Saturday, June 25, 2011

What happened to the C-Max?

UPDATE Feb 20 2012:  Read about the official cancellation of the 7-passenger MPV C-Max by clicking here.

Yes, old news...still no less disappointing. The comments say it all, really.  Mazda must be happy to hear it, while consumers aren't.  And yet, it makes sense - even our family opted for the larger Honda Odyssey and were willing to splurge for the frills that it offered, beyond the space.  Ah, well.  Guess it will take even higher fuel prices and a worse economy to push people into smaller cars.

Original post follows:

More appropriately:  what happened to the late 2011 release of the gas-powered 2012 Ford C-Max with a 2.0L 4-cylinder engine?

I've written a couple of times about the Ford C-Max, sold in Europe for a few years now, and similar to the Mazda5 in that it is a 5-door "MPV" (small minivan).

Until recently, Ford has a minisite dedicated to the C-Max on its website, touting the benefits of its advanced technology and, important for American drivers, sliding doors that mimic those of a full size minivan.

Now, for some reason, we only see the Energi and Hybrid models on the site under Future Vehicles - without sliding doors - not the gas-powered 2.0L 4-cylinder which was supposed to launch in late 2011 as a 2012 model.  What happened?

I've written some of the PR folks and product managers at Ford with no luck.  They'd been responsive up until the late spring, when they told me that we can expect to see the C-Max in showrooms late this year, but that the Energi & Hybrid models weren't going to be out until next year.  When I was shopping for a minivan and considering the Mazda5 and C-Max as well, it was nice to know there'd be a tech-loaded MPV by the end of the year to look forward to shopping against other offerings.  I've already bought my car, but many of the hits on this site are a result of searching for information on the C-Max and, in particular, the Mazda5 vs. the C-Max, so this is likely confusing and disappointing more folks than just me.

I'd invite others to voice their displeasure to Ford by clicking here and contacting Ford's North American PR team as well as their product managers about this.  You'll have to register for the site to contact them but it's not just for media.

Even Ford's own website showing the Energi & Hybrid models, which say "Available Fall 2012" under them, show 5-door vehicles without sliding doors, which contradicts with Ford's own minisite it had up this spring for the 2.0L 4-cylinder model. 

Hopefully someone else has better luck than me, or at the very least Ford hears the displeasure of its future C-Max customers and responds with some more info.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A thing of beauty is a joy forever

Recently, we traded in our 2002 Sable and upgraded to a family hauler, a 2009 Honda Odyssey EX-L.  The more I drive this hulking beast of a minivan, the more I grow to love it.

My new commuter car is my wife's old car, a 2000 Lexus ES300 Platinum Edition.  It's essentially a Toyota Camry chassis with some niceties added.  But as the vehicle is nearing its twelfth birthday, it's been (knock on wood) very reliable, without much in the way of problems (knock harder on wood).  We even bought it with nearly 90,000 miles on it and it just passed the 120,000 mile mark.  In that time, if I remember correctly, we've done the following work that goes above & beyond normal wear items:

  • replaced A/C clutch - not even sure this was necessary. I complained about a noise outside the car, a hissing/whining mechanical sound when the air conditioning was turned on, and my mechanic replaced the clutch inside the A/C unit.
  • dash lights - some of the climate control lights are out.  the procedure to take them out isn't as easy as with a Mercedes-Benz, or at least MB's of the past, where one only needed mechanical keys to extract the entire climate control module out of the dash and then could get at the lights easily with simple tools. I haven't done this work, but I figure at twelve years old this is technically a "wear item".
  • Throttle body cleaning - my car would start but not idle, and fool that I am, I tried to crank it with my other car's battery.  Turned out the throttle body was severely gunked up and is now fine...cost less than $200 overall even with an oil change added in when the car went to my mechanic.
  • Mirror hazing - as typical with BMWs and Mercedes and just about any car that has heated exterior mirrors, my Lexus has that "mirror haze" where the seal has been broken and the driver's side mirror is turning brown on the bottom.  It hasn't infected the entire would be nice to get replaced so the heated element works, but that comes at a price of over $400 at the Lexus dealer for the part alone, and no one makes an aftermarket glass that will fit that & allow me to keep use of my heated mirror.  So, I'll find a specialty glass shop & probably pay $100 for them to replace just the glass.
That's about it.  Not bad for 3.5 years & 30K miles of ownership at the higher end of the car's life.

I should add that while a typical front wheel drive Japanese sedan, it does come with heated seats, HomeLink (now that I have a garage, this is nice), side airbags - though not side *head* airbags, power seats, a 6-cd changer, and a tape deck - which I like so I can use my iPod via a tape adapter. Even the armrest storage & glove box seem to be done just right.  And Lexus as a company loves that half-woodgrain steering wheel & nice wood trim, as do I.

The subject heading of this post has more to do with the fact that I recently took out the baby seat recently, and gave it a complete Mothers pampering.  Washed & waxed on the outside, and on the inside I cleaned & conditioned the leather & vinyl, vacuumed and cleaned the upholstery, even used glass cleaner on the windows.  The car felt & looked nearly new on the inside (ok, at the very least, very nicely treated used).

There's nothing like Mothers detailing products & nothing like giving an old car with a couple of rips in the leather and marks on the dash a thorough detailing.  It's easy when using a car like that as a daily commuter to forget how nice the car truly is, but once it's detailed nicely, you remember that a nicely appointed luxury car, no matter how old, is a joy to drive.