Fusion vs Camry and Accord - the Ford Challenge

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Wall St Journal - May 1, 2007
Barry Engle, Ford's new North American marketing chief, acknowledged that companies usually avoid giving free advertising to rivals. But he
said the challenge ads are meant to "provoke people to try our products and making sure we are on the list." Mr. Engle also said Ford needs to face the fact that consumers are pitting the company's vehicles against those from Honda Motor Co. and Toyota when choosing what to buy. As a result, he aimed at giving Ford's marketing a more confident tone.
.the Ford Challenge advertising campaign...asks consumers to compare Ford vehicles to their toughest competitors. The first television, print and online ads, launched at the beginning of this year, focused on the Ford Fusion midsize sedan http://doiop.com/Fusion - The commercials showed consumers comparing the Fusion favorably against a Toyota Camry and a Honda Accord, both of which were mentioned by name.
Honda spokesman Sage Marie said the Ford ad serves as validation that the Accord is a benchmark for the segment. Toyota spokesman Bill Kwong said Ford wasn't making an "apples to apples" comparison because the ad features an all-wheel-drive Fusion compared with a front-wheel-drive Camry.
At first, the Fusion got what Ford insiders call the "launch and abandon" treatment, as ads for the car largely disappeared several months after the vehicle hit showrooms after its October 2005 launch. Mr. Engle found that at the end of 2006, two-thirds of consumers weren't aware the Fusion existed. "In the past, we gravitated disproportionately on our new stuff."
But after Ford renewed its push on the Fusion with the Ford Challenge ads this year, Fusion sales accelerated, up by almost 33% in 2007 through March over a year earlier.
Engle is using some of the lessons he learned as president of Ford Brazil. Five years ago, Ford faced product and marketing-strategy problems there similar to those it faces now in the U.S. When Mr. Engle took over the marketing position in North America, he realized there was a lot more the marketing team could do with the Fusion, which was the market leader in South America.
Mr. Engle's next high-profile project will be this summer's relaunch of the sedan formerly known as the Ford Five Hundred http://doiop.com/Ford_500 which will be renamed the Taurus. Mr. Engle declined to discuss the campaign details because it was too early, but he did say the Five Hundred was another great product that suffered from lack of awareness and appreciation.
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in the same league as Honda's I4.

Sonata which is becoming very popular.

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Consumer Repors noted that the Fusion I4 was noisy. They did not comment on the V-6 engine (but they did test it). I have a V-6 Fusion and don't find the engine harsh. It is much smoother and quieter than the V-6 in my Frontier or the I4 in my SO's RAV4. In the consumer comments section of the CR Website, the four people who made an entry all gave the Fusion 5 stars (top rating). The Accord only had 9 people commenting and they all gave the Accord five stars as well. Interestingly the Camry had many more people posting comments (147). I'd say the average Camry rating was 4 or maybe a little less. Plenty of 5 star ratings, but a number of 1, 2, and 3 star ratings as well. I also though it was interesting that 147 people commented on the Camry, while only 9 commented on the Accord, and 4 on the Fusion. The comments probably have no statistical meaning, but are interesting. I do have to wonder if this isn't an indication of the CR/Toyota love affair...
Ed
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On Tue, 1 May 2007 21:40:06 +0200 (CEST), Nomen Nescio

I think one of Fords (and Chevy's) problems is that their car designs suck. Every time I see a Fusion, or Milan, or the new Lincoln, etc on the road I am struck by how ugly they are. Pretty much the same for most of the Chevy's.
By contrast, look at the Nissan Altima. It's just a basic mid level car but it looks NICE and they have made it look like QUALITY thru the choices of materials and other design features. On some of the Chevy's one of the things that often catches my eye is how things like the parking lot rub strip doesn't even seem like it was glued on straight. And don't get me started on the huge amount of cheap plastic they glue to every Pontiac that comes down the assembly line.
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<...>

Actually, I think the Michigan 3 are doing a great job with new designs. It is a matter of taste.

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Jeff wrote:

Looks are a matter of taste and opinion, but quality and reliability can easily be measured and assessed.
Pat
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Yeah, I hope the next iteration of Saturn Aura or GMC Acacia are even better. I already like the new 3.6L V6 (LY7) with the Hydramatic 6L (6T70?) series tranny.

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Ashton Crusher wrote:

Wow, it is like I could have written that myself. I will never, absolutely never, buy another American car unless the intention is to immediately sell it for a profit somehow.
Show me one American car that does not have a better but comparable Japanese offering. I thought that the Corvette was the sole exception due to the price/performance combination until recently.
I saw a person buy a new Corvette, drive it for one year with it spending one entire month of that year in the shop getting warranty repairs, before he finally sold it in frustration. His comment was, "It was fun, when it worked". He now owns several Japanese cars with a total cost of less than the Vette and they seem to stay in his garage a lot more often than his mechanic's.
Chevy - can't even get their flagship sports car correct. Watched a neighbor's 2001 Impala go in for many repairs before throwing a rod at 37,000 miles. Replaced with a Toyota, no problems since.
Ford - Have owned two, which is two too many. The only good thing to say about them is that I have made money off of Ford, since they break down so often.
Pontiac - the absolute masters of producing consistently ugly cars, they have no competition in that area.
Pat
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Most people I know who have a Corvette never drive the car except on weekends if it is not raining. Not really a daily driver, I guess.

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wrote:

mechanical quality to be a problem. We buy lots of domestics at work and I really don't see them going in for repairs very often, just regular prev maintenance. We've got a 95 Impala that was mine when it was new and is now assigned to someone else. The only things that ever went wrong with it in 12 years and 130,000 miles were two windows came off the tracks during it's first year. And the cheap plastic door panels need big washers now to hold them to the door. Gets 24 mpg on the highway with a big v-8.
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if i needed a midsize pigster i'd buy accord but if there was no accord and the choice is fusion or camry it's a no brainer.
i'm surprised toyolet sells so many of these couches on wheels while there are comparable and better cars like fusion, but, then, there are a ton of priuses bought by someone so i digress
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On 5 May 2007 10:05:55 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Nothing like an intelligent comment. <G>
And people wonder why nobody takes their comments seriously.
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On May 5, 1:44 pm, "Bonehenge (B A R R Y)"

does 08 camry come with a rear clearance sonar as standard equipment yet? those dented rear bumpers on every other one are such a shame
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Different strokes for different folks. I have a Fusion (and I didn't buy it because it was ugly). I think the current Impalas looks nice. Either looks better than the current Camry. Toyota always manages to have an extra detail in the sheet metal that seems a little off to me. But that is just my taste. Mostly Camrys look bland, but there are so many I suppose that is inevitable.

I guess the great looks of the new Altima is why Nissan sales were down 18% last month. But to be honest I think they are decent looking. However, after living with a Nissan Frontier for 15 months, I don't think I'll be buying another Nissan in the near future.
Ed
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I'd reluctantly agree with Ed. The Ford and Chevy models actually look better than the latest Camrys. If I had to go shopping for a 'new' car, I'd look first at a like-new '05 Camry, the last design before the current one. Unfortunately, the same goes for the new Avalon. I have an '03. which looks just fine to me....I don't care for the looks of the latest incarnation of Avalon, and to me they look too much like Camrys. It's hard to tell them apart, except for the length.
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On Thu, 3 May 2007 08:42:35 -0400, "C. E. White"

We are going to have one of our regular auctions at work this weekend. I was down looking that what's going and talked to the guy who buys and sells this stuff. About 10 years ago they bought some small Toyota pickups along with the Ford Rangers and Chevy S-10s and he said that in the long run the Toyotas were no better then the others. I've seen plenty of people plow money into Toyota's and other imports but for some reason it never seems to bother people when they have to fix an import but if a bulb burns out on a domestic you'd think it was the end of the work the way they cry about the poor quality. There is something seriously wrong with the thinking powers of many of my fellow citizens.
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wrote:

relative. I bartered my 1992 Taurus with over 100,000 very hard New York City miles on it to my mechanic for some work on my GMC truck. He serviced the car for the past five years and promptly gave the car as a present to one of his brothers without so much as changing the oil. The kid took their mother to Florida and back in the car and they had nothing but compliments and thanks for me upon their return. The only conclusion I can come to is that Ford makes junk but not everyone recognizes it, or that possibly the reputation of Japanese cars is a bit exaggerated.
Double Tap
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Right!
I think the Fusion looks GREAT! It's really a nice car.
None of my last 4-5 cars have been what I considered the best looking in the class. In fact, if some of the Japanese brands could hire some Detroit designers, we may just get offered the perfect car.
I would LOVE for the Fusion to turn out to be a long term, reliable car. It's really a sharp ride!
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There for a minute I thought you were talking about my last Toyota Camry LOL
mike

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I think you're right on there. It's ok for the family sedan to look bland, but some of these Fords look awful. The Fusion was a redesigned Mazda 6, and it was less safe than the Mazda 6 in crash tests. I'm staying away from Fords until they improve for sure.
That said, I'm much more impressed with GM's turnaround in the past year. At least I am willing to drive past a GM lot now. Do check out the new Saturn Aura. It's not quite there but getting there with the new Hydramatic 6L series tranny!
GM had a $5000 legacy disadvantage compared to the imports (and even now Toyota is thinking of giving it's US workers a big haircut according to a leaked internal document). When you pay GM $18K a few years ago you're getting only a $13K car. Now it's like getting a $16K car and I like the improvement I see in the Lambda and Epsilon platforms.

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