TTAC Bounty: Ford's PowerShift "Consumer Enlightenment" Memo

Edward Niedermeyer
by Edward Niedermeyer

Another weekend has yielded yet another review of the new Ford Focus [ this one from the NYT] that’s generally impressed with car but gives it huge negatives for its unruly, efficiency-tuned PowerShift dual-clutch transmission. TTAC’s been tracking PowerShift discontent since the transmission debuted in Europe three years ago, but America’s smoldering dislike of the dual-clutcher has only erupted into flames in recent months, when Consumer Reports, TrueDelta and JD Power all dinged Ford for PowerShift issues as well as MyFordTouch teething woes. And, in the teeth of mounting criticism of its dual-clutch transmission, WardsAuto reports that Ford has

sent dealers a memo with instructions to help sales and service personnel enlighten consumers about the behavioral nuances of the fuel-saving 6-speed automatic gearbox…

Although the Ford gearboxes perform as intended, customers relate the frequency and abruptness of gearshifts to their experiences with conventional automatic transmissions. Hence, a perceived problem, the auto maker says.

“What we really want to convey is their experience is something different,” [Fiesta brand manager Sherryl] Brightwell tells Ward’s, claiming there is nothing “wrong” with the car.

Because it’s not a transmission problem, it’s an enlightenment problem! Nothing to worry about Ma’am, it’s just a little bit grabby between the second and third chakras. Seriously though, TTAC wants to know what Ford thinks consumers need to know before they reach the seventh level of divine PowerShift acceptance. So don’t spin your Dharmic wheels, TTAC-reading Ford dealers… shoot us a copy [contact form here, anonymity guaranteed] and we’ll let TTAC’s Best and Brightest meditate on the problem as well as its proposed solution.

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  • Bizzarodave Bizzarodave on Jul 19, 2011

    Realizing that I am only 1 data point, I own a 2012 5 Door Focus SE with the 6 speed auto, and I think it's a fantastic transmission. It shifts so smoothly that it's nearly imperceptible under reasonable acceleration, and appropriately aggressive (but no less smooth) under hard throttle. Worth pointing out that I've had my Focus for 3 months now, and I picked it up with 19 miles on the clock. I've also driven a friend's 2011 4 door Fiesta a few times with the same transmission, and found it to be as refined as it is in my hatch. My experience makes me wonder if a statistically small number of incidents are being magnified by the message board phenomenon.

    • See 1 previous
    • Rollo Rollo on Jul 24, 2011

      @PennSt8 Count me in. We have a year on our Fiesta with the 6 speed Powershift box, and it shifts no worse than any traditional slushbox I've driven. In fact my only real complaint is that it doesn't have a manual mode. The car in the video is broken. This is not the same thing.

  • J-3cub J-3cub on Dec 13, 2011

    Well my Ford Fiesta had less than 1800 miles on it when the transmission started chattering while holding a steady traffic speed of 30 MPH after it warmed up. Now it does it bad between 30 and 55 MPH, still after it is warmed up. It’s fine when it’s cold. Also twice after putting 2900 miles on the car, the transmission would not release when trying to stop at a stop light. It drove me through a red light, TWICE. It was as if I was driving a manual transmission car and forgot to put the clutch in. Scared me to death, but I’m forced to keep driving it. Took it to Kline Motors, a Ford dealership in Winfield KS. They said they worked on it for 2 hours and charged over $172 and did absolutely NOTHING except tell me the transmission needs replaced for $5200. For 2 hours work they did not even up-date the computer that drives the transmission. I bet the mechanic never even touched it. Ford will not cover it because the car was in a very minor fender bender and the title was marked rebuilder, airbags were not even blown. What a cop out. What ticks me off about Kline’s is I told the service manger I re-built the car, which was nothing more than a front bumper cover and AC lines for the most part and all the parts that need replaced were bolt on OEM parts. I asked Kline’s to check the VIN to make sure Ford would cover it, they never checked it but said it would be covered to 36,000 miles and bring it in anyway. If you let Kline work on your car you better get what they are going to do in writing FIRST with the total price tag or they will screw you big time. But why the car was flagged by the insurance company I have no idea, but Ford is sure using it as an excuse not to touch it even though they know they made a very defective transmission. In any case I got a piece of crap Ford Fiesta that I’m scared to death to drive, but for now I’m stuck with it every day, and every day wondering if it’s going to drive me through another intersection to get hit by someone. If I was Ford I would be scared to death with these cars on the road. This should be a safety issue and the NTSB should force them to make a re-call for safety reasons. So, does anyone have any ideas on what parts I need to replace to fix this transmission? I sure can’t afford a new one at $5200. That is crazy. And as far as replies from NulloModo, you sound like a true sales man for Ford. Keep trying to convince people it’s OK. Try your best, but I will remind you I was not born yesterday and this is not the first car I ever drive. If someone says their car is not right, FORD SHOULD LISTEN. It’s a bad design for goodness sake, you can read all about it all over the internet. Ford and the dealers should get over it and face up that it’s a bad tranny and just fix it and save face. Quite trying to bury it, sweep it under the rug and hope it goes away. Come on people, does it really take thousands of miles for your car to learn how you drive? Get real, are you all that stupid to believe that crap? Better not lend out your car, you’ll be screwed by a new driver and a confused computer, right? You all do understand, the idea is to get you past warrantee, RIGHT??? WAKE UP!!!!! The transmission is a piece of JUNK. And Ford does not know how to fix it or does not want to spend the money. Notice all the Fiesta commercials lately???? Ha, NONE anymore that I seen on TV. WHY? Come on, take a guess. If it was not for the transmission I’d give this car high marks for a small car. Keep in mind it is a small car. But if you can’t drive it and there seems to be no good fix, what’s the point in spending money on a car like this. My advice, stay away from it.

  • Alan The Prado shouldn't have the Landcruiser name attached. It isn't a Landcruiser as much as a Tacoma or 4 Runner or a FJ Cruiser. Toyota have used the Landcruiser name as a marketing exercise for years. In Australia the RAV4 even had Landcruiser attached years ago! The Toyota Landcruiser is the Landcruiser, not a tarted up Tacoma wagon.Here a GX Prado cost about $61k before on roads, this is about $41k USD. This is a 2.8 diesel 4x4 with all the off road tricky stuff, plus AC, power windows, etc. I'm wondering if Toyota will perform the Nissan Armada treatment on it and debase the Prado. The Patrol here is actually as capable and possibly more capable than the Landcruiser off road (according to some reviews). The Armada was 'muricanised and the off road ability was reduced a lot. Who ever heard of a 2 wheel drive Patrol.Does the US need the Prado? Why not. Another option to choose from built by Toyota that is overpriced and uses old tech.My sister had a Prado Grande, I didn't think much of it. It was narrow inside and not that comfortable. Her Grand Cherokee was more comfortable and now her Toureg is even more comfortable, but you can still feel the road in the seat of your pants and ears.
  • Jeffrey No tis vehicle doen't need to come to America. The market if flooded in this segment what we need are fun affordable vehicles.
  • Nrd515 I don't really see the point of annual inspections, especially when the car is under 3 years (warranty) old. Inspections should be safety related, ONLY, none of the nonsensical CA ARB rules that end up being something like, "Your air intake doesn't have an ARB sticker on it, so you have to remove it and buy one just like it that does have the ARB sticker on it!". If the car or whatever isn't puking smoke out of it, and it doesn't make your eyes water, like an old Chevy Bel-Air I was behind on Wed did, it's fine. I was stuck in traffic behind that old car, and wow, the gasoline smell was super potent. It was in nice shape, but man, it was choking me. I was amused by the 80 something old guy driving it, he even had a hat with a feather in it, THE sign of someone you don't want to be driving anywhere near you.
  • Lou_BC "15mpg EPA" The 2023 ZR2 Colorado is supposed to be 16 mpg
  • ToolGuy "The more aerodynamic, organic shape of the Mark VIII meant ride height was slightly lower than before at 53.6 inches, over 54.2” for the Mark VII."• I am not sure that ride height means what you think it means.Elaboration: There is some possible disagreement about what "ride height" refers to. Some say ground clearance, some say H point (without calling it that), some say something else. But none of those people would use a number of over 4 feet for a stock Mark anything.Then you go on to use it correctly ("A notable advancement in the Mark VIII’s suspension was programming to lower the ride height slightly at high speeds, which assisted fuel economy via improved aerodynamics.") so what do I know. Plus, I ended a sentence with a preposition. 🙂