A co-worker proudly showed me his new wheels. It was a Ford Edge and he’d paid top dollar. I’d have to admit it was a nice vehicle and a cut above the Ford Explorer in terms of style, refinement and comfort. If I was going to spend that sort of money I’d have looked at the Acura MDX or RDX, but I’m a Honda fan dating back to my 1961 Honda Benly motorbike. I used to tell people I drove a Benly; it wasn’t my fault if they heard Bentley.

The Edge is gaining on the imports, or, as I like to call them, in-sourcers:

To many, the 2007 Ford Edge represents the best Ford has to offer in its current lineup, and sales of the stylish crossover are starting to fulfill the vehicle’s promise. The Edge has only been on the market for four months, and it’s already within 1,000 monthly units of the segment leaders Toyota Highlander and Nissan Murano.

One huge mistake that Ford made was not to nurture its top seller. The Ford Taurus used to duke it out with the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord for the title of best selling car. Ford dropped the brand-name when it brought out the Ford 500. The 500 is a better car than the Taurus it replaced but it sold poorly. Average Joes looking to buy another Taurus were confronted with a very different looking vehicle with an unfamiliar name. If it had been called Taurus, Ford would have done much better. Belatedly, Ford came to its senses and renamed the 500 back to Taurus. I vaguely recall the Fairlane 500 from the 1960s. Great marketing move. Rename your 1990s best-seller after your grandfather’s mediocre car. Chrysler actually had a number to remember when they resurrected 300.

Ford and GM have done better in Europe and Australia than they have in the US in recent years. In Australia GM has pitted its Commodore against Ford’s Falcon for decades. It’s Ford vs Chevy with more passion. Both brands have been nurtured and promoted in the Aussie market. Toyota has been trying to muscle in on the action with fatter Camry derivatives but hasn’t made much of a dent. In Australia, GM and Ford nurtured their top-selling brands, keeping them up to date and competitive. When I lived in Australia I switched from a 1st generation Honda Accord to a 1st generation Commodore. Both were great cars for the period.

GM is refreshing its model range from its overseas subsidiaries. Pontiac is getting the Aussie Commodore as a worthy competitor to the RWD Chrysler 300. Saturn is getting nice product from GM’s German division, Opel. The Saturn Aura brings Euro style to the Camry/Accord/Altima market and looks tempting.

Ford may want to put some bucks into the Aussie Falcon, a name that harks back to the 1960s Ford Falcon compact. It may well be the way to get them back into the great RWD revival.

Heck, if it wasn’t for the UAW, GM and Ford might well be able to compete with the in-sourcers.

Me, I’ve got my eye on the next generation Honda Accord.