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There's an evergreen debate among auto enthusiasts about whether they would prefer to have the latest and greatest car of today or a certified classic from yesteryear. What if you had to further define that, though, and the choice was between a brand new 2015 Subaru Legacy or a turbocharged Datsun 240Z with a hatch that wouldn't close? Roadkill aimed to find out that and more in one of its best videos to date.
According to the hosts, Subaru came to them, handed over some money and challenged Roadkill's project cars against its latest Legacy. The result is every bit as good (or better) than any automotive-themed show you could find on television.
Things start simple with a figure-eight race in a rodeo arena with the Subaru taking on Roadkill's 1968 Ford Ranchero, originally built for ice racing. From there the Legacy races a 1968 Dodge Charger with no windows around and off-road rally stage. Finally, the Subie goes head-to-head against the Rotsun, the aforementioned turbocharged 240Z, through an abandoned neighborhood. Plus, there's a bonus drag race challenging them all.
Owners of Ford Escape, Mercury Mariner, Ford Fusion and Mercury Milan models, listen up. According to a report on Automotive News, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has opened an investigation into these four vehicles totaling an estimated 725,000 units. The investigation appears to center around a malfunctioning throttle body on non-hybrid models of the 2005-2012 Escape and 2011-2012 Fusion. With Mercury dying off after the 2011 model year, this probe will also apply to the 2005 through 2011 Mariner and the 2011 Milan. There has been some discussion around the Escape stalling issue for some time now, but this investigation appears to be larger in scope than before.
Though not a recall yet, NHTSA's Office of Defects Investigation (ODI) has received 123 complaints of stalling or surging vehicles, while Ford itself has logged 1,472 complaints. The investigation report, which is posted below, seems to indicate that a faulty circuit board for the throttle body could cause the vehicle to go into limp mode, which, according to NHTSA, could cause complaints of both stalling and surging.
Ford is doing well. It can't make enough examples of its new Fusion, it can barely make enough of the aging F-150, it's getting good brand rankings, people like its turnaround story, it's selling oodles of product and its quarterly profit numbers end in the word "billion." As other high-flying examples have demonstrated over the past few years, though, big numbers can come with problems that aren't exactly small.
Automotive News has published a good "nutshell" report of Ford's progress and problems. The Dearborn automaker's optimistic "general label rule" determination of gas mileage for the C-Max Hybrid has led to lawsuits, hybrid software updates, a downward revision of C-Max fuel economy and millions in rebates. AN notes the C-Max was the "worst-scoring model in this year's J.D. Power Initial Quality Study," but Ford will probably be happy that it managed not to be mentioned further in the study's results after last year's mediocre showing. Its MyTouch and SYNC systems, the bugbears sabotaging Ford's J.D. Power results, have also led to lawsuits, software updates, more software updates and a center console rethink. On top of that, the 1.6-liter EcoBoost in the 2013 Ford Escape that Ford called a "hero" was soon catching fire for three different reasons. And let's not even get into the troubled launch of the Lincoln MKZ.
The Automotive News piece notes that industry observers have been surprised at Ford's stumbles because everything has been looking so good. Nevertheless, there is still the issue of those billions in profits - the company is doing plenty of things, plural, right. Ford says it is tackling its problems, hiring engineers and instituting new quality control processes as part of its effort to find solutions. The test will be to see if in a year from now we begin the discussion of these issues with "Remember when Ford...", or "Problems continue at The Blue Oval."