The 2017 Ford Escape is coming, and it’s bringing Android Auto and Apple CarPlay infotainment goodies thanks to the debut of SYNC3.
A press release from Ford said the 2017 Ford Escape would be the first Ford vehicle to offer the automaker’s SYNC3 infotainment system with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay in a move the automaker said was designed to maintain the Escape’s hot-selling status in the U.S. market. Reportedly, it’s the second fastest-selling Ford in the country, behind the F-150 pickup truck.
The technology firsts won’t end there for the 2017 Ford Escape, according to the folks at FoMoCo. For starters, the Escape is slated to get all-new SYNC Connect technology — it’ll be the first Ford vehicle to get it, in fact. The release said SYNC Connect will “make the ownership experience easier through vehicle features such as remote start and door locking via the new FordPass platform. FordPass was described in an earlier press release as a free digital, physical, and personal platform that offers four benefits to members: a Marketplace with mobility services like parking and sharing; FordGuides to help them move more efficiently; Appreciation to recognize members for their loyalty; and FordHubs, where they can experience Ford’s latest innovations.
Meanwhile, Ford said the 2017 Escape will be built tighter thanks in part to multiple “attention-to-detail stations” throughout the automaker’s 3.7 million-square-foot Louisville, KY assembly plant, where the Escape has been built since 2012. Ford said Louisville Assembly had built 306,492 Escapes since then.
Ford outlined some of the ways the “attention-to-detail stations” seek to tighten the screws on production quality assurance on the 2017 Ford Escape:
- Automated instrument panel decking: The use of robots to install instrument panels has now migrated to the company’s plants globally, but Louisville was Ford’s first North American facility to use robots for the task. Here, from a nearby conveyor, a robot attaches to an Escape instrument panel, then rotates toward the shell of a vehicle. Angling the instrument panel through a door-less opening, the robot nestles it in place with unwavering accuracy and assured repeatability, says Escape chief engineer Milton Wong. The robot even secures a few bolts to hold the panel in place until humans can complete more detailed aspects of the process further down the line. Customer benefits include a tighter fit for the instrument panel, resulting in fewer squeaks and rattles.
- Robotic arms hang doors, liftgate: Highly efficient robotic arms lift door panels and liftgates from a nearby conveyor hanger and swing them into place with computer-guided consistency. These revolutionary robots were added when Escape production moved to Louisville for the 2013 model year. Customer benefits include tighter fit with body panels.
- Easy speed testing: To ensure that closing a door on Escape is consistently effortless, a worker applies suction cup-backed sensors to either side of a door opening, then closes the door by hand to get a velocity reading, which calculates the amount of effort required. Once it’s verified the amount of effort does not exceed the Ford standard, the tools are quickly moved to the next door for another test. Customer benefit is that minimum effort is required to close doors.
- Vehicle on wheels cell: As each Escape moves along the line, it passes through the vehicle on wheels cell, where robots wielding lasers scan every gap between door panels, hood and liftgate. Through laser measurement, they quickly determine all gaps are within the 2 millimeter to 4 millimeter range. Customer benefits include tighter fit and finish of body panels.
- Customer assurance line: A 14-person inspection team combs over the finest details on each new Escape. A technician tests electrical modules, while another checks the engine. Some rely on their hands; others, their eyes. It’s a meticulous process, as team members work with frenzied precision like a pit crew attending to a race car. Customer benefit is improved overall vehicle quality.
As an Android user, I’m pretty pumped to see Android Auto starting to show up on factory infotainment systems like SYNC3. Now I gotta upgrade to something with Android 5.0 or better, though. The search for a new not-too-expensive smartphone is ongoing.