The Truth About Cars » D3 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 20 Oct 2014 22:44:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » D3 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com Is Ford Enjoying Full-Size Success? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/08/is-ford-enjoying-full-size-success/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/08/is-ford-enjoying-full-size-success/#comments Mon, 16 Aug 2010 15:16:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=363046 Today’s Detroit News has an interesting item on Ford’s D3/D4 platform strategy, based on the thesis that The remade Taurus has emerged as a flagship for the Dearborn automaker, restoring luster to a nameplate that had become synonymous with “rental car,” and helping to revive an automaker that had become dependent on trucks and sport […]

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Today’s Detroit News has an interesting item on Ford’s D3/D4 platform strategy, based on the thesis that

The remade Taurus has emerged as a flagship for the Dearborn automaker, restoring luster to a nameplate that had become synonymous with “rental car,” and helping to revive an automaker that had become dependent on trucks and sport utility vehicles.

As Jack Baruth’s Capsule Review of the Ford Five Hundred shows, the D3 platform offers good space and comfort, and the recent update and return to the Taurus nameplate has been rewarded with steadily-increasing sales. And though the Taurus has fought back to become a Ford-brand flagship (likely at the expense of Mercury), its platform-mates have been consistent underperformers on the showroom floor. Flex has sold in the low 3k monthly range, while MKS and MKT have been thoroughly beaten in YTD sales by the Cadillac DTS and Escalade, themselves hardly the most competitive alternatives to the big Lincolns.

But Ford insists that Taurus makes up the bulk of the volume required to pay off development costs for the D3 platform, and that incremental volume off of luxury versions only fatten the profits. And with the Taurus commanding a $30k average transaction price (thanks to a 20 percent SHO mix), it’s no slouch on the retail market itself. Best of all, Ford isn’t spending much to market the Taurus, and is rehabilitating an important nameplate by moving it upmarket. And with analysts figuring the D3 platform is slowly paying itself off, why call it a failure?

For one thing, using luxury brands to add enough incremental volume to barely make the platform’s minimum volume is not a recipe for long-term brand strength. As long as Loncoln’s flagship can be had for $10k less with a Taurus badge, it will be no surprise to see Taurus transaction prices running high, and volume remaining healthy. Unfortunately, it also leaves the MKS without a unique, competitive flagship. Flex, meanwhile, might bring new buyers into the Ford brand, but it’s also expensive for a Ford, and can be loaded up to the point where an MKT only makes sense for consumers with a flair for the Lovecraftian. And when the 2011 Explorer hits the market in earnest, the Flex’s already-weak volume will only plummet further.

On the other hand, the Explorer looks likely to help bring Ford’s D3/D4 platform back into the serious volume numbers. If Ford can resist the temptation to create a Lincoln rebadge, market it well, and keep Taurus volume up, it will have made a silk purse from the sow’s ear that was the Ford Five Hundred. In the meantime, calling the D3/D4 lineup a success is a bit like calling the auto bailout a success: yes, things have improved, but at a significant cost, and they’re not out of the woods yet.

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Review: Lincoln MKT Take Two http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/review-lincoln-mkt-take-two/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/11/review-lincoln-mkt-take-two/#comments Wed, 25 Nov 2009 16:30:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=336997 The Lincoln MKT is a Looney Tunes cartoon: based on previously made creations, packaged into something unique. While the animated series started from the Warner Brother’s impressive music library, the MKT comes from an old Volvo S80 platform, sharing a motor with the Mazda6. So both creations are downright looney. Which explains the MKT’s krill […]

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Tooney, if not tiny

The Lincoln MKT is a Looney Tunes cartoon: based on previously made creations, packaged into something unique. While the animated series started from the Warner Brother’s impressive music library, the MKT comes from an old Volvo S80 platform, sharing a motor with the Mazda6. So both creations are downright looney. Which explains the MKT’s krill filtering grille: silly in pictures, insane in natural sunlight where it’s obvious that 40% of it’s toothy smile is blocked off by solid plastic paneling. Which probably says more about the current state of Lincoln better than anything else.

While the Lincoln MKT’s design is proportionally derivative and stylistically challenged, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Still, the MKT’s droopy butt sticks out like a sore lincolnmktintthumb in any lighting condition outside of a PR-coordinated photo shoot: even the oversized, italicized “T” on the decklid badging reeks of branding desperation.

Sure, the not-so-subtle beltline kick pays homage to the Continental Mark IV and the taillights are Mark VIII-ish, but the MKT’s boxy fenders with a lack of “Pre-War Continental” flare and cargo killing slant back design take the 1930’s coachbuilt-era’s hallmarks to dangerously bizarre heights. Then again, it happens when you design a CUV around other people’s hard points (so to speak). If there’s one reason to buy a wannabe-xB Ford Flex, here it is.

The interior is a less obvious desecration to the Lincoln brand, as the once favorable opinions on the Lincoln Navigator are history. But Navigator never died, and it’s brilliant combination of masculine haunches and day-spa like ambiance both charm and disarm any occupant.

The MKT’s cabin is awash in the luxury hallmarks of others: Lexus-like soft curves, Acura’s swoopy slabs of wood and an awkward Volvo-homage from the (inelegant) negative area behind the center stack. The flimsy wheel-mounted shift paddles are laughable, but the center console’s armrest sits higher than their door-mounted counterparts: FAIL. The steering wheels’ misaligned wood grain inlay is a sad cost cutting measure (ironically) not found on the earlier, badge engineered, Lincoln MK-Zephyr: a proper hunk of oak on the wheel is mandatory at this price point.

Luckily, someone sweated the other details. The white LED backed, chrome ringed gauges are bright, futuristic and elegant. Most anything touchable is wrapped in a leather-like material with triple stitching. The THX-fettled audio is stellar and the navigation’s GUI might be the most straightforward on the planet. Even the first two rows of seating provide adequate comfort and luxury, for a brand formerly known for being anything but adequate.

Get the MKT moving and you experience the good and bad of Ford’s recent decisions. In the 4500lb, two-wheel drive Lincoln CUV, Ford’s Duratec 3.7L six-pot is a pleasant surprise: paired with a reasonably quick six-speed autobox there’s enough grunt to light up the twenty-inch wheels, launching the MKT through the intersection in a flash of blinking traction control advisories.

lincolnmktrearAnd that’s just first gear. The MKT flies down the highway with sports car authority: nice, until you remember that front-wheel-drive and impressive power don’t mix. Wheel-jerking torque steer makes straight-line duties cumbersome, so turning the MKT with a modicum of throttle authority is entirely out of the question. While flat-ish handling is one the “D3” chassis strong suits, there’s too much power to finesse those front wheels.

Then again, the entire affair is no less artificial than a Lexus RX. Which isn’t damning the MKT with faint praise, considering this platform’s international heritage. And who buys a FWD wannabe-SUV for cornering pleasure?

These vehicles are about a pleasant ride. And the MKT doesn’t disappoint, except when it does. The ride is suitably floaty, without the pavement joint obliterating motions of the Navigator equipped with a similar set of twenty-inch rolling stock. In case you missed the underlying problem, remember that fragile products require air-suspended trucks for Interstate transport. That said, the adaptive cruise control works brilliantly for long distance cruising: too bad this system’s soul mate, the Lincoln Town Car, continues to live (thrive?) in the Stone Age.

But wait, there’s less! The four-passenger MKT carries about the same amount of cargo (third row folded) as a five-passenger Taurus from the Jac Nasser era, netting terrible fuel economy in the process. And think twice before towing (the rated) 4500lbs, even with EcoBoost motivating the car-based transaxle and unitized frame. While the MKT is more palatable than today’s Navigator, that’s not a very sincere compliment.

Unless the D3 platform’s voodoo sales curse magically disappears at the sight of the MKT’s grinning face, this abomination is doomed from the start. But the sooner the MKT dies, the sooner Lincoln will realize their heart and soul is in their core offerings. And, with any luck, they’ll stop neglecting them this time. Which is what we’ve been waiting for…for several decades.

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