"Did you turn the cold air on my backside?"
After reaching over to quickly turn the seat air conditioning off, I mumble, "Sorry. I forgot that you tweaked your back on the People Mover." And here we are. An Executive Vice President and 3 Managers having an enthusiastic, yet stressful business trip in Detroit and as the newest member of the team, I was trying too hard to please the boss.
After a whirlwind 12 months, I have once-again found myself in a Lincoln MKT in Detroit. Unlike last summer when I was preparing to be Yellowstone-bound with Craigy & the Colonel from Round About Show for a week, this was a lot different. This was all about work.
Last year, I was under-unemployed. This year, I am so employed that I feel like I have been drinking from a fire hose for nearly three months as the pressure mounts towards an impending website relaunch. It is pretty exciting to me. It is an important endeavor. "Pioneer in the industry," "new look," "unique voice" and "Your Lifetime Automotive Advisor" are phrases that have filtered into the sleepless nights of the entire company.
When it was decided that I would be part of the team presenting the new website to the auto manufacturers and their agencies, I asked Ford for a car to review while I was in Detroit since I rarely take press cars and it was a good opportunity to get some passenger feedback. It amused me that they had given me the Lincoln MKT again but I was pleased. I had never written about the MKT when I had it last year, although I had posted a ton of photos of the SUV with a backdrop of the stunning landscapes from Wyoming to South Dakota and we did manage to live webcast almost the entire RoundAbout Show Road Trip. I could have written last year about how comfortable the back seats are while wearing a sleeping bag and the seat heaters are on, how bugs can clog up the Adaptive Cruise Control sensor under severe midge attacks, how amazing the sandstone canyons of Western Wyoming appear when framed by the massive panoramic sunroof of the MKT and that it has a fridge for Diet Coke, but alas ... this is this year and it was no side-splitting road trip of hilarity. This was business.
The 2011 MKT immediately impressed one of my managerial colleagues. He loved how the backseat felt and said that he saw how this could easily replace the Town Car as an executive fleet car. The other colleague is a bit of a curmudgeon and just wanted to reflect out loud on the future of Lincoln.
The near-fan of the MKT is the Web Guy. He has a great attitude, all while maintaining a worst-case-scenario disposition. The curmudgeonly one is the self-professed Data Guy, but he is really the Data Sales Guy. He is far too verbose to just be about data. Lincoln isn't alone in being evaluated by the Data Guy; it just had the unfortunate fate of being in his path. Everything and everyone from Toyota to Rod Blagojevich to the Florida Gators baseball team has been a victim of his data-driven mind this trip. In the case of Lincoln, I worry about the future of stand-alone Lincoln dealers but have optimism that something magical will come for the brand. I don't carry the worst case scenario outlook so much where Lincoln is concerned because the fit and finish has continued to evolve so well after a few bad years of the Town Car and Continental and they just have to have something up their sleeve, even if it isn't bringing my dream C-concept compact MINI-killer to life. As far as Blagojevich and the Gators go, I don't really care so much. But for this trip, as the editor, I just tried to hear the Web Guy's few words as loudly as the Data Guy's too many words when it comes to how the Lincoln MKT performs. But all 3 of these guys, EVP included, have worked hard on this site relaunch for a year. It has been a long week for all of us and car talk took a back seat to car site talk.
So, you'd think that the technical issues that kept happening at our presentations would have kept the Data Guy a little humbled but every trip in the MKT to our next OEM destination turned into me trying to tell SYNC a destination and him not being able to control his inside voice or his hands, thwarting all successful attempts to navigate orange barrels. One attempt to register 400 Renaissance Center, home of General Motors, took 5 times and some raised voices and hand slapping before I could get SYNC to hear me over the babbling Brook Brother's Data Guy. But he is a stander and a talker and he showed off the site like he lives it. SYNC or site? He can have his impatience with the SYNC. It is my job to talk about how good SYNC can be.
How'd it all go at the end of the trip?
- We arrived at every appointment on time.
- Discovered that guest Internet access is not always flawless at agencies.
- Everyone was excited about the new site and it was really well received.
- The Used Car section and MyGarage seemed to be the most interesting to the agencies.
- We learned how to keep moving through stumbles as a team.
- Getting in and out of the car at each appointment with laptops, goodie bags and a teammate with a tweaked back was easy given the accessibility of the MKT.
- The MKT is a very silent ride when the SIRIUS radio is off, the SYNC navigation is muted and the EVP is contemplating our presentation performances.
- Next presentation is in New York City in 2 weeks. I hope that our car service has an MKT.
In other words, the EVP didn't even have to think about the MKT, which is exactly how an executive class car is supposed to be.
Welcome to the new Autobytel. No one gets thrown under the executive class luxury SUV here. I am Michelle Naranjo, Autobytel's managing editor and I will be your driver today.