Ford has introduced its new 2011 Edge crossover at the Chicago Auto Show, hoping to capitalize on the precarious positions of its rivals.

The new Edge has been treated to a full facelift, with an extensive exterior redesign and the addition of Ford's MyFord Touch technology. The new 2.0 liter EcoBoost I-4 engine, expected to be added to the present 3.5 and 3.7 liter options over the next few months, will increase fuel economy by 30 percent compared to the 2006 Edge. The vehicle will also be available in a high-end Edge Sport option, with specifically tuned suspension and paddle shift transmission.

Ford also confirmed that an electric version of its Transit Connect van would go into production later this year, the first Ford electric vehicle to go into mass production. The Ford Focus Electric is due to follow in 2011. On a full charge, Ford says the Transit Connect Electric will do 80 miles (129 km), with a top speed of 75 miles per hour (120 km/h) powered by a lithium ion battery pack. It is aimed at commercial fleets that travel predictable, short-range routes with frequent stop-and-go driving.

Ford's product announcements have overshadowed those made by other manufacturers at the show. Although imported cars proved themselves most popular with US consumers last year, the credibility of Toyota and Honda has taken a serious hit after their worldwide recalls of vehicles.

Toyota introduced its new 2011 Avalon, but Toyota America General Manager Bob Carter was forced to spend most of the press conference briefing the media on the progress of its recall program.

"Nothing is more important to Toyota than the safety and reliability of our vehicles," he said. "Right now we are completely focused on fixing the vehicles affected by recent recalls."

Chevrolet debuted its new 2011 Silverado HD, a truck lineup that will go on sale this summer, whilst Hyundai unveiled the new 2011 Azera, a large sedan that will hit dealerships in Spring.

The show is open to the public from February 12 - 21.


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