double floors, drawers, and cargo management packages.

A tire-pressure monitoring system is standard as is a rear-view camera. The cam also provides guidelines to help the driver align their vehicle trailer hitch with the trailer’s receiving hitch.


Standard as well are the Trailer Tow Package, which includes Sway Control. Sway Control detects and stops wheel slip and under- or over-steer or roll motion. It also helps maintain control when road conditions are bad.

Hill Start Assist is also standard, as is Emergency Brake Assist, which adds braking power should the driver underestimate the stopping distance.

This excerpt is from Herb Ellis’ two-part review of the new 2018 pickup trucks and work vans.


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