• lngtonge18lngtonge18 Member Posts: 2,228
    The SUV cloning is getting a little ridiculous....I don't see a reason for the Mariner to exist. Implement the upscale interior changes to the Escape and call it a Limited if you must. The SUV market is already flooded so adding another model that won't sell well seems like a stupid idea and a waste of money. I suppose Ford is trying their hardest to keep Mercury alive, but Mercury was never meant to be a manufacturer of SUVs and adding another one is not the correct way to fix things.
  • ANT14ANT14 Member Posts: 2,687
    Actually if Mercury sells at least 20K, it'll be profittable. The Lincoln Mercury dealers dont have a small SUV. Their thinking is that if someone can't afford the Mountaineer, they will buy into the Mariner. Better to cover all possible grounds, than to lose a customer to the competition. The same thinking relates to the Aviator and Mountaineer. If a customer can't afford the Aviator, you have the Mountaineer in the same showroom.

    Also, it gives some variety to customers. Those who don't want an Escape because you can see one at every traffic light, can opt for the Mariner, something that sets them apart, with a few more luxury touches here and there. And thats what most Mercury's now will be about.
  • alpha01alpha01 Member Posts: 4,747
    I think this vehicle shows why Ford is going to fall behind GM and DC in the coming years. Ford still thinks its ok to just blantantly add makeup to an existing vehicle and sell another under the umbrella of a different brand. The fact that some Mariners, which are supposed to be upscale, will be equipped with that dog of a 4cyl engine (Car and Driver tested an Escape 4cyl at OVER 11 seconds to sixty... with a MANUAL!) blows my mind. The Mariner may be profitable dollarwise, but what does it do to Fords' already lacking perception? The ailing Mercury brand? NOTHING.
    The only worthwhile Ford product in the last few years, has been the Focus- a truly exceptional vehicle for the class, RUINED by poor initial quality and longer term reliability. The Taurus/Sable are a joke, and sell well only because, I feel, they are getting alot of customers who would otherwise be buying smaller, superior cars that dont sell at discounts (Corolla, Civic, etc). The new Freestar/Monterey? You're kidding right? Did they actually even do a redesign? A 4.2 truck engine in a minivan that only produces 23lb ft of torque more than a competing minivan's engine which is almost a WHOLE LITRE smaller? I could go on, but I'm supposed to be talking about the Mariner. Call the Escape whatever you want, Ford is tanking.

  • ANT14ANT14 Member Posts: 2,687
    The Escape will receive the new 2.3L I-4 that's in the Ranger and Mazda6, and only 10% of buyers opt for the 4 cylinder,manual combo. This was offered NOT to be compeititive, but to gain more CAFE credits to be used for other less fuel efficient vehicles. This same 2.3L I-4 will be the basis of the new Escape Hybrid, (and upcoming Focus) and it's quite sophisticated overall compared to the competition.

    Building the same vehicles for different brands is what will be common in the future. They'll be very few vehicles who will have 400K+ sales, therefore niche products will be quite common. And only way of making them profitable is by making different versions, of the same vehicle. Suspension settings, NVH can be tuned differently between vehicles, to give each it's own identity, while keeping everything basic. This also allows for cheaper parts in the future, as well as cheaper insurance by having parts redily available.

    GM has always had the art of badge engineering, they are now noticing how to differentiate vehicles, but using old-tech OHV engines is not what customers want. Now they are rushing on trying to seperate the identity of each brand, although it'll be quite hard for them, and monetarily speaking it'll require much more to acquire that.

    Dont expect any automaker to change overnight. Changes and decisions being made now, WON'T take effect till 2-3 years from now...

    Ironically, the Focus was rated more reliable car in Europe, they just bastardized the product when it crossed the pond. We can thank Jaques Nasser for that one, luckily he's out of Ford =)
  • alpha01alpha01 Member Posts: 4,747
    Points well taken, and thank you for correcting me regarding the 4 cylinder engine. However, even with "changes and decisions being made now" as you say, they wont take effect for another 2-3 years. Which still leaves Ford behind IMO. GM and Chrysler are in a much better position, with more competitive products in the pipeline ALREADY. As you stated GM has learned how to effectively badge engineer. I dont think the OHV engine issue is a big one. As long as they can design an OHV with good fuel economy and competitive power, I'm sure most buyers wont notice.

  • navigator3740navigator3740 Member Posts: 279
    I like it. But I'm also on my 3rd Mountaineer. I'm a good Mercury prospect though, because I like the basic Ford product, but in a nicer version, with options and some upgraded features and appearance. And, they'll sell some. One gripe I do have though, as
    Ford tries to carve out the Mercury niche again after some admitted neglect, they should not offer the base engines in a Merc. Mercs should perform - be something you can count on to beat the base Ford model - a performance line, not just have leather and a nicer grille.

    Thanks for the preview!
  • ANT14ANT14 Member Posts: 2,687
    Usually Mercury's have been a more dressed up version of a Ford, with a higher output engine.

    This is evident with the Monterey, which will offer the 4.2L as it's sole engine, while the Freestar will have the 3.9L as the standard engine. (BOY do I hate this engine family and counting down the days till they get rid of them). Vulcan 3.0L will be the next one to die, then these Essex Twins.

    For the Mariner which is a year away, I would have prefered having the 3.0L Duractec V6 as the standard engine, and sole offering. But the suprise of offering it with the 2.3L was a last minute issue.

    I also think (hint) they should offer a longer warranty on Mercury vehicles, over Fords vehicles. Pushing to a possible 4 years.....
  • navigator3740navigator3740 Member Posts: 279
    well, the CAFE probably motivates them to offer the small engines....if they sell a couple, it lowers the overall rating, huh? But, why do you hate the essex engines, if I may ask? I've not had one, so I don't have a clue.
  • ANT14ANT14 Member Posts: 2,687
    Ok it has pros and cons....

    Pros: It's architecture has been fully exploited, and it can do much more, but Ford won't invest more on it for good reason.

    Pros: The head gasket issue, has been resolved.

    Pros: It's a cheap engine for Ford to manufacture.

    Cons: It's loud, sounds like farm machinery, it's rumbly, unrefined, crude.

    Cons: It turned many customers off from buying another Ford product, because of the head gasket situation of years ago. Even if Ford offered an Extended warranty on them (even on used vehicles) it still left a sore taste on many's mouth.

    Cons: It's NOT that fuel efficient. It holds comparibly to Chrysler 3.8L OHV (closest example per displacement), but to make it "hold steady", transmission needs to be programmed for more "relaxed" performance. Therefore, causing some aggresive drivers to play more with the gas pedal, therefore giving them even worse results at the gas pump.

    Overall, the engine did well for it's time, and aside from the head gasket issue (for models not effected) it proved to be bulletproof for the most part. Not as great as Fords 5.0L V8 OHV of years ago, but alright. It just needs to rest, and allow for the more modern variety to take place.

    One the new Mustang debuts, the only vehicles with these engines will be the Freestar/Monterey. And the only reason the Vulcan 3.0L has been kept alive, is because the Taurus is too porky too contend with the next powerful engine in the Ford stable.... The 2.3L DOHC I-4. IN comes Futura to resolve these issues. The Ranger will solder on with it, till a replacement is found. Already the Flexible Fuel Version of the Vulcan engine has been canned.
  • upsetter1upsetter1 Member Posts: 205
    Mercury actually is a brilliant idea. May be Toyota has to mimic it. The reason why I didn't buy Taurus or Camry, because they look plain and are on every corner. Sable just looks more upscale and unique. I mean it works and best part of it is that Ford doesn't need to make any sunstantial investment to cover customers who don't like Taurus/Camcord thing.

    BTW if Toyota made Camry clone in more stylish way for almost the same price as Camry and call it anything but Toyota I would consider it seriously because it is an excelent car in many aspects but is too boring like soccer mom type or grandpa type vehicle and Toyota name has a boring image attached to it also.
  • ANT14ANT14 Member Posts: 2,687
    Actually in Japan, there are trimmed versions of the Camry. They'll take one vehicle, and have a few tailored versions of the same vehicle, but within the same line. If Camry is too common, you could try Avalon, although it costs a bit more.

    Also Mercury has featured items that appeal to women more over. Like the seats of the Mountaineer, in relationship to the Explorer, or a bit altered. The emphansize to this was to make it easier for women to enter/exit without messing up their skirt. I believe it's the bottom/side bolster, that differs.

    Sables rear end, (droopy which I dislike) also seems to be favored by women. Just going with what the consumer clinics state... I find it rediculous to pay for such surveys. Oh well....
  • upsetter1upsetter1 Member Posts: 205
    Avalon is good but looking outright ugly. It is for old 60 y.o. folks and is still Toyota what doesn't sound cool. It doesn't drive right, no road feeling, too soft suspension, basically Buick. If Toyota made something like Interpid but with Toyota quality interior and powertrain and give it different brand idendity that would be cool

    I like Sable's rear ending especially, it has some british flair, though I am not a woman. Sable is more stylish, more conservative and looks more refined than Taurus and it has no Ford logo on it. Ford just doesn't sound cool enough to me. And thats the whole point about Mercury. But I agree, my wife likes Jaguar. By the same token, have Ford to kill Jaguar just because it shares platform with Lincoln LS and Mondeo (I would prefer LS or Mondeo though as being more sporty cars and yes paying less).
  • navigator3740navigator3740 Member Posts: 279
    Ant, is the Essex a decendent of the old 3.8L I had in my Continentals & Cougars in the 90's? Actually, that engine has been around since 82, hasn't it?
  • ANT14ANT14 Member Posts: 2,687
    Actually today I just saw the results of the JdPowers Initial Quality Results. That test measure defects in the first 90 days a customer purchases a vehicle. And ironically the Mercury Sable placed top, on preimium midsize sedan. NOT that I take these results seriously (long story) but it's a nice indication.


       Yes, the 3.8L OHV is the Essex, it's bored out cousin is the 4.2L OHV that was the standard engine on the F-150. Which is now going into the Freestar/Monterey. And the 3.8L grows up a little to 3.9L OHV .
        These engines were used in numerous vehicles back in the 80's and 90's, and were adaptable to FWD or RWD applications. It was torquey for it's time, but now there's just much better engines available.
  • regfootballregfootball Member Posts: 2,166
    what, is Ford stooping to GM's low standards by shoving century old pushrod motors into new vehicles?

    that pretty much crosses it off my list then. Who wants a4.2l OHV rough running v6, in a premium sedan?
  • ANT14ANT14 Member Posts: 2,687
    No, you misread the information. The sedans will NOT use any OHV engines. The Freestar/Monterey will be the last to use 3.9L/4.2L OHV V6's, next generation will switch to the new 3.5L DOHC Cyclone V6. Ford is phasing out it's OHV engines.
  • regfootballregfootball Member Posts: 2,166
  • navigator3740navigator3740 Member Posts: 279
    One of the things that impressed me, and moved me to Ford products in the late 80's, was that I noticed that Ford started fuel injecting their cars in 83, and had the whole fleet converted to multiport FI by 86, whereas my 83 Fleetwood had it, but my 90 Fleetwood had a Carb on a Chevy engine! Most of the GMs still had throttle body FI through the mid 90's. So, Reg, I see your point as I notice the lag in GM's technology advances hasn't changed much. I didn't know my 3.8L engines were an essex platform, but I liked them. They were economical, and performed! Torquey, like you said, ANT. My 92 Continental, for all it's problems, would way out accelerate my friends 85 Deville with the 4.1L V-8. For a 6 to do that, I was impressed! I did lose one head gasket on that car, but that was just one more trip to the dealer, actually, its last trip to the dealer....if you know what I mean. But I had that engine in 2 Cougars, a Marquis and 2 Continentals and generally, they were great. However, I concede, their time has come.

    Now, if you wanna praise an engine, I'm most impressed with the 5.4L Triton. I ran one 65,000 miles in my last Navigator with -0- problems, and the one in my 03 Nav is even nicer. The smoothest power train I've ever had, and great power. Remarkable, IMHO.
  • ANT14ANT14 Member Posts: 2,687
    Yes the Triton V8's have received Top 1- Best Engine Award consecutively for the past 5 years from Ward's Auto. This year they didn't make the cut mainly because not much has been done to update it, and compeition was fierce, but I'm sure with the new 3V 5.4L versions, it'll make it again. The benefit of that engine is it's able to produce a great deal of torque, down low on the RPM scale. Sure you'll have competitors engines making possibly a little bit more torque, but what good is it if you need to climb 4000+ to acheive it. And in such heavy vehicles, having torque down low is best.

    From the Big 3, Ford leads in engine techonology. GM seems to make old-tech work, and that's where they save costs. As well as interior materials. Shortly they'll be releasing their new Malibu, and they are tauting it as such a major reinvension of the american sedan. YET, they'll be using OHV engines...

    Ford is trying to scale down it's engine family, so in the near future, look for 3 simple families. The global I-4's from Mazda, the Duratec family (V-6s), and the Triton (V-8s).

    BTW, according to numerous publications and media sources (when OHV was king) Ford's Windsor engines (5.0L and 5.8L) have been regarded as the most reliable of it's kind.
  • nvbankernvbanker Member Posts: 7,239
    I have owned a few of those over the years. Had 2 of the 5.0L V8s in the 90's in Explorers. They were smooth, torquey, powerful, and sounded great! Also dead-bang reliable. Never a problem with either of them.
  • argentargent Member Posts: 176
    There's a big difference between the 302/351 (descendants of the original thinwall 221 of 1962-1963) and the somewhat misbegotten 3.8L OHV V-6 of the early eighties, which was made by more or less lopping off the last two cylinders of a 302 V-8.

    The V-8 was one of the best small engines of its time, lightweight, efficient, and reliable. The V-6 was a hasty stopgap in the wake of the fuel crises and CAFE standards. A layout and design that was intended for a 90-degree V-8 is not ideal for a six-cylinder engine. (A 90-degree V-6 is not balanced the way a crossplane 90-degree V-8 is, and it really should probably have a balance shaft.)
  • ANT14ANT14 Member Posts: 2,687
    If Ford would have continued refining the 5.0L, I'm sure today it would have been a great engine still. But it's too much money to invest, in just keeping that engine family alive. Now you'll have V6's making almost the same amount of power.

    I'm still perturbed at the fact, that the 4.6L V8 in the Crown Vic, makes a paltry 235HP. There's so much potential for that engine, but it's not only the initial engine investment, but numerous hardware needs to be refined, and strengthed to deal with the additional power, Which is why it's been kept at such a low number.

    Now with 3V techonology that will be implemented on the 4.6 and 5.4, along with VVT, the engines will received their proper glory they have deserved.
  • nvbankernvbanker Member Posts: 7,239
    On the one hand, 3V is novel, and clearly a step up and I'm all for it. But why not go all the way to 4V? Can it cost that much more? Or, is 4V reserved for the Lincoln & Premier brands only to differentiate them from the Ford line? Not entirely a bad concept I guess....
  • ANT14ANT14 Member Posts: 2,687
    3V will be implmented on the 4.6L and 5.4L engines, Doesn't matter if it's Ford, or Lincoln brand vehicles. The Navigator will later receive a 4V unit (not like the current one, but think Ford Falcon of Australia).

    One of the reasons for 3V over 4V, is it's less complex to manufacture. Current 2V versions allow more accessible low end torque. Which is why the Mustang GT, and Crown Vic/GM/TC, F150, use the 2V SOHC versions. They are able to keep it afforable for customers, WHILE those vehicles require a bit more low end torque. Turning them into DOHC 4V units, might increase their torque a tiny bit, but allows more horsepower, but at higher RPM's, which might not be that much useful.

    Granted, there's the Mustang (previous Cobra) with the DOHC 4V version, which compared to it's SOHC counterpart, it gives it more horsepower which helps for passing and higher end situations, but hardly raised it's torque output. Cost wise, it's pretty hard to place a DOHC V8 engine on a vehicle under $30K, which is why the Mustang Cobra (previous year) and Marauder, start a bit over that.

    Variable Valve Timing techonology helps with all these situations. It allows the engine to breathe, or not breathe at the propert times for maximum output through out a wide range of engine RPM's.
  • regfootballregfootball Member Posts: 2,166
    Its hard to justify not using 4v on more expensive Fords when pedestrian cars like Hyundais use DOHC 4v and sell them at dirt cheap prices. Makes it look bad when you are selling a 20+k product with SOHC and 2v at those prices.
  • ANT14ANT14 Member Posts: 2,687
    True, but those 4V's on 4 Cylinders, equals 16 Valves. While 4V's on 8 Cylinders, equals 32 Valves. That already is techonology/sophistication overkill, and unheard of in any vehicles under $30K.

    Also, you will notice those 4V, 4 Cylinders, need to whine pretty high to feel much. VVT- Variable Valve Timing, implemented on such an arrangement, is probably the only way to counteract that effect. And that's slowly reaching down -20K vehicles.

    Weird Sidenote: VW uses 5V's on it's 1.8L engine. Turbo helps offsets the need to rev too high for power.

    When is DOHC good for? For high RPM senarios.
    When is SOHC food for? For low RPM work.
    What to use to make the best of both worlds? VVT

    But because of all the available techonology now available to counteract against it's pros and cons, you can have pretty much any arrangement possible.
  • nvbankernvbanker Member Posts: 7,239
    can we expect some VVT on a Lincoln product?? Any idea? Not that I'm complaining about my current powerplant, it is the smoothest and finest I've ever experienced.....
  • ANT14ANT14 Member Posts: 2,687
    Already this years '03 LS, has VVY, increasing the power from the 3.9L DOHV V-8 from 252HP and 267TQ, to 280HP and 287TQ.

    As to the Navigator and Aviator, it's awhile away but it's coming. The Town Car, now that's another story....
  • nvbankernvbanker Member Posts: 7,239
    The Town Car is on a respirator, and has a living will. No heroic measures will be used to keep it alive.....
  • ANT14ANT14 Member Posts: 2,687
    Want the future dirt on the Town Car?
  • alpha01alpha01 Member Posts: 4,747
    Gag me. I would have much rather seen the Continental live on as an STS competitor.

  • ANT14ANT14 Member Posts: 2,687
    Well Cadillac will be playing with the upper echelon brands such as MB, BMW, Audi, Jag. So the times of comparing Caddy to Lincoln will be long gone. Lincoln will stay true to itself by offering american luxury, at decent american prices.

    The Town Car is only being kept alive, because the tooling and manufacturing/engineering, have been paid off long ago. Having the Crown Vic, and Grand Marquis/Marauder, based from it, has allow them to keep the engineering costs down. Think of it this way, the Town Car customers are paying hefty premiums over it's CV/GM stablemates. It doesn't deter from the fact, it's still a platform of a 20K vehicle (CV/GM).

    Why keep it alive? Actually it's customers are. Sales of upwards of 40K+ a year are more than enough to keep it alive, if the engineering costs have been paid off years ago. So this is actually one vehicle that Ford profits heavily from. Till those sales don't kit the -25K a year mark, the vehicle will certainly stay alive.

    Combined with the CV/GM, if all of these vehicles are able to sell 130-150K combined, then they are certainly feasable for Ford to keep alive considering it adds quite some profit.

    Body on Frame construction which is the platform basis, is quite easy and non-sophisticated to produce, just like Trucks. And just like trucks, they can endure a heavy beating, which is why they are used as Taxi's, Limo's, law enforcement.

    I'm perturbed at the fact that a more potent engine isn't offered on the Town Car. If the Marauder can make due with the 4.6L DOHC, the Town Car certainly can. Question is, do we really want the core customers who buy the Town Car (over 65+) to have access to such power?

    From paperwork I have read months ago, the Town Car will soldier on till 2008. Naturally, this can all fall through, and Ford might just kill it sooner than we expect. But considering it's redesign in 2003, 2008 seems like the end of the current product life cycle (4 years industry norm).

    Ford doesn't wish to alienate this customer base. Ironically, whenever sales of the Navi, LS, take a hit, their sales drop into the double digit percentages, while the Town Car keeps on track. Meaning, from year to year showings, the numbers are dwindling eloquently, but do not have abrupt changes such as the Navi and LS. Reason ? The customers who usually buy Navi and LS, for the most part are younger, and base their buying upon current market trends and influences. Whereas Town Cars customer base, possess more traditional buying habits.

    What will replace it? Look for a new sedan based off a slightly modified LS platform (DEW), to take it's place as the flagship sedan. Continental..... This sedan will be placed upon the LS, in the Lincoln line-up.

      Notice how LS prices have gone up a bit. Next LS will feature a 3.5L V6, with optional 5.0L V8 (bored out 4.6L). Therefore, this new sedan "Continental" will feature the 5.0L as standard engine, possible 5.4L upgrade.

    Under the next LS, will debut a AWD vehicle based on the JV-platform. Which is what the Ford Futura will use.

    Now, this info I'm sharing, is how things look, as of now, this very moment. Currently Ford management is looking at the Aussie Falcon, and seeing if it's a viable solution. Some "thoughts" have been shared as to where that product might go, and how that might fit into the N.A. Ford line up. I'm sure they could fit the next generation of that vehicle into the Lincoln line up.

    In other words, Look how Ford handled the Mondeo, onto the U.S. market... By bringing the Futura here (next generation Mondeo), before it hits it's home market, years from now.

    And through all this, lets hope the Town Car dies a quiet death, and probably be left to fleet/limo deals....
  • nvbankernvbanker Member Posts: 7,239
    I very much appreciate the "dirt" on the Town Car. I have to admit though, that I shake my head about this breed of car dying a slow death, when clearly the body on frame design, although heavy and "uncool" these days, has such desirable application to fleet, taxi & cop use, that GM develops a Police Tahoe to attempt to attract some of the Crown Vic business back. It would seem there is a place in this country for this tough design yet. I mean, Intrepids and Impalas have tried to fill the bill, but talk to any cop, and they'll tell you they'd rather have the CV when attempting an intercept on-road anyday. And the Tahoes run your gasoline bill up dramatically.

    Hey, maybe the Mariner/Escape could develop a "Police Interceptor" model, with ugly wheels? Would probably do as well as a Taurus.......
  • ANT14ANT14 Member Posts: 2,687
    I continiously read numerous publications harping the police departments using FWD Intrepids and Impalas. They treat those stories, just like numerous other publications treat VW's. They report how lovely and great the vehicle is at the beginning, yet none stick around long enough to see how unreliable it is, nor wish to admit it.

    Common sense, and real world experience dictate that FWD isn't very viable for Police/Taxi use. The extreme abuse these vehicles go thru, is not something that FWD vehicles can endure. And after minor accidents, Body on Frame, and RWD are much easier, and cost efficient to replace, over the complexity of FWD vehicles. Drivability wise, RWD is better suited to being able to chase, and run other cars off the road when needed.

    GM's current mission of wanting to build a police package Tahoe, goes to show that their Impala isn't well suited, or isn't really convincing the police depts, that it can do the work. Hence, the Police version Tahoe. My thoughts...No matter how much they lower the suspension, it's still an SUV and flipping over will be more common, as well as visits to the gas pump.

    Ford still controls over 80% of the Police fleet market. Even if there's controversy after the gas tanks on the CV/GM, nothing yet has been proved to change most consumer's/fleet buyers. I would personally love to see how an Accord/Camry or any vehicle for that matter, take a 70MPH crush to the rear of it by an SUV, as it's parked on the side of the highway, and not catch on fire.

    Ford's "Panther cars" will eventually go onto Cop, Taxi, Fleet duty, while another vehicle will take over it's flagship sedan positioning.
  • nvbankernvbanker Member Posts: 7,239
    Funny, ANT, I said the same thing about the Pinto in 1976 when they were indicted for exploding when an Impala smacked them at 70mph...... I wonder how safe a car has to be....when they're that small, it's pretty hard to survive any crash. Those darn memos get you every time....

    One of our Suburban police departments has just put a whole fleet of Tahoes into service, replacing their Crown Vics. Right when gasoline hit the all time high price. I'd hate to be working their budget over right about now.

    Can ya tell me anything about the current "thrifting" attitude at Ford ANT? I mean, I drove my first Taurus in 86, and was just amazed at how awesome the car was. It was truly revolutionary, and I thought was a design that couldn't be improved upon at the time. IMO, I was right, because they haven't. I rented one a few months ago, and was sorely disappointed to see drum brakes on the rear, cleap looking upholstery and door panels, a boring dash and non-descript trim and a lot of other little changes that I think detracted from a once world class design and cheapen the car. I fully understand the corporate need for margins and profits, and I know they all do this, but some of us notice it, and are turned off by it. Another such example would be the keypad on the door. In 96, they took it off the Cougar. We had a 94 with it, and my wife refused to trade and lose the keypad, so we bought her old Cougar out of the lease. All because somebody thought they could lose the $5 per car keypad. They did the same in 98 with the new Town Car. I see they have repented for that sin.......

    Conversely, I hear that around 95, Lincoln had the mentality of making each car run 10 years or 150,000 miles. I think it may have worked, because my friend's 96 T/C ran 4 years without so much as needing a new battery! Unheard of in this part of the country.

    So, I'm wondering what's the attitude out there in blue oval land today? Do you know?
  • ANT14ANT14 Member Posts: 2,687
    Unfortunatly it's bean counters. Their thinking is "Hmmmm, if we save $2 on this part on all 400K+ units it sells, it equals to $800K !!" Yet, you cut $1 here, $2 there, $3, on thousands of parts in a car, you will notice the difference. I'm sorry to say that in upper "management", it's the traditional thinking that has allowed it to get to the point that it has.

    So if we look at the japanese competition, because of currency exchange rates, they are able to offer a better product for "almost" the same amount of money. The "almost" part which I'm clarifying is, Ford has noticed that people are willing to pay JUST a bit more for reliability and dependability.

    Not to mention, Ford needs to cover their behinds pertaining to pention costs. NOT as bad as GM's, but it's pretty high overall. Not something that the japanese manufacture's need to contend with as much, being they are much newer in relation.

    In comes, change of philosophy. What I call "Common sense". Where to improve the vehicle where it counts, where to cut where no one looks.

    Simple things as a glove box opening mechanism that uses less parts. Saves a few cents here and there. That Taurus with the 3rd side light...? (Sable has only 2 side glass panels) That can be killed off and save some money there. Crown Vic addressed this issue, when previously it had 3 side glass panels. New insulation material that is more economical, and more effective.

    Ford's Six Sigma is the in house team, that goes over each vehicle to solve, refine, better expedite, these issues.

    Where to recover costs? Consumers are willing to pay a bit more for more detailed interiors, surveys have shown. Which is why the new F-150 has 5 difference "ambiance" interiors. And those who are willing to pay a bit more for finer details, will have choices as to what is available to suit their taste.

    Option packages can be altered to allow certain options, to be grouped together. Therefore eliminating building complexity, and allow better availability, therefore reducing costs.

    Other areas that are being improved, and allow for better effeciency are Ford's factories. The majority of their factories are being upgraded in ways that will allow them to build vehicles, in less time, less cost. One example is coupling the supplier's parts production facilities, along with Ford's factories. Allowing for inventories of parts to be controlled more effectively, therefore reducing costs.

    By the end of the decade, Ford's methods of assembling a vehicle with the help of parts suppliers on-site, and out sourcing certain interior components, will allow them to save billions and will be an industry standard. BUT that initial investment needs to be made, and it's being made NOW which is why Ford is having the current economic issues.

    Change needs to take place at some point, and this is the moment it's taking place in. Worldwide, factories are being upgraded and new methods of building vehicles which will enhance productivity are being initialized. Keeping family of engines that can be used world-wide is another factor that allows them to save money. As well as sharing platforms, and using them effectivly when possible.

    The Jac Nasser era allows for Ford to reach high profits, at the unfortunate cost of quality. Lack of new product, development, and overall refining has placed Ford in the situation it is in now. Who is to blame? All those on the board that did NOT question his authority, or were afraid to challenge him.

     Makes you wonder what kind of experience these board members have. Mostly they are investors with no soul or passion for cars, and their lack of common sense has placed Ford where it is now. There's a few "heads" that I'm hoping will be terminated, or dismissed that are part of the problem. I won't mention names....

    Now there's major concentration on product, quality, reliability.

    Products quite many....F-150, Mustang, 500, Montego, Freestyle, Mariner, Futura, Continental, Etc.

    Quality: Interior's will be addressed. J.Mays has concentrated on the quality of interiors, and they will be much more evident on the new Ford sedans we will see. Already we see some improvements with the Expy/Navi/Avi/FStar/Monterey.

    Reliability: Investments are being made pertaining to transmissions and engines. But it's always the smaller parts, which need addressing. Working along with suppliers, is allowing them to refine the quality of the parts. And spending a few cents here and there for better parts has helped.

    So I would say the days of thriftiness has stopped. Or more so, they are being addressed in other ways, by maximizing factories efficiency, tailoring vehicles to a specific consumers needs. Previously, it was MUCH easier to remove a cupholder, or some interior trim, or some option to cut costs. Now they are taking the time to study the above mention and address it in a common sense manner.

    Now as to personal experience, I can't really say that I've had reliability problems with any Ford's. Granted, I've only been driving for the past 12 years, and have had 7 cars, and I'm NOT the gentlest driver out there considering the situation. But I just take into account the cars I see on the road, from decades past.

    One example is a cousins '86 Cougar 5.0L 228K miles, and his A/C compressor has NEVER been changed. And we are talking in Florida HEAT ! He's only gone thru 2 starters and 2 alternators. The only reason he has kept the vehicle this long is because he says there's really no point for him to buy a new one.

    Maybe this is the reason manufacturer's do not wish to over engineer their vehicles, afraid the customer won't return.

    Sidenote: Ford has the highest return buyers of any carmaker.
  • nvbankernvbanker Member Posts: 7,239
    ANT, you have been a very valuable source of info to me, and I hate to keep monopolizing your time, so if you get tired of my endless questions, tell me or feel free to ignore. I'm a hopeless car guy, and have experienced the most satisfaction in Ford products over the years, and I'm a lot older than you evidently are, so I've seen lotsa different cars and makes. There are other cars I like, but as a line of cars, I seem to have had better experience with Fords.

    Hopefully, you're not a designer as I don't want to offend you-but I was at my dealership recently and noticed the LS has been "touched up" a bit. Most noticable was the shrinking taillights. Is that the best they can do for that car? I like the overall styling and theme for the car, and have rented lots of them. My main beef is the lack of interior room to stow things, and the overall size of the car. Too small for my needs and likes. I was delighted to see a keypad on the door, finally, but I was surprised to see pretty much the same interior design as before, with some of the satin-nickel added in. I've been hoping for more of a Mark VIII style interior to come about for that car. Any info there? The LS has quite the following on Edmunds, I notice....

    Thanks again for your information and patience.
  • ANT14ANT14 Member Posts: 2,687
    Oh it's ok, I don't mind answering questions, thats the only way we all learn things.

    I also have an issue with the LS' update. I myself have a 2000 LS V8, and was not very much satisfied with this "improvement". Over a year ago I was aware the LS would change just slightly. Address the issues most customers complained about, while increasing power just a bit. And I'm sort of in the market for a new vehicle, unfortuantly Ford doesn't offer a 2Dr. RWD coupe. I settled for the LS in 2000, after returning my Mark8. I'm not fond of this 4dr senario....

    The designer for the LS didnt' want to complicate matters much. He comes from the european thinking of "Lets tweak here and there"...Such as BMW, VW, MB, etc. While it might work with those brands, americans in general are used to seeing quite a bit more of a change in the midway product cycle (2-3 years after introduction).

    Giving the Lincoln brand, a familiar face was paramount. Ironically, New Navi, New Avi, New TC, and refreshed LS all came to the party at the same time. The Avi has the twinned look of the Navi because it's been so successful, and customers have accepted it quite well. Which is why the TC has received the same grill look, and now all vehicles have a common brand look.

    As for the LS, the mild styling is nothing more than some chrome moved, here and there. Rear tail-lights addressed, front grill retouched. The designer didn't want to alientate current Lincoln buyers by altering the vehicle too much. So considering the vehicle improved and refined, but not redone in any sense.

    The interior received improved materials, which I have certainly noticed. A bit more storage space (still could use more). NVH issues have been addressed. A few more gadgets added such as Navi system and cooled seats.

    Performance wise, the engine was improved because of Lincolns plan of bringing the vehicles a bit up the scale. And because of future plans to introduce a more powerful V-6. A V-8 making 252HP isn't anything monumental therefore Lincoln addressed the issue with Variable Cam Timing (VCT). Tranimission reprogrammed, and suspension/steering re-tuned.

    Overall it's definatly an improved packages, I just personally would have improved it a bit more. But considering Ford was introducing new/refreshed vehicles all at the same time, there's only so much they wanted to concentrate on.

    What does this mean for me? I have a 3 year old LS, that looks JUST as new as the current ones. ;) Amazingly, this (in some weird way) builds customer satisfaction, loyalty and resale value (studies have shown). So they wanted to play it safe. I believe it was a bit TOO safe. Which is why I'll hold off till something else comes around.

    As for a 2dr coupe. Ford has been teasing us with the Mark9 concept, and other coupes. Unfortunatly, coupe sales for the most part are falling for every automaker. The only coupes in the market that do quite well are the Mustang (sales leader) because some go to fleet, and most others go to customers many which are repeat buyers. The Chrysler Sebring which the majority go to fleet. 3rd place the Eclipse if I remember correctly.

    So for Ford to offer a Lincoln coupe, it would have to be based on an exsisting platform, one that can handle the needs of 2dr. My idea, would have been using the T-bird, and stretch it, Lincolnize it, hard-top it. Because of current issues of the Tbird being retired (ONLY because MY just stated idea will be used next time around for the Tbird). We'll have to wait awhile.

    Two options are being studied. There's a lighter version of the DEW platform (I call it Dew-Lite) pretty much what the next Mustang will ride on. That would be the best case senario, and pretty much only hope for Lincoln to receive a coupe.

    The other is the possibility of it based on a future entry level vehicle for Lincoln, that will use AWD and be based on the Futura/Mazda6 platform (named JV platform). That platform is flexible enough to allow for engineering of a 2dr. version as well.

    But both are still being analyzed. The styling studies you have seen such as the Mark9 concept, are just to gauge consumer reaction towards that specific type of styling.
  • nvbankernvbanker Member Posts: 7,239
    A lot of people didn't like that car, didn't think Ford did a good job on it, including my dealer, may he rest in peace. But I thought it was just amazing. The thing would downshift from OD to 1st in one shift and just scream! The interior was roomy, yet the car was very low, and the design was just great! It was so much more of a performance car than the Eldorado ever was. Too bad big coupes are a tough sell now. You heard it first here though, Mark VIII's are going to become a very valuable collectors car in the future......
  • ANT14ANT14 Member Posts: 2,687
    Honda just announced it would stop building the Acura CL this year. Considering the Accord Coupe EX can give almost as equal performance, there was little need for the CL anyhow.

    Nissan has admitted that it's hard for them to keep the Infiniti G35 Coupe, so they are hoping it sells at a decent rate. Aside from those, BMW and MB, are the other few that actually have a viable plan for coupes. Volvo has plans for a coupe, based off the new S40 platform (Next generation Focus platform), which is why it's able to make it a viable product. And VW has toyed with the idea of offering a coupe Audi A4, not sure if that is confirmed yet.

    Just like trends, I'm sure coupes will return at some point in our future. Right now the SUV is the major trend setter, soon will be Cross-overs. IN my opinion, I think they'll be a point that some people will get tired of 4doors/Suv's/Crossovers, that they'll want to get back to basics.
  • alpha01alpha01 Member Posts: 4,747
    I realize in your last post you spoke mainly of upscale coupes, but I'm curious- does Ford have anything in the pipeline to compete with Solara/Accord? Your guess as to the engines for this vehicle?

    I really hope that we see a comparison test of the 04 Solara SE Sport V6 vs. Accord EX V6 (automatics) this fall. It would be interesting to see whether the Accords HP wins out over the Solara's torque, both objectively and subjectively. Perhaps with the SUV craze on the decline, we will see more sales of mid-priced sports/touring coupes like the aforementioned (or at least I'd hope so).

    I think Ford and Nissan should offer mid priced coupes.

  • ANT14ANT14 Member Posts: 2,687
    I say probably the Accord EX will out accelerate the Solara. Mainly because the axle ratio on the Accord is much taller, while I know the Solara will keep it a bit lower.

    As of right now, Ford doesn't have any plans AT ALL for any sedan based coupe. This might cause "friction" with the Mustang sales. I myself would love to see a Futura "coupe", but that's not in their business case as of yet. Although the Futura's platform (JV) IS flexible enough for coupe conversation.

    Both the Accord Coupe an Solara do not make much money for their automakers. The automakers mainly use them to add the number of sales onto their sedan totals, to help them on their (#1 sales) nameplates.

    I believe, considering how the market is doing at that time, such a decision will be at a later date. So far from what I see, don't expect it anytime before 2006.
  • cayennered1cayennered1 Member Posts: 193
    Anyone actually thought that they might want to discuss this vehicle since it allegedly is the subject of this thread.

    I hate to tear everyone way from V6 engines and future sport coupes, but as someone who actually has seen the Mariner at the New York show I think it is a very attractive alternative to the Escape. It took me a while to realize it was an Escape clone as its styling is much more attractive and creates quite a bit of a different look. Likewise, the two-tone leather interior.

    At least it's not a gigantic road devouring gas hog. I think it could be competition for the upcoming Chevy Equinox which is a very attractive looking small SUV. I also like the FWD availability as it provides good MPG and reasonable traction for those like myself who have no great need for AWD.
  • ANT14ANT14 Member Posts: 2,687
    Opps, we went off topic. But if you scroll back you will find originally Mariner conversations.

    The Equinox you mention will pretty much be built on the Theta platform (If I remember correctly), which is the same as the Saturn VUE. Although, the Saturn will receive thru a special deal thru GM, Honda engines. A 3.5L DOHC V-6. First it'll debute on the "red line" edition VUE's, then be phased in completely year after.

    The Equinox will have a 3.5L V6, but I believe it's an OHV version of their currenty 3.4L V6. I'm not into OHV engines, but GM is one of the few that actually does.

    The new 2.3L I-4 the Mariner wil sport is the same as the Mazda6's I-4, and Rangers. It's a very gutsy I-4 (Over the current 2.0L Zetec which I find gutless) Thats mainly the reason it's only available in manual form. Now the 2.3L will be able to be mated with an automatic tranny. Look for 150-160HP, (my personal opinion guess is 155HP) that yet hasn't be finalized.

    What I like about the Mariner is that it addresses the concerns many have/had of the Escape. NVH will be addressed, interior appointments improved, just overall refinement.
  • alpha01alpha01 Member Posts: 4,747
    "Anyone actually thought that they might want to discuss this vehicle since it allegedly is the subject of this thread."

    Doesnt seem to look like it.

    I wonder if Ford is reading this thread? I doubt they'd be happy with the following:
    "I think it is a very attractive alternative to the Escape."
    Is the Escape's market share that which Mercury is after?

  • ANT14ANT14 Member Posts: 2,687
    Not at all, Escape consumers are very different from Mercury consumers. If anything it allows them to target 2 different consumers, with one vehicle. For those who dislike the Escape for one reason, or another, will have the Mariner, or Tribute to choose from. Therefore having MORE possibility that ANY of the above is bought, over having them leave the whole brand entirely.

    It's ok to steal sales within a brand, or brands within a company. It will allow you to steal market share (which is MUCH more important) from your competition.

    Just how Chrysler has a majority share of the minivan market, because they have different brands, versions available to suit different peoples tastes and such.
  • cayennered1cayennered1 Member Posts: 193
    The point of my finding the Mariner an attractive alternative to the Escape is that I would never consider the Escape because it simply doesn't have the interior and exterior appeal that I'm looking for.

    By contrast, I found the Mariner to look like a very upscale vehicle with a totally different image than that of the Escape.
    It is something I would consider. So ANT is right. It can take market share from the competition even if it technically competes with Ford's own models.
  • ANT14ANT14 Member Posts: 2,687
    The is another product that I see as a "niche" vehicle, one in which it appeals to a certain customer, based on looks or styling. The Escape is a mass pleaser. It'll be sold in every Ford dealership which can be found at practically every small town you can think of.

    Lincoln/Mercury dealer's are not as common, and there's much less of them... As is Mazda (Tribute). Therefore offering a product that is limited to a certain customer, is one of the ways it's considered a "niche vehicle".

    By Mercury making Ford clones, it allows to fill another major niche. This Niche is the "Oh I like Ford's, but they are too common, I was something a bit different" niche.

    And that's the trend we'll see. Many vehicles that will probably average under 100K sales. But to make it a viable business plan, it MUST be spawned from something... IN this case, the Escape. So even if the Mariner sells 25K, it'll still be profitable.

    One major issue with auto journalists today, is it does NOT need to sell 100K to be considered a hit. And considering they expect it from Ford, they are willing to write it's obituary before the vehicle even has a full year of sales. (A 'la Aviator).
  • alpha01alpha01 Member Posts: 4,747
    the Blackwood and it was pretty much on target. The auto journalists also noted that a 23K Accord V6 would hand the Maurauder its lunch, and I don't see that car doing very well, even for a "niche" vehicle or whatever you'd like to call it.

    The Aviator has an outstanding interior and a strong engine. Period. No stability system at 50K? Riiight. Sure it will make some decent cash for Ford, but it doesnt further the manufacturers image of producing distinctly average vehicles. Neither will the Mariner.

  • regfootballregfootball Member Posts: 2,166
    if the lame well to dos would not have to drive a gas guzzling, fat, overweight tippy vehicle (plus learn how to drive), maybe a stability control system would not be needed.
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