Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Uni)Body Of Lies [op-ed]

Recommended Posts

Uni)Body Of Lies [op-ed]

By Jack Baruth

By now, you’ve all seen photos of the Explorer. I saw it in person last week, and I had a few immediate thoughts: the interior is even nicer than that of the Flex; but a Flex with this interior would be nicer and more useful; which means that this and the Flex do not need to coexist.

“Ah,” I can hear you saying, “the Explorer has an off-road-optimized chassis and a selective terrain controller.” This is true, but trust me: nobody’s taking this expensive, delicate, jewel-like vehicle off-road. Instead, they’ll simply use it as a seven-passenger crossover, something they could purchase right now at their Ford dealerships in the form of the Flex.

With the optional V-6, the Explorer is rated to tow 5500 pounds, which represents its sole advantage over the Flex. Mind you, the Flex tows 4500 pounds pretty well, and with the EcoBoost six it will pull those pounds like the naturally-aspirated Explorer cannot dream of doing.

Some Internet commentators are already raking Ford over the coals for abandoning the “authentic Explorer,” but to some degree they are pining away for something that never existed.

As a former Ford salesman, I can tell you that Explorer customers never cared about it being a real truck underneath. If anything, they were annoyed by the ride, the noise, the weight, and the fuel consumption that came along with the full-frame design. The Explorer isn’t a Wrangler or Land Rover LR4 competitor. It’s a family wagon that was based on a truck to escape CAFE and crash-safety regulations. Period.

This new Explorer is a realization of the aforementioned truth, stamped out in sheets of steel and welded into a form so complex it requires a supercomputer to visualize correctly. The interior has been tirelessly benchmarked against more expensive and prestigious competitors. The powertrain choices are both reasonable and mildly innovative. It really is the best Explorer ever made for ninety-nine percent of the potential buyers.

There’s one problem, though: in removing the things that made the SUV less than perfect for its owners, Ford has also removed any genuine difference between the Explorer and its showroom neighbors. It now serves as a way-station between the Goldilocks choices of Edge and Flex. If it is to survive in the marketplace, it has to impress customers as being the “just right” option of the three.

Dragging the Explorer into the modern era is equivalent to the “colorizing” process inflicted on a variety of classic movies a decade or so ago. In doing this, Ford has invited us to compare it with the modern alternatives. I cannot help thinking that nearly everyone who leaves the showroom in a new Explorer would be equivalently-served with a Flex.

If you absolutely require a top-notch interior, or if you want a four-cylinder SUV that can get out of its own way, the Explorer will be for you. Just don’t forget to check out the Flex. It’s a damn good car.

(Note that I said “car”, not “truck”. The Flex isn’t a truck, and now, neither is the Explorer.)

link:

http://www.leftlanenews.com/unibody-of-lies-op-ed.html

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sums it up pretty well, but doesn't give the design of the Explorer the credit it deserves.

Would the old one appeal to me more?

Yes.

But the new one is better tailored to the use that most Explorer buyers put their vehicles to.

And it looks so much better.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Flex is larger and more of a big retro sort of wagon, an urban cruiser. It'll never sell in great numbers because of its controversial design., but it doesn't need to so long as its ells enough to justify its existence (and it seems to according to Ford). The Explorer is more mainstream and will appeal to the millions of people who want a family hauler, millions who had or have old Explorers but wanted a better ride, fuel economy, exterior design and nicer interior. On this it delivers, and the off road gear it comes with is more than enough for what the buyers will ever need. The Flex is the alternative to the Explorer, something different.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Of all the CUVs out there, I think it will be the Highlander that will take the biggest hit from the new Explorer. It seems to have taken over the Explorers role as suburban family wagon, and Ford wants to get that back.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree, DF.

And I'll go farther.

I'm fine with the demise of most SUV nameplates as there were far,far, too many in the market before the price spike in gas and the economic malaise.

The one caveat I would add would be that I don't want to see the true SUV become a thing of the past. I just want the best of them to be left after the blood-letting - and perhaps a return to their more affordable and elemental origins.

In Ford's case, a true to form Bronco would be most welcome, for example.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree, DF.

And I'll go farther.

I'm fine with the demise of most SUV nameplates as there were far,far, too many in the market before the price spike in gas and the economic malaise.

The one caveat I would add would be that I don't want to see the true SUV become a thing of the past. I just want the best of them to be left after the blood-letting - and perhaps a return to their more affordable and elemental origins.

In Ford's case, a true to form Bronco would be most welcome, for example.

I'd love to see a 2dr Bronco either small like the original or based off the F150 (like the '78-96). For that matter, a 2dr Blazer would be great also. But it seems like the market for 2dr, rugged SUVs really doesn't exist anymore...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tracker, Blazer and Trailblazer no longer exist, replaced by Equinox and Traverse. Ford is not the first company to euthanize their true midsize SUVs.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This vehicle somehow solidifies my view about Mullaly, that he is band-aid fixing the company while riding on "good will" from press and people.

A good looking vehicle inside out no doubt about that and credit to Ford design to come up with something like that. However, why do they need three vehicles in the same brand with almost same size? This is where Mercury would have fit well to give the quirky Flex to and not worry about volume. Even if the plan was to replace halo "Explorer" why not develop a solid RWD platform that would have supported zeta competition all over the world which could have been sold as Ford and as police interceptors? At this time the BOF RWD market is owned by Toyota Foreplay Runner. No competition, none from Detroit. They just gave the pie away for free lunch. While I do not want them to have a BOF, RWD a capable vehicle which will be fleeted in governmental and police services would have been beneficial.

Mullaly saw a platform, needed volume and had the brand name so he just saved costs and put a vehicle that will compete against two others on the same showroom floor.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Flex is larger and more of a big retro sort of wagon, an urban cruiser. It'll never sell in great numbers because of its controversial design., but it doesn't need to so long as its ells enough to justify its existence (and it seems to according to Ford). The Explorer is more mainstream and will appeal to the millions of people who want a family hauler, millions who had or have old Explorers but wanted a better ride, fuel economy, exterior design and nicer interior. On this it delivers, and the off road gear it comes with is more than enough for what the buyers will ever need. The Flex is the alternative to the Explorer, something different.

exactly.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Of all the CUVs out there, I think it will be the Highlander that will take the biggest hit from the new Explorer. It seems to have taken over the Explorers role as suburban family wagon, and Ford wants to get that back.

the Pilot will take a hit. because its ugly, and because, its not that great.

Highlander deserves to take a hit.

Funny how the Pathfinder never gets mentioned. Nissan lacks a 3 row 'crossover'.......i think the Pathfinder is uni? My rellies have one. they have 4 kids. when they jam the kids in there, no luggage space.

Everyone needs to understand the latest popular form of family trucksters. The Flex was too bizarro to be a volume seller (although I may end up with one).

Its simple. The new Explorer will sell off the charts. Assuming Ford hasn't overpriced it (I just priced a Limited that went over 46k and that's with no EcoBoost).

All GM fans needs to do is look at the success of the Lambdas, yes the old BOF trailblazers sold well at first but towards the end no one wanted one. People want a big ass tough looking SUV that also drives more like a heavy big sedan.

Flex cannot fill that role because of its looks (not butch enough) and configation (more wagon, less SUV). Modern day family SUV's are 'adventure machines'....that being, they look like you can drive them up the rockies but really they need to excel at mall parking (relative to BOF SUVs) and they need to haul half a soccer team and some balls. And they need to be a comfortable trip rig.

I really believe minivans are still the best family haulers but they lack the assurance of AWD and too many people like to sit too high for some sense of security. Explorer as now configured strikes perfect balance, the market sweet spot for crossovers. They have enough utility to come close to 85% of the function of a minivan. They add AWD and a bit more rugged chassis. They look tough and suggest a family adventure in exotic outdoor lands. The minivan just implies mall parking lot.

Give credit for Evolving this vehicle to where the public is. If you don't like it, you're one of the few, and that will be more than proved out in sales numbers.

I wouldn't hold your breath for an off road Bronco, unless they decide to do a 2 dr off the F-150 chassis, which would make the most sense. Besides, Ford has the Raptor for the offroaders.

Hopefully the Explorer can stem off some Kia Sorento sales now.

Explorer XLT AWD barely can be had for 35k, and up....man these things are getting pricey............Maybe I should hold on to my Taurus X.........

One of my T Rex complaints is lack of width. Looks like shoulder room / track / width got upped.......might actually be good for 3 real people in the second row, like my aztek was.

Edited by regfootball

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

So it would seem.

A nation of boring people with boring automotive tastes.

by whose standard, ask yourself that, or have you become irrelevant. Not trying to be a smarty pants. I just think the target is moving faster than our fond memories......

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This vehicle somehow solidifies my view about Mullaly, that he is band-aid fixing the company while riding on "good will" from press and people.

A good looking vehicle inside out no doubt about that and credit to Ford design to come up with something like that. However, why do they need three vehicles in the same brand with almost same size? This is where Mercury would have fit well to give the quirky Flex to and not worry about volume. Even if the plan was to replace halo "Explorer" why not develop a solid RWD platform that would have supported zeta competition all over the world which could have been sold as Ford and as police interceptors? At this time the BOF RWD market is owned by Toyota Foreplay Runner. No competition, none from Detroit. They just gave the pie away for free lunch. While I do not want them to have a BOF, RWD a capable vehicle which will be fleeted in governmental and police services would have been beneficial.

Mullaly saw a platform, needed volume and had the brand name so he just saved costs and put a vehicle that will compete against two others on the same showroom floor.

Forerunner is BOF? check that.

No, Ford knows exactly what it is doing.

Edge is a 2 row machine. Families who need or want a 3rd row will not buy an Edge unless as a second vehicle. Edge is a 'personal' or couples (DINKS or retired), or single mom (dad) crossover.

Flex was a minivan replacement / alternative. Ford saw volume decline and share decline in minivan segment, which typically has brutally lower transaction prices. Ford never envisioned the Flex as an Explorer replacement.

Explorer evolved to where the market is. There is no shame in that, there is no shame in profit.

Ford now has the ability to phase out the Flex IF they want. If they keep it, they can sell it in low volume / high profit for awhile with little cost to do so. It won't take sales from the Explorer, I guarantee you that. Edge can be remarketed to take some Escape sales since Escape is winding down and will shift to a new configuration. Edge is paid for and now sale prices can migrate down some to claim an area below the Explorer. Ford doesn't believe they can conceive and build a minivan and make money on it. To me that is a weakness, but nonetheless they prob will make 5x the money on Explorers that they would on minivans.

MKT probably takes the biggest hit here, but MKt was never planned to sell in high volume to begin with. Big incentives will be needed to offset the silly MSRP's on those.

You all know its no coincidence that the Explorer does not have v6 ecoboost yet.....? That is so the Flex and MKT and such can sell to those who crave power, some of those folks who might want to see that power level on the Explorer.

Edited by regfootball

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Forerunner is BOF? check that.

No, Ford knows exactly what it is doing.

Edge is a 2 row machine. Families who need or want a 3rd row will not buy an Edge unless as a second vehicle. Edge is a 'personal' or couples (DINKS or retired), or single mom (dad) crossover.

Flex was a minivan replacement / alternative. Ford saw volume decline and share decline in minivan segment, which typically has brutally lower transaction prices. Ford never envisioned the Flex as an Explorer replacement.

Explorer evolved to where the market is. There is no shame in that, there is no shame in profit.

Ford now has the ability to phase out the Flex IF they want. If they keep it, they can sell it in low volume / high profit for awhile with little cost to do so. It won't take sales from the Explorer, I guarantee you that. Edge can be remarketed to take some Escape sales since Escape is winding down and will shift to a new configuration. Edge is paid for and now sale prices can migrate down some to claim an area below the Explorer. Ford doesn't believe they can conceive and build a minivan and make money on it. To me that is a weakness, but nonetheless they prob will make 5x the money on Explorers that they would on minivans.

MKT probably takes the biggest hit here, but MKt was never planned to sell in high volume to begin with. Big incentives will be needed to offset the silly MSRP's on those.

You all know its no coincidence that the Explorer does not have v6 ecoboost yet.....? That is so the Flex and MKT and such can sell to those who crave power, some of those folks who might want to see that power level on the Explorer.

Your points only reinforce my argument that Mullaly is performing band-aid fix to Ford. He just knows how to walk the walk on tight rope while performing acts of gaining goodwill in press and people.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoticons maximum are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  



About us

CheersandGears.com - Founded 2001

We  Cars

Get in touch

Follow us

Recent tweets

facebook

×