Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Ford's "Better Ideas" for the new age... SYNC helps Ford leap ahead of other makers' "tech" features

If you're old like me, well approaching "middle age", you may remember Ford's old "Better Idea" ads from back in the day. Well, they may not use that phrase anymore, but just as "Quality is (still) Job 1" Ford continues to have better ideas as well. And case in point is the SYNC technology package.
I'm old enough to remember when cell phones came out and even remember when radio phones were for the very rich, but today every auto company has some sort of Bluetooth connectivity in their lineup. SYNC is more than just that, and as I'm learning with my new Mariner it's fairly easy to use and very well integrated into the car. But if you read the article from PC World, linked in the title, you'll see that Ford hasn't just sat back with SYNC and let it become static. Even before I bought my new Mariner, I had read that you could get free updates downloaded so that as new features came online for the system you wouldn't experience that new tech regret that's inevitable when new upgrades come after you bought the early run. And now Ford's latest upgrade will allow you to have a mobile WiFi in your car for no extra cost, when you use your Smartphone or USB Mobile Modem with the SYNC system. I'm not a tech guy, read the article, but this is just amazing. And the fact that you don't need to buy hardware or software beyond what you may already have is a huge plus. Oh and there's no extra service to sign up for! No hidden fees or subscriptions? Ford in my opinion has just gut punched the competition.

And let's not forget that Ford offers all of this high tech goodness across it's entire lineup (I'm fairly certain) from the upcoming "entry level" "aspirational?" Fiesta, to the Focus, Fusion, Mustang, Taurus and across the SUV and CUV lineup and even the trucks.
I'm fortunate to have wireless service from a very good provider and I believe I can get a suitable adapter for my current phone or just upgrade to a suitable new phone. Just imagine on a long road trip, passengers can surf the net while we clock the miles. A mini WiFi "Hot Spot" in my car? I'm going to take baby steps with this, but I'm excited.
I was reading recently that although Ford's new Fiesta will have a sub $14k entry price, it's expected the average transaction price will be closer to $20k. You may laugh at that, but when you think of all the "Millenials" (you know young people) who love their tech gear and want to drive something that's economical, then Ford could be ahead of the curve here. Around the globe, small cars don't mean "cheap".
I've often said that I could see myself buying a Fiesta, if it had enough features and that I'd be willing to pay around $20k.

You say "Way Forward" or "We Speak Car" I say Ford is still cranking out "Better Ideas"
In the end it's just proof that Ford will be a major player in the foreseeable future.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

1,100 mile and severe storm update, the Mariner earns it's stripes!

Ok, I just turned over 1,100 miles and drove through some wicked weather last night, so it's time for a Mariner update. And there have been no further issues with the little SUV. Once the swaybar link was repaired the truck has seemed to be improving on a daily basis. Fuel economy has been improving, averaging 20 mpg on a mostly urban loop.
The big news was last night's storm here in the New York Metro area. We decided to go to a party in New Jersey near Newark, which in good weather is just under an hour away. The forecast was for bad snow, high winds and low visability. Not the weather you'd think I would take a brand new untried vehicle out in? I don't drink, I have tons of experience driving in very bad weather (usually in the bulletproof Ranger) and knew that if I just took my time I'd be fine.
And the Mariner earned it's stripes! We left the party in Jersey at 11 pm, and got back to Westchester at 1 am, without a hitch. Most of that delay was because we were following slower traffic, including several plows on the local roads in Jersey.
I can't tell you how many stuck/stranded/abandoned cars we passed on the various highways, but I can tell you that no matter how slick it got the Mariner's "Inteligent AWD" with traction control was able to pull us through. Sure there was that long stretch of 280 in Jersey where speeds were held down to 10mph, but for the bulk of the trip we averaged 35 mph and not a wiggle from the Mariner.
I'm not ready to put the Ranger out to pasture yet, but it's nice to know that the car is smarter than I am. If I had known just how bad traveling was going to be I would have lit a fire and stayed home. But it's nice to know that the Mariner can move through some ugly road conditions. One note that I found odd, was the majority of cars I saw stuck were BMW and Mercedes, some with AWD. The key besides having a capable car, is knowing that slow and steady gets you home while overconfidence gets you stuck.
The Mariner is looking like one of the best buys in my humble view.