It’s that time of year again, when two storied names go head-to-head for all the marbles! This year, it’s a knock-down, drag out battle between the (Ford) Falcons and the (Jeep) Patriots. Check the stats, get the tale of the tape and vote your choice in our poll at the end of the post!
The Falcons have history on their side, although they haven’t played in this country in a long, long time. In North America, Ford sold a Falcon as a compact car, and a midsize car. Despite widespread popularity, the Falcon nameplate never really caught on here, and just ten years later, through four generations, the Falcons disappeared from American highways.
The Falcons burst onto the scene in 1960, powered by the Mileage Maker inline-six cylinder power plant, churning out a mild 95 horsepower that was lashed to either a three-speed manual transmission or a Ford-O-Matic automatic transmission. In the early years, the Falcons were a powerhouse, selling half a million cars a year.
The second generation arrived in the 1964 model year, and would hang around for just ’64 and ’65. The Falcons got a makeover that year, bringing them much closer in line with styling of the middleweight Fairlane and heavyweight Galaxie models. The Sprint package made the Falcon a solid performer, too, with a 260-cu.in. V-8.
What killed the Falcons, though, was the arrival of the Mustang. Why bother buying a Falcon coupe or convertible when you could spend a few more bucks for the gorgeous Mustang?
Sales never picked up in the third generation, which simply looked like a Mustang with all its sex appeal surgically removed. The Falcons hung on, but the Mavericks would come along within a year and eat the Falcons’ lunch.
For a half-year period in 1970, Ford offered a “1970 1/2” Ford Falcon, which was a low-budget version of the Ford Fairlane, in a bodystyle most people recognize as the later Ford Torino coupe.
That’s the end of the Falcons’ lineage here in the United States, but in Australia, where the name of the game is the same, but the rules are completely different, the Falcon was one of the most celebrated cars in that country’s history. From Bathurst to Mad Max, the Australian Falcon is every bit as recognized as the Pontiac Trans Am is here.
The compact crossover market is beyond crowded now, but when Jeep introduced the Patriot at the New York Auto Show in 2006, crossovers weren’t nearly as ubiquitous.
The Patriot represented the least expensive price point to get into a Jeep branded vehicle, but critics complained that its arrival sullied the heritage of one of the world’s great off-road brands. Despite the fact that you could buy a front-wheel drive Patriot, it still carried the “Trail Rated” badge of its more rugged brethren, leading to some confusion about what kinds of trails you could actually tackle.
In 2011, the Patriots underwent a change, with interior and exterior upgrades meant to appease some of the critics. For 2011, the brand introduced a 70th Anniversary edition, which loaded the inexpensive crossover with equipment typically reserved for the Grand Cherokee, such as unique alloy wheels, a nine-speaker Boston Acoustics premium sound system with subwoofer and fold-down lift gate speakers, Sirius XM Radio, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, leather seats, and seat warmers.
Despite having their best year ever, Jeep is phasing out the Patriots after the 2016 model year, focusing all the attention on a completely redesigned Jeep Compass, which just debuted at the Los Angeles Auto Show last November.
Take the poll! Are you a (Ford) Falcon fan, or are you rooting for the (Jeep) Patriots?