Monday, November 30, 2009

The good news from Ford has been just coming again and again

Mustang 3.7 V6 check! 2011 Fiesta doesn't get "Dave" treatment, check! Fusion gets Motor Trend Car Of The Year, Check! The news just gets better and better everyday.

Ford has some of the freshest product out there and some really inovative technology in the pipeline and on dealer's lots today. EcoBoost, SYNC and upcoming Hybrid and Electric vehicles.

There's always room for improvement (Mustang) but there's little doubt about which of the domestic brands will come out on top, it's going to be Ford all the way.

But what about Mercury? Did I just buy the next "Orphan" brand?

Finally! 3.7 V6 for Mustang in 2011

Ford's getting rid of the boat anchor 4.0 V-6 in favor of the 3.7 finally! And going toe to toe with Chevy Camaro's 300 hp/29 mpg with 307 hp/30 mpg. Read all about it at Autoblog.
Now, let's see when we can expect that IRS?

21 days 510 miles and first problem with Mariner

Ok, so today is day 21, I've put 510 miles on my Mariner and it's already been back for a warranty repair? Yes, you read that correctly, the Mariner had to go back to the dealership today. The good, the bad and the not so ugly facts are these. On Saturday I was setting off to visit friends, we pull out of the driveway and get 1,000 feet when I hear a knocking noise from the suspension. I went less than a mile when said knocking noise caused me to turn around and park the Mariner. Luckily we have more than one vehicle, so we transferred our weekend bags to the Honda and set off. This morning the Mariner went the less than 5 miles back to the dealership.

And the problem was? Driver's side stabilizer bar link had come loose. I have to give credit to the dealership. They found the problem quickly and 2 hours later we were on our way home, without any knocking noise.

But only 19 days into this "extended test drive" (lease) a stabilizer link fails?
My Ranger had a a stabilizer link fail, but after 10.5 years and 57,000 miles.

I'll put this off to a fluke this time, but I'll be documenting any further problems very carefully.

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Mariner is paying it's way easilly! Perfect vehicle for Holiday traveling.

Ok here's an update on my new Mariner. I've had it just over 2 weeks and it's been a real pleasure to live with. And yesterday's Thanksgiving holiday travel really helped the Mariner prove it's worth. As expected gas milage is improving on almost a daily basis. And the switch to the automatic paid big dividends in the 2 hour bumper to bumper traffic on both legs of my journey. One thing that I almost laughed at when I bought it but now love is the blind spot mirrors. At first glance I was thinking this was too small a vehicle to need them, but with all the bumper to bumper snaking around accidents on the Thruway and Parkway they really were a life saver.

I had a full load of passengers and leftovers coming home, and everyone was impressed with the ride comfort, even the back seat. Since I will never ride back there I hadn't really considered this, so it's a bonus that it's so nice.

The SYNC system's Bluetooth really made it easy, as I was receiving and making calls from the road in bumper to bumper traffic without any distraction. The voice command dialling and clear display high up on the dash meant that I didn't ram into the idiot that cut me off on I-87.

My sister who loves her Explorer but is wanting a smaller more efficient vehicle next spring liked my little Mercury so much that she's putting on her list for consideration. Her real goal is the Ford Edge, but the Escape/Mariner make a nice second choice. She was thrilled when I told her it's a 4 cyl and what milage I'm achieving.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sighting today and competitor for the Fiesta in 2011?

I drove upstate today to visit family in advance of the Thanksgiving holiday and on my way back home I had to make a pitstop on the NYS Thruway. And sitting there was a car I had only seen online and in videos from Europe, a Mercedes B200 (Wiki article linked in title). To be honest I felt bad for the poor guy sitting in the passenger seat waiting for his lady friend to return. I wasn't the first guy to ask him about the vehicle, but at least I did explain to him that he was riding in a vehicle that Mercedes doesn't sell in the United States (yet?). And his response was that he was from Montreal and unspoken was the fact that he's not a gearhead. It was a sharp looking little vehicle, but what's not impressive are the stats in the Wiki article. Only 136 hp? There is a Turbo option, as well as CDI options that are unlikely to come to these shores.
And as I walked around the little Merc, I was not as impressed as I was when walking around the Fiesta at the New York Auto Show. In my humble opinion, the Fiesta is a sharper looking package. Only time will tell.

Friday, November 13, 2009

5 days and still the honeymoon continues

It's only 5 days and I know the honeymoon period is still ongoing, but so far so good.
On the plus side, all the tech features are amazing, the ride is smooth and I don't get killed merging onto busy highways. Only 171 horsepower, but that's enough for the nimble Mariner. I can only imagine that the V-6's 240 hp would really make this move, but I'm not complaining, the better fuel economy from the 2.5 more than makes up for the fewer ponies.

One minor complaint is this, in order to fold the rear seats flat, you need to remove the headrests and find a place for them. This is not a problem unique to the Mariner, I've encountered it in the past with other vehicles, but it is a minor inconvenience none the less.
The load floor is flat and large enough to swallow a ton of gear. I'm in the middle of moving my office at work and I'm using my Mariner for the job. Several boxes of office supplies and files, the copier, fax machine, phones and PC tower all fit without a fuss. The load height is perfect for me and I would imagine for most folks. The liftgate height is enough that I don't bump my head even with the stupid bump cap required in our work area.

This is a very easy vehicle to live with on a day to day basis. No road trips on the horizon, unless you count the 60 mile drive upstate to see family for Thanksgiving, so I can't say how it will be on my anual 5 hour pilgrimage to Cape Cod.

While I don't notice the rear drum brakes when I'm driving, it still hits me that in this day and age they're back there. I'll be interested in how they feel this winter.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

First pics! My new Mariner

My digital camera is broken, but luckily my buddy stopped by to check out my new ride, so here are the first pics. The color is Black Pearl, which is really graphite, not black. Actually I like it better than black. I had never been a fa of the Mercury "waterfall" grille, but you know what? On this I like it. Much nicer than the oversize eggcrate on the Escape.
I love the lack of claddiing or useless bump strips on the sides. A clean crisp look.
The jeweled taillights catch the light well and look nice. The 12 spoke rims look like they'll be a pain to clean, but when clean they look sharp. They also hide the lack of rear disc calipers.

I like the satin accent below the hatch, combined with the grille and roof rails, it's just enough bright work without looking like a pimp mobile.
Day 2 goes well, I've got the flashdrive in the dash, loaded with music and the SYNC system makes it easy. I went grocery shopping after work and the load height is perfect. I'm loving the 2 way opening of the cargo area too. Click the remote button twice and the glass pops open, or for bigger loads you can open the full door.
Smooth ride over bumpy roads, but not floaty or tippy. I've yet to drive it hard through any twisty roads, but it's not my old Mazda3, so I don't expect sports car handling from my new cute ute.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ok, I can see why the Ka won't make it, but no new Ranger?

Over at AutoBlog, there's a piece about Ford CEO Alan Mually saying the new Global Ranger and Ka won't be among the One Ford global models coming to US shores. Ok, I get the Ka, it's really not a practical vehicle for the US market, but the Ranger? With the last global Ranger and Mazda BT-50 (pictured) we had already missed out on so much, but with the new version it seems all the more painful. And what's this about the F-100 again? A "slightly smaller" version of the F-150? Yeah, that makes no sense. Is the Ranger name so poluted? Come on Alan, you're a smart guy, Ranger sales are actually fairly good these days, despite being an ancient design. Just think of how an all new Ranger would really compete, especially if fuel prices rise again.
The Ka is kind of small and aside from the Smart there's really not much of a market in the US for such a little car. Alan is right on the money with this one, Ka sales would be too low and those interested in micro cars can still look forward to the new Fiesta.
When the Ranger does end in 2011 I will shed some tears.

24 hours into my Mariner and loving it! Also surprise touch of class from salesman

Ok, so it's only 24 hours in and that's still the honeymoon phase, but I have to say I do love my new Mariner! The one adjustment is to the automatic transmission, I'm not reaching for the gearshift, but I still go for the clutch when stopping.

When I got home today, in the mail was a very nice thank you note from Frank C, my salesman.
And I have to say, that with all the cars I've bought over the last 22 years, this is the first thank you note I've ever received. A real classy touch. But it doesn't end there, Frank gave me key fobs with his name and number on them as well as a pen embossed with the same info.

And I'm not sure how best to say this, so I'll just say it. Frank is an older gentleman, and it's been my experience that many of the older salesmen don't keep up with the new technologies and concepts/future models. Frank is in his late 50's or maybe even older, but he had a great grasp of the SYNC system and other tech features (which the Mariner is full of) and like I said he knew about the Kuga, Fiesta and other foreign/future models coming down the pipeline. Only after I made my deal did I even mention my blog in detail. He modestly said he wasn't very Internet savy, but I kind of doubt that. Frank struck me as a very low key, but very smart guy.

I figured out how to SYNC up my phone, actually very easy, so that's tech toy 1 down. I need to load up a flash drive with tunes and try that, then hook up my MP3 player and test that. The Sirius radio is ok too. I have to admit the Ambient lighting is kind of goofy, but I picked a color (blue) that matches the dash lights.

24 hours may seem premature, but I'm sure that in 24 months I'll still be loving my Mariner.

Monday, November 09, 2009

MyFordDreams begins 27 month test drive of Mercury Mariner!

Ok not a test drive, but a lease. After months of shopping for a good deal I've traded in my trusty Mazda 3 sGT for a 2010 Merucy Mariner I-4 Premier 4wd. I went back to the dealership where I bought my very first new car 22 years ago, Smith Cairns of Yonkers New York. My salesman Frank made it one of the easiest purchases I've ever made.

My opinion of the refreshed Mariner/Escape/Tribute is a matter of record here, the only flaw is the lack of 4wheel disc brakes. The level of luxury and technology are both fairly high, especially at this price point. I was joking with my salesman Frank that when this lease is up, Ford should finally have the new Kuga based Escape/Mariner replacement out. That may be no joke. And if FoMoCo can SYNC up those dates, then that's what I'll do.

Now to learn how all my new toys work! I've got to learn the SYNC system, load up my MP3 and USB Flash Drive with tunes, then select which Sirius stations I want to listen to. The ambient lighting is actually kind of cool. But over the next 27 months I'll also give my day to day impressions of my first Mercury.

Yeah, it's hard for me to believe, but with all the FoMoCo products I've owned over the years, this is the first Mercury I've ever had.