By on May 28, 2010

Mercury isn’t the only entry-luxury brand in free-fall… it’s just the worst of a beat-up bunch. We’ve included Lincoln to help illustrate Ford’s larger luxury-brand issues, and Buick and Acura for competing-brand comparison.

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48 Comments on “15 Years Of Free-Falling Mercury Sales...”


  • avatar
    mjz

    Um, maybe they should phase out ALL of those brands.

  • avatar
    Samuel L. Bronkowitz

    It would be interesting to see the remaining luxo brands superimposed on the graph just to see if their short-term decline is as steep.

    OTOH – I have to assume that at least part of Acura’s problem is the fugliness of their vehicles.

  • avatar
    thalter

    Entry luxury is a dying segment, being squeezed out of existence.

    On the one hand, you can get mainline brand cars like the Accord, Taurus, and Sonata optioned up almost as much as their entry lux siblings.

    On the other hand, true luxury brands seem to be reaching lower and lower with entries like the Audi A3, BMW 1-Series, and Cadillac ATS.

  • avatar
    tech98

    A decade ago every manufacturer and his cousin was piling into the near-luxury segment and they oversaturated it. It’s a relic of a time when everybody thought they were headed for affluence with the dot-com stock boom and/or the real estate bubble.

    Acura’s self-inflicted wound is that they inexplicably shifted from a line of well-executed vehicles with distinctive nameplates (Legend, Integra, etc.) to an anonymous mess of indistinguishable sedans with alphabet-soup intials (RL, TL, CL, TSX, WTF?).

    • 0 avatar

      Acura is not alone with an alphabet soup. I can never remember which of MK-something Lincolns is which. And for Caddy I only know two: big (with Northstar) and small (the square one – which Lutz threw around some track against Michael Cooper). Actually, I once spent an hour in a Lexus dealership flipping through booklets, and the mess of IS/GS/ES/LS was tough to digest (hint: ES is the mega-camry; IS is the riceboy’s dream; GS is big; LS is HUEG – try to recall in a mounth which is which). So, they all do that to an extent. I don’t know what “the market” thinks, but as far as I am concerned, I’d be triving an RSX right now if they still offered one. I test-drove a v6 2010 TSX, and it is crazy bloated… while being the smallast Acura now. Meh.

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      Jeez.

      Its not a decade.. its TWO.

      I think is absolutely WILD.. that we at TTAC cant figure out the difference in between a TL, RSX or a CL.. forget the nomenclature used by Caddy (DTS, STS, CTS, SRX); Lexus (IS, ES, GS, LS / RX, GX.. and then there are the hybrid units and the performance jobbies — IS-F); Acura (TSX, TL, RL / RDX, MDX ZDX), Infiniti G in 3 forms, M35 / 45, EX FX; MB GLK, ML, SLK, C, E, CLS; BMW 1,3,5,7, X1,-3-5, Audi Q for the mommy mobiles, A for the cars — A1-3-4-5-6-7-8, Jag Lambo, Ferrari etc etc etc.

      Its.. really easy to figure out.

  • avatar
    Andrew

    Based on those sales levels, it actually looks as though Buick is the most beat up as of now (albeit it fell more gracefully than Mercury did).

    If GM can reinvigorate that brand with increased sales (regardless of age) then it would seem more than logical that Ford could do the same with Mercury. It’s mostly a matter of giving Mercury a reason to live, which is something Ford has not made a compelling case for.

    Maybe … smaller cars with luxury features (no more mountaineer).
    Maybe … make an all hybrid brand (and beat Toyota with it’s thoughts of a Prius sub-brand to be a hybrid counter-part to the Scion youth orientated brand).
    Maybe … just keep re-badging fords with modest and inoffensive styling (it works for Toyota and Honda) but give the brand enough choices to encourage potential buyers to actually go to a Mercury dealership. The Milan and Mariner to not a brand make.

    The brand is definitely damaged, but mostly due to the near null investment Ford has made to it. The over-all look and feel of the vehicles could make Mercury a competent brand if there were enough vehicles in it to make it a brand.

    • 0 avatar

      The whole reviving extraneous brands thing has been going on for almost ten years now, mostly at GM and it completely failed.

      There is no compelling reason for Ford to waste money and resources (which they don’t have) on Mercury when it’s less than 2% of their overall sales. That’s the writing on the wall right there. Ford won’t go anywhere without the Ford brand taking it there, which is why it needs the fullest lineup and all the resources of the company devoted to it. Putting money into Mercury is like giving your company Mercury poisoning. Ditto for GM and Chevrolet.

      GM should have canned Buick in the US during bankruptcy and I’m surprised they didn’t. Buick isn’t going to end up any different than Saturn and Pontiac no matter how many nice Opels they sell through it.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    You could probably throw Saab and Volvo neatly onto this slope. Subaru might find itself in the situation, too, if it’s not careful.

    thalter has it right: near-lux is being squeezed out by “good enough” mainstreamers and door-crasher premium cars.

    • 0 avatar
      jaje

      Saab and Volvo fit neatly in the entry level luxury market. However, I do not see Subaru running into this problem anytime soon. It is because Subaru has and continues to be a main stream brand and it has done well by keeping its focus on its AWD niche. It even has been very smart in associating itself with rally racing which only helped (they no longer are in WRC) push its image of great all weather daily drivers.

    • 0 avatar

      With true luxury brands going further and further downmarket the point of brands like Mercury (and Buick) disappears.

      Also, mainstream brands like Ford (and Chevrolet and Honda and Toyota) now offer premium trim and features in a variety of cars. Further decreasing differentiation (and market) for entry level luxury brands.

      So why keep Mercury afloat? There’s no point to it and nothing is being lost by discontinuing it. The same can be said for Buick with it’s overlap of Chevrolet and Cadillac.

      No automaker needs more than a mainstream and luxury brand in one market.

    • 0 avatar
      gottacook

      With respect to Subaru (i.e., Subaru of America), an argument could even be made that (i) its attempt at entry into the near-luxury field, the B9/Tribeca, failed, and (ii) its failure could be the best thing that could have happened to Subaru’s U.S. prospects. If it had been a success, Subaru could have been on the Volvo/Saab slippery-slope path by now.

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      . psarhjinian

      thalter said it above as well, the entry luxury cars are fading.
      But is this really true?
      These days its really hard to judge for certain the next 5 years what with the economy and such.
      I would hate to be making these decisions in R&D.
      But we can look at some entry luxury cars now.

      ES350. Is this a fading car?
      BMW3..is this an entry level car and if so, is it fading? This car can run into 60 grand with levels.
      Genesis?
      CTS?
      CC, A4 or C Class Mercs?

      I think Buick has a future with the new Regal, and we might even see a turbo wagon Regal soon.

      I guess I am not really of sound mind enough to take part in this discussion being as one who sees and feels a real difference between the Taurus and the MKS. I have driven both extensively, and the differences become apparent quickly.

    • 0 avatar
      TG57

      @TrailerTrash

      By mentioning the ES350, 3-series, C-class, Genesis, A4, and CTS, you’ve kind of proven the point. Those are all entry-level luxury *models* from full-luxury brands (or mainstream brands in the Hyundai’s case), rather than entry-level luxury *brands*, i.e. Mercury or Buick.

      A more accurate assessment of the situation would be that the entry level luxury segment is still alive and well, but entire divisions devoted to just that are dying out. Instead of Toyota and Honda creating “middle” brands for tarted-up versions of their maintstream products (i.e Camry and Accord), they’ve just slipped them into the bottom of their luxury car line-ups. Rather than Mercedes and BMW creating a downmarket brand to sell entry-level-lux cars in, they have the C-class and 3-series in the line-up below the “full” luxury 5, 7, E, and S.

      Sounds lazy, but you know what? It works. The ES350 is the best selling entry-level-lux car in the business, the TL was no slouch either before Honda ruined it (that’s another topic), and I’m pretty sure the 3-series and C-class make up the majority of sales volume for BMW and Mercedes.

      It’s been said already, but worth repeating – the maximum amount of brands you need to survive in the market is two. Buick and Mercury have no place when their models can easily be relocated in the bottom slots of the Cadillac and Lincoln line-ups, respectively, or simply placed in the top slots of the Chevrolet and Ford line-ups (as with Hyundai’s Genesis).

    • 0 avatar
      TrailerTrash

      TG57

      Thanks for the thoughts.
      What I think happened was this, once GM decided to take its individual Brands and their own distinct personalities and styles and start making them all the same, that is when they became the muddles mess consumers get confused about today.
      Once Buick was different from other GM cars.

      This is reminding me of a TTAC discussion a long time ago about WHEN US automakers went south.
      My opinion was it happened somewhere in the late sixties when the engineers lost control to the lawyers and accountants whose jobs then became getting dividends and shareholder support.
      Long range R&D was not that important.

      If the thought was certain brands and models are fading, I agree.
      But only because they simply are not distinct enough, or rather they are really the same.
      This reminds me of when I was a young kid working on a blow-mold gallon filler line at a dairy plant.
      The gallons were made, then they flowed down the line to be filled.
      They were filled, then a label was slapped on representing whatever brand or retail chain we were bottling that gallon for.

      When it came time for filling the cheep, or bargain label, we would stop the machine and put the new label into the machine.
      The restart the line and fill the SAME milk into differently labeled bottles.
      The SAME gallon was priced higher with a premium label.
      Damn it, people swore that the premium milk they paid much more for was better!
      Happens still to this day.
      You have premium Dean’s milk next to the store brand. Same milk, different price.

      THIS is what happened to GM.
      Perhaps some people still swear their Buick is better than their Chevrolet, but they very likely by the premium milk as well.

      I should talk…I own an MKS!!!!
      But at least it’s NOT a Mercury.

  • avatar
    BDB

    I don’t think it is a coincidence that Buick REALLY started dropping when they phased out their historic “legacy” names (Century, Regal, LeSabre, Park Avenue) for the LaCrosse and Lucerne.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      +1 I’m sick of GM changing the name of something to try to change people’s perceptions. Didn’t Lutz tell us a few years back that most Americans (according to GMs pollsters) thought that Buick still made a “Park Avenue?” If you keep the names the same, evolve the product to get better, and then people say when they see one; “Whoa that’s a Park Avenue?” If I bought a Lucerne, honestly I’d pry the badges off of it and order the Park Avenue badge from my Buick dealers parts catalog. Names mean things. GM treats them like items to be taken on and off the shelf to be slapped on WeverTF they want to put it on. (I’m looking at you FWD Monte Carlo. I’d have liked it better with a different rear end and called the Impala Coupe.)

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      GM is continually coming up with new names because their decades long product cycle destroys the old ones.

      They couldn’t call the Lucerne a 2006 Park Avenue – because that would remind people of the 2005 Park Avenue which was rental grade garbage on the same C-body they were selling in 1985.

    • 0 avatar
      carve

      Meh- those names may’ve been recognizable, but not in a good way. They sound very stodgy and old-fashioned, much as the names “Buick”, “Mercury”, and “Lincoln” sound. Not that names like “Lucerne” and “Regal” are any better. Snooze.

      Those brands have just made gaudy, boring old-people cars for so long, it’d be easier to launch a new brand with new names than to try to sell those to anyone under 45.

      It didn’t have to be this way. Mercedes Benz is one of the oldest names in the car business and still has cachet.

    • 0 avatar

      @Carve: Might I suggest “Hammerhead Eagle i-Thrust” by the automaker entitled, “Geoff”.

    • 0 avatar
      revjasper

      If I can’t figure out what a car is (Lucerne is the big one? Small one?) then I’m not going to go looking. As Ford learned during the renaming days, people looking for a Sable weren’t looking for a… uh, Midlothian? Mariner? Monarch? Montego!

      Now I’d be interested in a Buick Wildcat or an Invicta.

      Still, I’ll miss the Century. The only car that said by the name, “You must be at least this old to drive this car.”

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    Acura’s wounds are entirely self inflicted. See Brother Bartuh’s elegy from yesterday:

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/the-last-good-honda-mid-ohio-retires-its-tsx-fleet/

    Buick is only alive for its value in the China trade.

    Both Lincoln and Mercury are going down. My conclusion Ford should buy Cadilac, and spare us from another re-badged Enclave. Mercury should swim with the fishes.

  • avatar
    jaje

    Buick, Lincoln (outside of the Lincoln Town Car) and Mercury – made a lot of half-assed efforts to take its mainline platform and slap a badge on it. That kills the brand and only fosters competition inside the automaker rather than winning over customers from other automakers. Where the D3 have been successful is with Cadillac bringing it entirely upmarket from its common stablemates even when the platform is shared. I would also add Chrysler in this graph b/c it is also another “near luxury” nameplate that has been very poorly managed and devoid of any good products besides some half-assed rebadged cars.

    Acura suffers from something else entirely – lack of focus and accountability within for its poor management (i.e. derisive styling, uncompetitive / unwanted cars, and lack of brand management – what is an Acura???). B/c of this you also have to sift through a lot of unfounded opinions of fact (i.e. the ignorant with a keyboard) such as erroneous statements that the ZDX and Crosstour are actually built off the same platform and have the same drivetrain, etc.

    • 0 avatar
      KalapanaBlack

      The last successful platform-sharing Cadillac to my knowledge was the first-generation Seville (very, very distantly related to the Chevy II/Nova platform) from 1978. Since then, with the momentary blip that was the Escalade phenomenon – which seems entirely over these days – it’s either been stand-alone platforms like the Sigma (CTS/STS/SRX) or K-Body (Seville/Deville/DTS/Eldorado), or utter failures at badge-engineering (Cimarron). We’ve yet to see how the new, shared SRX platform will do, or the upcoming XTS. Of course, they aren’t exactly based on the J-Body, which didn’t make a particularly compelling compact Chevrolet, let alone a world-class Cadillac.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    The roots of Mercury’s destruction go back to the Seventies, when there was a bad product period up until about 1983. At that point, there were plenty of Americans alive who wouldn’t even consider a Japanese car. And look at a Camry or Accord from 25 years ago. They weren’t as “mainstream” as now. Given how awful GM product was during the EIghties, many Olds and Buick buyers became Mercury customers.

    A lot of that — plus the monster success of the original Taurus/Sable — kept Mercury viable into the Nineties. Then the mistakes happened, starting with the failed 1996 Taurus/Sable redesign. Concurrently, Ford shifted product development away from passenger cars to trucks/SUVs. Mercury got no distinctive truck product when that market was hot. While Lincoln made some bling-bling hay with the first Navigator, all Mercury got was an Explorer with a different grille.

    While this was going on, all the hot luxury brands offered “near-luxury” stuff (Lexus ES, Acura TL, Mercedes C-Class )equipped and priced in a way that paralleled what Buick/Olds/Mercury offered a decade or two earlier. And, as others pointed out, every carmaker flooded the zone with these vehicles.

    It didn’t help that Ford distracted itself with Volvo, Mazda, Jaguar, Land Rover, etc., little of which was worthwhile.

    On the buyer side, there was a whole generation that only knew Japanese. Their aspirational brands were German or upscale Japanese.
    They simply wouldn’t consider old man brands like Plymouth, Olds, Buick or Mercury. Meanwhile, loyal Grand Marquis buyers were dying off 10-15 years ago. Now even more are dead, and no one will take their place.

    Finally, Jill came along, but it was way too late to help stop any of the above. Now, maybe if the product were as exciting to look at as Jill….

  • avatar
    mtymsi

    Ford has all but choked Mercury out of the market with an almost complete lack of fresh product. No brand could survive under those circumstances. Mercury today could be a viable brand had Ford continued to offer fresh products. In Mercury’s case the market didn’t disappear, the product did. Same with Lincoln, they had both a loyal base of Continental and Town Car buyers but lost it because they refused to update either car. Today Lincoln trys to search for an identity with a line up that ignores their customer base which they lost a decade ago and in the process has become a perennial 2nd tier brand. Hardly anyone that is a luxury buyer today even considers Lincoln.

  • avatar
    SkiD666

    I realize that we are only 4 months into 2010 sales (well 5 as of next week), but Buick sales are already 50% higher Year-to-date over last year (44K vs. 29K as of April 30) and the Regal has just started selling in May which will add some more volume for the rest of the year. Buick will probably also gain 2 more models over the next couple of years (and lose the Lucerne).

    Mercury is up 20% from last year, Lincoln is up 19%, Acura is up 17% (mostly due to MDX – 47% & RDX – 22%).

    So this same graph will look a lot different 8 months from now.

  • avatar
    Amendment X

    That’s really a shame about Acura. The rest always kind of sucked anyway.

  • avatar
    jkross22

    To Bill Ford and Ed Whitacre:

    WTF are you guys doing keeping Buick and Mercury/Lincoln alive after seeing this graph. Holy crap!!!!

    Dudes at Acura:

    Want to turn that frown on the graph upside down? RWD, good looking, conservatively styled Acura Legends and Integras will do the trick. Your policy of loading every car with options works for you and for your customers. Stop making them butt ugly and we’ll darken your dealership doors again.

    Dudes at Hyundai:

    Carry on.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      RWD, good looking, conservatively styled Acura Legends and Integras will do the trick

      I have to disagree on this. Acura was doing very well selling sporty front-drivers. The problem isn’t which wheels are doing the work, it’s the the heart (Integra/RSX) and soul (NSX) of the brand are gone.

      The loss of the Integra/RSX was, I think, the start of Acura’s swan dive. Honda killed it in hopes of moving the brand upmarket: what they actually did was cut Acura off at the knees. The RSX was a great “gateway” car that got young, affluent people into the showrooms; people would shop for TLs and MDXs when in a few years.

      Now they have, what, the TSX and RDX? Explain to me why I should pick one of those instead of a 3-Series/X3 or even Honda’s own offerings?

    • 0 avatar

      @psar: I agree. From the near-rabid awe a lot of people in my area talked about the old Integra, GS-R, and Type-R, the people at Honda would have to be stark raving mad to kill it off.
      .
      There are STILL people who come up to my brother and try to buy his ’97 off him!

  • avatar
    iNeon

    There will always be a market for more formal renderings of pedestrian automobiles. Maybe not shameless rebadging, but something like the original Sable. The Mercury threads of late have completely ignored the beautiful(and formal) touches on that car. Some drivers just prefer it.

    I, personally, am waiting for someone to hide the HVAC and stereo with trim panels. I’m sick of looking at pictographs and symbols. There’s no reason at all that a car’s dash has to look like an Egyptian tomb layered on top of an oven’s control panel.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      @iNeon, the original Audi TT had a lovely aluminium panel that would swing down and cover the stereo.

      Unfortunately Audi dropped that in the Mk2 redesign, probably for cost reasons.

  • avatar
    George B

    Since when is Mercury a near luxury brand? I’m in my 40s and for all of my life Mercury has been Ford with a minor trim changes and a different name. Mercury only exists so stand alone Lincoln-Mercury dealers can exist. Same story with Buick and GMC relative to Chevrolet. In no way are Mercury or Buick cross shopped against luxury brands like Mercedes and BMW.

    Right now Infiniti feels about right as a near luxury brand. Unique RWD vehicles, but with access to the higher volume lower cost Nissan parts bin.

    • 0 avatar
      mtymsi

      Mercury used to be more than just different trim from Ford. They were always the same platform/drivetrain but used to have different sheetmetal. The 80-89 Cougar had a formal roofline while the T-Bird was more fastback. The original Sable was a completely different body a little bit longer than the Taurus. It was the begining of the end for Mercury when Ford started just changing the front and rear clips like in the later model Sables and Grand Marquis.

    • 0 avatar

      My neighbour has a Couguar, which looks nothing like anything else from Ford. I have no idea what’s under the hood. Kinda too big for a Probe or Escort, too small for old Taurus.

    • 0 avatar
      educatordan

      @Zaitcev You mean a FWD Cougar? I think that was Mercury’s last truly distinctive product. Not a bad car in my mind, if that had been Mercury’s new styling direction then at least it would have been easily recognizable. I think the biggest problem with that car was for L-M dealers to figure out how to sell a hot sport coupe to the clientele that walked through the door. Plus I don’t remember EVER seeing an ad for that car.

    • 0 avatar
      mtymsi

      The reason the last Cougar was the last Cougar is because the vehicle completely alienated the very loyal Cougar ownership base. The reason Cougar owners bought the car was its size, they didn’t want anything to do with the smaller size of the last one. To give you an idea of how loyal the Cougar owner base was after Ford stopped producing the last larger Cougar LM dealers nationwide were trying to buy leftover ones from other dealers to satisfy the demand for it. It is virtually unheard of in the car business for dealers wanting to buy leftover models of a vehicle that is out of production and paying higher prices then the factory cost for the vehicle. Ford literally could have sold more Cougars had they not changed the size and kept producing the larger one. In the meantime back at the ranch the new car failed to attract a new ownership base. Yet another of Ford’s missteps with the LM lineup.

      LM had very loyal owners of Towncars, Continentals, Sables, Cougars and Grand Marquis. In every instance they failed to update the vehicle or in the case of the Cougar changed the market segment and lost all of the previous buyers of all of those models. It’s as though Ford put their best effort into destroying the LM brand and they succeeded. It’s no wonder LM is in the shape they’re in today not only did they deliberately alienate their owner base they build products that hardly anyone considers today. Ford does not have the money or talent to rejuvenate Lincoln or Mercury, sticking Lincoln into Ford stores will be its final death knell.

    • 0 avatar

      Dunno about any knells, but if they make that bimmer-like Lincoln they used to make in 2001 (IIRC it was called “LS”), and True Delta score is good for it, I’ll consider it seriously, I swear. Brand loyalty is stupid, guys.

    • 0 avatar
      Acc azda atch

      Pete Zaitcev
      I remember the LS very, VERY well.

      Get it with the V8 and the sport package, rims, tires, tint. (Just don’t get the silver paint.)

      What a damn nice looking car! There are CERTAIN people who buy THAT car and LAST IS. Young guys with dough (CASH MONEY!)

      I loved the styling, low, mean, wide and flat. (Like Accords, Vigors / Legends USED TO BE.)

      Ive never been into a Linc / Merc shop before. It was a miserable little 2 lot stop off of the Blvd 2blocks south of Cottman in Phila.

      Car drew me in..

      Then they left it alone.. for the entire time period it was sold. Ford didn’t update it, didn’t.. change.. ANYTHING, and THAT.. is Ford’s achilles heel IN SO MANY vehicles.

      Its a crime that such a nice vehicle be let go.. but damn. Forget the AWD / SUV / CUV driving [BLEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEP]. I dont get how TECHNOLOGY can be better than the car its in.

      The LS was a car to be seen and driving.

      Then ya look around.. and see who drives Lincoln… either its the domesticated folk who wanted a luxo Edge (MKX).. or a Taurus MKS, or Fusion MKZ Zephr, or ya get the 40s type in the LS.. who really wanted a Continental.. and they drive the same way.

      They could have done SO much better.

  • avatar
    DougD

    Here in Canada Ford pulled the plug on Mercury years ago.
    We’re all surviving just fine here, including my father in law who is a Ford dealership salesman. Thank goodness he’s not a Chrysler salesman or he’d be living in my basement by now but I digress.
    Who needs it? It’s always curious to travel to the US and see Mercurys, there’s no mistaking what Ford it was before they made the minor trim changes.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    The Mercury trend is not news to me, but the Buick trend is. I had no idea they were in lockstep.

    What about Buick sales in China? Certainly that shows an upward trend, maybe just as steep as its decline in the US.

    As for Mercury, evidently you need more than a hot model (Jill Wagner) to sell cars; you need product.

  • avatar
    gsnfan

    When I heard that Ford was thinking of killing Mercury, my mom (who knows nothing about cars) was with me. She seemed kind of sad that Mercury was gone (but that was because I was there). I asked, “Can you name a Mercury product?”

    She thought that Mercury was a car name, like the Fusion or Focus.

    When people don’t know that you have a brand, maybe you should kill it.

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    I’ve long fancied myself a Ford guy. My grandfather worked at Ford his whole life, at the Cleveland engine plant known for the 351C. He helped set up the Windsor plant (351W). We had to buy Fords, else suffer the wraith. That is, until he retired and bought one of the first K-cars. But that’s another story.

    So I’ve owned 3 Mercury’s. For my first two, I more or less sought a loophole, and bought re-badged imports. My first car was a Mercury Tracer (re-badged Mazda 323). It was a wonderful car, with fine ergonomics, fun to drive, and hatchback practical. In ocean blue, it even looked nice, and I put over 100 trouble free miles on it. I firmly believe if my make-up applying ex hadn’t totaled it, the Little Tracer That Could could have easily gone 100K more miles.

    My (our) second Mercury was a Villager minivan (re-badged Nissan Quest). That too, was a wonderful car and would have gone many, many more miles had my ex not wanted something less mommy-mobile, despite our having two children. Now that I’m divorced with 5 kids in the new family mix, I still miss that car.

    My third Mercury was a Grand Marquis, and my first true Mercury Ford re-badge. I had other fords in between, and they were all fine cars. I put over 100K on the Grand Marquis, and as we all know by now, the Panther cars will last longer than us. But the Grand Marquis was always a car I liked for its virtues (dependable, spacious, comfortable, reasonable fuel economy, seats six in a pinch). But didn’t LOVE (cheap interior, 80 year old women are my automotive doppelganger motorist contemporaries).

    While shopping for a replacement, I stumbled upon the Ford dealership. I wanted to LOVE their cars. I’m a Ford guy, right? I considered the Fusion and the Escape, as well as their Mercury counterparts. I looked at the Lincolns too. The Fords were cheap. The Escape’s door handle felt like it would break off in my hand, it was very noisy, and I still can’t warm to the new style. I owned an Escape prior to the Grand Marquis. I’m not your typical American car hater. I wanted to LOVE the Escape. Alas, I could not.

    The Fusion’s styling, right off the bat, held me at an arm’s reach (though this re-style they just did is certainly better than the original). I found the Mercury Milan was interesting to look at. Not so off-putting. However, both cars’ interiors failed to impress. The cloth was ok, but the “leather” certainly was not. I don’t know where Ford sources the cows for their leather interiors, but these are not natural cows. These cows have issues, and I believe they are the same cows Wal-Mart sources for their shower curtains. I believe there has been some serious de-contenting since the early days of the Fusion, when I could stick my head in the window and smell the other kind of cow skin, you know, the expensive kind of cow. The kind most of us eat.

    The Lincoln’s interior…Listen, I’m a car guy, I can’t for the life of me tell you which Lincoln model is based off he Fusion. It simply doesn’t matter to me. I know there is a Lincoln that is the same as the Fusion and the Milan. But the marketing whizzes over there have completely confused me and themselves, and I won’t dedicate any time to learning the Lincoln car names. Perhaps at one time it was a Zephyr? Who cares…

    At any rate, the anonymous Lincoln XYZ had a very nice smelling leather interior. I think they made it with the skins of those Kobe beef cows (sorry PETA people). I think those cows were pampered, and fed good stuff, and quaffed before they were skinned. The Lincoln, I’m telling you, almost smelled Lexus good.

    So here’s a thought Ford: I know putting real leather (and soft touch plastics) in all of your cars is a stretch. But why not make Mercury a real step-up, and bless it with honest-to-goodness partial leather? You know, half Kobe and half shower-curtain? Leave the full Kobe with the soft vinyl wrapped dash for your premo- Lincoln XYZ, but bless the Mercury with the partial organic, partial petroleum interior. And for the Fords, let those folks deal with Armor-All’ing their seats.

    I realize the days of giving us bona fide Mercury models, like the Cougars were, or even interesting (curious?) re-badges such as my Mercury Tracer, are long gone. So at least give us something a little more tangible. Give Mercury owners something to really brag about.
    When I pull up to a light in my Milan, next to the poor sap in the Fusion, let me roll down my window, Gray Poupon style, and as if I already digested my sandwich, waft my hand back and forth so I can share the fine 50% Kobe leather smell in his direction.

  • avatar
    william442

    Trailer Trash: Very interesting. Smithfield Packing does the same thing with bacon. The lady looks at it as it passes, and sends some to the expensive package, and the rest to the cheap-same bacon.
    Once at GM’s Willow Run plant the emblems got mixed; Pontiacs with Buick insignia ad naseum.

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