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Friday, April 06, 2007

The Ford Flex in NY

One of the more interesting vehicles to come out of the New York Auto Show is the production intent version of the Ford Fairlane concept "people mover", renamed to Flex. I like it, but I do have the requisite "buts".

  • Distinct, clean, modern design. Cues from Land Rover, classic station wagons of old, and the "427" theme. I like the white roof. Nice wheel proportions.
  • Long wheelbase, lots of room for 2nd row passengers.
  • Decent interior design.
  • User programmable color lighting.
  • Standard electronic stability control and side curtain airbags
  • Capless fuel filler, which uses a rotating valve instead of a screw-off cap
  • Lock keypad hidden in black b-pillar, with backlit buttons. Slick.
  • Sync driver interface with a hard drive for storing MP3s onboard.
  • The new aluminum 3.5L V6, 260HP
  • The name. "Flex" doesn't strike me as very elegant. It may also confuse some people that the Flex is not a FFV (Flexible Fuel Vehicle). On the other hand, Ford could make a Funk Master Flex edition of the Flex.
  • The (predicted) price. Ford hasn't announced a price, but I doubt they will sell this for much less than the mid-range Edge or the Freestyle/Taurus X. I'm betting this will start at just below $30k and will probably option out north of $35,000. Not the most affordable people mover, compared to the basic minivans of yesteryear.
  • The optional refrigerator. The cooler is located in the 2nd row, and if purchased will remove the middle seat of the 2nd row. The driver can't reach the cooler in that location. I like Chrysler's cooled glovebox design better.
  • The 7th passenger (if the cooler is not installed) appears to sit on a very narrow bench seat, probably only suitable for a kid. This is not true three-across seating, like in a minivan, but more like 2-and-a-half across.
  • Suicide doors, like on the concept, would have been neat.
  • The center stack design looks rather plain.
  • Is this vehicle sufficiently different from a Taurus X (F.K.A. Freestyle)? Will Ford have two very similar vehicles competing for the same buyers?

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