By on December 8, 2016

Car Not A Costume, Ford/Land Rover

True story: Many, many years ago I briefly dated a young woman who, at the age of 16, was the subject of a custody battle between her hard-luck mother and her suburban aunt. You’d expect this to go the way of the aunt, and you’d be right. But what you would not expect is that the aunt was married to a fellow who, some 15 years earlier, had been L. Ron Hubbard’s personal bodyguard. He was deeply involved in the “Sea Org” and a bunch of other Scientology-related stuff. He also claimed to have been a Green Beret and a decorated Vietnam veteran. (More information on the dude here, if you’re interested.)

Scientology in general, and my girlfriend’s foster dad in particular, was notorious for “fair-gaming” its lapsed members and anybody else who gets in the way of the organization. “Fair Game” is an L. Ron Hubbard phrase that means, basically, no action that can be taken by church members against the person in question is off-limits. It’s okay to attack them, kidnap them, have their home “SWATted”, destroy their careers or their credit rating. Being “fair gamed” by the Church of Scientology is very far from a picnic. The Church now disavows “fair gaming”. (More info here.)

The Ford Motor Company, on the other hand, doesn’t seem too reluctant to “fair game” a few of its lapsed members, as you’ll see.

(Read More…)

By on October 4, 2016

2017 Ford Police Interceptor Utility

One of the late Ford Crown Victoria’s best attributes was its unique turn signal/parking lamps, which, when viewed in a rear-view mirror, alerted savvy drivers to the possibility that there could be a police officer on their tail. Or a retiree. Either way, best to slow down, pardner.

Today, drivers don’t have that luxury of instant nighttime recognition, and police forces and suppliers are increasingly making it harder to distinguish a lurking cop car during the day. Well, Ford has now brought the stealthiness to another level. (Read More…)

By on August 17, 2016

2017 Ford Explorer Limited, Image: © 2016 Jack Baruth/The Truth About Cars

I’ve long since given up on the idea that it’s possible to have a truly unbiased review of an automobile — or anything else, for that matter. Nevertheless, we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good. In the service of that, I’m going to say up front that I completely despise this generation of Explorer. I didn’t like it when I reviewed an early model five and a half years ago, and I like it even less now that alternatives like the refreshed Grand Cherokee exist.

The worst thing about the Explorer is that it’s fundamentally a crappy version of the Ford Flex. The Flex is a thinking person’s station wagon. The Explorer is an idiot’s SUV. Perhaps a kinder, and more accurate, way to put it is this: the Explorer is a Flex remixed to appeal to women. I’ve yet to meet a woman who likes the Flex. In order to stop this from being a 1,200-word combo-diss-fest-and-Flex-hagiography, I’ve hired the infamous Danger Girl to offer some balance in my review of this brand-spanking-new-with-24-miles, $44,065, front-wheel-drive SUV.

Let’s do this.

(Read More…)

By on July 5, 2016

Explorer-side

Numerous reports of an exhaust smell in the cabin of late-model Ford Explorers prompted the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to open an investigation.

According to Reuters (via Automotive News), safety officials began looking into 2011–2015 Explorers last Friday after receiving 154 complaints of an exhaust odor. The issue, which is reported to be a factor in one crash (that didn’t result in injuries), persists in some vehicles even after they were repaired to correct the problem. (Read More…)

By on March 17, 2016

2016 Ford Explorer

Millennials are buying Ford SUVs like it’s going out of style, no doubt dismaying the friends who like to lecture people about their lifestyle on Facebook.

That, Chevrolet offers a voyeur package for its full-side pickup, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles grabs a stack of cash with both hands, Mercedes-Benz gives its midsize SUV the AMG treatment, and two more automakers eye the Formula E grid … after the break!

(Read More…)

By on January 7, 2016

fakesvt

Last week, I told you the tale of my friend Rodney’s grandmother who got taken to the cleaners recently by a Cleveland-area Buick dealer. That story’s not quite finished — apparently there have been a few conversations and trips back and forth to dealer, and at one point the “lost paperwork” excuse came into play — so I’ll update all of you once everything shudders to a final halt.

As can be expected from the always-contrarian B&B, not all of you were on the side of the elderly lady in the case. One particularly interesting comment went something like this: “It’s ironic that Jack and Rodney are complaining about the dealer making money off Grandma while at the same time smirking to themselves knowing how often they did that back in the day.”

Well, I cannot say that I ever charged anyone over sticker price for any new car, ever. Not even during the week that the first Ford Expeditions started arriving at dealerships and customers were doing everything but using lethal force to get their hands on one.

That doesn’t mean that I didn’t see some people get “grossed” in the most hardcore method imaginable. So, without further ado, here are a few tales of outrageous dealer-profit fortune, including one in which your humble author played the villain.

(Read More…)

By on October 2, 2015

FORDBronco-2716_2

In 1996, Ford sold about 28,000 Broncos. This was the same year the Explorer finally cracked 400,000 units, the vast majority of them XLT trim or above, and each one carrying a healthy markup over the Rangers from which they were unashamedly derived.

The Ford dealership where Rodney and I worked sixty-five hours a week to earn thirty grand a year stocked at least four Medium Willow Green Explorers with the XLT 945A Popular Equipment Package (PEP 945A) at all times and sometimes even a Medium Willow Green Explorer XLT with the lowbrow, cloth-seat PEP 941A, but we did not, I repeat, we did not stock the Bronco. In fact, during my year at the dealership, I only saw two brand-new Broncos come on the lot.

There was a reason for that.

(Read More…)

By on April 16, 2015

Ford SUV sales chart March 2015In the lead-up to the launch of a refreshed 2016 Ford Explorer, March 2015 sales of the current model rose to the highest March output since 2005 and the highest monthly level regardless of season since July 2005.

Explorer volume jumped 19% to 23,058 in March 2015, a total made up of 2293 Police Interceptor Utilities (up 45%) and 20,765 civilian Explorers (up 17%). (Read More…)

By on November 24, 2014

Explorer 300 sales chartFord’s facelifted 2016 Explorer debuted at the auto show in Los Angeles this week. Admittedly, it’s more than a facelift for the Explorer, as a better EcoBoost four-cylinder will serve as the vehicle’s smallest powerplant. Ford will also begin selling a higher-grade Platinum trim level and, in all models, an improved interior will take centre stage.

At the same auto show, the 2015 Chrysler 300 also appears quite similar to the outgoing model, although the changes underneath are perhaps more thorough. The exterior, while not wildly different, is certainly altered to the point that you’ll know the difference.

These two redesigns of two prototypical Detroit products with wildly different backgrounds occur at very different life stages for these product lines as the two vehicle lines head in opposite directions. (Read More…)

By on November 19, 2014

2016-Ford-Explorer

Oh wait, we mean Taurus X. Oh wait…nevermind.

(Read More…)

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