This type of thing is very typical of Toyotas. They are notoriously unreliable and very lacking in performance. My wife and I have been stranded on trips only twice in our lives. Both times it was in a nearly new Toyota. My neighbor bought his daughter a Corolla a few years back and the engine seized at 30,000 miles. After a lengthy battle Toyota finally agreed to fix it. We all drive Fords now. Never a single problem.
The transmission in my sister's Taurus failed at 68,000 miles.
The transmission in my Focus failed at 64,000 miles.
The transmission in my boss's Ford Tempo failed at about 60,000 miles.
The cable that linked the transmission to the gear shifter in my mom's Taurus failed at around 80,000.
Seriously, until Ford learns how to manufacture an automatic transmission, I'm sticking with GM and imports.
Our highest mileage car was a Ford. In over 300,000 miles the automatic transmission never required any repairs. We currently own 2 Fords and 1 GM. All three have been flawless.
I've had serious transmission issues on nearly every Ford vehicle I've owned. My GM's never had any trans. issues, however I did have major engine problems with them. I never had any serious issues (transmission or anything else) with my imports.
The GM cars I have owned (a Chevy Celebrity and Chevy Cavalier) were both great cars - neither of them ever left me stranded. They eventually burned oil, but I could drive them until the oil light came on, top them off, and keep driving for tens of thousands of miles without a problem.
My mom's Buick Century had 250,000 miles on it when she got rid of it. The only problems she ever had were a broken cooling fan blade and a bad transmission (at 250,000 miles - no complaints).
If anything, the Toyota reminds me of a GM car - same floaty numb steering, same soft suspension, similar tuning, you name it. The Toyota has probably been more reliable than my Chevys, but the GMs weren't bad by any stretch.
The luck I've had with Fords and Dodges is a different story, though...
I had two Ford Taurus' a 1990 and a 1994.
I put over 260,000 miles on each car with no problems whatsoever. They both had the 3.0 V6 so that is probably why.
The 3.8 V6 was a piece of junk, the Ford dealer even told me that and said to never buy a car with the 3.8 V6. The 1990 model rusted out, but the 1994 model held up better body-wise.
I haven't bought another one because when Ford went to that jellybean style I though it was extremely ugly. The 2010 Taurus is a good looking car.
I believe that Toyota is more hype than anything, the car is total perception. If enough marketing people keep saying it is a good car you will tend to believe it. Toyota has the all-time record for car recalls today, nobody else has come close.
I truly believe that Ford is above Toyota or Honda for 2010 and 2011 in quality, hands down.