2016 Ford Falcon Review

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2016 Ford Falcon XR8 Sprint

Priced From N/AInformation

Overall Rating

0

4 out of 5 stars

Rating breakdown
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Safety, value & features

3 out of 5 stars

Comfort & space

4 out of 5 stars

Engine & gearbox

5 out of 5 stars

Ride & handling

4 out of 5 stars

Technology

3 out of 5 stars

Pros & Cons

  1. ProStrong engines; spacious and comfortable.

  2. ConHistorically low resale values; missing some key features.

What stands out?

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The Ford Falcon emphasises long-distance comfort for four or five passengers, and can be had with a small but powerful turbocharged engine that saves cash at the bowser. You can still choose a traditional, six-cylinder engine, and for the hard core there is a high-performance V8. The Falcon can phone for help after a serious crash.

This review covers the Falcon as sold in 2016, its final year of production.

What might bug me?

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Getting comfortable with the steering wheel: many drivers find it too low.

The prices you’re offered when it comes time to sell it. Most Falcons don’t hold their value well.

What body styles are there?

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Four-door sedan only. The Falcon wagon was dropped in 2011.

All versions drive the rear wheels.

The Falcon is classified as a large car, lower priced.

What features do all Falcons have?

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Satellite navigation, cruise control, power-adjusted driver’s seat, front and rear parking sensors, and a reversing camera. Headlights that switch on automatically at night.

A large, clear, colour touchscreen. Each quadrant controls a different function and is easily accessed. There is voice operation, handy for making phone calls and using the sat-nav.

Digital radio reception (also known as DAB), which brings better sound and more channels.

Wheels made of an aluminium alloy, which is lighter than steel.

An Emergency Assist system, which after a crash can use your mobile phone connection (if it is in range) to automatically call emergency services with your GPS location. Similar services from other car makers have gone through a call centre, whereas the Ford system calls 000 directly.

All Falcons are covered by a three-year, 100,000km warranty.

Which engine uses least fuel, and why wouldn't I choose it?

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The 2.0-litre EcoBoost four-cylinder. In the least costly version, named simply the Falcon, it uses a claimed 8.1 litres/100km.

This turbocharged engine goes just as well as the 4.0-litre six-cylinder that is also an option, but consumes about 20 per cent less fuel.

One reason not to choose it is that most buyers want a six in the Falcon, and so the four-cylinder could be harder to sell second-hand.

The 4.0-litre six has a well earned reputation for reliability, and builds speed effortlessly.

If you want to save money on fuel and drive a six, you can get the EcoLPi version of this 4.0-litre engine. It runs only on liquid propane gas, and a gas tank replaces the car’s petrol tank. The EcoLPi six drives very like the petrol-fuelled six. It uses more fuel but costs less to fill up, because LPG is usually cheaper than petrol.

If you want more power, there is a turbocharged version of the 4.0 litre six, available in the XR6 Turbo and G6E Turbo, that is much faster in all situations.

Then there is the 5.0-litre V8 engine fitted to the Falcon XR8. With claimed consumption of 13.7 litres/100km, this is one of the thirstier cars on the market – and it needs premium unleaded. But the V8s are the most powerful Falcons by far.

Limited-edition Sprint versions of the XR6 and XR8, available from May 2016, use modified, more powerful versions of the turbocharged six and V8, respectively.

XR6 and XR8 models are available with a six-speed manual gearbox. On the XR8, the manual clutch pedal feels heavy and the gear lever can be clunky to operate.

The more popular six-speed auto works very well with all engines.

What key features do I get if I spend more?

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Where the Falcon runs on 16-inch wheels, a step up to the XR6 brings you 18-inch wheels, and wider tyres with a much lower profile – which provide more responsive steering and better grip.

The XR6 also has a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a better sound system, and wipers that turn on when rain hits the windscreen. Styling touches extend to the headlights and a rear wing.

Manual versions of the XR6 also gain a limited-slip differential, which helps the car accelerate by reducing wheelspin. (If you want a manual XR6, you can have these features for about the same as you would pay for the base-model Falcon, which comes only with an auto transmission.)

The XR6 Turbo stretches the wheel size to 19 inches and offers extra power from the turbocharged six-cylinder engine. A limited-slip diff is fitted to auto versions as well.

The XR8 brings V8 power and charm. It adds air-conditioning that can maintain different temperatures on each side of the cabin, partial leather seats, and bigger brakes that stop the car quicker. Tyres are wider at the rear, and the suspension is firmer to improve handling on smooth surfaces. The XR8 is also the only Falcon to come with a spare wheel that matches other wheels on the car (the rest get a space-saver spare that limits the recommended top speed to 80km/h).

The limited edition XR6 Sprint and XR8 Sprint build on the XR8 equipment list, while using modified turbo-six and V8 engines respectively. Along with a bunch of cosmetic changes, both Sprints come with Ford’s SYNC2 connectivity, extra power, and a revised – and more effective all-round – chassis tune.

There’s also a G6E Falcon that is more about luxury than sporty add-ons. It gets 18-inch wheels, leather seats, rain-sensing wipers, the better sound system, dual-zone air-conditioning and unique interior colours and trim elements.

The G6E Turbo comes with the turbocharged six-cylinder engine and 19-inch wheels.

Does any upgrade have a down side?

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The XR8 is bumpy and uncomfortable, because its suspension has been made very stiff to improve its speed through smooth corners. (The limited-edition Sprint models use softer rear springs and are better.)

EcoLPi models get a smaller boot, because the LPG tank takes up space. And because these run only on LPG there will be some remote areas where you may not be able to refuel.

White is the only standard colour, with the other nine costing extra.

How comfortable is the Ford Falcon?

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The Falcon’s cabin is spacious and has supportive and comfortable front seats. The central screen is placed high on the dash, within easy reach of front-seat occupants and close to the driver’s line of sight.

It’s easy to find places to store odds and ends up front, with good storage binnacles and a broad centre console. That centre console also doubles as a supportive centre arm rest.

For many drivers, the steering wheel doesn’t adjust high enough. The base Falcon has a plastic steering wheel that doesn’t feel as good as the leather-wrapped wheels on other models.

Standard sound systems are not very powerful, even the nine-speaker “premium” system fitted to the G6E, XR6 Turbo and XR8.

But the Falcon is excellent for covering long distances, with its supple suspension and hushed interior. It is impressively quiet and smooth over bumps (XR8 excepted).

Around town the steering is light and responsive, helping make the Falcon an easy car to live with. And all models offer effortless urge when you press the accelerator.

What about safety in a Falcon?

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The Falcon has good airbag coverage and a reversing camera. Its Emergency Assistance system, which phones for help automatically after a significant crash, can reduce the time to contact of emergency services.

(To see a list of the safety features on any model, select the car and look under the features tab. Safety-related features are listed in red.)

The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has rated the Falcon’s safety at five stars.

I like driving - will I enjoy this car?

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While it’s a large car focused on family comfort, the Falcon also has excellent road manners that make it an enjoyable car to drive. Body control is good and the steering is accurate, something that helps give the driver confidence through corners.

However the least costly Falcon has tyres designed to save fuel and they don’t grip as well through corners as those fitted to the other variants. Its softer suspension also doesn’t settle very quickly, especially at high speeds.

The slightly firmer suspension on XR6 models makes for better control and still does a good job of absorbing bumps. With its wider tyres, the XR6 feels more secure through corners.

The Falcon is one of the few remaining affordable passenger cars driving the rear wheels, which helps harness the outputs of the more powerful turbocharged and V8 models.

The XR8 is very fast, and its supercharged V8 engine sounds good as well. Its firmer suspension helps it stay flat in corners, and with its bigger tyres delivers excellent roadholding.

The limited edition XR6 and XR8 Sprints represent a send-off for the Australian built performance Falcon and benefit from a careful chassis tune, with attention paid to the steering rack, camber, spring rates and damper settings. Both ride more comfortably than the XR8, but also supply better cornering grip and balance – and allow much more finesse.

How is life in the rear seats?

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Rear seat comfort and space has long been a forte of large Australian sedans and it’s no different with the Falcon. There is above average leg room, good head room, and rear air-conditioning vents. Even adults will be comfortable.

The width of the back seat means it can also easily accommodate three adults, although the centre seat sits slightly higher. There is also a big central hump on the floor (for a shaft to drive the rear wheels), which restricts foot room.

There are three mounting points for baby seats, but unusually only the centre position has the top tether bracket fitted. You’ll need to screw outer points in yourself if you need them (or get a dealer or mechanic to fit them).

How is it for carrying stuff?

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The Falcon has a long, wide boot with a claimed 535 litres of space. There’s a deep well in the centre of the boot that’s great for storing a soft bag or other smaller item where it can’t roll around.

That boot capacity drops to 464 if you choose an EcoLPi.

The Falcon also gets a split-fold rear seat. Tow capacity is very good, at up to 2300kg for automatic six-cylinder models (the XR8 is limited to 1600kg).

Where is the Ford Falcon made?

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All Ford Falcons are produced in Australia.

What might I miss that similar cars have?

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A self-parking system, which can automatically steer the car into a parking spot. That is fitted as standard to all Holden Commodores.

Active safety systems, such as automatic emergency braking and lane departure warning. Auto braking is available on the Mazda6 and Subaru Liberty, for example, while some Commodores have collision and lane-drift warnings.

One-touch electric windows: most rivals now include a feature whereby the windows can be raised and lowered fully with a single press of the button. The Falcon only has that feature on the driver’s window, and it can only be lowered that way, not raised.

A wagon body style, something that is popular in the rival Holden Commodore range.

Other cars you might consider include the Toyota Camry, Toyota Aurion, Kia Optima and Ford Mondeo.

If you are drawn to V8 performance and don’t need much room in the back, there is Ford’s US-built muscle car, the Mustang.

I like this car, but I can't choose which version. Can you help?

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Our reviewers like the G6E EcoBoost. The four-cylinder engine is a more frugal alternative to the six-cylinder models and is just as responsive to drive. The leather trim in the G6E improves the cabin.

Are there plans to update the Falcon soon?

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The FG X Falcon reviewed here was the last update before Ford retired the Falcon nameplate, ceasing production on 7 October 2016 – and bringing down the curtain on the company’s 91 years of Australian manufacturing.

The limited edition Falcon XR6 Sprint and XR8 Sprint went on sale in May 2016 as the last factory-built performance Falcons. Ford said it had advance orders from customers for all 1400 that it planned to build, including 150 allocated to New Zealand.