Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Ford: What Women Want

As most of you know, I had the chance to visit the Ford assembly plant in Chicago last week. I learned some surprising information about Ford and was able to pass your ideas on to the folks at Ford as well.

When I asked you for your input on what features you'd like to see in a vehicle, you guys didn't let me down and you wrote in with dozens of awesome ideas. When I went to the Ford plant, I was amazed to see that a lot of your brilliant ideas are already being implemented in Fords now! For example:

You said you'd like to see a vehicle with a fridge since you spend so much time in your car. The Ford Flex has that option! Yes, you can get a little refrigerated compartment in the vehicle! How cool is that? No more sippy cups left out in the sun until the milk turns to cottage cheese!

Another thing you said you wanted to see in a vehicle was massaging chairs. Ford has those too! Seriously. They designed them so it's not like a deep tissue massage that will put you right to sleep while you're cruising down the interstate, but so it keeps the blood flowing and improves circulation so you don't nod off on the cross country family vacation road trip extravaganza.

Here's a feature that I don't remember anyone asking about, but Ford has it and it's pretty cool. It's called My Key. Austin's going to high school this year which means it won't be long before he's driving. (freaked out scream!) The My Key technology allows parents to program a key for their young driver. You can set a maximum volume on the radio. If your teen doesn't buckle up, the radio shuts off and they get no tunes until they buckle up. You can also set a maximum speed so your young driver can't drag race down the street at insane speeds. When you put your master key in the ignition, you can also see just how many miles your child has driven so when they say they're just driving to work, you can check and be sure they weren't running around anywhere else.

Another thing you asked for was more cup holders. There were cup holders-a-plenty on the Fords I saw there. And not only that, but they have this ambient lighting on the new models. It's so cool! There's a subtle, ice blue light around the cup holders and other areas in the car. It illuminates the cup holders and dash enough that you can see without turning on the lights and waking a sleeping child.

One of the coolest features I saw was the parallel park assist. I got to drive a car with this and it was the freakiest thing ever. The car parked itself! I kid you not! You don't even touch the steering wheel at all. The car does all the work. There's a little video about that HERE.

Better fuel efficiency was another big item you brought to me. Ford is making leaps and bounds there with several hybrid vehicles. They have a completely electric car in the works for the near future too. It will go 40 miles before switching over to a gas tank back-up while the battery recharges as you continue to drive. On the dash of several Fords, you'll see a little tree. The more eco-friendly driving you do, the more leaves appear on the tree graphic so you know you're saving gas. Not only are they making their cars more efficient, but they're using renewable sources on some of their lines now. For example, the foam used in the seat cushions contains a percentage (sorry, I can't remember how much) of soy. They're also experimenting with making fabric from corn and other sources which is cool because if you're driving along and you get hungry, you can just take a bite of your seat.

You asked for more cleanable surfaces. Ford has several with this molded plastic type material in the interior. It wipes clean, but looks like leather. I mean, I got a real close-up look and I could swear I could see stitching on it, but it was just part of their process to make it look like leather while it's actually very cleanable.

Unfortunately I didn't see any models with privacy glass between the driver and the passengers. Nor were there any cars with front mounted missiles I could launch at the slow drivers ahead of me. I didn't see any with a flame thrower on the back that I could fire at tailgaters either. What? I thought they were good ideas! I also didn't see any flying cars, but I did see some other feature that was very "Jetsons-like". It's called Sync. You can plug your phone, iPod, memory card, MP3 player, or whatever into the car and voila, with a simple voice command, it will play any track or artist you want. You can say, for example,"Call home," and your car will call home for hands-free talking. You can ask where the nearest Mexican restaurant is or what the traffic conditions are like on the way to work. You can get directions to anywhere and get 9-1-1 assistance. It will babysit your kids, do your grocery shopping and make sure your laundry is spring-fresh. It's like Kit! (I may be dating myself with that one.) Seriously, it. is. awesome.

Although my first car was a Ford Mustang (may it rest in peace), I haven't owned one since. Joe is a Chevy kinda guy so that's what we've always had. But I'll let you in on a little secret. Chevy was a sponsor of BlogHer, so there were cars in Chevy's line-up at the conference, and being a curious sort of gal, I thought I'd check them out and compare. Honestly, I was much more impressed by all the features Ford offers. I didn't think that Chevy had nearly the cool bells and whistles that Ford does. And nope, Ford didn't pay me to say any of this.

Here's yours truly showing just what a dork she really is...

And finally, the random winner of a signed copy of Because I Said so is...

Here are your random numbers:

Timestamp: 2009-08-05 06:32:14 UTC

Comment 95 came from Jessica who said...
Cupholders and places to put miscellanous other "stuff" - little console-like areas throughout. Oh, and the cupholders can't block other important things (like the radio, A/C control, etc) when there's actually a cup in them.

Leg room! Leg room! Leg room!

Versatility - seats that come out or otherwise disappear are the best.

Thank you to everyone for taking the time to leave me a comment!

I don't do paid reviews, but Ford did arrange a night's lodging and meals during the tour.


Lynn from For Love or Funny said...

My brother and sister-in-law just got a Ford Flex, and they love it. There's enough room for the whole family AND their 170 pound IRISH WOLFHOUND!!

Sandra Winn said...

If Ford would have implemented more features like this, and especially the eco-friendly ones, they could have avoided the bailout process altogether.

OMG, I'm dying of laughter over the missing additions like the flame thrower and glass partition between the driver and passenger seats! hubby and I do fine around town but Heaven forbid we go on a long road trip...we argue like heck. :-)

~ Sandy

TheQueen@TerrorsInTiaras said...

My dad has that In Sync thing and never tired of showing it off to my girls while we were visiting this summer. I didn't know it would babysit and do laundry, though. It's clear I didn't take advantage when I should have. :)

Winona said...

Fantastic, Dawn!!! I have been a happy Ford owner before, but now we're a Honda family... your detailed review has definitely convinced me to check out Ford next time we're in the market for a new car!

Dave S, said...

Looks like you and your friends had a great time, Dawn. Ford is a great American company.

Austin will do great when it is his turn to learn to drive. My nephew visited me for a week just after he got his learners permit. To his surprise, I had him do all the driving. He learned a lot, and gained confidence because his uncle let him drive his car.

Jo-Ann said...

Gosh I need that parallel assist! With the boys screaming in the back for snacks and drinks, I can be stewardess while my auto pilot parks... Heaven!

Nic said...

I have a Chevy Malibu right now but I definitely think a Ford will be the next purchase I make. The features sound awesome, and I'm excited how eco friendly they are (or are getting) with their vehicles. Glad you had a good time and thanks for the videos with this post - I'm excited to show them to friends and family!

Valerie O in Ohio said...

I LOVE your ideas about the missiles and flame-thrower! To date myself, the car's name was KITT!

Mom of 3 Es said...

We're in the military and will be retiring soon. Hubby said I can sell our minivan and get a new vehicle when we do. You've definitely inspired me to check out Ford's vehicles. We usuall stick with Honda, Nissan and Toyota, but I'm loving the new features you describe on the Fords!

Colleen - Mommy Always Wins said...

How very cool - now, if only the cars didn't cost a year's salary! I might just get some of those features...IN TEN YEARS!!! ;-)

Was very very cool to meet you, even if for very briefly, while in the hotel lobby at BlogHer.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your humorous blog. And I want to thank you for keeping it clean, too. I tried reading some of the blogs you have linked to from other women that were at BlogHer and I was disappointed. I don't need to be reading the f-bomb! I appreciate your wholesome style.

lawnajo said...

A sink! How does that work? Is there running water and a drain? Where does the water come from/go?
I'm having images of driving down the street while my car "pees" on the road when my kids dump water down the drain.

Anonymous said...

FYI to one of your commenters. Ford was the only of the Big 3 that DIDN'T take a federal bailout. They are surviving on their own. Just thought I'd throw that out there seeing as how I live in the Metro Detroit area.

Do you know how many the Ford Flex seats? We are looking for a bigger car like a Suburban or a Yukon. My sad, old Honda Odyssey is fine on people space, but not so good on the cargo room. It's like I have to choose one or the other, which isn't so helpful on long vacations.

-Beth in MI

Jill in MA said...

It sounds like Ford is doing some awesome things! However, I'd like them to go one step further. (Dawn, I hope you publish this!)

Clean drinking water is being threatened in my community because of a regulatory gap that allows railroads federal pre-emption to protect interstate commerce.

Translation: Pan Am Southern Railways can legally do what it wants over an aquifer that supplies drinking water to 15,000 people.
The only way we can stop it is to make it either bad business or bad politics.
Pan Am Southern will deliver Ford vehicles to the 25-acre lot – to be paved any day – and transfer them for delivery in New England.

It doesn’t matter where you live.
What matters is that you can help by linking Ford with an environmental disaater waiting to happen.
We know this strategy works – and we need your help.

Click on this link.
Send this message or one of your own:
“I will not purchase a Ford in the near future because Ford is working with a known polluter and jeopardizing the drinking water of 15,000 people in Littleton and Ayer, Massachusetts. Ford, clean up your act – do what I am doing and refuse to do business with a company that is unnecessarily threatening the livelihood of two communities. Find another location or supplier to unload Fords from trains.”
YOUR NAME and city/state.

Michelle said...

Ohhh I forgot about the checking the miles that had been driven one. I loved that feature. But the max volume is preset at 50% and max speed is preset at 80mph. I asked about both of those, as I was interested in them being lower ;)

And I forgot about that "leather" plastic stuff. That was really cool. I even tried to pick at the stitching, and even that felt like stitching. Love the new cars!

Laura G said...

Great review! We're in the market for a new car, hoping to take advantage of the"cash for clunkers" program if it gets the next $3Billion proposed. Would be a sweet change to have a Ford vehicle w/ all the bells and whistles instead of our rusted out, broken down durango. As far as I know, Ford did not take money in the bailout, as one of the other commenters referred to. My dad recently bought a Ford, choosing them over others because they didn't accept bailout funds. If the water pollution thing is for real, that does give me pause, though. Hope Ford fixes that glitch soon.
Again, thanks for your great blog. Always love a good read and know I can count on you for good laugh lines!(in your writing, not on your face- although you're contributing to mine!)

Chris B. said...

The My Key would be perfect for valet! Give them that key and check to make sure they don't take your vintage 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California,... I mean Ford for a joy ride.

Lilya said...

It's like Kit! (I may be dating myself with that one.)

I guess that means you just turned 22 like me :-)

MaNiC MoMMy™ said...

Hey! Totally meant to tell you the other day I saw one of those purple cars with the white roof and TOTALLY THOUGHT OF YOU!

Brenda said...

Sounds fun! We can only afford old used cars so we take whatever features it has.

miriamp said...

KITT's back, you didn't know? New series info and links to original series episodes also.

What about more LATCH positions? But the other new features (especially auto parallel park) do sound really cool.

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