Car companies are a hot point of debate in Jen Freed’s family. The thirty-seven year old mother of two from College Hill has been driving Fords for most of her life, crediting her allegiance to her uncle who has worked at a Ford plant in Cincinnati since she was born. However the uncle’s other son works for Toyota, and her boyfriend Johnny is firmly devoted to Chevy. His baby—a Camaro sitting in the covered drive is dwarfed by Jen’s loyal 2002 Explorer, which she swears by. “Everybody has a Ford in my family,” she says. Freed’s devotion to Ford began in 1989, when she started driving the family Ford, and twenty years later it’s going strong.
All in the Family
Jen is just one of four “J” children in her family: Joe, Janet, Jen, and Jill. With Joe older and out of the house already, the three girls all fought over using their parents’ gray Crown Victoria. It was Jen’s first car, and she got to drive it on the weekends or after her mom got home at 6:00 each night. Jen remembers piling six girlfriends in the car (and it was not meant for six, she reminds me) to go “cruising.”
Jill, the youngest sister, then 14, was attached to Jen at the hip, and Jen drove her everywhere for the first few years. But later when they could both drive it, she says, “We would always fight over it. No, we couldn’t ride together—EW!” But Jen remembers not being able to get rid of Jill, yet secretly loving the adoration from Jill. She would tell her “God, will you please leave me alone!” Aside from the LaSalle High School football games, the Crown Victoria was also used for responsible endeavors, like driving to her first job: at McDonald’s.
The Starter Car
After Jen graduated from Cincinnati State, she bought a loaded gray Taurus in 1999. She had been married for two years when her job at Polymark took her out of state. She drove a Taurus as a rental car on a business trip, and had to have one after that. While the car was hot at the time, Jen was blown away by the all new 2010 Ford Taurus we drove to her interview. However her 1999 Taurus was reliable, she says, through many more business trips, especially to Columbus. “It was just really comfortable and drove so smooth,” she remembers. She leased the car until her previous husband took it over and she moved on to her next vehicle…
A Step Up
Jen’s next Ford was a 2000 maroon Escape—a small SUV with all the perks of the larger gas-guzzlers. After some hunting around, Jen says “ …now that was a Ford.” She says there’s nothing she didn’t like about the Escape, from the reclining seats that gave the active family more space, to a little net to put groceries in near the back. “When I went grocery shopping I didn’t have to bend over…in Johnny’s Camaro you have to bend over,” Jen says. There was no sunroof or other glitzy additions, but she remembers it as not too big or small—a perfect fit, until it wasn’t anymore.
And … another step
Jen remembers buying her Ford Explorer vividly, a year before she had her kids. She knew they would need a bigger vehicle, and Woody Sander Ford in Sharonville was the place that was going to make that happen. But, after test-driving a used one…she just didn’t like it. “It was an older version. But, then the guy put us in a new one, and we couldn’t live without it,” she says. What was the deciding factor? The boxy style that the newer version offered. Jen says that the older one looked smaller, and she wasn’t keen on the idea of having a used car anyway. “Now, I’m not like that,” she laughs. Luckily for her, it was also the year they made half of the back window come out. The tried and true grocery critic was pleased with this. Now the trusty green Explorer has 80,000 miles from usual trips around town, especially to the local YMCA. But it wasn’t always a smooth ride.
Bumps and Bruises
Jen has an eye condition in which she completely lacks peripheral vision. So, she jokes openly about the four wrecks she has had in the Explorer, blaming her bad eyesight not her driving ability. “I also wrecked the Camaro twice now, and I’m not allowed to drive it,” she jokes about Johnny’s car. “Just kidding. I just don’t want to drive it!”
The first accident in the Explorer happened when Jen was turning and “ran right into another car”. She says the whole front end was bashed in, but she got that fixed. The next one occurred backing into her carport, but trusty ole’ Johnny fixed that, no problem. Jen is not surprised or ashamed about the accidents, in fact she seemed to expect some—“That’s why I bought a big vehicle, she says. “I feel safer.”
Jen wouldn’t change anything about her current Ford—unless she could add a third seat. At the time, the Explorer didn’t offer that. Her organized personality thrives on the two compartments in the back. “I’m very nice and organized, and I don’t like anything dirty!” Also, the seats are easy to fold down, and you can push down one side while still having room for another person on the other side.
Jen has never had any major repairs on her Ford vehicles. She also received free oil changes when she bought the Explorer up until 60,000 miles, and they washed it every time. Her vehicles have kept her safe through multiple accidents, bumps and bruises. However Jen may have to go in a different direction in the future as she takes on the role of the minivan mom.
Ford in the Future?
The family’s Ford allegiance may not withstand Jen’s future switch from the Explorer to a minivan. “I don’t like the style of the Ford minivan,” Jen says. “It just doesn’t look right—it’s not boxy enough and looks too low for me.” Instead, Jen is considering some other companies, while Johnny jokes that she should get another Escape, saying that the Explorer is “bad on gas.”
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