Ford Motor Co. proceeds one step closer to its longstanding “Cleaner, Safer, Sooner” commitment as it rolls out its ’05 lineup.

The auto maker says it is ahead of the curve when it comes to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Tier 2 Bin 5 tailpipe emissions standard – 64% of its domestic cars and trucks will meet the stringent standard, including most of the new vehicles due in the upcoming model year.

The Five Hundred is Ford’s ’05 Flagship.

As part of the EPA’s plan to phase in the standard across the board by 2007, the agency calls for 50% of an auto maker’s fleet to be compliant in ’05, a spokesman tells Ward’s. Ford’s move mirrors the overall trend in the industry to update vehicle emissions performance to Tier 2 Bin 5 at the same time as a mid-model revamp or total redesign debuts.

The EPA could not provide information on the industry’s average progress on meeting the requirement.

Additionally, Ford includes as standard equipment its AdvanceTrac stability system on four SUVs for the first time. While European luxury nameplates have included the technology as standard in most cases, Ford and its cross-town rivals have offered it mostly as an expensive option.

The Ford system is supplied by Continental Teves Inc. and is fitted as standard equipment on the Ford Explorer, Mercury Mountaineer, Lincoln Aviator and Lincoln Navigator. However, AdvanceTrac remains a $750 option on Ford’s Expedition SUV.

The upcoming model year marks the coming out party for 12 new or refreshed vehicles. The ’05 Focus sedan and hatchback and Escape SUV have been on sale since as early as first-quarter 2004 and are giving the struggling Ford Div. a much needed shot in the arm. Both vehicles boast exterior tweaks, while the Focus carries two new 2.0L 4-cyl. engine options, including a Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle version, and Escape’s upgrade includes a bigger 2.3L 4-cyl.

A Mercury-badged counterpart of the Escape bows this fall. The new Mariner will come standard with 4-wheel drive and feature styling cues that help distinguish it from the Escape.

Ford gets a new front-wheel-drive flagship in ’05 in the form of the Volvo-based Five Hundred sedan. It shares a platform with the Freestyle CUV, both of which are expected to sell in the 120,000-unit range annually.

In addition, Mercury will roll out a smaller-volume derivative based on the Five Hundred called the Montego, which features unique styling cues but no other differentiation.

The cars and CUV include AWD as an option and a continuously variable transmission as standard. The Five Hundred and Montego have an optional 6-speed automatic transmission.

Perhaps the biggest splash this year will be made by the Escape Hybrid. Job 1 on the vehicle is slated for Monday, Aug. 2, with a price ranging between $26,970 and $28,595. The vehicle is earmarked for a 20,000-unit production run through the first year.

Competing with the Escape Hybrid for attention in Ford’s lineup are the high-horsepower GT and retro-styled Mustang.

Ford’s 550-hp GT super car is being hailed “the pace car for an entire company” and has been certified with a 205-mph (330 km/h) top speed, while the redesigned Mustang gets a significantly updated 4.6L engine capable of 300 hp and is built on an entirely new platform. The hardtop debuts this fall, followed by a spring introduction for the Mustang convertible.

Ford’s best-selling truck lineup will be shuffled a bit. The F-150 Heritage pickup is phased out in ’05, but its base 4.2L V-6 finds new life in the new F-150, which begins its second model year on the market. Other than the additional engine, little else changes on the F-150.

The F-Super Duty lineup (F-250 through F-550) receives significant capability upgrades, including a bump to an industry-best 17,000-lb. (7,711-kg) tow capacity and an upgraded V-8 diesel. All models get Ford’s “TorqueShift” transmission, in addition to styling changes inside and out.

The refreshed Navigator, in addition to adopting stability control on all trim levels, is the recipient of a 6-speed automatic transmission sourced from ZF Friedrichshafen AG and the 3-valve 5.4L V-8 that debuted on the ’04 F-150. The Expedition also adopts this engine.