Abandoned History: Ford's Cruise-O-Matic and the C Family of Automatic Transmissions (Part VI)
We return to the final entry in our Cruise-O-Matic and C transmission series, at a time when the former’s Fifties-tastic name had faded from the memory of most. The C family was the wave of the future when it arrived as a rework of the Cruise-O-Matic in 1964. The first of the line was the C4, a medium-duty box that was followed two years later by the heavy-duty C6.
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Ford Recalling 661,000 Explorer SUVs for Real This Time

Ford Motor Co. is recalling over 660,000 2016-2019 model year Explorer sport utility vehicles over the suspect roof rails the company initially claimed were probably fine. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration got involved last year, following a string of complaints of the rail cover loosening and sometimes being jettisoned from the vehicle, and recommended the automaker bring them in for repairs.

But Blue Oval felt that was unnecessary, claiming the odds of one decoupling were extremely low and likely to be battened down before anything happens. Besides, they’re just fiddly little pieces of trim and unlikely to do much damage. Obviously, opinions have changed since then with documentation from the NHTSA confirming Ford is moving ahead with the mostly voluntary recall.

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2021 Ford Explorer Timberline Looks Reasonably Ruggedized

Ford is introducing a new trim level for the Explorer, targeting both outdoorsy types and those who desperately want to be but only manage to spend a couple of weekends at Kampgrounds of America.

The 2021 Ford Explorer Timberline delivers a mix of visual accouterments and practical components that should actually make the SUV better off-road.

Don’t expect it to keep pace with a Raptor pickup, however. Despite the Timberline’s menacing new grille, skid plates, unique 18-inch wheels, and Bridgestone Dueler all-terrain tires, it’s not a Baja buggy waiting to be jumped off the next sand dune — though it may be the best option for Explorer shoppers who don’t want to spend oodles on aftermarket parts.

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Ford Recalling 28,000 Vehicles Over Fire, Rolling Risk

A selection of Ford and Lincoln vehicles have been included in a pair of upcoming recalls. The first is involves 2020 Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator models suffering from a defective driveshaft. The weld seam is reportedly faulty on some vehicles and can split apart, resulting in a suddenly absent mechanical connection between the transfer case and rear axle. Drivers should be on guard for unintended vehicle creep or a sudden loss of power while moving. In truly bad instances, Ford warned that the driveshaft could come into heavy contact with the fuel tank — complicating things by introducing the always unpopular fire risk.

The second recall involves a link shaft bracket that may snap prematurely and impacts the 2014 Ford Edge as well as 2014-2016 Explorer and Taurus models. Drivers might notice a sudden loss of power while moving or the ability to safely place the vehicle in park. As this creates a roll-away risk, drivers should exercise caution and try to keep their vehicles parked on a level plane until it can be examined.

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Buy/Drive/Burn: American Family-hauling SUVs in 2005

At the Los Angeles Auto Show this week, Chevrolet announced the rebirth of the Trailblazer (note the spelling) for the 2021 model year. However, unlike its predecessor, it’s now a compact, three-cylinder CUV. The comments got a bit heated, pitting the GMT 360 version against its contemporary competition.

So let’s settle this. It’s time for a Buy/Drive/Burn in 2005.

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Ford Takes a Third-quarter Hit, Top Brass Talk Botched Explorer Launch

Analysts predicted a less-than-stellar quarter for Ford Motor Company, so it was not a shock to see turbulence in the company’s third-quarter financials. The company’s net income dropped 57 percent in Q3 2019, the result of currency changes and restructuring efforts. Revenue ($37 billion) was down on a global scale, shrinking 2 percent. Earnings per share shrunk from 25 cents to 11 cents.

While the automaker finds itself in the midst of ongoing cost-cutting and a reorganization of its regional businesses, the North American launch of a key product didn’t go as planned, forcing Ford CEO Jim Hackett to claim the company’s efforts fell below expectations.

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Ford's 2020 Explorer Hasn't Left the Woods Just Yet, Report Claims

Plagued by reports of manufacturing defects and post-production emergency surgery at Flat Rock Assembly, Ford’s Chicago-built 2020 Explorer and Lincoln Aviator platform mate are a weight placed on the shoulders (and career) of CEO Jim Hackett. It’s also weighing down the company’s stock, analysts claim.

While the automaker said earlier this month that Explorer supply was on the upswing, with new vehicles now shipping directly to dealers, it seems Bill Shatner hasn’t shot all of the gremlins off the wing of this flight.

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Quality Issues Leads to Bumpy Takeoff for 2020 Ford Explorer

Sales figures are now rolling in from the Detroit Three automakers, with Ford now reporting third-quarter volumes. While Matthew Guy will have a roundup for you later today, we can share that Ford’s most recent sales quarter was not a stellar affair, made worse by the bungled launch of a high-profile model.

As we’ve told you already, a myriad of quality issues kept thousands of Chicago-built Explorers and Lincoln Aviators from reaching dealers this summer, with the afflicted rides instead travelling by truck to Michigan’s Flat Rock Assembly for fixing before buyers could take delivery. As you’d expect, this impacted the Explorer’s sales performance and further weighed down a brand that saw its sales fall 5.6 percent in the last quarter.

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Report: Widespread 2020 Ford Explorer and Lincoln Aviator Quality Issues Has Automaker Scrambling

There’s no doubt the next-generation Ford Explorer and reborn Lincoln Aviator are very important vehicles for Ford Motor Company. Advanced, stylish, and packing lofty MSRPs and projected volume that’s sure to make the Blue Oval tons of cash, the worst thing that could occur to these vehicles is a botched rollout served with a side of quality-related stigma.

It seems that’s exactly what’s happening.

While the two platform mates, just now appearing on dealer lots, have already been subject to recalls related to manually-adjusted seatbacks, missing manual park release covers, and instrument panel issues, a number of other problems is keeping Explorers and Aviators away from buyers. Ford is reportedly working overtime to fix the unspecified defects.

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12 MPG in 10 Years: Ford Explorer Hybrid's Fuel Economy Figures Come to Light

Barring the development of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, the slow march towards better fuel economy, especially in larger vehicles, has been just that: slow. Yet incremental improvements continue, and the latest large family vehicle to see a darker shade of green is Ford’s new-for-2020 Explorer.

Now bearing rear-drive architecture it shares with the Lincoln Aviator, the Explorer drives into its sixth generation with a hybrid and high-performance model in tow. The greenest of the bunch, unlike the Aviator, is not a plug-in proposition, so fuel economy gains are limited. It’s up to buyers to decide if the just-released EPA numbers are worth the extra coin.

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First Drive: 2020 Ford Explorer - Premium Pricing

For four generations, Ford offered the Explorer with rear-wheel drive as standard. It went front-drive for the fifth.

Now, the standard drivetrain is rear-drive again. Back to basics, so to speak.

Except, not really. First-gen Explorers didn’t have infotainment systems, or 10-speed automatic transmissions, or available hybrid powertrains. Those staples of modernity have been added over the years.

Whether it was out of nostalgia or an attempt to capitalize on the resurgence of dinosaur-themed tent-pole cinema, or simply an attempt to make us overfed journos get a quick guffaw, Ford PR trotted out an early ‘90s example, complete with Jurassic Park livery, for us to gawk at (rumor has it we may be able to get behind the wheel someday. Fingers crossed). I opened the door and was greeted with what was the new-car smell of my youth. This Explorer needed no 10-speed, no Sync, no hybrid, to charm. Could the 2020 version do the same as it returned to a rear-drive base?

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Junkyard Find: 1994 Mazda Navajo LX
Mazda and Ford go way back when it comes to the badge-engineering game, what with all those Mazda-built Ford Couriers, Mazda-based Ford Escorts, Mazda-badged Ford Rangers, and so on. Since I love weird examples of badge engineering in the junkyard, I’m always on the lookout for the likes of a Saab-badged Chevy or Acura-badged Isuzu, and so I have been keeping my eyes open for a rare Mazda-ized Ford Explorer for quite a while. Most of them got crushed long ago, as the early Explorer has very little value today (due to its laughably small size and lack of luxury features, by 21st-century American-market suburban commuter-truck standards), but this ’94 just showed up in a Denver self-service yard.
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Rear Suspension Failures Continue to Plague Ford, Prompting a Dual Recall

This isn’t the first recall for Ford vehicles with rear ends that may step out of line, but it’s certainly the largest. On Wednesday, the automaker announced the recall of 1.2 million Ford Explorers in the U.S. out of fear that rear suspension toe links could fracture, leading to a loss of control.

The recalls covers 2011-2017 Explorer models, with Ford saying the issue has already caused one driver to veer into a curb. Over the past three years, several suspension recalls have dogged this generation of Explorer; the cause of the potential fractures ranged from improper welds to the accumulation of a certain type of mud.

Speaking of that mud, it’s more of a menace than originally thought. In a separate recall, Ford today called for the return of four Ford and Lincoln models sold in Canada to replace vulnerable rear toe links.

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Ace of Base: 2020 Ford Explorer XLT

Let’s get one thing clear: it is my opinion that the 2020 Explorer XLT is not the best 2020 Explorer. Powered by a 2.3-liter Ecoboost four-pot, the XLT falls far short of the 400 horsepower 3.0-liter Ecoboost V6 found in ST trim. As a proponent of acceleration, your author will always select the biggest engine.

Not everyone will, however. Scads of buyers, many of whom lie directly in the target market of Ford’s new Explorer, will think the 300 horse mill is more than suitable. In that frame of mind, let’s find out what $36,675 buys you at a Ford store these days.

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Ford Unleashes a Slew of Hybrids on Europe, Including Some You Might Want

Amsterdam, home to green medicinal plants and red lights, was the site of a Ford product extravaganza on Tuesday, with the automaker announcing a number of hybrid or electric models for the highly regulated European market.

A total of sixteen electrified models made their (future) existence known, with most falling under the automaker’s new Ford Hybrid banner. Some, like the Fiesta EcoBoost Hybrid and Focus EcoBoost Hybrid, are products thrifty American greenies can only dream of. There’ll be no more Fiestas or Focuses for you, sorry. Another is one Americans with loftier lifestyles might desire, and one Ford could sell here, but won’t: a plug-in Explorer.

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  • Jeff S @Lou_BC--Diamonds are not really rare DeBeers dominates the diamond market and created the market with advertising starting in the 1930s thru the 40s. Before that time diamonds were for the most part considered for the wealthy and diamond wedding rings were not that common. Go back 100 years and most women wore wedding bands made of gold, silver, or other metals. DeBeers dominating the diamond market also controls the supply of diamonds keeping the prices higher by restricting supply. Sound familiar? Oil companies have learned to restrict supply of oil as well.https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/diamond-de-beers-marketing-campaign
  • Statikboy So they named it after the worst cracker."Perhaps that’s why the autonomous dream appeals to so many - they’ve never experienced satisfaction, or even fun, whilst operating a motorcar.""This 2022 Mazda CX-30 Turbo, for example, can certainly handle the drudgery of the daily commute with aplomb but can make a detour on a twisty two-lane a bit more enjoyable."While the autonomous dream doesn't appeal to me at all, I think the reason that it does appeal to so many is because it theoretically has the potential to make the drudgery of the daily commute a bit more enjoyable.
  • Jeff S Arthur and I might be in the minority but we miss cars like this. We will never see cars like this again and it is what it is. I did like driving my mothers 72 Sedan Deville and her 84 Chrysler 5th Avenue with leather interior and Boise Dolby stereo along with some of the other luxury cars I drove from this era. At least I got to experience them and if I want more I can always read Corey's well written articles and watch Adam on Rare Classic Cars.
  • ToolGuy "Idle," or "Shutter"? Let's don't get completely lazy.
  • Jeff S Might not matter during car shortages. I have a Costco and Sam's membership which I thought about using for buying a vehicle but when the Maverick order banks opened up in June 2021 I went online to built my own Maverick and still had to go to the dealer to order it. With vehicle shortages you might still have to go to the dealer to order but it might be worth it to try to use Costco if you know what you want and are not too picky about colors and options to see what is available now especially if you don't want to wait for a vehicle. I doubt in today's environment that you would save a lot on the purchase of a new vehicle especially since many dealers are adding adjustments to market prices on top of msrp.