When you’re a company such as Ford, your achievements, accolades, and accomplishments are never too far removed from the public eye. Understandably so, the legacy and lineage of Ford have been well documented through the vehicles that still manage to capture the fascination of the public. For every Mustang, Falcon, F-150, and Ranger that garners a reputation and incites discussion among devotees, there are always vehicles that deserve more appreciation than they receive. And that’s what we’re going to be looking at today. These are four models that you might have seen on the lot of your local Rhinebeck Ford dealer, but you might not have given them a second thought. Life doesn’t usually afford the opportunity to have a second chance at a first impression, but we certainly do.
2010 Ford Explorer Sport Trac XLT
The Ford Explorer has long been the standard-bearer for the ever-evolving lineup of Ford SUVs. While there has been no shortage of unique editions of the vehicle over the years, the Sport Trac version of the Explorer almost seems like it was ahead of its time in terms of its design. Combining the Body of an Explorer with the truck bed that one might see on an F-150, it provided a unique performance, a look that rivaled the Chevy Avalanche, and earned high praise from industry critics.
The 2010 XLT was the perfect example of a “jack of all trades,” proficient and reliable in a variety of areas that would satisfy the needs of the many. A 4.0L V6 provided 210 horsepower and allowed for a towing capacity of 3,500 lbs. The Sport Trac focused a great deal of attention on aesthetics and style and allowed for the perfect compromise of owning a pickup but having the interior comfort of an SUV. Considering the current design of the SUV caters more towards subcompact and smaller sizes, the Sport Trac and their ilk seem like a lost art form existing in the world of collective nostalgia.
2009 Ford Taurus X
In recent years, Ford has shifted their creative focus on its truck and SUV lineups, gradually phasing out the four-door sedans that had been a major part of the company for decades. An SUV that certainly had its place in the limelight as perfectly suited for family use was the Ford Taurus. Some of the vehicle’s popularity throughout the late ’80s and early ’90s could be attributed to a memorable ad campaign with actress Lindsay Wagner, who made overtures about the vehicle as a stylish alternative to the typical station wagon.
The time of the Taurus has been over for quite a while, and its most unique incarnation, the Taurus X, came and went quickly, so there’s a good chance you missed it. While not nearly as synonymous with commercial failure as the Ford Edsel, the two vehicles share a common ground with one another, besides being produced by the same manufacturer. Much like the Edsel, the Taurus X had the misfortune of being introduced during a financial crisis, and as a result, sales were less than favorable.
While the crisis would eventually lead to the Ford Flex being built, there seems to be a lot of lost potential regarding what might have been with the Taurus X. Equipped with a 263 horsepower 3.5L V6 and a towing capacity of 2,000 lbs, this SUV could have provided substantial competition to beefier wagons such as the Subaru Outback. Perhaps it arrived at the wrong time to make the right impression on the public.
2018 Ford C-Max Hybrid
It’s hard to believe that in an age where so much time and effort is placed on offering highly effective electric and hybrid options that a vehicle like the C-Max wouldn’t still be on the market. The C-Max went through a variety of upgrades and technological changes in hopes of competing with vehicles such as the Toyota Prius. 2018 would be the final year of production, and by then, the vehicle had gone through a series of modifications since its debut on the American marketplace in 2013. The consensus shared by many industry experts was the vehicle, while making the necessary changes to adapt to changing trends, just didn’t make them quickly enough to realize its full potential.
The C-Max had a sporty exterior that made it easy on the eyes, and unlike other hybrid vehicles from the time period that were known for their diminutive size, the C-Max offered the same amount of available storage space compared to a subcompact SUV. Fifty-two cubic feet of room more than triples the average trunk space of a sedan, and what’s more, the vehicle’s 42 MPG in the city and 38 MPG while traveling on the highway made for efficiency that was beneficial for consumers attempting to save money on fuel costs. Despite getting positive reviews during the 2018 model year, the C-Max joined the ranks of discontinued vehicles that didn’t quite live up to their fullest potential.
2019 Ford Flex
For those who missed out on the Taurus X, you might have briefly glimpsed the Ford Flex, which had a decade long run and did something truly unique in a world where the SUV became more popular than ever before—it breathed new life into the styling of the SUV and made it more exciting than it ever had been before. A crossover in every sense of the word, the Flex retained the basic concept and shape of a wagon and integrated the advantages of an SUV with a little minivan flair to make something truly unique that represented outside-the-box thinking.
Unlike the station wagons that had previously existed on the market, the Flex lived up to its namesake, as the vehicle had some muscle to show off when the situation warranted it. An available 3.5L V6 boasted an impressive 365 horsepower and could go from 0-60 mph in a mere 6.2 seconds. Aside from giving consumers some much-needed kick for their daily commute, the Flex gained notoriety among critics for having the same handling advantages as a car. Despite positive reviews from industry insiders and offering many advantages to consumers, sales figures were less than expected, and 2019 would mark the final production year for the Flex.
Earning a Place in History
When looking through the pages of history relating to any manufacturer, you’ll find vehicles that end up in one of two categories. There are those who make a strong first impression and age like fine wine. This aging process is accompanied by various improvements, developments, and the ability to adapt to changes that appear on a nearly yearly basis within the industry itself. The second half of these are vehicles that, for one reason or another, had an existence that didn’t quite sustain itself to last from its debut into the present. These vehicles, even though they’re no longer rolling off the assembly lines, have their own place in history.
Whether it’s a place of nostalgia such as the Ford Falcon or a debut that serves as a learning experience, such as the Ford Edsel, these vehicles have left an indelible mark on the annals of the automotive industry. And if Ford has shown us anything in their over a century of manufacturing automobiles, it’s that they’ll continue to adapt and never be afraid to think outside the box to reinvent their fleet of automobiles. That’s why we should still be talking about these models and many others that have come and gone because you never know when they might try to come back better than ever.