The Ford Mercury might be a thing of the past. Bloomberg is reporting that Ford Motor Co. is instituting a plan to shut down the Mercury product line. According to two anonymous sources with familiarity with the discussions, plans to shutter the entry-level luxury car line will be presented by Ford’s top executives to its Board of Directors in July.
The line has been in decline for several years as it has been particularly hard hit by the economic downturn. Sales of Mercury cars have plummeted 74 percent since 2000. Ford recently discontinued the Mercury Sable product line and will also stop production before next year on the Mercury Mountaineer SUV and Grand Marquis lines, leaving the company with just the Mercury Milan and Mercury Mariner SUV next year.
According to John Wolkonowicz, an auto analyst with IHS Global Insight, Mercury had become a “forgotten brand” within Ford, particularly after the company decided to stop giving Mercury exclusive components and technology. This eventually made them too similar to the lower-priced Ford models and ultimately ignored by car buyers.
In another PR nightmare for Toyota, Consumer Reports has issued a rare “Don’t Buy” rating to its Lexus GX 460 model because of handling problems that make the luxury SUV vulnerable to overturn. According to USA Today, Toyota is currently working on testing to attempt to fix the problem and will provide loaner vehicles in the interim to any current Lexus GX 460 owner who is concerned about the safety of the car.
According to Consumer Reports, the newly-designed rear end of the Lexus GX 460 is far too loose, causing it to slide too easily when a driver lifts off the gas while cornering. The magazines says that testing showed that the problem is so severe that the rear wheels can easily slide over a curb during tight cornering at fast speeds, causing the car to flip.
The “Don’t Buy” rating is the harshest ranking that Consumer Reports can give a product. The last time it was applied to a vehicle was in 2001.
In an attempt to shake up its Accord line, Honda has introduced the Crosstour, a midsized hatchback meant to be a cornerstone to the brand. However, initial leaks of pictures and other information about the car last September led many people to question its aesthetics. Was the Accord Crosstour going to be a hit, or an ugly misfire by Honda? The car is now available, and several major reviewers have had a chance to drive it. The consensus? It’s not as bad as first thought.
Detroit Free-Press: “Honda created the Crosstour to be a flagship model for its popular Accord midsize sedan. It’s an intriguing decision, given that Americans don’t generally like big hatchback cars. The Crosstour isn’t likely to change that, despite a roomy and practical interior, plenty of power, good fuel economy and more standard features than the sedan. Badly fitted interior pieces, a limited field of vision and prices that encroach on luxury models weaken the Crosstour’s appeal. The Crosstour’s bulbous rear styling is polarizing.”
Gearlog: “Did somebody beat the Honda Accord Crosstour with the ugly stick, if only on the outside? That’s been the pre-launch knock on what is actually the cheapest and most cost-effective of the upscale, fastback, crossover utility vehicles and it offers plenty of mainstream technology. The Crosstour is a fine $30,000 people mover and cargo hauler for those who don’t need the size of an SUV or the soccer-mom aura of a minivan: empty nesters and families just starting out. The four people who sit comfortably inside also have the advantage of looking out, not in.”
Popular Mechanics: “If absolute utility is the main criteria for selecting one of these tall wagons, the Toyota Venza offers more cargo capacity and greater hauling capability in a taller crossover package. But if driving fun is the larger part of the equation, the Crosstour is the more engaging partner. ”