Spot on assessment. This is a Ford inferior design disguised as a Mazda. I had exactly those problems, plus these, which all are indicative of the apparent decay/dishonesty of American automotive engineering on a $28,000 investment that was meticulously maintained.
1- Lower radiator hose clamp (cast pot metal) snapped in half at 38,000 miles.
2- Spot welds on the wiper assembly failed, causing the wiper arms to flail onto the hood.
3- Periodically the air bag warning light intermittently flashes to indicate the airbag is disabled. Electrical connectors under the front seats must be disconnected/reconnected to re-enable the airbag.
4- Alternator failure at 60,000 miles. Replacement requires 4 hours labor to remove inner/outer front wheel drive shafts and disconnect the ball joint.
5- Transmission massive failure at 130,000 miles.
6- Transmission O/D light now flashes occasionally indicating future malfunction.
7- Headlight connector (plastic not nylon) melted from the current to the filament, and now properly replaced with a nylon connector block.
If Ford's primary intent was to destroy Mazda's excellence, they have succeeded magnificently. Note that Mazda no longer puts their name on this product.
It's hardly objective to condemn all domestic vehicles because of one poor example. Motor Trend just chose the new Escape as the best small SUV, and other reviewers have done likewise. Ford is currently building the best and most reliable cars on the planet, while Honda struggles to overcome its massive transmission failures, and Toyota is plagued by nearly weekly recalls, fines and lawsuits. And GM continues to gain accolades for its awesome Cruze, Volt and all-new American-made Sonic.
“Motor Trend just chose the new Escape as the best small SUV, and other reviewers have done likewise.” The problem with automotive “reviewers”, including “Consumer” type publications is that they give a highly superficial assessment of a highly complex product. Their “analysis” is mostly cosmetic. A 6’6” driver can easily decide she/he will not have enough headroom or rear seat leg room.
Never once have I read an under-the-hood analysis of how accessible standard wear items like: alternator, power steering pump, related belts, starter, oil filter, gas filter, and spark plugs are. Even though the owner may not directly repair these, he will ultimately pay through the nose to have these normal wear items replaced in the cars life-cycle.
A nationwide automotive transmission chain, having repaired my Tribute and many others with similar catastrophic failure, claimed that the frail Ford transmission used was intended for a sub-compact car.
I do not base my negative assessment on one product. My GM Saturn used a plastic ball bearing spacer in the clutch throw-out bearing, which of course melted just out of warranty. Without a normal steel spacer, the bearing fell apart. Is it incompetence, cost cutting oversight, or great planned obsolescence?
The true sign of a great company is how they back the consumer who trusted them with major capital when poor designs backfire. That’s how customer loyalty creates success.
Having owned a Mazda built in Japan before Ford took over their quality control, I can assure you the quality went UP dramatically once Ford took over. Our pre-Ford Mazda was one of the least reliable and most poorly built cars ever. Once Ford took over, the quality of Mazdas went up tremendously.
We currently own two Ford products, and both are absolutely flawless after 6 and 7 years respectively. This weekend my best friend just bought a new Ford Focus and sold his problem plagued 4-year-old Toyota for $3750. Ford only offered him $2000. So much for those great resale values on imports!!
Here’s a little secret. If you want to buy a used auto, shop it at their largest competitor. Want a used Nissan, then go to a Toyota dealer. Want a Chevy or Toyota, go to a Ford dealer. Why? Because it is to the advantage of any franchised dealer to actively drive down the nationwide resale value of vehicles that are direct competitors. Better yet, it convinces the naïve shopper that the other brand is less desirable for any future purchases. At least your friend was savvy enough to sell privately.
Regarding Toyota, anyone who has worked on one knows why they are number 1 in sales even after exaggerated failed-accelerator claims. And those that were actual failures (not operator "error" like disoriented foot on wrong pedal) were only on American made pedal assemblies. Those failures never happened in Japan with their domestic components.
Ford dealers offer the lowest trade-in prices even on their OWN cars. I was bid $1100 for one of my past Fords by a Ford dealership. I drove a couple of blocks to a Dodge dealership, and their first bid on my Ford was $3000. I ended up buying the Dodge. It was an ad special, and was already marked down $5000 off MSRP, so it wasn't a matter of Dodge padding the price to appear to be giving more for my trade. My advice is to never trade in a car at a Ford dealership. One of my friends was offered $4000 for his Toyota by a Ford dealership, and drove to Chevrolet and was offered $5500.
I have worked on Toyotas, and find them to be rather poorly built cars, that use very cheap and flimsy components. I fail to see how this could do anything to enhance resale value.
Glittering generalities against your competition are useless, especially when Toyota is now highest in sales worldwide. Cite examples by model and year. For example: on a 2011 Cadillac SRX SUV, a vehicle model that should represent the pinnacle of American automotive design excellence, the procedure to replace the front directional signal bulb requires 2 hours labor, at a cost of ~ $140-$160. Many have experienced that failure within the second year. I guess that engineering design represents GM's appreciation for their loyal customers.