More total interior volume than any vehicle in its class
DEARBORN, Mich., Nov 26, 2003 - Confidence is at the heart of the all-new Ford Five Hundred flagship sedan, communicated through the use of premium materials, colors and surface textures. Inside, Five Hundred offers class-leading room with natural, comfortable "high-package" command seating that provides a unique driving experience for a sedan.
The all-new Five Hundred's understated luxury makes it as fitting for everyday driving as for a night on the town. "It is not overly styled, but has a large presence because of its size," said George Bucher, chief designer. "It's designed to look very upscale."
One premium feature of the all-new Five Hundred is its roomy interior. "The old design adage is that less is more," Bucher said. "When it comes to interior package and content, more really is more. Space equals luxury. The Five Hundred has more interior space than any vehicle in this class."
Five Hundred offers best-in-class headroom both front (39.4 inches) and rear (38.6 inches). Rear legroom is a class-leading 40.9 inches. And Five Hundred trumps all competitors in overall interior volume at 128.1 cubic feet.
Clever engineering contributes to the car's airy interior. Front-row seats, mounted on a cross-car beam that enhances safety, also gives second-row passengers extra foot-room.
This upright seating position is defined by the "H-point," the pivot point of the human hip. The distance from the H-point to the vehicle's floor determines whether the seating position is upright or "stretched out." In Five Hundred's front row, for example, the distance between the H-point and the heel point - where the occupant's foot touches the floor - is 12.7 inches. This is the most generous in its class, and more than an inch greater than its nearest competitor.
The upright seating, coupled with wide door openings and ceiling-mounted grab handles, makes for exceptionally easy entry and exit.
Second row seats offer similar comfort, with 13.1 inches of H-point height above the floor and 40.9 inches of legroom. Knee clearance of 6.1 inches is best-in-class and more generous than many full-size cars.
Looks can be deceiving. From the outside, Five Hundred's rear deck lid provides little hint of what's inside - namely, a class-leading 21 cubic feet of cargo space. In fact, Five Hundred's trunk is the largest of any sedan on the market. Even with the space-saving spare tire housed under the floor, Five Hundred's trunk volume beats many competitors in its class by nearly 50 percent.
Fold down the split second-row seat and the trunk floor expands to a best-in-class 49.9 inches. If that's not enough, the front passenger seat folds flat in SEL and Limited models to further expand cargo-carrying capability. The Limited also comes with a cargo net in the trunk to hold contents in place.
"The all-new Ford Five Hundred sedan will occupy a unique place in the market," said J Mays, Ford group vice president, design. "We set out to create a sedan for our customers that appears far more expensive than its actual sticker price. With Five Hundred's upscale materials, colors, textures and graphics, we could infuse this segment of the car market with a bit of 'guilt-free luxury' - actually making many people's dreams of driving an elegant European-inspired sedan accessible to them."
Five Hundred starts with a classic trapezoidal diamond-patterned Ford grille, trimmed in chrome on Limited models and in black textures on SE and SEL editions. The lower fascia has chrome accents with integral fog lamps on both the SEL and Limited series. Jeweled, halogen headlamps with built-in turn signals wrap around the sides of the car, complementing hood and fender lines. Large, folding exterior side mirrors enhance visibility, and their chrome caps add to Five Hundred's highly polished look. Door handles match the color of the body. Side moldings are body-colored on the SE and Limited. All models feature chrome trim framing the gracefully arched greenhouse. A keypad is standard on the driver's door.
The standard 17-inch, seven-spoke aluminum wheels - painted on the SE and polished on the SEL series - and optional eight-spoke 18-inch bright alloy wheels (standard on Limited) provide road-holding cues. "The combination of a large wheel and low-profile tire communicates the capability of a road car," Bucher said. "This is part of the Five Hundred's competent stance."
The design theme is carried through to the rear, where taillights - rounded at the top and cut sharply along the bottom corners - follow the same simple geometric lines as the headlights. Chrome strips in the rear bumper fascia complement the body-side moldings. The deck lid is proportional to the overall shape of the car with a sharply defined back edge featuring a central Ford oval logo. Like the grille, the license plate recess is trapezoidal.
Inside, surfaces and textures reinforce the theme of confident capability. Unique leather seating surfaces accent the Five Hundred Limited, which like the SEL also features a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob. The leather upholstery is a "shirred," or gathered, style, enhancing the feel of luxury. The Limited's center console boasts a vinyl-covered armrest with visible stitching. SE and SEL models feature cloth-trimmed seats.
In durability and feel, the satin-aluminum finish is present in touch zones like the interior door handles. A random grain pattern is used on interior panels to give the Five Hundred a modern appearance. Special material processes create soft-touch surfaces on the instrument panel and doors. Interior door handles are chrome.
Wood-grain appliqués with a random burl pattern are used along the instrument panel and inner doors in mid and high series. A light burl is used in tan interiors, and a rich red-toned burl is matched with gray interiors. "The combination of color, pattern and surface work together extremely well," Bucher said.
In place of wood grain, the SE series uses a technical pattern that resembles carbon fiber, consistent with the vehicle's understated European feel.
Ergonomics engineer Chris Civiero employed sophisticated electronic tools to evaluate every control, handle, knob, dial, pedal and switch on the Five Hundred, ensuring easy access for users of all sizes.
Driver comfort is enhanced through a six-way power-adjustable seat with manual lumbar support, tilt steering wheel and optional power-adjustable pedals. The Limited has a two-user memory for the exterior mirrors, seat and pedal positions, and it offers eight-way power adjustment for the driver's seat, with power recline and fore/aft movement for the front passenger. The driver's window has one-touch power operation in both directions. A power moon roof is available on SEL and Limited series.
One result of designing a vehicle around its users is the abundance of clever storage solutions in the all-new Five Hundred. Within easy reach of the driver are the following:
Other Five Hundred storage features include:
The radio and instrument panel typically get a lot of attention from the driver, so they drew a lot of attention from Five Hundred's design team, as well. The result is a set of intuitive controls that don't require a lot of study.
"My top priority is the driving task - the ability of the driver to operate the vehicle safely, to operate in the driving environment," Civiero said.
"We know people use pre-set buttons on the radio more than the scan button for finding stations," he added. "The faceplate layout is designed with that in mind. You definitely don't want to force someone to go through a deep menu on the radio display while they're driving."
Breaking past practice for Ford in North America, Five Hundred will use two stalks on the steering column - turn signals on the left, wipers on the right. This European design partly reflects Volvo's influence in the program.
Other important controls are placed in intuitive locations - the rocker switch for adjustable pedals is on the instrument panel near the headlamps, and the remote mirror control is on the "sail" panel at the front of the driver's door. Each passenger position gets a reading lamp, aimed to provide even lighting without glare.
The window controls have an intuitive "push down, pull up" design.