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".

5 comments:

  1. Welcome to the Dark Side, Scott ;-)

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  2. Don't try to save the world or anything...k?

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  3. Welcome to blogland! :) Blame Smak for me stopping by to say hi, it's all his fault.
    ~Ysharros

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  4. Do not worry Smak, I am just tryen to save the Sport Trac from Ford's chopping block.

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