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Ford Gets An Earful: Five best and worst ideas from consumers

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Ford Gets An Earful: Five best and worst ideas from consumers

by Zach Bowman (RSS feed) on Apr 16th 2010 at 2:58PM

Ford has officially stirred up a mess of snakes by inviting consumers to submit their ideas on how to improve the company's vehicles to its website at TheFordStory.com. We've spent the better part of a day sifting through what the world has to say to Ford, and though we expected bucket loads of the web's own brand of vitriol, so far the comments were largely constructive.

We say "largely" because, as you know, the internet is still the home of LOL Cats and Chocolate Rain, and for every common sense suggestion on the site, there's one telling the company to offer an automatic pet feeder as an option. We wish we were kidding.

Ford has split its internet suggestion box into six categories ranging from performance and driving dynamics to safety, and while we dig ideas like trimming weight through the use of structural adhesives and the implementation of rear fog lights, a few themes rose above the rest to grab our attention. We've cataloged five we think Ford could do well to listen to, along with another five the company could skip all together.

Five Best Ideas for Ford

1. All diesels, all the time

No matter which section you happen to stumble into on the Ford site, the comments make it clear buyers want more diesel options here in the States. We read through nearly every idea and heard clamoring for diesel versions of the F-150, Ranger, Explorer, Fusion, Fiesta and the Focus. There was even some buzz over the notion of a diesel-hybrid model – a car that would theoretically provide plenty of torque and even better fuel economy. We've long been fans of the efficiency and power a diesel can provide, and it looks like Americans are finally beginning to forget the diesel Oldsmobiles of days gone by.

2. The Wrangler killer

The Ford Bronco may have started its life as an alternative to the Willys-Overland products of the day, but by the time OJ was running from the law, the truck had evolved into a luxury barge with very little off-road capability. Evidently that hasn't stopped Ford fans from pining for a newly-imagined Bronco – a truck capable of embarrassing the Jeep Wrangler on the trails and returning decent fuel economy. Multiple posts asked for a low-budget off-roader with a small, torquey diesel engine. Alternatively, we heard more than one voice ask for a quality small truck like the Ranger, though equipped with a diesel powerplant capable of 30 mpg or better. User Thomas Z even suggested bringing back the F100 nameplate.

3. We want wagons

Fiesta hatchbacks, Focus Wagons, Fusion Wagons or Taurus Wagons – it doesn't seem to matter. Judging by the posts on the Ford site, the people want their long roofs instead of crossovers, and they want them yesterday. Some of the more creative suggestions we saw involved incorporating mini-van like doors into a sedan or wagon platform. Pretty? Probably not, but as anyone who's ever juggled groceries and a toddler at the same time will tell you, those sliding doors are a stroke of genius. Why not use them on a smaller vehicle?

4. We want Strippers, too

Are Americans tired of over-optioning vehicles? Judging by the suggestions they doled out to Ford, it certainly sounds that way. Plenty of posts made it clear that buyers want a stripped-down Mustang, complete with V8 and not much else. The same was said for stripper versions of the Focus, Fiesta and F-150. We doubt anyone really longs for the days of roll up windows, vinyl buckets and no A/C. Odds are buyers would simply like a more affordable version of the cars and trucks they're dreaming after right now. Can you blame them?

5. Build a better truck

The F-150 may be the most popular full-size pickup on the planet, but that doesn't mean buyers think it's the perfect truck. A fair portion of the comments were directed toward improving the haulers, and included ideas borrowed from other manufacturers. Suggestions range from a lockable, watertight trunk in the bed to something along the same lines as the Dodge RamBox tool boxes and a remote to unlock the tailgate. One of our personal favorites was the "Fuel from your Ford" suggestion posted by Steve S. Basically, it's an option that would allow you to use the truck's fuel tank as one big jerry can – filling up lawn mowers and the like without having to store a bunch of smaller containers in the garage.

Five Ideas Ford Should Ignore

1. The Ranchero lives

Yes. We would absolutely love to see Ford slap a bed on the tiny Focus or the even more miniscule Fiesta, but at the same time, we don't exactly see droves of people beating down the Blue Oval's door to buy such a monstrosity. We did spy a few suggestions that begged for a mini truck – probably diesel, possibly front-wheel drive – to slot below the Ranger, but that's a far cry from a Ranchero Fiesta. Sorry, Mike P.

2. You want another cup holder?

Including the breather cover on my family's 1992 Chevrolet Suburban, the truck hand nine cup holders, each capable of holding 32 gallons of your favorite beverage. It also had a cruising range of over 800 miles, making it a bladder infection waiting to happen. So it comes as some surprise that someone would want another cup holder in their modern vehicle, this time on the exterior of the car. Tim O's reasoning? He needs a place to put his drink while getting into or out of his car. We're not entirely convinced.

3. Someone misses the Mercury Sable's illuminated grille

There is no accounting for taste. In 1986, the Mercury Sable hit the scene with one singular distinctive feature – its grille illuminated all the way across the front of the car. The light was provided by no less than 40,000 tiny light bulbs, all waiting to burn out at the slightest indication of vibration. Evidently that design struck a chord with Rich C, and while we agree that there's nothing wrong with a push-button transmission or hideaway headlights, some things deserve to remain in the past. Like the Mercury Sable's illuminated grille.

4. The mood computer

The mood ring was a pretty big hit way back when, but we don't think that's justification enough for this next idea. Gary would like to see Fords of the future monitor the driver's heart rate via the steering wheel and adjust the ambient lighting in the cabin accordingly. If the driver's calm, the cabin would be awash in blue light. Angry? Well, we assume things would turn a little more sinister at that point. While it would be amusing to be able to see who is deep in road range in traffic around us, we don't think Detroit's going to be hopping on this one anytime soon.

5. The hybrid electric GT500

The idea of cramming a heavy hybrid system into the already bulky GT500 rubs us the wrong way on just about every level, even if user John G has some pretty sound logic behind his suggestion. The guy says that an electric motor would allow the gnarly supercharged V8 in the meanest Mustang to breathe a little easier, and improve fuel economy in the process. Better fuel economy would mean that the company could produce more of the cars without getting in trouble with the feds over CAFE standards. Yeah, it makes sense, but that doesn't mean we have to like it.

link:

http://www.autoblog.com/2010/04/16/ford-gets-an-earful-five-best-and-worst-ideas-from-consumers/

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Wagons and diesels sound great to me...and an affordable Mustang with the new 5.0 would be awesome!

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I, for one, thought the Mercury light up grill was interesting... and seeing all the LED eye candy cars are wearing today, it would fit right in it done right.

And it wasn't using 40,000 little bulbs... IIRC, it used 4 or 5. BFD to change a few 194 bulbs.

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1. they say they want diesels but they won't sell in large quantities unless they are priced like gas models and even then, the emissions are a problem still and in general i doubt US drivers will like diesels as a mass whole. Not to mention diesel capacity problems. As wonderful an idea as hybrids are they are even still only like 2-3% of the market.

2. There isn't enough sales to justify the Bronco, especially with the sales the Wrangler gets and there is not much market left after that. And even then, an F-150 Raptor makes more sense for Ford. Bronco prob wouldn't outsell a hummer or an FJ Cruiser, and right now Ford has other priorities.

3. Everyone claims they want wagons but the mass market says they want crossovers. That is why Volvo and BMW are giving up. It's why a Tucson is more popular than an Elantra Touring. Its why the CTS wagon although a fantastic and stunning car won't probably sell. It's why even the cars like the Passat wagon are on death's door if you can even find more than one configuration of them. Its why Saab needed a 9-4x to remain relevant going forward.

4. Strippers they say they want but today's strippers people still expect power windows, locks, mirrors, ABS, stability, radios with input ports. remote entry. Non stripper these days means AWD, sunroof, leather seats, NAV. People are incensed about steel wheels and black door handles and trim.

5. Trucks always have room for improvement.

Of course on internet surveys and message boards and chat rooms you will always get the fringe, non mainstream folks POV but it does tend to skew what the actual POV of the mainstream is. Surveys like this there is a little grain of salt to it.

Edited by regfootball
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Considering I have a high school diploma, I'll reply to Reg.

1. VW, BMW, and Mercedes sell every diesel they send here and usually have waiting lines for them (toureg excepted).

2. If the Bronco were a shared on say.... a new Ranger platform, I'm sure Ford could make it work.

3. Volvo and BMW make very expensive wagons. Every wagon we've gotten here has been compromised somehow. Volvo and BMWs: too expensive. Elantra Touring: it's an Elantra. Taurus/Sable: Looked like a fish (but still sold decent). Passat: VW gave up on the model and only brings a set number of wagons over. Jetta: I actually see a lot of brand new Jetta wagons around. Focus: First gen wagons sold decent. How is the Flex doing? It's basically a tall wagon.

4. I think the strippers thing is directed squarely at the Mustang. A few years ago couldn't you buy a mustang without a Radio or rear seats? I think that's what they are aiming for.

5. The F-150 is already a great truck. What this suggestion is going for is a Ford answer to the Avalanche.

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An excellent rational response, drew

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If there was one thing on that list that I would get behind 100% it would be WAGONS.

same goes for GM- we should be getting the Regal, Excelle, Cruze, Malibu in wagon format.

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I want to expand on my comment with regard to wagons. Saying that Volvo is "giving up" on wagons because they're not going to sell the V70 anymore is like saying Cadillac is giving up on sedans because they aren't selling the DTS anymore. There is still the XC70 the V50 and the C30.

Another wagon that I thought of while out and about. The Dodge Journey is just an Avenger wagon and is one of the very few bright spots on any Chrysler sales report. Kia Rondeo..... looks like ass but I see people driving them all the time. The Kia Soul is a wagon as is the Nissan Cube and Honda Element. Toyota Venza is doing decent enough and that one is clearly a wagon no matter how many times Toyota calls it a crossover. Chevy HHR and Chrysler PT Cruiser are everywhere. Orlando is coming.

So, yes... Ford needs more wagons.

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I want to expand on my comment with regard to wagons. Saying that Volvo is "giving up" on wagons because they're not going to sell the V70 anymore is like saying Cadillac is giving up on sedans because they aren't selling the DTS anymore. There is still the XC70 the V50 and the C30.

Another wagon that I thought of while out and about. The Dodge Journey is just an Avenger wagon and is one of the very few bright spots on any Chrysler sales report. Kia Rondeo..... looks like ass but I see people driving them all the time. The Kia Soul is a wagon as is the Nissan Cube and Honda Element. Toyota Venza is doing decent enough and that one is clearly a wagon no matter how many times Toyota calls it a crossover. Chevy HHR and Chrysler PT Cruiser are everywhere. Orlando is coming.

So, yes... Ford needs more wagons.

Venza sells well around here, and the HHR is about as popular as horseflies around horse crap...they are everywhere...

If there was one thing on that list that I would get behind 100% it would be WAGONS.

same goes for GM- we should be getting the Regal, Excelle, Cruze, Malibu in wagon format.

Bingo!

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Combine some of them, and you get a diesel stripper 4x4 wagon.. :) I'd love to get a Mustang w/ a torquey V8 diesel. But loaded (I don't like 'stripper' cars). Been there, done that with the Bronco when I had my Bronco II. I'd like to see something Bronco like again.

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I'd agree with the stripper Mustang thing. Although with the new interior the Mustang has...hmmm...I could handle just about any of the new Mustangs.

Chris

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I'd agree with the stripper Mustang thing. Although with the new interior the Mustang has...hmmm...I could handle just about any of the new Mustangs.

Chris

I really like the interior in the new Mustang. If I get one, I want one like this:

m5lp_0903_08_z+2010_ford_mustang+red_leather_interior.jpg

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I and most people on this site say the same things about GM and other OEM's so I think that theres more fuel to this fire, I predict this is a trend :2cents:

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Nice 'stang pic the instrument panel is reminiscent of a first or second gen cant remember just now but YES to the big gauges

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I like all five suggestions...good ones. We could use all of them....

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