Monday, August 24, 2009

Weekend of Pain and Pleasure

So this weekend started off great,. I had the Friday off and my good bud Glen came from Kingston for three days. He arrived late morning and we immediately launched into a game of Civilization 4 Beyond the Sword.

Shortly after 11am we headed out to pick up another friend of mine Paul and proceeded to The Works on Bank street for lunch. The Works makes the best hamburgers in the known universe, hand made all beef spiced to perfection gourmet delights. I had the BAB burger, Paul had the Smokey Mountain and Glen had the Hamburger Mary.

We dropped Paul off and went back the my Apt to continue with our CIV game. Around 6pm that evening we left and picked up Darin and went to the Colosseum theatre on Carling to see District 9 with Ken and Brian. We got there, got our tickets and snacks and went in to grab seats. Some how Ken and Brian got the time confused, which is weird since it was the suggested time and place I think by Brian. Anyhow the movie was pretty good and I enjoyed it.

Saturday after a morning of CIV, which we lost finally, we went to the Ottawa science and tech museum. Enjoyable museum, lots to see and enjoy for a smaller museum. We met Darin there who volunteers in the amateur radio section. We then went to Lone Star for lunch on St. Laurent. A Glen was haven a quick smoke, he realized my truck had been scratched, about 18 inch long scratch on the tail gate. About 2/3rds of it appears to be clear coat only and the rest either has transfer from the scratching item or it is to the primer. I of course saw red, and in the end I am glad I didn’t see who did it, I hate the inside of a jail cell.

After the movie the three of us played a game of CIV, not a great start but it killed the day. Sunday morning after breakfast Glen headed home.

I will have to get the scratch looked at, I am hoping its not something I need to fix immediately or it may rust, I am hoping its more superficial and it can wait, Christ I haven’t even made a payment on it yet. I also need to know if polishing the truck will impede repair, or if it can wait until later and I can polish it.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

D&D Night

So interesting development, a bud of mine borrowed our gaming table and needed a ride with some one who could bring a 6' table along for the trip to meet up. So I offered to pick him and the table up after work at his place in Barrhaven and drive us both back to Ottawa South to Darin's.

I of course take the OCTranspo red and white limo to work, so I get home around 5pm. I quickly feed Loki the cat, and headed out to get Ken. On the way out of my building, the super stopped to comment on my truck, and how good it looks. Guess he noticed it right away.

On route to Barrhaven I was stopped along Hunt Club road, well not stopped, a guy just pulled up and asked me about my new truck. He was driving an earlier model Dodge Dakota Sport, black, slick machine still think they are sexy trucks. He mentioned he was over 300k and was lookin to replace it. We chatted as we waited in traffic. Seemed like a decent guy, again so cool to have my new ride seem to gather so much attention.

Made it to Ken's and we loaded up the table, my first thought was to have tailgate down and use a few bungi cords to hold it in the bed. But I learned that the rear tonneau cover had built bungi like cords that could be attached the to rear internal bed tie downs. Thus holding the table tight against the closed rear tail gate. Worked like a charm, slick idea, these Ford engineers thought of every thing.

The trip to the guys game night was uneventful, Ken bought me subway for picking him up. My buds came out for a peak and seemed impressed at my new truck. Prolly all think I am nuts with how much I spent, their prolly right, but thats why we have jobs and show up to work every day, not for health but so we can own new toys.

Anyhow thanks for reading.

Monday, August 17, 2009

First Trip to Work

Just a quick post today:

I drove my new truck to work today, a few wanted to see it. Of course as usualy I am all too happy to comply, I paid a small fotune so every chance to show it off some how oddly makes it feel all the more worth while.

Everyone seemed to like it, and it was a nice smooth ride. I have to say parking is just not cool in tight corners with this vehicle. I guess many all ready faced that with larger then standard vehicles, but this is my biggest.

Take care all.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

My First Weekend

Well here we are, I have recently just returned from Golden Lake.

After packing up I headed out on Hunt Club road to 416 to the 417 North towards renfrew. The trip started great, I mean the truck was really a sweet vehicle to drive. It is BMW quiet inside, I can hear the exhaust when I have no music on. The tire and wind noise is surprisingly little, even at highway speeds. I was able to give it some go to merge onto the 416 and man did it deliver! The 3v SOHC 4.6L V8's 292 horses can really send htis vehicle moven in a hurry. The 6 speed tranny shifts a little tight right now, but for the first 1600km it will and adjust to my driving over time. It shifts a bit early into 2nd for a heavy foot, I have a bit of a heavy foot when I drive so it will settle down as it breaks in and adjusts.

I was really enjoying the ride, I fine tuned the seat adjustments that I set at the dealer, but I began to notice my back starting to hurt, thinking it was just due to new seats I gave it little thought. But by Renfrew my back was genuinely hurting and it was more then just stiff leather seats that need some break in use. So I pulled into Tims and grabebd the manual, I found that the lumbar support had been pushed all the way out, I mean WAAAY out hehe. So I adjusted it, and grabbed a coffee (that is law you see, you MUST get a coffee when ever you pass within a few km of a Tim's).

What a change, by the end of the trip my back was much better and has not bothered me since. So many adjustments means it is much harder to get the perfect fit, but when you do, it is heaven. I had to pass a slow driver on the way and holy cow, I have read reviews that said the truck lacked punch or the engine and tranny lacked performance, but hell I gave it less then to the floor and I jumped from about 70km to 140km in no time flat, I could not believe it, I am sure I could have hit 180 in the time it took to get passed the car. I guess the reviews had just stepped out of a Mustang and forgot that the Sport Trac is a truck after all and will not match that kind of performance.

I pulled into the lake and my Mother and Step father came out to meet me and see the new truck. I unpacked and headed over with it to show my cousin Burke who is just a few properties down (we are many family properties in a row). He of course works for Ford, and was very impressed with it. Everyone there liked it and of course I was willing to show it off (Hey, after what I paid? I think I am entitled to a little selffish pleasure).

Saturday my parents went to TO for a cousins wedding along with many of the family. I left before 7am to go fishing, 40 degree weather does not bode well for fishing even in the mornings or night, but I was able to snag a solid 2.5lbs+ Smallie and a 3ish lbs pike after a few hours. The Bass really put on the fight.

I then proceeded to grab my cousin Aaron (Burke's son) and his three friends up for a 4 day weekend of fun and headed into metropolis Killaloe to have breakfast at Del's Dinner. The breakfast was supurb as usual and I had the hungry man (3eggs, bacon, ham, sausage, home fries, 3 peices of toast and home baked beans) colestofest. I then had to go get gas for the boat and some items at the in town freshmart. Enjoyed the short drive.

On Sunday I decided to kick it up and go for a long drive through some of the scenic back roads to put some KM on the new truck and get a feel for it. Man oh man was it a dream to drive. It gripped the road way nicely and for such a big vehicle has much less body roll then my previous Escapes. In fact that brings up a point I would like to make, contrtary to the reviews it handles exceptionally well for a truck. Now it's not my old 280ZX, but for such a big vehicle it really handled well, and even when pushed a bit around a fairly tight turn it held on and pulled through admirably. I am not sure if the Adrenalin package includes stiffer suspension or a sport tuning of the suspensuion but it sure feels that way.

I put on a few hundred KMs on the drive and now it was time to pay the piper. 50 bucks got me filled back up, though I wasn't empty or anything, just wanted to top it up anyway. I headed back to the trailer, thoroughly putting to bed any doubt in my mind as to me liking the new truck.

Sunday late afternoon around 5pm I headed home to Ottawa and arrived back here at 7:15pm. traffic on Hwy 60 was aweful slow and though 60 moved OK it was backed up for a good 20KM at Arnprior due to the traffic lights on Hwy 17.

The conclusion:

The 2010 Ford Sport Trac Adrenalin is one DAMN fine vehicle. It is luxury car smooth and quiet, with SUV capabilties with it's AWD and truck capacity with it's 1500lbs bed carrying capacity and 7000lbs tow rating. The best if all worlds, rolled into one vehicle. It is also one drop dead sexy truck that turns heads at every stop, it sounds like a slightly muted Mustang and just screams performance. Of course it is more flash then dance, but that's OK with me, I am not 19 anymore I am pushing 40. Those old days of "speed > all" are gone, now I demand performance, style with comfort and utility. The Sport Trac Adrenalin delivered on all beyond expectation.

I think Ford really missed out by not aggressively marketing such a vehicle, almost no one knows what it is, even after seeing it they still stare with awe "Wow I have never seen this before!". Although it sold OK initially it really dropped off significantly over time to now where is it barely a blip on their sales radar. Almost no one knows of it, even those to who track trucks, and this is Ford's failing. It is hard to sell a vehicle no one has heard of. Burke introduced me when it was released and I got so see and drive his he leased. I think if Ford put even a small effort into marketing it would have been a decent seller even now. The XLT base model is no where near a normal base truck with tons of features and the limited is very sweet both with available 4x4 (including 4x4 low). The Adrenalin is a street truck for a guy like me who wants sporty and utility with AWD.

Well next up is D&D night. With my friends reactions, and hopefully donations to my continued desire to eat.

Delivery Day!!!

So, as you can see, it all happened.

Friday August 14th 2009 at 4pm I was handed my keys to my new 2010 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Adrenalin. OK it wasn't exactly 4pm, there were 9 people picken up new vehicles and both business managers worken full steam to get us all done. About 5:30pm I was done with all the paperwork, and was heading out to get the low down on the new truck.

First things first, this was no cheapo vehicle, all told it was significantly more money then any previous vehicle I have owned or leased, like ALOT more. So with out sounding foolish I have been walking on pins and needles all week, I was even a little worried "What if I hate it?".

Well most of that went away when I saw it there all polished and glistening in the sunshine, man did it look dead sexy. Sterling had it spit polished, the kind only seen on military personnel's parade boots. My sales women was still finishing up with a customer who also bought a new vehicle so I had some time. I kinda toured the truck, testing things playing the controls and features, and of course took some pictures.

After the introduction I proceeded out of the dealership like a proud papa, well more like one who was looking forward to many nights of Kraft Dinner. I didn't head straight home, I stopped by my good Bud Darin's place. He was locked in a pitched battle in Eve Online, having never seen the game live I watched the fight unfold with interest. Of course he won and scavenged some cargo and grabbed the item he was lookin for on the mission. Darin came out and we took the Sport Trac for a little drive, he gave a whirl behind the wheel and back to his place we went. His wife had arrived, and they invited me to dinner at Montana's but I was hot to trot to the lake and honestly didn't want to spend the dough, I have to be a little more frugal now. So I drive his wife to the Montana's (which is on the way to my place anyhow), and went off to get ready for the trip.

On cloud nine is all I can say, Darin seemed to like the vehicle even if it isn't his cup of tea. He owns a Murano, though I am not overly fond of the styling (or any crossover like that for that matter), it is a very good vehicle and has served him faithfully with out issue for almost 2yrs.

On the short drives so far I noticed one major difference from my Escape, this new Sport Trac is damn big. You sit higher, though the vehicle is not much higher over all. The wheel base is wider so it is not as nimble and as much as the escape drove like a car, this drives like a truck. No one parking pull ins, its a three point affair now. The V8 seemed to have more then ample power for such a heavy vehicle and the exhaust emitted a soothing throaty grumble when accelerating. The engine roars to life when you give it some juice but really quiets down for the cruise.

I had to change spots in my parking garage, I was under a low point so I needed more room and now I have lots. The truck is a bit of a pain to park, and more so to get out. Of course some of this is my issue, its new so I am overly cautious and tentative. Also I have to learn the dimensions and that takes time, and this is only day one.

So I packed up my duffle bag, and loading up my cat Loki in his carrier and set out for Golden Lake where I have water front property and a 30' Jayco trailer up on blocks. My 2008 Stratos 476SF is moored out front just begging to go fishing. As an aside, my cat Loki hates the new truck, the seats are leather and he has all his claws, so unlike the cloth seated Escape he is not allowed to wander and must stay in his carrier.

Next up My First Weekend with the Sport Trac.

Monday, August 10, 2009

A new beginning, or an old end.

Today is an auspicious day. My first blog, and blog post.

First let me begin with my feelings on blogs, they are all drivel. That's right self important useless drivel. But this is my self importance, and my useless drivel.

The purpose of this blog is to chronicle my experience with my new truck. I am buying a new 2009 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Adrenalin. So I guess we should begin with a history of what I have owned and a short brief about each.

My first car I ever owned was a 1981 Ford Mustang L. It had an inline 6 cyl engine with a 4 speed standard transmission. This car was really a piece of crap. It had maybe 80hp and could achieve 110km/h downhill with the wind on it's ass. I had it for several years before selling it to a friend who wanted an old beater. Not sure of the gas mileage but it was horrid from memory. These were dark days for Detroit when the K-car was a good car. Thank god it all changed.

My second car was my true dream car, a 1983 Datsun 280ZX with T-tops. Now I know most shuddered at the "Datsun", but baby you have to look up this one of kind machine. It was a 2 seater, inline 2.8L 6cyl with 143hp and a 5-speed manual transmission. This puppy moved, and I mean moved. I rarely lost a race, and could keep up to 5.0L mustangs and trans ams. Of course like all older imports it rusted after a few years of winter driving. I had a winter car, but that story is next. Man I miss this car.

The same year I bought the Datsun 280ZX I picked up a 1979 Toyota Tercel from a bud, put a few bucks into it and I had my winter car. It was pretty good mechanically but a shambles every where else. Unfortunately it was very badly vandalized the first year in storage, by I'm sure I knew who but that isn't proof. So insurance company gave me a little cheque that didn't even cover the purchase let alone the money spent getting into tip top mechanical shape. So I was forced to drive my 280ZX in winters.

My next car was another dismal Detroit purchase, a 1989 Cavalier RS with a 3.1L V6 and 4 speed manual transmission. The 280ZX's floor fell out on the 417 hwy, and the frame was rotted badly, so I was forced to buy a new car immediately as I had just started a new job that used my car for work. The tranny was like shifting a barrel of coconuts, the engine lack luster (though to be fair, the 280ZX was not a fair comparison). It got not great mileage and had no end of troubles and failures.

Well it was no surprise when my next car was an import, a 1996 Acura 1.6EL. This was a 1.6L inline 4cyl 5-speed manual transmission. Now MY experience with Acura dealer was not good, the car was great at first, but after a while all the little things started to show. It was not a great car for the price, it was very very expensive for a small sporty 4 cyl coupe. I leased this and when it came to the end, the Acura dealer really tried to screw me into a new Acura by saying I had $1500 "use" over and above my lease unless I took another Acura, that's with half the mileage unused. So I visited a Ford dealer to look at Escapes, I had just bought a 1992 Checkmate Enticer with a 115hp Mercury outboard so I wanted something that could tow. I fell in love with the Escape, but so did every other tom, dick and hairy. The Ford dealer offered to buy out my Acura lease and hand me $1500 in value for the low mileage, the Acura dealer once again put it to me dry and added a $1500 dealer admin fee if the Ford dealer was to buy it. So Acura, I bought the Escape anyway, the Ford dealer bought my Acura and saved me the $1500 screw the customer fee.

As you can guess the next vehicle was a Ford, a 2001 Ford Escape used with 75,000km. Now I paid insane interest rates, insane price since getting an Escape used or new was impossible during this time. The cost of popularity. But it was a 3.0L V6 with a 4-speed auto tranny, 4x4, and had a tow rate of 3500lbs. It was a great truck, and after the recall fix for my tranny shifting module got decent mileage and had wicked get up and go for a small SUV. The bad part is after 4yrs into my 6yr payments I needed brakes, exhaust and tires, normal for a car with 110,00km, but I did not want to pay out that kind of cash. So Ford family pricing to the rescue.

So next came my 2006 Ford Escape XLT with appearance package, 4x4 3.0L V6 with new 4-speed auto tranny, and of course tow package. This is my current vehicle. It has been a great truck, I have sold my Checkmate in this time and now own a 2008 Stratos 476 Ski n Fish with a 115hp Evinrude ETEC outboard. This is over 1000lbs heavier tow then the Checkmate. This little SUV tows it fine, I mean you know its there, it weights close to the Escape itself, but it hunkers down and pulls it very well. It has been nearly flawless, the CD player refused to eject CDs recently but it righted it self, but its getting warranty fix anyway. But over all it was a great truck, but it was new, so you know.

I will say this as far as Detroit is concerned (I guess really Ford). They have improved immensely from my Mustang to the Escapes. So much so My new truck is a Ford, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Also, the dealers? night and day. Campbell Ford took great care of me with the 2006 purchase and Sterling is bending over backwards to get me into a new truck and end my lease a year earlier. Lincoln Heights also was very helpful this time around.

So that is my vehicle history. To this day my favorite vehicle remains my Datsun 280ZX, but that is a hard act to follow. No car in my mind has ever been built like it. My close second was the 2001 Escape. Now to be fair its hard for a truck to compare to such a raw sports car with the performance of the 280. It cornered like a dream, no Detroit sports car ever kept up when it involved corners and not a straight track. The 2006 escape has a newer tranny that while admittedly much smoother power transfer, it sacrificed umpf, and as much as it was more refined, I miss the umpf. I also miss the 4x4 on demand, as opposed to the 4x4 automatic in the 2006, its more user friendly for dimwits, but for me I liked more control.

If the deal tomorrow goes through, I will own a new 2009 Ford Explorer Sport Trac Adrenalin. It is a 292hp V8 6-speed automatic with All Wheel Drive. The Adrenalin comes with leather interior, tonneau cover, Adrenalin facia (special body package). It is slightly more expensive then the V8 limited, but oh so sexy. The Limited has 4x4 and more off road capable with 8.5' ground clearance to the chassis, and little more rugged look. The Adrenalin has same 8.5' ground clearance but its to the body, making it look very sleek like a racing truck. The 20 inch wheels on P255/50Rs help too, but oh man new rubber will not be cheap on those bad boys.

The Sport Trac is a rather strange vehicle, a niche invented by Ford with its release I think 2001 (some one can correct me if I am wrong). Since the GMC Avalanche and Honda Ridgeline continue this half SUV half pickup market. Its a SUV cab, in fact its the explorer cab, seats 5 and right behind the seats the Box starts, a mere 4.5 feet in length. It's not your work horse F-150 long box by any stretch, but for those that find a crew cab pickup nice, but a little on the big side and a SUV cab sweet but lack the exterior hauling cargo space, this truck fits the bill.

Ford has never truly marketed it, in fact not one of my friends even knew what it was until I started talkin about trading up and them asking "What the hell is a Sport Trac?". I have never once seen a commercial for it, or any general advertising where I have seen both for the Avalanche and the Ridgeline. I believe largely due to this the Sport Trac sales have plummeted in past years.

Now this market segment admittedly isn't big, how many people fit my profile? I am a city dweller with a lake front property and a big ass boat that I want to tow around from time to time, and have the utility of a short bed cargo area and the comfort for me and friends when needed in a 5 seater cab? I also will never drive another Canadian winter with out some sort of AWD/4x4 and any big boat owner will tell you, not all boat ramps are created equal. There were times if I didn't have 4x4 there was no way that boat and truck were making it up the ramp, plain and simple.

Now I would be remiss if I didn't mention I have family member who is an engineer at Ford. It was his words that got me looking at the Escapes way back in 2001. It was his Ford employee leased Sport Trac that had me in love with them from day one. A quick test drive and I was hooked, and they have seen a complete remake from then, with a fully boxed frame, the V8 option, much improved interior and the Adrenalin is the sexiest truck on the road bar none. Though the earlier 2000s Dodge Dakota Sports were pretty damn sweet too. But it is the Ford quality improvement and their vehicles that have me comin back for number 3 in a row. There is a reason they are now tied with Toyota for initial quality, Toyota had a slightly higher rating but Ford has more vehicles in the top tier making them essentially considered equal. BTW JD Powers buys their test cars all over the US off the lot from dealers, no special factory orders here, probably the most reliable and objective test in the industry and one of the few I actually give weight too. Also almost every user/owner review of the 2007+ Sport Trac is a rave of how much they love their vehicle.

Lastly the dealer has lent me a 2010 Focus SES for the day since they have my Escape for the change over. I have to admit, this is one damn fun car to drive. It has a 140hp 4cyl with a 5-speed manual, and it is a dream to drive. The tranny shifts silky smooth, the leather bucket seats are really comfortable. It makes me yearn for a 2010 Mustang Shelby. If I didn't have a lake front, or a boat, there would be a convertable version right outside with my name on it. I am really pleasantly surprised, this car is one everyone in that market segment owes themselves to look at and test drive. But it also reminds me of one fact, I so miss the height at which you sit when driving a truck. I have to admit, a wonderful change and drive for a day, the dealer made me a fine choice, I will have to compliment them when I return it tomorrow after work.

Well if all goes well my next post will be titled "Delivery Day".