By on September 21, 2012

My first couple days at TTAC weren’t so much a baptismal by fire, but a surprise dunk in the ice bath by the Best & Brightest. My now-infamous post, where I dubbed the unseen-at-the-time  2013 Ford Fusion as a “gamechanger” based on my embargoed preview of the car in Dearborn, became a punchline for the first month of my tenure. But now I get to gloat. Sort of.

Good cars are notoriously competent at flopping in the marketplace. Need I say more than the Pontiac G8? But this time, I really feel that things are different. For the first time ever, I’ve had people who don’t give a lick about cars ask me about “the Ford that looks like an Aston“.

Love him or hate him, Peter DeLorenzo nailed it when he said

“… the Ultimate Initial Product Differentiator going forward in this business will be design, and the Fusion makes a definitive statement and offers a real design point of view, something lacking from Ford and other car companies (Honda and Toyota just to name two) in the past, especially when it comes to the mainstream market in this country.”

For the average consumer, cars have never been safer, more fuel-efficient or feature-packed. Design is the key differentiator in a marketplace where everything gets 40 MPG and comes with a standard backup camera, Bluetooth and heated seats. It would be naive to think that the Fusion will make the Camry, Accord and Altima irrelevant; the mid-size segment is one place where boring, vanilla cars are mandatory, to serve the large segment of the population that many car enthusiasts hold in contempt for wanting nothing more than a beige box to transport them in comfort and isolation.

But what Hyundai, Kia and now Ford have picked up on is that there’s a whole other segment, that can be perfectly embodied by the term “aspirational”. The Fusion is a car that younger buyers will want because it looks like an Aston Martin, and older buyers who want something more exciting than vanilla – but not too much more. The Fusion could be powered by a hamster in a wheel and drive like an oxcart, but its design is strong enough to attract the attention of car enthusiasts and more importantly, people in the market for new cars, who want to make some kind of statement about whatever image they want to project but can’t or won’t shell out for something with a foreign badge. Believe me, there are tons of those consumers out there. And now they have an option besides a used luxury sedan that they won’t have to justify to their peer group.

The Camry, Accord and Altima will likely maintain their grip on the upper echelons of the market. After all, boring sells and this car may be a bit too adventurous for a certain class of buyer. But the Fusion will doubtlessly build on the previous generation’s success, and more importantly, get people talking about the brand, thanks to a mid-size car. Who would have ever thought that would happen just two years ago?

 

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138 Comments on “On The New Ford Fusion, Design And Homogeneity...”


  • avatar

    Waiting for comments stating that TTAC has ceased to be anti-Detroit and is now a full-on shill for Ford

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Ahhh man, you back handed Toyota again? For a FORD?!?!

      Buick6 is going to be PISSED.

      All humor aside (and honestly I think I’ve figured out what drives the “B” discussion here broadly and it is one particular writer who will remain nameless – I don’t want to devolve this) I really like the Ford Fusion.

      Most will consider this a back handed complement, it is my go to car on the rental lot. Yes, there are A LOT of them on the rental lot but if there is nothing new to explore available (I always play lets make a deal and still looking for an elusive Buick Regal, Ford Focus, or Chevy Cruze to rent) then I fall back to the Ford Fusion. I know it will have adequate power if I get a 4-banger, and be almost fun with a 6 cylinder. I know I won’t get out of the driver seat feeling beaten to death. I know the rotors likely won’t be warped to Hell from rental duty abuse (hello GM and Nissan, HELLO?!?) and if I have Sync (not to be confused with Touch, just old school Sync) the integration to my phone and media devices will be brain dead easy, and – perfect.

      Now you’ve got 47 MPG combined in a hybrid [INSERT FORD WILL NEVER HIT THAT NUMBER IN THE REAL WORLD RANT HERE] and at least a shred of unique style – like Hyundai and especially Kia.

      Your comparo of the G8 as a sales failure despite being a great car is spot on. The G8 replaced the Grand Prix and the Bonneville (with the Bonneville bowing out in 2005). Memories are short, but in 2008 a very nicely equipped G8 GT stickered for $29,995 – doing a Michael Karesh style TMV ticking the boxes – a Grand Prix GTP, wrong wheel drive, 100 less HP, 110 less pound feet of torque, missing two gears, handled vastly worse, cramped cabin, interior designed by five blind men with no sense of touch to align colors, textures, and ergonomics from Playskool (which in some ways is a good thing – it sure made things easy to find) cost – MORE. Yup, sticker for sticker, you’d pay more for the GM W-Body versus the Zeta platform Holden. Holy bargain basement Batman.

      Where do you start? Weak to almost no advertising. Dead brand walking being connected to Pontiac (too little too late would be a better way to put it) and the Holden should have arrived in 2007 when the VE was launched, not almost 18 months later. GM also had no money to change out the interior to meet NHTSA regulations for things like touch screen navigation, which was an available option for most of the world – but not in the US because the screen location was too low (I wish I could make this stuff up). Pontiac did get some things very right. The Australia version SS V-Series at the time came with a rather large boy racer rear spoiler. The product manager in the US asked Pontiac brass, if we’re going to sell something with 3-series/5-series performance numbers [INSERT RANT THAT THE G8 CAN\'T KEEP UP WITH A 3-SERIES OR 5-SERIES HERE] did you ever see a BMW with a big goofy spoiler. No of course was the answer and the US got a very conservative rear lip versus a wing.

      For the lucky few who bought a G8, especially a GT or GXP they’ve enjoyed minimal depreciation (this time last year G8 GT and GXPs were selling for their sticker price – it is still very hard to find a non-salvage GT under $20K and a GXP under $30K – not bad for a car that is now 4 to 5 model years old) and a reliable platform. In hindsight (even on TTAC) where the G8 far exceeded the hype (well more like low expectations) the G8 pulled at Otis Redding, not becoming popular until after its death.

      Back to Ford – agreed this isn’t a Camry killer – but definitely a thorn in the side of the Japanese makers.

      • 0 avatar
        morbo

        Same could be said for the original Fusion, given it’s ’06 competition; first-gen weaksauced Accord, 2nd-gen weak sauced Camry, Avis grade Altima and the admittedly 2nd good (or at least acceptable) Sonata. And like Sonata, Ford has learned giving people good value consistently is a better long term value proposition then flash in the pants marketing (WHEEEE, and Aveo that parachutes), cost engineering (see rat fur headliners in many mid-sizers), or inertia (how many decades ago did Mitsubishi engineer the Sebring’s guts).

        Also, ALL GLORY TO THE HYPNOTOAD…CLAP…CLAP…CLAP

      • 0 avatar
        Viquitor

        ^X2.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I think it all comes back to marketing. Toyota has effective (if not obnoxious) strategy in this region, and one of their key drivers is resale cost… they pretty much bank on it and make a valid argument to new car buyers. If Ford could come up with a similar strategy, they could gain market share at the expense of Camcord.

      • 0 avatar

        As an aside, I have to wonder how the G8 would have sold if it had been branded as a Grand Prix or a Bonneville. Those were strong selling, popular cars (in Ontario at least), and were bought by the kind of people who didn’t mind their FWD family sedan sharing its name with a 70s muscle car or full-sizer. If the G8 had been the next iteration of either of those cars, I think it may have done better. The market for a RWD family sedan was/is there — just look at the (vastly inferior) Charger.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        I read somewhere the name G8 was a code for Grand Prix ‘Generation 8′. I agree calling it ‘Grand Prix’ would have made more sense, but with the G6 name already being in place, the beige naming had to continue I suppose.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        @amripley

        I have to agree. I never liked the name G8 and I think it being called Bonneville or Grand Prix would make more sense. Given the Grand Prix had been built continuously for what, 44, 45 years up to that point, going with the legacy name would have fit – and I agree it would have sold better. But branding decisions tie to marketing and someone at Pontiac through going G3, G5, G6, G8 would make them – errrr – cool. Of course that doesn’t explain/justify Solstice, Torrent and the almost built ST.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        ST?

      • 0 avatar
        rnc

        Have to wonder if the G8 would have sold as a chevy (and they would have alot of CV business right now) or caddy (wasn’t it bigger than CTS?), have only seen one in wild (we use same gas station) and it’s fully loaded, top model and is nice looking car, (but have only ever seen one and SC is a state that if it was going to sell, it would sell here) and not part of a brand that died in the late 80′s. If GM had a board with balls in 1981 to tell R. Smith he was nuts or a board with the balls to tell R. Smith that they needed to file for bankruptcy in 1989 b/c he ate up $119 billion of the balance sheet with nothing but defective cars and factories to show for it. and the automootive world would look incredibly different, but hindsight….

        Fusion, nice, throw in eco-boost and awd and they’ve got a profit driver.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        @28-cars-later

        ST was what the Holden Ute was going to be called (short for Sport Truck) if it had arrived as planned in 2010.

        The whole “G” designation for Pontiac cars was idiotic. They had at their fingertips an amazing portfolio of legacy brands with rich histories. Well their histories were rich until Roger Smith took care of that.

      • 0 avatar
        tuffjuff

        “GM also had no money to change out the interior to meet NHTSA regulations for things like touch screen navigation”

        I ALWAYS WONDERED WHY THEY DIDN’T USE THIS SCREEN FOR NAV. A buddy’s 09 G8 GT was gorgeous, but the lack of nav for a screen so clearly made for it is so confusing that it’s almost infuriating.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      I’d be more apprehensive about all the engineers and MBAs who are gonna tell you that car purchasing is a strictly left-brained decision that only occurs after extensive spreadsheet cost/benefit analyses.

      • 0 avatar
        Ubermensch

        If car purchases were strictly left-brained, everyone would be driving 10+ yr old Toyota Corollas.

      • 0 avatar
        Speed3

        Or they would be driving a Panther vehicle!

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        @Ubermench

        Very much agreed.

        However the Beetle sold in huge quantities in its time, and I don’t recall them being pinnacles of reliability.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        28-Cars-Later,

        Having had a medium-reliable Bug in 1968, … I can say that the virtue of the venerable Beetle was also in its simplicity and ease-of-repair, as John Muir documented in his “How to Make Your VW Last Forever, – a Manual for the Compleat (sic) Idiot”. That, of course, was a condition for which I did indeed qualify at the time!

        ————-

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Thanks for insight.

        “the virtue of the venerable Beetle was also in its simplicity and ease-of-repair”

        This sounds like the GM product strategy.

      • 0 avatar
        el scotto

        Or a beater truck.

      • 0 avatar
        Chicago Dude

        “as John Muir documented in his “How to Make Your VW Last Forever, – a Manual for the Compleat (sic) Idiot””

        I’m going off on a complete tangent, but “Compleat” is a perfectly valid spelling in this context. It’s an homage to “The Compleat Angler”, a fun look at the art of fishing first published a little over 350 years ago.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Thank you, Chicago Dude…

        I had not known about “The Compleat Angler”.

        And actually, the spelling, “compleat”, though not common nowadays, is still perfectly valid: it means “skilled” or “proficient”; as opposed to “complete”, which means “whole” or “missing nothing”. http://www.thefreedictionary.com/compleat

        “[sic]“, however, means “thus it was written”, or more colloquially, “transcribed as listed”. It does not necessarily imply a value judgment of being wrong (although it is often used that way); it just says that the current writer is not attesting to the validity or invalidity of what was originally written; he (she) is just bringing it forward as is, although there may be cause for suspicion. Otherwise, [sic] would not have been necessary in the first place.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sic

        You needn’t worry about “compleat tangents” – I just went off on one big time! (^_^)….

        —-

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      Suddenly, it’s 1993:
      http://www.autoinfosite.com/

    • 0 avatar
      Thinx

      The mid-size 4-door sedan demographic probably won’t realize that the front-end ‘looks like an Aston’. But that doesn’t matter – because even these poor, domesticated, grocery-schlepping, brat-chauffeuring shadows-of-their-former-selves will appreciate having a car that looks kinda nice and ‘expensive’ in a vague way.

      As long as Ford can find a way to get over their … um, lack of renown for reliability, the fact that this car looks distinctive will help separate it from all the other 4-door transport appliances in this market.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    I think the front end blocked-off look and grill design is going to age horribly. The rest of the car looks good.

    • 0 avatar

      Euro pedestrian crash regs…

      • 0 avatar
        nickoo

        It’s definitely a design challenge to deal with those regs, it seems like all the cars are going to be headed this way, the “big rig” front end look.

      • 0 avatar

        I think it does a good job. As Ford is much more seen in the streets, I bet some people will soon start thinking Aston copied Ford. And will be forced to change. Also, I don’t believe it’ll age too bad.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        “Euro pedestrian crash regs…”

        No, because plenty of other cars don’t sport this angry-fish-mouth look. “Regulations” is a cop-out, just as it is when people try to excuse thick roof pillars or small greenhouses; this is designer wankery and/or groupthink.

        It was interesting; scrolling through TTAC’s front page showed several cars (the Fusion, Volvo XC40, A3, Mustang, F-Type and Dart) all of which sport very, very similar front-ends. They’re going for a “YOU’RE ABOUT TO BE EATEN BY A FORD/DODGE/JAG/ASTON!!” look.

        I personally think I’d buy a Leaf or Cube out of self-defense and some sense of knee-jerk identity self-preservation.

        And De Lorenzo is wrong: the differentiator is value. It always has been and always will be. If a car is a good perceived value, and if it, or it’s brand, doesn’t actively work to sully that value, then it will sell. Toyota sells half a million cars on those grounds alone. Hyundai’s resurgence is credit to the same, not the fluidic-vomit styling. GM and the other domestics lost ground when they stopped presenting a reasonable value next to their competition.

        Now, design is part of that—the aforementioned Cube isn’t going to sell in Camry numbers—but making a car look “good” (and, honest, the Fusion is unremarkable) isn’t going to move the needle appreciably.

        • 0 avatar

          Ever think that the common denominator between all those cars (save for the Mustang which is distinct) is that they all are sold in Europe where the stupid regulations are enforced? If Hyundais didn’t “look like a Benz, yo” in the eyes of the unwashed, they wouldn’t be selling quite as strong as they are now. You’re off-base on this one.

      • 0 avatar

        @psar,

        I’d love to agree with you. I for one buy mainly by cost benefit. I don’t pay extra for what I perceive as just perceived (and not real)greater value (Toyota and Honda fit the bill, or in Brazil, VW). I have seen the numbers though. People pretty much think cars are interchageable nowadays. So design takes a preponderent role. I don’t like it, but that’s just the way it is.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        “People pretty much think cars are interchageable nowadays.”

        I don’t think this is quite correct. If it were, Toyota wouldn’t be selling as many Camrys and Corollas as they do.

        People (well, in North America) tend to buy into a nameplate or brand, and stay there until they’re betrayed or pushed out. Design might lose you customers, but it won’t make significant gains.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        @psarhjinian

        Wise.

  • avatar

    The Fusion was always my favorite in this segment. The new one just re-inforces my perception.

    Derek: Right on! On all points. This car is a gamechanger as much as any car in this vanilla segment of the market can be a gamechanger. Feel free to gloat!

    As to design being the main differentiator, as much as I – an enthusiast- would like to protest IS the differentiator. People at Fiat Brazil have said that to me forever, but I always balked. The Fusion deserves firt place in the segment.

  • avatar
    86er

    Your words remind me of what they said about the Dodge Ram in 1994.

    The study they did at Chrysler in development told them that 80% of the people they showed the proposed new Ram to didn’t like it, while 20% were in love with it.

    At the time, Dodge was an also-ran in the truck market, a little like the Fusion is now.

    Market-share aside, what Ford seems to be concentrated on right now is profit, lots and lots of profit. Do they have the discipline to keep this up? So far so good; Ford wants to be a premium “low-cost” brand and this kind of style seems to fit in with that vision.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m guessing you’ve also read Bob Lutz’s book “Guts” then?

      • 0 avatar
        86er

        You are correct.

        And let me just quickly add that I enjoyed your article on the 77 Town Car. As someone who was on the cusp of owning a 78, it was a bittersweet read, and viewing the photos provoked similar sentiments.

        While your photos said more than your article (not a bad thing at all) I would recommend piloting one of these vehicles if you ever get the chance.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      And Dogde, sorry, Ram, is still a relative afterthought. Less so, but big-rig styling hasn’t pulled them out third place.

      • 0 avatar
        86er

        You’re missing the point of this article and my post.

        This is an exploration of how far design can take you. My example was the Ram, and as my post indicated, I was putting aside trite arguments about market share.

        And for what it’s worth, notice how everyone followed Dodge’s lead post-1994. Before 1994 everyone designed a brick on wheels. Notice how half-tons look today.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        I do get the point, I just disagree. Design is very transient, and it doesn’t give much, not even in the way of first-mover advantage, and certainly not when we’re talking about very capital-intensive, relatively undifferentiated, non-discretionary purchases like mass-market cars.

        At best, it might net you some additional sales; at worst, you’ve just done (and spent on) R&D for your competition.

        The Ram is an example: for all the money spent on design and marketing, it’s still well south of the F-Series and GMTs in terms of sales. It might have changed the look of trucks, but it didn’t do so and help it’s own cause in the process, and now it’s one advantage is largely irrelevant.

        Or, to put it another way, what got Hyundai where they are today was making a decent-but-not-exceptional car and slapping a 10-year warranty on it. By comparison, playing the premium-car card for years got VW, well, nothing in North America; they had to take the opposite tack to make inroads.

      • 0 avatar
        86er

        I would like to state the following, in no particular order:

        1) your misuse of the possessive makes my eyes bleed;

        2) Ram’s 3rd place is practically unassailable and they make handsome profits from it, something that Ford would kill to have in the D-Segment;

        3) As you noted to Marcelo, if you believe that the new Fusion’s design is derivative, then there’s little risk of Ford doing others’ R&D for them in this regard;

        4) Ford is obviously going the premium route, as I noted in my original post. I don’t agree or disagree with it, merely note it.

        5) We’re exploring how much room there is in the mass-market D-Segment for “aspirational” autos. I would argue, some! You would argue, hardly any! Am I in the ballpark?

        6) At any rate, this is Ford’s second tack in trying to differentiate in a difficult-to-differentiate market. The first was infotainment.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Here’s the rub: despite this amazing transformation, the new Fusion doesn’t look poised to move too far – in either direction – from its current position in sales charts.

    After Camry, Accord, and Altima, it is currently fourth in YTD midsize sales, above the Malibu and Sonata. It may well supplant the Altima a couple months out of the year, and the Malibu may over take it on other months, but the ultimate result is a wash.

    And yet, the market is so competitive, they NEEDED to hit a home run with the Fusion just to keep it where it is. Those lofty sales of the older Fusion weren’t going to hold up forever. I’m just glad they learned their lesson with the Taurus – hopefully Ford (and the other Detroit 2) will never again let their fruit rot on the vine.

    • 0 avatar

      With all due respect sir, I made that exact argument in the article, with the caveat that it will get people talking about Ford as a brand even if it doesn’t dethrone the beige mafia.

      • 0 avatar
        Lynchenstein

        And as long as they’re making a nice profit, I don’t think it really matters what ranking they are in the sales charts, does it?

        I don’t know, maybe it does.

      • 0 avatar
        SilverHawk

        I realize that you (Derek) and philadlj are making similar points,
        but why would you still call the Fusion a game changer? I believe that philadlj’s assessment of the Fusion’s sales potential is accurate, and that this model will not grab the brass ring the way the 1st gen Taurus did. Third or fourth in mid-size sales is quite good, but at this point in Ford’s history, they’re not just looking to get noticed. They’re looking to dominate. Styling helps, but in this segment, reputation & customer service are also important. Maybe the next gen Fusion will be the game changer.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      The Altima has only recently inched its way up towards the top when it came to sales in the mainstream, midsize segment, taking advantage of the effects of the tsunami which affected Toyota and Honda to a greater extent, but historically has lagged quite a bit behind in sales behind the Camry and Accord.

      It remains to be seen if the new Altima can keep the gains, if not increase upon them.

      One thing to take note of is that combined sales of the Sonata and Optima are better than everything but the Camry YTD (this shows that having sleeker, more expressive sheetmetal can really make a difference) and the H/K siblings may have been able to do even better than the Camry if there had been more supply.

      I suspect we will see a similar rise in sales for the new Fusion as well as the new Mazda6.

      One thing for sure, as the mainstream, midsize segment has become more competitive than ever, marketshare for the Camry and Accord has been shrinking.

    • 0 avatar
      raph

      ”hopefully Ford (and the other Detroit 2) will never again let their fruit rot on the vine.”

      Que evil bean-counter laugh…

  • avatar
    dcars

    I saw the New Fusion at our local Auto show in February of this year and thought it was the best looking car on display. Getting buyers to forget Ford’s past miss deeds is it’s biggest obstacle.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      Hyundai overcame their problem with past misdeeds by offering a long warranty.

      • 0 avatar
        Higheriq

        Hyundai hasn’t overcome ALL of the problems with past mis-deeds. Hyundai is getting buyers that that either aren’t old enough to remember, or who really don’t care. Some of us ARE old enough to remember AND care, and we don’t buy Hyundais (or Kias for that matter).

    • 0 avatar
      200k-min

      I too went to the autoshow to see the new Fusion. If that pre-production car on a pedestal was any indication this vehicle will do quite well. People were surrounding this thing and all the literature was gone days earlier in the show. Toyota right next door had very few people looking at the pedestrian by comparison Camry. What people end up buying is another story, but this vehicle will turn heads for quite some time.

  • avatar
    86SN2001

    This car is a much a “game changer” as the Aztek was handsome.

    Between the frumpy looks, electronic gimmicks (that will break) and the so-so gas mileage, I don’t see the attraction.

    The big test will be if Ford can launch this mid-sized appliance without too many recalls.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “The big test will be if Ford can launch this mid-sized appliance without too many recalls.”

      Agreed.

    • 0 avatar
      thornmark

      I’m hoping there’s enough interest in this sturgeon that Honda dealers won’t be able to charge premiums for the new Accord, which appears to be the new class leader.

      The fishy Ford’s back seat looks, as usual, to be compromised, as are the quality of the materials inside.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Thornmark – I haven`t been in the new Fusion but from Michael’s review the quality of materials was considered good and class leading. Have you been in it?
        I would like to see an Accord vs Fusion comparison since last week the Accord was the class leader.

      • 0 avatar
        bd2

        The days that Toyota and Honda could charge a premium for their products have passed; they both now compete for sales with incentive spending and aggressive pricing.

      • 0 avatar
        200k-min

        Honda is a shell of what they used to be. When I sat in a 2012 Accord I had to tell the dealer that it was a joke of a vehicle. Compared to my ’99 you can easily tell the decontenting has been severe…Toyota level bad. MY ’12 I’d put the Accord at dead last in the category. Given the 2013′s refresh instead of “all new” look I’m guessing it will not be at class leader territory. Other seasoned Honda drivers like myself have also commented on how there no longer is anything “special” about the brand. I love Honda but they’ve lost their mojo.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        Other professional reviewers don’t agree with the referenced Fusion reviewer. Automobile Mag finds Fusion’s rear seat smaller and interior quality unremarkable:
        http://www.automobilemag.com/reviews/driven/1209_2013_ford_fusion_first_drive/

        I hope TTAC assigns someone else for a follow-up review.

      • 0 avatar
        Strippo

        “Other professional reviewers don’t agree with the referenced Fusion reviewer. Automobile Mag finds Fusion’s rear seat smaller and interior quality unremarkable:
        http://www.automobilemag.com/reviews/driven/1209_2013_ford_fusion_first_drive/ ”

        Really? I hope Automobile Mag assigns someone else for a follow-up review.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        Automobile Mag finds the new Accord interior “vastly” better:
        http://www.automobilemag.com/reviews/driven/1209_2013_honda_accord/interior.html

        They also find the new Accord has”regained its spot at the top of the class”.

      • 0 avatar
        Strippo

        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/09/automobile-magazine-and-the-new-pimpatorialism/

        Just sayin’.

      • 0 avatar
        thornmark

        I didn’t say the TTAC writer was a pimp for Ford. But I understand why Honda would refuse a car for him considering his obviously non-objective reviews.

        The Mondeo has failed here before. Americans do not think Ford is a premium brand and their products cannot command premium prices. Ford tried to go upmarket with the first redesign of the Taurus and again failed miserably. I suspect that they will do better this time but it will not be a game-changer, but rather an also-ran.

  • avatar
    Thinkin...

    Looks great! Just as I would expect a Chinese “Aston” knockoff to look. I don’t understand why Ford is being so universally praised for this design, while if a foreign company attempted the same, they’d be raked over the coals.

    What will be the next American design feat? Bavarian kidneys?

  • avatar
    Neumahn

    I think this is a beautiful car.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    It wouldn’t make sense for Ford to simply copy Honda and Toyota, as consumers tend to buy the original and pay more for it. Those who are willing to buy the copy invariably expect a discount.

    But all that aside, that doesn’t necessarily make this a “game changer.” This is a crowded segment, and Ford doesn’t want its US retail sales to compete based on price, which is quite different from the approach taken by Hyundai and Nissan. That probably means that we’re going to see what we’ve already been seeing, with Ford trying to hold the line on retail prices but doing a brisk fleet business to make up for the mediocre retail volume.

    I think that you’ve been drinking the enthusiast Kool Aid with this one. I doubt that the average buyer will care about the things that you care about. (But I’ll give you credit for not clamoring for the manual diesel station wagon.)

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      I hope someone can dig up specific commercial sales that segregate the F series from aggregate production.

      You may be right and this may end up like the Focus and be pumped into fleet (not commercial) sales. The Focus had trans issuse that tained it’s first MY’s mix, but it’s 2nd year wasn’t a shinning beacon for retail, either.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    To quote Mr. Clarkson: “Did a Chinese person design this?”

    The Fusion may look bold now, but once we see its front end on the Ford Mustang and the Fiesta it’ll be forgettable.

    • 0 avatar

      you have made a great point. Seems all makers are falling into this trap; the BMW same sausage different length philosophy. In Brazil, most car watchers are already piling on VW for trying the so-called family face thing. I agree that in the end, when the whole line shares the same fascia, it just gets boring. Subtle tweats from car to car can make a world of difference though.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      It does have the taint of a cheap knock-off, doesn’t it? Shameful. Is this really the same Ford that sued Ferrari for calling their 50th anniversary F1 car the F1-50? Hypocrisy should be painful.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        @ CJ: This is the same Ford that sued its own fan sites (like TheRangerStation) and asked for $5,000. Ford also sued several ebay users for selling supposed fake parts.

        Ford technically did own Aston Martin, but since they sold Aston prior to the new “family face” you could say that they’re hypocrites.

        @ Marco: Thanks, its nice to see that other people don’t really care about this whole “sausage design philosophy”. I quit seeing Astons grille as “fancy” when I saw the Cygnet, and when I saw it on a Fiesta.

  • avatar
    Brian E

    I saw the new Fusion at CES in January, and it left me a little underwhelmed. It’s distinctive from the front, but from the side and rear it could be the natural evolution of the jellybean Taurus styling. It certainly looks like a decent midsize sedan choice, but I don’t see why it’s hugely different than the other options that are on the market (Sonata) or will be soon (Accord).

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Ford’s design inspiration: http://www.oldbug.com/061604%20146.jpg

  • avatar
    mistercopacetic

    I agree that the Fusion is a gamechanger, an aspirational car that can bring new buyers into Ford dealerships, even if they don’t leave with this particular model. I felt the same way about the Taurus, which IMHO is one of the best looking large cars out there. But on the low end, the Focus is finally class competitive again as well. So young buyers can walk into a Ford dealership and think, I’ll buy a Focus now, if I want something bigger in a few years I can jump in a Fusion, or even a Taurus. Chevy has also figured this out, making a class-competitive line from Cruze-Malibu, though we are waiting on a new Impala. Good to see Detroit finally catching up again, the import brands figured this out a long time ago (Fit-Civic-Accord, Corolla-Camry-Avalon, Sentra-Altima-Maxima, etc).

  • avatar
    dejal1

    I think ‘exciting’ is a bit too much.

    Pleasant looking is more like it.

    I like it, but the more I look at it, it has the same issues as the Chrysler 300 + Sonota, all trunk, hood, doors and a squished roof.

    The greenhouse and the rest of the car looks like 2 different people designed the car.

    The photos in Michael Ks review make the car look much better than the photo here.

  • avatar
    jhefner

    “I’m just glad they learned their lesson with the Taurus – hopefully Ford (and the other Detroit 2) will never again let their fruit rot on the vine.”

    “It’s distinctive from the front, but from the side and rear it could be the natural evolution of the jellybean Taurus styling. It certainly looks like a decent midsize sedan choice, but I don’t see why it’s hugely different than the other options that are on the market (Sonata) or will be soon (Accord).”

    The two references to past Taurus releases are interesting; because this Fusion release reminds me of the Gen 3 release of the 1996 Taurus. It’s “catfish” styling was considered too radical for it’s conservative buyers, and integrated A/C and radio controls (“Integrated Control Panel” or ICP) and other interior features weren’t entirely a hit; despite extensive market surveys and the B&B at Ford.

    I think this Fusion will go over much better. While the styling is radical compared to the previous model, it is not out-of-line with today’s styling trends; in some ways, the Gen 3 Taurus was too far ahead of the times as well as a little wierd. It sounds like changes to the MyTouch system may address the issues of previous releases; Ford fixed the ICP by getting rid of the “football”, and going back to conventional seperate A/C and radio stacks in the Gen 4 Taurus.

    While I am not a fan of the today’s gunslit stlying; I think Ford may have a game changer on their hands with this one as well. And, in another nod to the Gen 3 Taurus, the 2013 Ford NASCAR Winston Cup racer will also be closely styled after the 2013 Ford Fusion. It will play to the “race on Sunday, buy on Monday” mentality, and make it’s Euro styling seem more home grown.

  • avatar
    juicy sushi

    I think it will be a game changer, in that it will put a Detroit brand back on point in the class in terms of being a conversation piece. I think it might even, if it drives well enough and has no reliability headaches that create a bad impression, steal a bit of premium sales as those prices head so far up-market they go beyond the sweet spot of the market.

    Based on looks, it will get more attention than anything else in the class, it will get more attention than any of the entry level luxury cars from the class above it and will thereby create pressure on everyone else. It will force everyone else to improve their design efforts just to keep up. As Derek points out, dynamically and functionally, everyone in the market is essentially in the same place. If you want to drive growth of your model line, you need to have a “must-have” feature that makes your car the default choice. If the performance, price and luxury are equal, you need to do that with design.

    And it’s not just profits that you need to sustain stock prices and all the other market-related silliness. CEOs and Boards need to show growth to sate the markets. Design might be the only way to get there.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “I’ve had people who don’t give a lick about cars ask me about ‘the Ford that looks like an Aston’.”

    I don’t know many nonwealthy people who care zero about cars who know what an Aston Martin looks like.

    “Design is the key differentiator…”

    If exterior design is a major buyer priority, then why is Alfa-Romeo on the verge of being folded up? They’ve been putting all their eggs in the design basket for years and it’ll probably cost them their existence. If the Alfa 159 was sold in the US, would you have predicted it would be a success?

    Maybe if I was as blown away by the new Fusion’s styling as some people seem to be I’d be more on board with idea. I think the Ford looks good, but not any better than the Kizashi, Optima, Regal, or upcoming Mazda6.

    • 0 avatar
      mike978

      I know people keep saying it copied Aston, but consider the current generation Mondeo that has been sold in Europe for the past 4 or so years :

      http://www.ford.co.uk/Cars/Mondeo/Photosanddownloads

      The “Aston” grill is there, just lower down. The sides and back are pretty much carried over to this new generation. So on balance this Fusion is really an updated on the current Mondeo (styling wise). It is more of a shock in the US because the Mondeo was not sold here. but in Europe this will be seen as evolutionary.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        So because Ford copied Aston a generation back in Europe it shouldn’t count against them this time? You should have Jay Carney’s job. You’ll say anything.

      • 0 avatar
        86SN2001

        This Fusion would be right at home at a dealer sitting next to this:
        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/02/fake-in-china-more-on-the-faux-f150-and-its-chevy-precursor/

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Say anything, really? I think I praise and complain about all the major companies, unlike yourself.
        I was, correctly, pointing out that from a European perspective this styling was evolutionary. I agree with those that say the front looks like an Aston Martin. Just as I agree with those that say the back end of the new Accord looks like a Genesis Or the new Camry looks like a TSX. Your point is that Ford should be criticized for “copying” a previous companies design (at the front). I agree, then be consistent and criticize others for “copying” other people’s designs. But then your invective only ever goes one way, maybe you should work for Michelle Malkin!

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        The point about evolutionary styling in the European context is a good one. And there the current generation of Mondeo has not been setting the world, err, continent on fire.

        Given that the new car is still on the same CD3 platform it definitely seems a smallish step for Ford of Europe. If this styling gives the Fusion sales a quantum leap, then clearly the design is a bigger factor in the US than it is in Europe.

      • 0 avatar
        FromaBuick6

        Oh, come on CJ. mike978 probably IS Jay Carney…

        I kind of enjoy watching him scramble for examples of his own fairness and “consistency,” just so he can take potshots at your automotive/political biases. It’s hilariously predictable.

        He sure seems to have a hard-on for you, though, CJ. You should be flattered.

      • 0 avatar
        mike978

        Wow FAB6, did you really type that? Is it really an alien concept that a person can see good and bad within each company (not necessarily in equal amounts)? That would be a more realistic view of the world than thinking that Company A is 99% right and Company B is only 1% right all the time. Why is it hard to think that both the Fusion and Accord are good cars (subject to more reviews) – one is domestic and one is “foreign”. You have yourself owned cars from multiple brands so I know you don`t subscribe to that simplistic “A is always right B is always wrong” view, so your comment leaves me perplexed, but I think I will recover!
        You criticize me for taking “potshots” when the person you defend is well known for having snark or potshots in c.80% of his comments.
        I also note that the substance of my comment (evolutionarily styling from Europe) was disagreed with. Facts can be tricky to fight against. I don’t see where I was scrambling.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Who argued about it being an evolutionary design? The point is that being evolutionary doesn’t make it any more Ford’s design. They stole that face from Aston Martin in the most shameless way imaginable. It is minimally different from Chinese ‘F150s’ based on GM Colorados. Does it matter if the last Chinese Colorado had cues stolen from a previous Ford? Probably not to Ford’s legal department, but apparently it would to you. Because the Kia Amanti was obviously taking cues from an E-class Mercedes, did that give Hyundai free reign for the Genesis Mercedes clone? I’m being facetious of course. The UAW doesn’t build any of those other vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        CJinSD, you’re arguing that Ford shouldn’t use a design from Ian Callum, who not only started with Ford, was rehired by Ford for PAG? You make no sense. I think you’ve bottomed out.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I wasn’t born in 1999, so I know that Ian Callum inherited that grill from about fifty years of Aston Martin tradition starting with the DB MKIII, itself a widened and shortened evolution of the one used on the DB2/4. After that the proportions and shape remained the same and Ian Callum was born only about three years later. Ford bought the brand and assimilated the design. It keeps them out of a courtroom, but it still makes them derivative and an international disgrace.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I’ve got to go with CJ on this one. Although I’m not nearly offended by the Fusion’s design as he is, I have a really hard time buying into the idea that Ford’s money or Ian Callum “invented” the current Aston Martin front end.

        It’s obvious that Callum used the DB4, DB5, DB6, and Virage as a major inspiration when designing the Vanquish and DB7.

        The same way I wouldn’t totally credit Ralph Gilles with inventing the front end of the LX-platform 300. He took alot of styling cues from the Exner 300s of the 1950s.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        The DB MKIII? That’s a stretch. Is the Shelby Cobra an international disgrace?

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        Alright, I admit I see the same ‘cuts’ for the headlamps in the Fusion.

        Meh, I’m not surprised it trips your hatorade trigger. I also looked outside and saw that the sky was blue. All is right with the world.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        The Shelby Cobra was the product of Shelby approaching AC and suggesting that he could revitalize their Ace with a modern American engine. It was branded as a marketable Shelby in the US and as a marketable AC in the UK and Europe. Your point is not apparent to me.

    • 0 avatar
      Bimmer

      @ CJinSD:

      “They stole that face from Aston Martin in the most shameless way imaginable.”

      FYI: guy who designed Fusion is the younger brother of a guy who designed Aston Martin. So, I think Ian ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ian_Callum) shared the grill with Moray (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moray_Callum) :P

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        Ian Callum did NOT design the Aston Martin grill, which has been in use for over 60 years. Just because Callum was an Aston designer doesn’t make their characteristic grill his property to gift to his hack little brother. Your argument is a non-starter.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        Bimmer – didn’t know he penned the Fusion. Thanks for the info.

      • 0 avatar

        The outline shape of the Aston Martin grille dates to the DB4. I was at the introduction of the new Fusion. At the time, people said that it looked like Aston Martins not because of the grille, which is just another take on the current One Ford grille, but rather the overall look of the front end (whose pulled back headlights are very much like Ian Callum’s DB9), and the fastback shape.

        I think that it’s interesting, at least to my eyes, that the Fusion based 2013 Lincoln MKZ has a rear end that looks even more like Aston Martins, while at the same time it meets the Lincoln objective of not looking like a comparable Ford. Perhaps that’s because Ford is spending the money giving the Lincoln a greenhouse that’s unique from the Fusion’s.

        I also think that the Tesla Model S is deliberately evocative of the current Maserati, though its designer told me that the grilles are not the same shape, and he’s correct. Likewise, if you look at the Fusion grille and the Aston grille, the Ford grille doesn’t have that same notch. It’s evocative but not the same.

  • avatar
    BrianL

    People like this car. And the looks are going to win it some buyers who will overlook other flaws (I haven’t been in this one, so I can’t say what those flaws might be).

    But, take the Camaro, which Derek didn’t like because of its visibility issues, heavy weight etc. It looks good. It is been at or near the top of sales for awhile in its segment.

    The G8, while a good car, was a little cheap on the interior, expensive for people in that market, and the gas mileage wasn’t what people wanted, at least most people.

    Aspiration is one thing. This car doesn’t have to look like an Aston Martin to look good, but looking good from the outside is very important, unless you have a reputation like Toyota. Then any brick will work, at least for awhile.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    Wow! What a lot of criticsm. I’m surprised because I think Ford has done it again. The 1st gen Taurus wasn’t universally loved, to put it mildly, but it did stick Ford’s offering on the map. I think that this will do the same against, as Derek calls, biege brigade. Style doesn’t have to cost extra and I think that this looks good, especially in strong and dark colours.

    I don’t know if Ford tried this on purpose or it was happenstance but almost all of the majors have released their new designs. It gives this almost a 3 year headstart before competitive designs will show up. If this is a runaway success look out for more.

  • avatar
    George B

    I appreciate the design effort of Ford, but think they’ve gone a little to far with the high beltline look. The new Ford Fusion would look better if they could section a couple inches of height out of the bottom half of the car. The other thing that would help is an Audi-like transaxle design to move the front wheels forward.

    I didn’t like driving the Kia Optima as much as I thought I would. The shape of the back of the car really hurts rearward visibility when you’re trying to change lanes in heavy traffic. I’d worry that the Fusion styling might have similar function problems in mainstream family car use.

    • 0 avatar
      outback_ute

      George I agree with you on the need to reduce front overhangs, I will be interested to see if any manufacturer will adopt the Toyota iQ approach of moving the transmission ahead of the engine, which should have relatively little impact on things and would improve space utilisation.

  • avatar
    Lichtronamo

    Everyone says it looks like an Aston, but there is quite a bit of Mustang in that front clip too, specifically the cantered grill sides and swept back headlights. The Evos concept design language is going to translate very well into a new Pony car.

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      ” but there is quite a bit of Mustang in that front clip too”

      I agree. Go back even further and look at the various t-bird front ends from 55 to 60 (especially the 59) and you can see the origins of the Evos design language.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    For everyone calling the Sonata a game-changer, they either own one and like all of us will defend our purchase to the end or have never driven one. I had one for a rental: 4 days and 2100 miles. Slightly quieter than an Accord, same mileage, reluctant transmission, some decent materials, ugly bright blue screens which are killer at night, poor visibility, and overwrought styling.

    As much a game changer as an original LH car. As least it’s more competent.

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    “The Fusion could be powered by a hamster in a wheel and drive like an oxcart, but its design is strong enough to attract the attention of car enthusiasts and more importantly, people in the market for new cars, who want to make some kind of statement about whatever image they want to project but can’t or won’t shell out for something with a foreign badge. Believe me, there are tons of those consumers out there. And now they have an option besides a used luxury sedan that they won’t have to justify to their peer group.”

    I was wondering how you could rant endlessly about the excessive hype surrounding the FR-S, only to turn around and breathlessly hype up the Fusion. The quote above makes the answer painfully simple: You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

    No, I don’t believe you that there are tons of consumers clamoring to buy a value brand car, regardless of its technical merits, just because it’s pretty. This isn’t 1962 and this isn’t a Galaxie with afterburner taillamps. Badge matters. In Europe, the Mondeo is consistently overlooked in favor of the the most depressingly stripped-out, gutless BMWs you can imagine. Those BMWs aren’t exactly pretty, either.

    Volkswagen already tried the cut-rate Eurosedan route, failed to make any money doing it, and gave up. Volkswagen at least had the advantage of already having European cache of its own; Most people don’t know that the new Fords have European roots, nor do they care.

    That’s not to say this Fusion is a bad car or won’t sell. Quite the contrary, I expect. I’m sure it’ll rank in the top three in every review, and give the Camry/Accord a run for their money in sales. People will buy it for a lot of reasons, but mostly because its practical and economical, which is the main reason anybody buys this kind of car. Maybe it’ll see an early popularity surge because of the styling. Just like the Sonata. But then it’ll plateau/fall off. Just like the Sonata. This is by no means the first attractive/striking midsize sedan. It’s not even the first one from Ford.

    Except you’re here, claiming this is something we’ve never seen before and making gross generalizations about demographics. “For the first time ever, I’ve had people who don’t give a lick about cars ask me about “the Ford that looks like an Aston“.” What people? You’re a 23 year old single, childless, urbanite blogger. Based your writing, your social circle consists of people who don’t own cars, don’t need cars, don’t care about cars, and certainly don’t buy new cars. Their opinions are completely irrelevant to North American market trends. Yet you use the views of your tragically-hip Toronto bubble as a basis to make proclamations about what the market will and won’t do.

    You don’t have the life experience or gravitas to make this kind of commentary with any authority. Hell, people twice your age don’t have it. I know I certainly don’t have it, but then nobody pays me for my commentary, either. Look, I like you, I think you’re a good writer, but stick to your strengths.

    Oh, and before some Ford salesman, popcorn-munching blowhard or self-appointed TTAC ombudsman accuses me of loving Toyota, killing babies, etc, I’d like state for the record that I’ve owned both a Ford and a Toyota. The Toyota sucked. The Ford…sucked less.

    • 0 avatar
      200k-min

      A little harsh on Derek are we? He’s driven the car and I haven’t so I’ll take his word on that. As for who his circle of friends are, I dunno, since he writes for TTAC I’m going to guess they aren’t ALL the Toronto urbanies I know that either don’t own a vehicle or share one with their spouse. (BTW, Canadians HATE it when I tell them the GTA reminds me of Dallas-Ft. Worth. Sprawl, sprawl, sprawl for an area with about the same popultaion.) Point is, there are a LOT of cars in the Toronto area. Head out to Whitby or Mississauga or Richmond Hill, or what have you and look in the driveways. They are filled with cars like any red blooded American city. And I’m not sure how being childless matters at all unless we were discussing child haulers. Most people I know w/out kids drive d-segment vehicles.

      “No, I don’t believe you that there are tons of consumers clamoring to buy a value brand car, regardless of its technical merits, just because it’s pretty.”

      Maybe not, but the TTAC reviews have said this thing is a class leader. Being different looking could be enough to get that Camcord buyer to visit the Ford dealer. If the car can compete it will win some sales. If the Fusion is as flawless as the much ballyhooed early 90′s Camry then Ford could build a reputation one driver at a time. Imagine that? Back in 1994 the nothing special Taurus killed the Camry in sales. In 2013 I’m sure the Camry will kill the Fusion in sales, but by all accounts the Toyota is now the “noting special” vehicle.

      Hell, I’m a Honda driver and am very vocal about my dissapointment in that company, and the Fusion is the only mid-size in years that has interested me. Then again, I’m just a mid-30′s childless urbanite and don’t fall into any kind of mass market demographic.

      • 0 avatar
        Dingleberrypiez

        I hate to be critical, but I completely agree with Buick on this. The typical new car buyer cares much, much, less about attractive car designs or brand image than Derek seems to believe based on some of his articles. However, Derek may be on point when it comes to young buyers and enthusiasts, a demographic he represents and clearly understands. Young people are much more concerned with “peacocking,” which the new Fusion may well do better than a comparable Camry.

        Being young, and to some degree childless, does affect perspective in this context. The over 30 people buying these cars aren’t doing it to “make a statement,” “project an image,” pick up babes, or look cool to their friends. These things matter much more to young, single buyers, individuals that are not flocking towards new Fusions, Accords, or Camrys, but rather inexpensive style/image oriented Velosters, tCs, and used luxury marks. I don’t believe adding an Aston looking grill brings a big-ass 4 door family sedan into this category of appeal. This is the mid-size sedan market, the exemplary “appliance” car category; even if this were unquestionably the most beautiful mid size sedan ever, the design isn’t enough to make it a “game changer.”

        I remember when the first Taurus and 92+ Camry came out. They were way, way better than other cars at the time. At the risk of being condescending, you kind of had to be there (ie, be of a certain age) to appreciate this. It wasn’t just style. If they were “powered by a hamster in a wheel and [drove] like an oxcart,” they wouldn’t have been “game changers.” At all.

        I was kind of irritated by this and the “overhyped fr-s” article, although both encouraged some interesting comments, which I think is valuable.

  • avatar
    doug-g

    It would be even better if Ford still owned Aston Martin.

    Lincoln, back in the day, was an aspirational car and Mercurys were designed to resemble them. Ads with headings such as: “If Lincoln Continental built a station wagon” for the Colony Park and “The most dramatically styled car since the Lincoln Continental Mark III” for the Marquis, helped to move more cars and build the “family”. Now they have a car that resembles a brand they no longer own. Be interesting if they had kept Aston Martin as the “halo” brand, moved Lincoln down a notch and left Ford for the mass market. Second guessing, though, is really a waste of time…

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      doug-g…

      I realize that you were just speculating, but American car makers have not had a good track record when they owned (even partially) overseas car companies. Some notable examples:
      1) Ford almost destroyed Jaguar, which is now blossoming under Tata;
      2) GM demolished Saab, pure and simple;
      3) GM is busily waltzing Peugeot-Citroën into disaster;
      4) Chrysler and Mercedes were not fit for each other, and both were mutually harmed;
      5) Ford had been dragging Mazda under for decades, let it go, and it (Mazda) is now recovering;
      6) GM had not invested in Opel, but now threatens plant closures and scale-backs.

      So, either we should mind our own business, or perhaps discuss if perhaps some overseas car companies should own us! The results certainly could not be any worse. And you might look at Fiat’s ownership of Chrysler under Sergio as a shining example that the reverse might work quite well.

      Frankly, I can’t think of anything less desirable than Ford owning Aston Martin.

      —————

      • 0 avatar
        TEXN3

        Ford pumped millions into Jaguar, and set them up rather nicely. Ford bought up shares of Mazda when they were plunging, and Mazda did help them out of the dark ages in terms of small cars and transaxles. But Mazda has had it’s own issues and still does. GM pumped millions into SAAB and nothing changed there. Those 3 companies would have died in the 90s if it wasn’t for Ford or GM buying them up and wasting money on them. Good riddance. I can agree on Daimler and Chrysler. The French have their own issues that GM won’t drag down any further.

        If it wasn’t for Ford, Aston would have never been able to develop the VH platform it’s relied on now for close to 15 years.

        You’re right, we should mind our own business but try to get a grasp on what is really going on.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Thank you for that elaboration, TEXN3…

        You have indeed shown that there are two (or more) sides to every story. I appreciate it.

        However, American companies often think that “pumping money” into something is the same as providing real boots-on-the-ground leadership, facility, and commitment. It’s not. There was absolutely no reason for Saab, for example, to have been treated as it was.

        I guess I’ll have to stand by my comments: Yes, there were some benefits in reverse (as you noted), but for the most part, we have not been adept at international dealings with cars, and should get our own house in order, IMHO. Failing that, perhaps VW could buy GM?

        ——

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        You didn’t mention Ford buying Volvo and giving us a bunch of re-badged de-tunedre-tuned stuff.

      • 0 avatar
        TEXN3

        I agree that GM treated SAAB very poorly, but I don’t think SAAB would have been around once the SUV craze took off in the late 90s, especially since they would have not had any money to update their old platforms and cars. I do get why people like SAABs, but the SAAB faithful wouldn’t have been enough to keep the company afloat. BMW surely wouldn’t have bailed them out after the Rover fiasco and VW didn’t have any money back then.

        Similar story for Volvo, yeah the RWD BOF cars were excellent and rugged. My wife had a 760 GLE when we got married, soon after the headgasket started leaking and gunked up the turbo…we junked it. But it was a great car otherwise, like a truck and a Euro sedan combined. The 850s had other problems and while very robust, corners were cut on drivetrains and electonics. Neither platforms would have kept Volvo afloat into the next century without Ford dumping millions into the new platforms that came out with the first S80…which Ford is still using today.

        VW has done a great business, I think much of that is due to their reach. Same with Toyota, they built their business across the world based on a few great offerings (simple and rugged) and have grown from there.

        I don’t think anyone buying GM would be a wise choice, too much risk and not enough reward. Nothing against GM, I just don’t see what they’ve got going for them.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        TEXN3…

        You mentioned a key factor that most car manufacturers nowadays seem to have forgotten: “simple and rugged”.

        On another post, even though its reliability per se was not spectacular, the VW Beetle circa 1960′s was “simple and rugged”, and so it took off world wide. The last Beetles were produced in Mexico in the 1990′s. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Beetle)

        Had GM and Ford, in particular, imparted those “simple and rugged” traits to their overseas acquisitions, things may have been different.

        ————-

      • 0 avatar
        Dimwit

        Everyone keeps rewriting history. Tex3 has it right. Ford was excellent for all three English marques, all were on the verge of bankruptcy when Ford bought them. And, in opposition to all the haters out there, it was GOOD. All 3 had finally found someone who understood the business weel, and also had the deep pockets to change a failing carriage trade operation into a modern auto concern. To this day all 3 are still living off those changes. It’s just too bad that Ford never got to reap their investments. They should be getting the good news not TATA. Life is unfair. BTW Ford pumped *billions* not millions. Not totally stupid, they still have small stakes in all of the TATA deals, I’m not sure about AM.

        As for Volvo, they ran out of time and resources. They had been trying desperately to modernize with joint ventures with European partners but it wasn’t working. They have always had the talent but just couldn’t fund the necessary changes and keep building their old line too. They knew they had to go to a fwd platform and it would take deep pockets to accomplish it. Along came Ford. And yes it worked. Even better, all that talent helped Ford too. Ford is still living off that collaboration and again, they really didn’t want to sell Volvo and would snap it up if Geely should want to sell I would think.

        SAAB was a basket case and GM should never have bought it. Ego again. SAAB’s raison d’etre was superior engineering with superb safety standards on a unique platform with a lot of quirkyness. Small, highly loyal customer base. The safety thing went away as the rest of the world caught up, CAD/CAM matched their engineering and the design got old. GM gave them some more modern designs but started to remove the quirkyness until it became EuroGM and then what was the point? Not special at all.

      • 0 avatar
        outback_ute

        1) A bit premature – they are still reaping the rewards of Ford’s final years of ownership, let’s see what happens when new models are needed. Granted it took Ford a long time to turn the ship around.
        2) Agreed
        3) Has there been anything of consequence come from this tie-up yet?
        4) I’m not sure you could say Chrysler owned any part of Daimler?
        5) I thought that both parties benefited from the relationship, and other than reverting back to one global Mazda6 I don’t see that a lot has changed with Mazda.
        6) GM has owned Opel for over 80 years, Opel’s problems reflect GM more broadly but have not had (and cannot have) the same bankruptcy ‘fix’.
        7) I disagree, a specialist luxury manufacturer can benefit from having access to a large volume of engineering resources and existing systems, so long as they use them wisely which Aston has done since they developed the Vanquish/DB9. The DB7 served them well as a stakeholder before that.

        VW demonstrates that it can work, Fiat & Ferrari are probably another example. I thought that Ford could have benefited (and probably will) from the work done building aluminum-bodied Jaguars and Astons, breaking ground in high-cost technology in a market that will sustain it rather than a segment that won’t – eg Audi A2.

        Edit – hadn’t seen TEXN3′s or Dimwit’s posts – I agree completely (apart from the rwd Volvos not being BOF). If Ford had been able to avoid it they would not have sold those companies, but had to in order to keep the mother ship afloat. I actually think that if they could have sold Lincoln instead of Jaguar, that would have been a better move.

      • 0 avatar
        TEXN3

        The 100, 200, and 700 series sure looked to be BOF from my experience. But further research does indicate that I’m wrong…seems to be kind of a hybrid of unibody with frame structure.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Dimwit, TEXN3, and outback_ute…

        Thanks for the corrections and elaborations.

        As I was considering all this further, I looked at VWAG, and their component divisions.
        They have Audi, Bentley, Bugatti, Lamborghini, Porsche, SEAT, Škoda, Volkswagen, MAN, Scania and Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles. We can ignore Ducati for the moment.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volkswagen_Group

        Are there any that they have managed poorly? When SEAT ran into trouble this year, Martin Winterkorn said they would not dump them, but reinvest and commit.

        What I was driving at initially is that I am not convinced American companies do well with overseas acquisitions (by comparison to VWAG), and that we really need to clean up our act stateside. I also noted that Fiat was able to swing things around for Chrysler, so acquisitions success is not unique to VWAG.

        Even if some benefits can be measured from the acquisitions adventures of Ford, GM, and Chrysler, my issue is that they have as often as not messed things up, misjudged the business case, or been deceived (self or otherwise). A current example is GM’s dalliance with Peugeot-Citroen: what were/are they thinking?

        My sense is that VWAG, with its very thorough market analysis and business acumen, may indeed trounce other car makes by 2016-2018: they just have not made our magnitude of mistakes. What is often not realized is that wrong or weak mergers cost plenty!– far beyond the original acquisition prices. Look at the huge losses that BMW incurred by trying to buy Rover Group: what a financial disaster, and some say they have not recovered even yet.

        I should also note that industry prognosticating analysts (sorry, no reference) had not given either Chrysler nor GM long-term viability beyond 2020, but that was BF (Before Fiat). Ford, yes, in a much smaller role.

        So, again, I suggest we cool it with the company-buying binge: none of the American three is strong enough to take future beatings by more misjudged “opportunities”…..

        ————-

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Look what I just found!

        Any more doubts that GM should be bought by somebody else? We are talking a HALF MILLION cars here….

        “GM recalls 474K midsize cars over bad transmission”
        http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505145_162-57517641/gm-recalls-474k-midsize-cars-over-bad-transmission/?tag=cbsnewsSectionContent.9

        ———————–

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    In my eyes, it is absolutely beautiful. 3-4 years minimum before I can buy a new car, but it’s down to this puppy and the 9th Generation Accord coupe. Both meet all my criteria better than any other cars in my price range.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    Ford has really good media relations. How else did this end up being a recurring feature? Too bad the last Fusion’s reputation as being a dependable car was due to it really being a Mazda. Loyal Fusion buyers could be in for a rude surprise.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    If people were really concerned with being “distinct”, they’d all buy Nissan Jukes and I’d buy an old rusty Peterbelt.

    In fact, with the way that windows and drivers are going an old Peterbelt looks a bit more appealing now.

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    Will this still offer a V6 above 250hp and 3.0L+ displacement?

    The segment leaders haven’t followed the Hyundai/GM tactic of going for all four cylinder engines. The only shiny spot on depression hill for the 200 is that Pentastar. There are still more than enough buyers in America who want an American-badged midsizer with at least V6 power that’s roomy and reliable; Ford is the only one that has the potential to fill that need at this point with the moribund Malibu. (And since the current Taurus is a rolling tank and visual embodiment of cossetting nannyism — thank you, Volvo — Ford will lose customers if they want something with just a little more power, just a little bigger.)

    That fish grill looks like the Second-Gen-Aurorification of the 2005-ish Taurus. Don’t like the guppy? Take the whole trout! Still, it won’t hurt, and women will like it — the Blue Oval’s been positioned to the masculine with the F-Series leading the charge; this should help in cross-gender purchasing decisions now that Mercury is dead and they don’t have to try to pretend that Jill and two-tone leather fixes it. Since it’s got the James Bond pretensions as well, it won’t get the Pontiac stigma of being a girly car.

    • 0 avatar
      Dimwit

      It’d be nice to see a spec-R type, EcoBoost V6 or the Mustang V6 with AWD. Goes like hell and still has a usable backseat.

    • 0 avatar
      outback_ute

      If I had to guess, the Lincoln MKZ might have a V6 as one of its points of separation. However I think a 2.5L version of the Ecoboost would be a smart move for Ford, both for this car and the Mustang. Just the increase in displacement would take you to 300hp and 330lb-ft. As Michael mentioned in his review the fat low end torque curve makes up for a lot in real-world driving too, even if the long term reliability of the engine is still up in the air.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Yes the Lincoln gets a V-6 as an option to differentiate if from the Ford. It also starts with the 2.0 Ecoboost as the base engine and it is priced the same as the Hybrid version.

  • avatar
    CelticPete

    The problem with this car is its pretty heavily invested into the ecoboost line – and while somewhat efficent it doesn’t seem to be terribly reliable compared to a proven v-6 engine..

    Gimmee the mustang or pentastar engine any day of the week. This car is pretty big – if I wanted to get one I be sorely temped to get a Dodge Charger instead.. It’s better looking and has more swagger..

    What’s the torque split on the AWD system BTW? Is it like 95/5 in normal conditions? Or is a real AWD system and thus a poor man’s Audi.

  • avatar
    armadamaster

    I guess I am the only person on the planet who looked at this and wondered who beat the Fusion with an ugly stick…looks like a swollen Chrysler 200 to me, and the 200 is no looker either.


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