By on August 1, 2013

failures-080113

I think my colleagues would agree that we, as automotive journalists, do not devote enough attention to the burgeoning convertible SUV segment. This is partially my fault. I stood idly by when the segment doubled in size with the 2011 arrival of the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet. And again, I’ve hardly batted an eyelash at reports of yet another entrant: the Range Rover Evoque convertible.

With this in mind, I’ve decided to provide a highly useful convertible SUV buyers guide, which you can use later, once the inevitable craze hits, to determine which model is right for you. Here it is:

1. Jeep Wrangler: This is apparently a convertible, although you’d never know it from the number of rich people who drive around in four-door Unlimited models and never take off their body-colored plastic tops, which are manufactured from the same material as their body-colored plastic noses. Although the Wrangler was completely redesigned for the 2007 model year, absolutely nobody believes me when I explain this, preferring instead to think of it as “unchanged since about 1985.” The Wrangler accounts for 100 percent of convertible SUV sales.

2. Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet: This is the market’s other convertible SUV, though I use the term “SUV” loosely. I do not, however, use the term “convertible” loosely, because the Murano CrossCabriolet is absolutely a convertible, a point that’s made clear from the yards of canvas that line its roof without regards to petty things such as outward visibility. The Murano accounts for 100 percent of convertible SUV satire.

So there you have it, folks: a highly comprehensive convertible SUV buyer’s guide. I strongly suggest that you store it in a safe place in case an in-law comes to you this holiday season and says: “I really love my SUV. I only wish it had two doors, no roof, and dangerous structural rigidity. Do you have any recommendations?” Then you will say “YES!” and rush to find my buyer’s guide, only to discover it’s not really all that helpful.

Of course, the truth is that an in-law is unlikely to ask you for convertible SUV advice. That’s because convertible SUVs have been, in large part, utter failures. I am thinking now of the Isuzu Amigo, the Kia Sportage, the Toyota RAV4, and, of course, the Ford Bronco, which was not technically a convertible SUV but became one in nearly all high-speed collisions.

OK, so maybe the Bronco wasn’t a failure. I mean, it certainly worked for OJ. But there’s absolutely no doubt that the rest of those models were.

Or were they?

I’ve been thinking recently about how we, as auto enthusiasts, use the term “failure.” I, personally, use it to describe any vehicle that doesn’t sell very well, such as the Isuzu VehiCROSS, or that new Subaru hatchback they’ve painted to resemble a traffic cone. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that I may be using the term all wrong.

Take, for instance, the Lincoln Blackwood, which was the subject of some derision in one of my articles a few weeks ago for failing just as the luxury truck market was taking off. For those who don’t know, here’s how Ford created the Blackwood:

1. Take a Crew Cab F-150. (They have these just lying around.)
2. Change the wheels.
3. Change a few panels.
4. Place that bizarre bed cover on the back.
5. Change the horn pad.

By my calculations, an automaker can complete these steps with five hundred bucks and three hours of union labor, which works out to a total cost of around nine grand. Add that to the cost of the F-150, and you’re looking at a figure that rivals the average incentive spend for each Murano CrossCabriolet sold. But here’s the thing: the Blackwood sold for more than $52,000!

My point here is that I have trouble believing, even once you factor in marketing – of which there was virtually none – that the Blackwood could be a failure. Every one of these trucks was pure profit for Ford, while every one of their mediocre navigation systems was pure misery for Blackwood owners.

You could apply this same argument to several other vehicles we all consider to be failures. The Ford Excursion, for example, lasted for just six model years, all of which Ford spent defending attacks that would not have been any worse if Ford had come out with a vehicle that actually steals human organs in the night. The Excursion had a similar formula as the Blackwood, namely: take a Super Duty truck, slap a new body on it, throw some seats in, and boom! Average transaction price above $40,000.

So I’m wondering if maybe we’ve been to harsh on certain vehicles previously believed to be failures. Maybe some cars really do make automakers money, even if they fail to find mass-market appeal. Except, of course, for the Range Rover Evoque convertible. That thing won’t make money for anybody. But I sure am excited to have one as a service loaner when my Range Rover breaks down.

@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars and the operator of PlaysWithCars.com. He’s owned an E63 AMG wagon, road-tripped across the US in a Lotus without air conditioning, and posted a six-minute lap time on the Circuit de Monaco in a rented Ford Fiesta. One year after becoming Porsche Cars North America’s youngest manager, he quit to become a writer. His parents are very disappointed.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

148 Comments on “Are Failures Really Failures?...”


  • avatar
    ash78

    Interesting side note: Several years ago I worked on massive repo/loss tables for thousands of vehicles, their buyers, default rates, categories, etc. It was part of our predictive loss analysis for loan underwriting all over the US.

    Jeep Wranglers (statistically) fit almost perfectly with “convertibles and sports cars” and only marginally with other SUVs.

  • avatar

    Someone passed by me in one of those Nissans and my first thought was to that picture on TTAC of the girl whose toes were amputated when her SUV flipped over…if that thing flipped over I get my head shaved off. No thank you.

  • avatar

    Well, only this Saturday I had the pleasure of showeling hail out of my CONVERTIBLE S.U.V., so yeah, sometimes I wonder if it was a good idea.

    One funny part is that the weather was perfect when I drove up to a Chinese buffet place in my CONVERTIBLE S.U.V.. When I was done enjoying my General T’so’s Chiken and emerged outside it was raining cats and dogs. Just like that.

  • avatar
    kkop

    From what I can see around here in GA, Ford Excursions are treasured by their owners; I have never seen a trashed or even neglected one.

  • avatar
    WaftableTorque

    My fascination with product failures is what happens to corporate accounting when the expected future cash flow projections never materialize, screwing up present value calculations and cascading into possible cutbacks in R&D, marketing, credit rating issues, etc.

    BTW, the lone VehiCROSS driver in our city is going to have an SUV that’ll still look great in 2033, assuming he can keep it running that long.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    The real problem with the Blackwoods was the power tonneau cover. Which broke often and few technicians could figure out how to fix.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      I had remembered that the Blackwood was so expensive because of the tonneau but also because of the African faux-wood and aluminum bed that couldn’t be used for you know, work. As well the shocking lack of options for a Lux-Truck, not to mention it was late for its production date due to a supplier issue with MagnaSteyr that Ford had gone outside the ranch for.

      This usually happens with the first of a breed. The first iteration is treated as kind of a joke that later generations learn their mistakes from.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        …..This usually happens with the first of a breed. The first iteration is treated as kind of a joke that later generations learn their mistakes from…..

        That would certainly apply to the very first Escalades…they were literally Chevys with nicer seats and different badges. I was shocked that they took off as the Navigators were a much better first effort. Didn’t take long for Cadillac to out bling it

        • 0 avatar
          Blackcloud_9

          I agree with you on the Escalades. Cadillac has manged to make them look a lot less like a Chevy but the early ones were ridiculous. With their badging and obvious plastic side cladding, it was like they were driving around saying: I’m not a Chevy. I’m not! I’m not! I’m not!

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    The only real measure of success or failure is whether the automaker made money on it or not. As with the Blackwood, sometimes the cost of making the vehicle out of the parts bin is SO low that you really can’t help but make a killing, even with very, very low volumes. The wretched Nissan Thing is probably in that category as well. And only the automakers know, and they aren’t telling.

    Sometimes cars pretty much have to be a failure – I can’t imagine Chrysler isn’t losing a ton of money on the Dart at this point, for example. There is not enough margin in a small car to make up for poor sales. But again, only they know for sure, and accounting is as much an art as a science anyway.

    Sometimes it is all perception. The launch of the FIAT 500 was considered a failure in the press. Chrysler said they would sell 50K a year, but in that first year they launched late, and not all the dealers were open. So they managed to sell 1/2 that IIRC and got reamed by the press. But volumes picked up in subsequent years.

    • 0 avatar

      Good post. You’re especially spot-on with “sometimes the cost of making the vehicle out of the parts bin is SO low that you really can’t help but make a killing, even with very, very low volumes.” I bet we would all be stunned to discover some of the stuff that was profitable on paper, even if not successful in our minds.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        CTS-V wagon comes to mind. Likely the XLR too.

      • 0 avatar

        And that is the million dollar question…what does it cost to build a car ? Prices are determined by marketing (how else do you think the car you want is always JUST slightly overpriced-and how those option packages are always designed for the upsell . ?)

        I wish someone would wikileak some “production cost” information. Cost of production has zero to do with sale prices. I once was told that ‘figure half the sale price’, which would explain why they’d rather sell 40k near luxury cars than 22k family haulers (assuming the costs of carrying the car are the same, and they probably are). Since it is a game of numbers, we all suffer from the part that someone saved five cents on, and most of the B and B are good at seeing the actual parts shared across platforms.

        What does it cost to build a car ?

        • 0 avatar

          I tried to find out the answer to this when I worked at Porsche. Not only was no one sure, but no one HAD EVEN THE SLIGHTEST IDEA. It was so bizarre.

          Part of the reason, I think, is that costs are always moving around. “Oh, that car didn’t make that transmission worth it? Then spread that transmission’s cost out between all 3 cars that use it! Now they all make a profit!” I think this happens a LOT. Accounting, as krhodes said, is an art as much as a science.

          • 0 avatar
            th009

            I think the easiest thing to find out would be what PCNA paid Porsche AG for a car. But that would still have the Porsche AG margin built in.

            But if you have the above info, you can look at the operating margins in the published financial statements and make a pretty good guess.

          • 0 avatar
            RobertR

            This is a great thread. I have posted about this before, but the manufacturers’ production cost, development amortization, “we can’t make money on this” discussion is a black box no one has ever seemed to crack in any significant way.

            It would be great if someone dove into this question at TTAC.

            Krhodes1 may appreciate this – as a longtime CCA member, I am regularly frustrated by the oversimplified explanation for excluding certain models from the North American market. “You take the number of cars you’re going to sell, amortize the cost of federalizing the model, and if it isn’t profitable, it doesn’t get sold here. Simple!”

            Right, just like that.

            This article serves to highlight the periodic product planning idiocy of the manufacturers. The fact that it took until 2007 for JEEP to build a four door Wrangler is an embarrassment. Look how many more they sell now – how much could it possibly have cost to engineer the four door version?

            Using our favorite whipping boy – manuals!wagons! – Mercedes will happily sell 150 E63 wagons a year here. Cadillac will happily sell 15 CTS-V wagons (I know it’s been more than that). Subaru is having banner years with a wagon heavy fleet. VW has the entry level wagon market essentially to itself. But Audi just left the U.S. wagon market, leaving us with just the Allroad, while every Euro maker slices the SUV pie thinner and thinner. What is happening?

            Where is the intersection between production cost, expected sales, and strategic brand positioning?

          • 0 avatar

            The thing is, there is no one blanket answer. Each scenario is specific and relies on highly variable figures.

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      I don’t think the Nissan Murano convertible is particularly cheap to build for Nissan. Every body panel aft of the front clip is different and that includes the underlying structural parts AND the interior trim parts because it is a two-door rather than a four-door. Convertible unibodies usually have differences in the floor pan to stiffen them, so that’s different, too. And they would have had to re-do some of the government safety certification tests because of the structural differences.

      • 0 avatar

        I agree. I think it’s wildly expensive. Some of my other SUV ‘vert examples may not have been so bad, as a lot – like the RAV4 – share tons of parts with the normal one. Not so with the Murano. And as you mention it isn’t only body – tons of engineering too.

  • avatar
    Omnifan

    There was also a Chevy Blazer with canvas top in the 70s and a Dodge Dakota with one in the 80s.

  • avatar
    segfault

    You forgot the Geo/Chevrolet Tracker and Suzuki Sidekick.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    The DeLorean was a failure, but it did appear in 3 massive Hollywood blockbusters and a decent chunk of the population knows what a DeLorean is as a result, so I guess it’s not a HUGE failure.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    You can give your Range Rover an aftermarket convertible conversion, but the execution of the canvas roof is possibly WORSE than that of the Murano CC.

    I also remember a Motor Trend cover story in about ’94 or ’95 featuring a one-off Ram-based Suburban Fighter built for Sheikh Hamad Bin Hamdan Al-Nahyan of Abu Dhabi. It wasn’t that bad-looking an SUV at all.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I think if Toyota built a convertible version of the FJ Cruiser, they could sell a bunch of them to people who want a Wrangler, but don’t want to visit the Jeep Service Department every 6 weeks.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    My coworker is shopping for a car. And after 3 months of sending me AutoTrader links asking for advice, he has narrowed it down to every car ever.
    But one of the standouts for him (along with the 350Z, MazdaSpeed3/6, Focus ST, GTI sedan) is the Subaru Crosstrek. But not a WRX wagon.
    And I don’t think the Crosstrek is a failure because I see so many of them around. It’s simply a replacement for the Impreza Outback.

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    I don’t think we should lose sight of the indirect measures of success or failure.

    The example which came straight to mind for me is that bastion of high style, the Pontiac Aztek, now and forever enshrined as a cultural icon not only through it’s association with drug kingpin Walter White but as the design inspiration for the current Lexus RX.

    Because the Lexus RX is widely considered to be a great success and since, especially when viewed from the side, the Aztek design inspiration appears indisputable, my argument is that the success and importance of the Aztek’s design contribution deserves to be re-evaluated.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I just might use this as a thesis for my Master’s.

    • 0 avatar

      Well said! To that I would add, how about the inspiration of the Edsel to the Subaru B9 Tribeca.

      • 0 avatar
        Power6

        There is one that might considered failure, but i think the tribeca has made money for subaru. Not quite enough for a 2nd gen to be developed though.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          That is unfortunate. My Outback is a great vehicle, but I wish it was 6″ taller and 6″ longer for the cargo I have to carry.

          I liked the Tribeca, but it felt “left on the vine” overall.

    • 0 avatar
      Freddy M

      Very well put. I would say however that your conclusion assumes success and failure on behalf of the auto industry as a whole.

      To be a little more black and white about it, the Aztek by any measurable sense was a “failure” to GM in the only way that matters to them – sales numbers. Yes that old chestnut. But as you pointed out, it opened the door to the wider auto community in general, and the RX took cues from that and had a much better execution and enjoyed tremendous success as evidenced by aforementioned sales figures.

      Then there’s the less tangible aspect of success. I think we’ve all heard stories about how Aztek owners hold their Azteks near and dear to them. Something that non Aztek owners simply cannot understand, clinging only to the notion that “it flopped in the showrooms so it MUST be a failure — how can you love it so?”

      By that measure, it can be said that the Aztek found success in its (small) ownership, but this was simply not enough for GM to consider it a sales success and continue the model.

      Or how the Corolla, perennial sales champ in the Compact car segment is widely acknowledged as an undisputed success in its segment by virtue of the shear weight of its sales figures month after month, yet when its specs are directly compared to its closest (and sometimes furthest) competitors, it falls flat on its face.

      Any non-enthusiast Corolla owner (is that redundant?) who knows the value of the Toyota Corolla brand image will not bat an eyelash at notion that the Corolla is the most successful car (in the world). But how does that compare for example to Honda’s recent reaction to the Civic when by all measures, it shares a similar brand strength to the Corolla, released a “lackluster” 9th generation model almost universally panned by the auto journos (read enthusiasts), yet still sold through the roof? But because of the backlash in perception, Honda still saw fit to immediately address those concerns instead of resting comfortably on their laurels giving the media the big F off. Even one of the largest manufacturers in the world can show that sometimes Sales figures alone doesn’t equal success.

    • 0 avatar
      Blackcloud_9

      Sorry didn’t notice this post before I added my 2 cents below

      People seem to be forgetting one of the great stylistic failures – and one of the most famous whipping boys for auto enthusiasts – the Pontiac Aztek! Yes, reviled by the press and public alike. I always gave Pontiac props for trying something different. And what did GM do with this debacle? The re-skinned and re-badged it as the Buick Rendezvous and it sold for years. Failure? or not?

  • avatar
    dolorean

    Think you may have forgotten, and honestly I can’t blame you for it, the Suzuki two-seater X-90. It sold alongside the RAV-4 for the “micro-SUV” market of the late ’90s. The RAV-4 has since grown in size, but it suceeded where the X-90 didn’t; namely, in utility. Why would anyone want a two-seater SUV that had no trunk space and cost the same as the RAV-4?

  • avatar
    jco

    you know, to use a wrangler for its intended purpose, which is bouncing along an OHV trail on a hot day with the top folded down, is actually a great experience.

    most people that buy Jeeps imagine they’ll do this, but don’t.

    I’ve only ever seen the Murano CC in front of Nissan dealers, parked on those angled ramp display things.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      The other thing is that people don’t – as far as I know – think of a Wrangler as “a convertible SUV”, but as “a Jeep”; it’s sort of in its own category (or at least one with the Defender and the older Land Cruiser).

      People who drive one with the hardtop are doing so because the convertible top is *incredibly noisy*, probably. Or to stop thieves or vandals.

      If I was ever mad enough to think I needed a Jeep, I’d totally keep the hardtop on it.

      But it also rains here. A lot.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        I have a friend who had a Wrangler for a few years in the mid-00s. She said she had her car broke into at least twice a year, and went had 2 soft tops slashed before she bought a hard top. Funnily enough, In 2 years of S2000 near Baltimore and DC, I haven’t had any issues with top-slashers. I guess YMMV. I don’t leave anything of value visible in the car though, so that may have something to do with it as well.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    Off Topic

    I enjoyed reading your ebook, Doug. Great stories and humor, but no way you’re so young. On the other hand, you’ve got my respect for not dishing on your days at Porsche; again, too bad you didn’t act your age. Nice job.

    • 0 avatar

      Hah! Thanks very much for the kind words. Actually, I would LOVE to dish on my days at Porsche, and I think everyone would love to hear about it, but I’m probably under some complicated non-disclosure agreement crafted by detail-oriented German lawyers. God only knows what would happen if I broke it.

  • avatar
    Cubista

    They didn’t call them SUV’s back then, but I’ve loved them ever since seeing Chief Brody’s hardtop convertible Chevy Blazer/GMC Jimmy in the first (and second?) “Jaws” movie.

    Sweet ride. And 4×4, too? Sign me up, man.

  • avatar
    dougjp

    Convertible SUVs, reminded me of another prime candidate (called people carriers ovr ‘om) that can be seen going through IMPORTANT tests, here!
    http: //www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eoUutOsZoQ

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    (Truck + Cab + Seats) x Chrome = profit

  • avatar
    gkbmini

    Take one Korean/Japan CUV platform, remove roof, add “roll-bars” and macho like Wrangler looks, and add off-road prowness slightly better than the Barbie Jammin’ Jeep. How well would it sell and would it drastically effect Wrangler’s sales?

  • avatar
    AMDBMan

    The convertible SUV is a totally absurd concept to me. But I have to say, I don’t consider the Jeep Wrangler in the SUV category, and thus don’t consider it a “convertible SUV.” I’ve sort of grandfathered it into a separate folder in my mind that has existed since long before Ford Explorers, Cadillac Escalades, etc., began backing into bollards at gas stations. Same with Range Rovers, though they are – without argument – definitely SUVs. They get a pass too.

    The Wranglers and old Defenders, and even the International Scouts and Ford Broncos, can exist as converitbles without the slightest bit of disapproval from me. But the Murano convertible, and the market segment it will surely spawn, is just wrong (regarding the Evoque convertible; terrible, but they’ll sell 9,000,000 where I live in Bergen County alone).

    The first time I saw a Murano CC in person, I was about half a mile behind it on the highway, and for a second I thought it was a Sentra or Altima or Maxima with a carriage top. I was in my GLI and floored it to get a closer look. I mean, seriously, who doesn’t love an obscure application of the carriage top? You can imagine my disappointment when I got close enough to recognize what it was.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      You might be the only one to have spotted one in the wild.

      • 0 avatar
        Compaq Deskpro

        I’ve seen one in the wild twice, both times in that odd shade of green. They’re even uglier in person, and Muranos are already rather ugly. I don’t understand why they didn’t make an Infiniti FX convertible, it would still be polarizing but it would justify the price point and be consistent with the idea of a jacked up 350Z.

        I’d like to see a convertible edition of the new Jeep Cherokee (not Grand). Maybe 4 years down the road though, when they inevitably tone down the styling.

    • 0 avatar

      The Murano is ugly in any form. There should be an eyesore tax for ugly cars. Of course, since most cars are ugly, that would eliminate the deficit.

  • avatar
    J.Emerson

    To me, the most objective definition of a failure is a vehicle that does not live up to the expectations and goals of the company that launched it. There are plenty of cars that sold in low volumes that I wouldn’t consider failures, like the Blackwood. There are unprofitable cars too, like the LF-A and the Veyron, that were also extremely successful in meeting their company objectives.

    So, I will go out on a limb and say the 2012 Camry should be seen as a failure. Not because it’s a bad car, or poorly made, or anything else. But because it did nothing to reverse Toyota’s market share decline in a segment Toyota used to own, and is now paying very dearly for the privilege of leasing.

    • 0 avatar
      Power6

      You make a great point, you have to have a goal not achieved, to have failure.

      To your further point what was the stated goal of the latest Camry? It doesnt seem that exciting of a failure if a mere price adjustment via incentives solves a problem. Just doesn’t seem like 1996 Taurus level fail there.

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      @J.Emerson

      Dude, your avatar is like man boobs. It’s hard to take you seriously with that in one’s peripheral vision.

      It really does detract from your excellent writing ability and smarter-than-shit youngster status.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Ozzy’s cool, when I read J. Emerson I do it in a Ozzy accent, any moment he’ll yell “S H A R O N !!”…

        Now, just try to read him without thinking the accent

        • 0 avatar
          Summicron

          What a nice idea for a working title:

          “From LUCY! to SHARON!
          …Televised Signposts of a Nation’s Decline”

          (Tell the Publisher!
          I’d like to read this book on Kindle)

    • 0 avatar
      duffman13

      But at least those Camrys are grounded to the ground. I attribute it to increased competition in the segment particularly from the stylish new Fusion, as well as failures in marketing.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    I always thought AMC missed the boat when they failed to put a Jeep 4WD on my ’76 Pacer wagon (it was forever getting stuck in snow). They could have sold a thousand of ‘em. Add a folding top like the Fiat 500 and it would have been at the top of this article, because of course, AMC would still be in business and they’d still be making the Pacer.

  • avatar
    David Walton

    Gray Market two-door G-wagen Cab?

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I can’t be the only one who remembers the VW Thing. Not sure if it was a failure or not. I do remember them being somewhat rugged and dirt cheap, about 1500.00

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      VW decided to stop making them because they were based on the Kubelwagen, the German Jeep of WWII, and they wanted to prevent any connotations to Nazi Germany.

      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/04/vw-kubelwagen-and-schwimmwagen-germanys-ww2-jeeps/

      • 0 avatar
        Summicron

        Then why bring them out in the first place? How could they not have reminded anyone more than 8-years old of the Wehrmacht?

        IIRC they appeared around 1972 in the States when I was a high school senior with nothing more than McDonald’s money to my name. Otherwise, as my school’s reigning Germanophle, president of the German Club and incessant imitator of John Banner I’d have immediately snapped-up one.

        And then come to find that it was still a Beetle at heart; which was more the cause of its marketing failure than any sudden attack of sensitivity on VW’s part.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Yeah, I don’t think it had anything to do with a Nazi heritage. If VW had those qualms the world would have never seen the billion or so beetles who’s concept has been credited to Hitler

      • 0 avatar

        Actually what killed the VW Thing was Ralph Nader, who lobbied for it to have the same safety equipment cars were required to have.

        http://www.automobilemag.com/features/collectible_classic/0701_1973_volkswagen_thing/

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    I went to Cozumel on 1980. Back then it was few hotels, all open beaches, narrow roads, and lots of trails into the jungle.

    I leased a VW Safari (VW Thing in the US). Removed the top, the doors and put the windshield down. Drove all over the place. One of the most pleasurable rides I have ever had.

  • avatar
    Carlos Danger

    Doug, you are the automotive Dave Barry.

  • avatar
    Hummer

    What was the excursion attacked for?

    It seems like it was a success to me, it succeeded where gm let the 3/4 suburban rot on the vine.

    GM really should give the 3/4 suburban some TLC, put a dmax with optional 6l90e or Allison to save people a little.

    The tow difference from the 1/2 to 3/4 was laughable last time I checked.

    As far as convertible SUV, well jeep maybe, murano is car based.
    Still prefer the IH Scout :)

    • 0 avatar
      Dimwit

      The Excursion was the victim of bad timing. Ford ran into difficulties and the fuel prices started to peak. They decided to trim their lines and the Excursion was dropped. I still think that it was a mistake and am surprised that they haven’t brought it back or at least allowed a back door version through fleet sales.

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t you remember when it came out? EVERYONE was on it for fuel economy and size and it just seemed to piss off everybody. Sorta like the Hummer :)

      • 0 avatar

        Even I remember! At one point Ford brought one over to test the waters. One of the mags did a rather funny compare with the Ka. Can’t remember but you could park 3 or 5 Kas in the space of just one Excursion. The fuel economy? Seems like the Ka would go from one end of Brazil to the other while the Excursion wouldn’t even get out of the city limits! They tried parking it in mall lots…Fun read.

        Anyway, lots of mags and newspaper got to drive the thing. Monstrosity was thrown around pretty easily. I wonder why Ford was so liberal with the press, it was not comfortable for them I’m sure.

        I have seen one in the streets here. Huge, huge thing, but actually kind of cool.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        Yet lots of people bought them and the used ones are still in pretty high demand and command pretty high prices.

        • 0 avatar

          Totally. Not making any judgements on the car itself – I have two friends who have them, both wouldn’t buy anything else, both seem to be interested in driving the wheels off them.

          • 0 avatar
            Dimwit

            That’s the thing about Excursions. They’re not for the soccer mom set but if you need those capabilities, they’re almost impossible to replace.
            Even GM doesn’t have anything like it. That’s why I’m surprised that Ford doesn’t have an off books type ordering system like the infamous CPO list GM had oh so long ago, that would allow small production runs of Excursions to be made special order. Since these things are essentially F350′s there’s no reason that they aren’t legal or very expensive to produce. Done fleet grade it shouldn’t be difficult at all to move them out.

      • 0 avatar
        Hummer

        It must be a west coast deal, east coast only has the love goin on.

        44 gallon tank will take you a nice ways, like I said a 6.0 I’ve driven had over 800 miles of range and it wasn’t completely full.
        Also been in a V10 that got about 10 mpg.

        Last thing I need are more vehicles, but man I’d love a 7.3 4×4.

    • 0 avatar
      Scoutdude

      I still prefer my IH Scout II’s too.

  • avatar
    ray_d_eightor

    Murano? Had one, great car except for the POS transmission. Totaled it a few weeks after tranny replacement. Got a $5k check from Nissan for the job long after the remaining sheet metal was turned into dishwasher doors and Teeter Hang Up frames by the Chinese. Net-net zero for me so I’m ok with that. Gotta agree – the Murano Cabrio is repugnant.

    Why the knock on the Excursion? I’d love me an ’05 diesel 4×4!

  • avatar

    I think pretty much any badge-engineered vehicle is similar to the Blackwood – sure, they don’t sell many, but if they sell a few it’s worth it. The Saabaru 92x, the plethora of GM Blazer variants (Trailblazer, Envoy, 97X, Rainier, Bravada, Ascender) and the VW Routan all come to mind.

    They exist to sell a few more vehicles for the company, but also for another reason -to keep dealers happy. Dealers want to be able to have a full line of cars so that nobody walks because they are interested in a type of vehicle that they don’t sell, or to point to if someone is looking at one vehicle but is also considering another type of vehicle. For a dealership, they are going to make money not just from the car sale, but also from trade-in, financing, service, ect – so every sale matters.

  • avatar
    Marko

    Every day, I have the displeasure of driving by a robin-egg-blue CrossCabriolet like the one pictured. So it appeals to at least one person – I don’t know who.

  • avatar
    lando

    Why the Excursion hate? I wait for seven patient years to buy an used Excursion. It is one of the most amazing vehicles ever made. After some light modifications, I have an SUV that can fit 8 comfortably, swallow anything from the hardware store, can tow like the F-250 it was built on, and get 23 mpg HW, 13 MPG City. Huge aftermarket support and lot of enthusiast. I love it. Especially on the freeway.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Which engine do you have that delivers 23 mpg on the highway? How fast do you drive? I used to drive a 2WD Excursion with a gasoline engine that belonged to an employer. I’m now drawing a blank as to whether or not it was a 5.4 or a 6.8 liter. Whatever it was, it never returned more than 15 mpg over the course of a tank of gas, as we kept a log book of every fill up and odometer reading. Excursions certainly have their uses, but ours never towed, so it was pretty pointless. We also had three then-new Suburbans with 5.3 liter engines that could return up to 18 mpg on the highway occasionally and were from a different century in terms of NVH relative to any of the 5.4 and 6.8 liter Tritons. The Excursion also rode like an old 3/4 ton truck.

      I hated driving it, but I still don’t hate Excursions. I think people hated them because they followed the Expeditions, which followed the ubiquitous Explorers. There may have been a fear that the Ford Excavator would show up, still with three rows of seats, but based on a school bus chassis and driven by people that were accustomed to driving whatever was trendy before giant SUVs.

      • 0 avatar
        lando

        It is the 6.0 powerstroke, 2WD, has an ECON tune, and EGR delete. I also don’t go over 70 mph. I was getting around 17-18 mpg before the above modifications.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    Regarding the removal fiberglass top on the Jeep Wrangler. The best thing about this most recent version is the innovative removable roof and side panels. You don’t need two people to deal with the entire roof. It’s nice to cruise around with just the top panel off.

  • avatar
    TireIrony

    Automotive pundits throw the F word at everything they (a) dislike and (b) think the general public might ignore/villify.

    But it’s true that lots of niche products can still be profitable and/or polish the corporate halo in the eyes of some buyers.

    Hell, the CTS-V wagon could be a Failure except that so many journos have a wagon fetish. After all, hardly anybody buys one, it’s not cavernous as wagons go, and it gets atrocious fuel economy, nevermind the polarizing styling.

  • avatar
    crtfour

    I live in middle Tennessee where Nissan is headquartered and the Murano is produced and see quite a few of thes on the road. They pretty much all have manufacturer plates on them though.

  • avatar
    chuckrs

    Ben Rich, Kelly Johnson’s second in command at Lockheed’s Skunkworks, commented on the X-29′s intrinsically unstable forward swept wings that every now and then you had to do something like that to reinforce that it was a really bad idea. In that regard, there are no failures, but a lot of cautionary tales.

  • avatar
    Blackcloud_9

    People seem to be forgetting one of the great stylistic failures – and one of the most famous whipping boys for auto enthusiasts – the Pontiac Aztek! Yes, reviled by the press and public alike. I always gave Pontiac props for trying something different. And what did GM do with this debacle? The re-skinned and re-badged it as the Buick Rendezvous and it sold for years. Failure? or not?


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Authors

  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • J & J Sutherland, Canada
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Faisal Ali Khan, India