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   Carrying Saleen wheels and Bullitt wheels.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Five Hundred for Mom

My mom's last two cars were Buicks, and both turned junky before their time. The latest, a Century, started to rust through the rocker panels and lower doors, and had a drivers seat cushion that had completely collapsed, at the early age of 90,000 miles. The last straw came last week, when the Buick was whacked by an inattentive driver on Southfield road, and was unceremoniously totaled by the insurance company.

I started looking around at what was available. Historically a GM family, my parents told me they would be open to a Ford product as well, but please no Chrysler. The requirements: a soft riding mid or full sized sedan, less than 24,000 miles, around $15,000. We looked at Buick LaCrosse, Chevrolet Malibu, Mercury Milan, Ford Five Hundred.

My mom decided she liked the Five Hundred the best, because it had a very high seating position compared to the others. I think she was sick of Buick, also, after the qualify fiasco of her Century. She also was amused at the size of the trunk--"we could go camping in there!"

The Five Hundreds we found depreciated so badly that we got a pretty good deal: a 2006 with 20,000 miles, certified pre-owned, with side airbags, leather, automatic climate control, and adjustable pedals for about $15,000. It is a lot of car for the money.

Things I like about the Ford Five Hundred:
  • Huge interior but a moderately sized exterior, huge trunk
  • High seating position
  • Depreciation means lots of features for not much money
  • High safety ratings from NHTSA and IIHS
  • Adjustable pedals
  • Good looking 18" wheels
  • Good NVH, even over railroad crossing
  • Good ride/handling balance, not too firm or too squishy
  • Decent fuel economy for such a large car
  • Six speed transmission
  • Real rear seat headrests
  • Smooth sided, understated exterior (but most say much too understated)
  • Four wheel disc brakes with traction control
  • Good overall quality record so far
Things I don't:
  • Noticeable body roll when cornering
  • Weak sounding radio
  • A bit underpowered
  • Gear selector only has D and L gear choices
  • Bland interior design
  • According to Consumer Reports, the brake system is less reliable than average
If you don't mind sleepy styling and modest acceleration, used Five Hundreds/Montegos are hard to beat in value for comfortable, roomy, safe transportation.


Anonymous said...

Lotus Evora

Anonymous said...

Out here in rural America it seems a lot of people who would have bought a Crown Victoria ten years ago are driving Five Hundreds or the new Taurus. They are good, roomy, sturdy cars that appeal to traditional buyers.

I think Ford's mistake was they could have had a broader audience for this car, but blew it. I drove a friend's rental Five Hundred from early production, the brakes were a joke, and the drivetrain weak. Ford engines sometimes reach for mediocrity, but the early Five Hundreds failed, and the transmission was annoying.

The new Taurus drives a lot better since the drivetrain upgrade, brakes are better but could stand some improvement. But by now people have formed their opinions, and it's an also-ran, not considered by the Malibu, Camry, Accord crowd. Great deals as used cars, though.

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