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Sierra Magazine
Lay of the Land

Mississippi Mud | WANTED:Warren Anderson | Killer Trout | Click & Clack | Hawaiian Tourism | Global Climate Coaltion | Winter Quiet

Click & Clack on the Ford Valdez

Last year, the Sierra Club captured national attention when it ran a contest to help Ford name its newest behemoth sport utility vehicle. The automaker ignored the Club's suggestion (the "Valdez," with the tag line "Have you driven a tanker lately?") in favor of the more innocuous "Excursion" moniker. But criticism of the 19-foot-long, 12-miles-per-gallon land yacht hasn't waned. The latest jabs at this icon of excess come from the country's best known auto mechanics, Tom and Ray Magliozzi, better known as Click and Clack, hosts of National Public Radio's call-in advice show, "Car Talk." On their Web site, the brothers nominated the Excursion for an award as "Big Dumb Car of the Millennium." Then they proceeded to "translate" Ford's promotional material for the benefit of those less fluent in auto-industry spin. Here is a sample of the Tappet Brothers' skewering:

Ford: More fuel efficient-with more passenger and cargo capacity-than two average full-size sedans capable of transporting equivalent loads.
Translation: Please try not to think of how much gas you're wasting when you take the Excursion to go get a gallon of milk.

Ford: Excursion offers more space and convenience for passengers, more utility for activities such as towing, and more versatility for carrying cargo and luggage-while at the same time setting a bold new standard for safety and the environment.
Translation: There's more interior volume than the Taj Mahal. Think you'd get hurt if the Taj ever hit a Chevette? Of course not! You wouldn't believe how much gas this thing drinks. We didn't say it was a bold new good standard.

Ford: Ford's unique BlockerBeam helps prevent a car from sliding underneath the front of the Excursion during a frontal collision. Ford is the first in the industry to provide this type of advanced protection in trucks.
Translation: We're already gearing up for lawsuits from relatives of deceased Escort owners. Our legal team devised this pre-emptive, technology-based defense.

Ford: Nearly one-fifth of the vehicle is made from recycled materials, including various steel, aluminum, rubber, and plastic parts.
Translation: There aren't enough mines in the world for the raw materials we'll be needing.

Ford: Excursion also is another example of Ford's dual truck-platform strategy, which is designed to make effective and efficient use of common platforms to provide better value to customers and shareholders.
Translation: We basically took our standard garbage truck and put seven seats in it.

To read Click and Clack's complete deconstruction of the Excursion, go to

Lay of the Land | 1, 2, 3, 4

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