Ford flex’s design helps cut dry cleaning bills
The 2009 Ford Flex adds another industry-first claim to growing list of why buys: It's the world's first trouser- and dress-friendly vehicle.
Good news for everyone but dry cleaners, the Flex team engineered into Ford's newest crossover a concealed rocker panel, the structural component at the bottom of the door aperture.
"The Flex design is so clean and efficient that we've been able to reduce the step-in area," said Rich Gresens, Flex chief designer. "The clever design minimizes your clothes' exposure to the elements. There's no sill area where dirt usually collects."
PROVOCATIVE FORD FLEX DARES TO BE DIFFERENT
- The distinctive design of the new 2009 Ford Flex provokes and polarizes opinions. With its signature side grooves, all-black greenhouse and distinct roof, it is like no other vehicle on the road.
- Surprising space and comfort, upscale details and features, and clever flexibility combine to give Flex a contemporary interior environment under the available multi-panel Vista Roof™.
- Flex is full of class-leading technologies, including the latest Ford SYNC™, voice-activated navigation with SIRIUS Travel Link™, new premium sound from Sony and innovative, surprise-and-delight features like EasyFuel™ capless refueling and an exclusive refrigerated console.
- Flex will be available at Ford dealers this summer.
Now it's safe to add daring and intriguing to your list of adjectives describing Ford vehicles – the new Flex is here.
Flex is a vehicle that dares to be different. Its contemporary design provokes strong opinions. Its new technologies are intelligent and engaging. All in all, Ford Flex is like no other vehicle on the road today, and that may mean it's not for everyone.
"Flex is provocative, no doubt about it," said Jim Farley, Ford group vice president, Marketing and Communications. "The Flex is like nothing else on the road, and it defies being categorized. I have a feeling that Flex is going to appeal to a group of customers who feel absolutely the same way about themselves."
Ford is not predicting sales or trying to define a profile for the Flex target buyer but is confident that this "white space" vehicle's distinctiveness will have strong allure. Marketing efforts will focus on the fascination of a stylish vehicle that communicates more intrigue than definition.
Flexing its Character
From its planted stance and broad shoulders – flanked by signature side grooves – to its all-black greenhouse and distinctive multi-panel Vista Roof, Ford designers have created a provocative vehicle.
In a world of automobiles that are easy to categorize, Flex is difficult to define and polarizing. Embracing that enigmatic nature was the key breakthrough in the design process, according to Peter Horbury, executive director, Design, The Americas.
"Flex is a radical departure," Horbury says. "At first we were uncomfortable with the way Flex could polarize, but its ability to compel an opinion, good or bad, was fascinating. It inspired us forward with courage to create a breakthrough design."
Flex's prominent stance is a key design element setting it apart from all other vehicles. Park Ford Flex next to an SUV or a typical crossover. The proportions are immediately surprising.
Capping the horizontal design cues in bold contrast is the unique roof of the new Ford Flex. Available in two colors, White Suede or Brilliant Silver, the roof contrasts stylishly with the Flex exterior paint palette.
"The all-black greenhouse allowed us to do the complementing color roof," said Flex Designer Rich Gressens. "If we had body colored pillars and clear glass, it would have been difficult to do, but it all ties in together."
The Flex's multi-panel Vista Roof adds even more distinction.
Available on Flex SEL and Flex Limited models as an option, the Vista Roof has four glass panels to provide abundant natural light to occupants of all three rows of passengers. The forward panel is a moonroof that opens to let in fresh air.
Style, Luxury and Space for Individuality
The exterior design of the Flex creates interest, but it's the surprising space and comfort for seven, the elegant, upscale style and clever flexibility of the interior that will magnetically keep people in the new Flex.
"We wanted the interior to be a place of contemporary, relaxed style – somewhere you could feel very comfortable, yet involved and connected," said Anthony Prozzi, chief interior designer.
"The interior presents an environment that is radically different," he added. "You'll notice the improvement in materials, the appointments and the general appearance of the car. Even the way you interact with the car will be different because of all the new technology we're introducing."
Smart Features for the Demanding Lifestyle
Flex is packed with innovative, class-leading technology solutions that seek to empower, not overpower the driver.
- Ford SYNC™, a Ford-exclusive, voice-activated, hands-free, in-vehicle communications and entertainment system offers even more functionality for the 2009 model year, with 911 Assist and Vehicle Health Reports.
- SIRIUS Travel Link that when combined with voice activated navigation will provide users with a suite of data services including real-time traffic, coast-to-coast weather conditions and fuel price information for over 120,000 gas stations.
- Voice-activated navigation that integrates several functions, including destination entry, climate control and SIRIUS satellite radio into one easy-to-use system with information displayed on a 8-inch touch-screen display.
- Sony audio system that features 700 watts of power, 5.1 surround sound and 10 speakers is certified by Sony to deliver a unique, rich listening experience.
- EasyFuel™ capless fuel filler. This exclusive feature saves time by replacing a fuel-filler cap and provides a better seal, reducing the release of smog-forming vapors.
- Class-exclusive refrigerated console. Mounted between the second-row captain's chairs, the available compressor-driven refrigerator can cool up to seven 12-ounce cans, four half-liter bottles or two 20-ounce bottles from room temperature to 41 degrees in a little more than two-and-a-half hours – 40 percent faster than a standard home refrigerator.
- Ambient Lighting. Flex owners can program any of seven different interior lighting colors to fit their mood. With this feature, customers can change the lighting on two light-emitting diodes (LEDs) mounted on the front console, footwells and around the two front cupholders.
- Reverse camera system. Available as an option, this system displays the area behind the vehicle on the navigation system screen when the vehicle is shifted into reverse. The camera is mounted in the bottom of Flex's liftgate badge.
Flex is powered by Ford's award-winning 3.5-liter V-6 engine delivering 262 horsepower at 6,250 rpm and 248 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,500 rpm, mated to a fuel-efficient, advanced 6-speed automatic transmission that uses a wide 6.04:1 gear ratio to deliver good fuel economy and performance.
Flex's available intelligent all-wheel-drive system is tuned to provide confident driving in all weather conditions. By constantly monitoring and predicting traction, the system can deliver torque to all four wheels, even before the wheels begin to slip. An active, on-demand electronic center coupler can allocate a precise amount of torque from front to rear – up to 100 percent to either axle. Paired with standard Advance Trac® with RSC® (Roll Stability Control), intelligent AWD can transfer torque front to rear and side to side.
Manufactured to the highest quality standards at Ford's Oakville Assembly Plant in Ontario, Canada, Flex will be available at dealers this summer.
Ford designers stretched the width of the Flex to wrap around the sill, bringing the step-in area inboard for much easier access for passengers. In combination with the hidden rocker, the Flex door was designed to wrap under the sill, effectively sealing out the elements.
"Utilizing the hidden rocker to create a customer benefit is a great example of what Flex is all about," said Gresens. "We approached the Flex design with one idea in mind: create a vehicle that appeals to customers wanting an exciting alternative people mover. Hidden rockers, refrigerators and tailored leather interiors are just a few examples of how we deliver."
With some dry cleaners charging as much as $10 to launder a pair of slacks, the practical Flex design has an immediate and tangible benefit.
Flex, which combines a unique "box-on-box" design with class-leading package, offers other "firsts" as well, including:
- The latest generation of Ford's hugely successful SYNC system, which allows for voice activation of in-car technology as well as allowing for hand-free operation of mobile phones and MP3 players.
- SIRIUS Travel Link™, which gives customers the opportunity to download real time information on items like fuel prices, theater listings, weather reports and even sports scores.
- A compressor-driven refrigerator/freezer, which works some 30 percent faster than home fridge/freezers.
- Multi-panel Vista Roof, which gives each individual in the vehicle their own panel of light.
- A reverse camera system that comes up with a rear-view image on the 8-inch screen when reverse gear is selected.
- Ford's new Easy Fuel™ capless refueling system, which allows for clean and simple refueling with no fuel cap.
Flex arrives in dealer showrooms this summer with a base MSRP of $28,995, including destination and delivery.
PRELIMINARY TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
|Final Assembly Location
|POWERTRAIN AND CHASSIS
|Lima Engine Plant, Ohio
|60 degree V-6, Aluminum block and heads
|Composite, split plenum
|Idle Speed in Drive
|65 mm, electronic
|DAMB, 4 valves per cylinder, intake variable camshaft timing
|Intake: 37mm; Exhaust: 31mm
|High temperature cast aluminum alloy with low-friction coated skirts, low tension rings
|Cracked powder metal
|Bore x Stroke
|3.6 x 2.4 in. / 92.5 x 88.7mm
|213 cu. in. / 3,496 cc
|262 @ 6,250 rpm (projected)
|Horsepower Per Liter
|248 @ 4,500 rpm lb.-ft. (projected)
|87 octane unleaded
|Sequential multi-port fuel injection
|5.5 quarts with filter
|Closed loop with catalyst
|Tier 2/Bin 5 tailpipe, LEVII evaporative
|ULEVII tailpipe, LEVII evaporative
|Front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive
|6-speed automatic overdrive
|FWD: 3.16; AWD: 3.39
|Gas pressurized Macpherson strut rear-facing L-shaped lower control arm with hydro-bushings with isolated subframe and 32 mm stabilizer bar
|Multi-Link, fully independent suspension with coil over shocks, hydroformed lower control arms, fully isolated subframe, 22 mm stabilizer bar
|Rack and pinion
|Turning circle curb-to-curb
|12.3m / 41 ft.
|4-wheel ABS (4 channel); AdvanceTrac® with RSC® (Roll Stability Control) (Standard)
|149.8 sq. in
|136.4 sq. in
|Vacuum with Brake Assist
|WHEELS AND TIRES
|18-in. painted aluminum. P235/60R18 BSW tires
|18-in. machined aluminum. P235/60R18 BSW tires
|19-in. polished aluminum. P235/55R19 BSW tires
|DIMENSIONS (inches unless otherwise noted)
|Overall width w/ mirrors
|Overall height at curb
|Track width, front/rear
|6 or 7 passenger
|WEIGHTS AND CAPACITIES (pounds unless otherwise noted)
|SAE passenger volume
|155.8 cu. ft.
|Total interior volume
|175.8 cu. ft.
|Behind third row
* including rear seat well
|20.0 cu. ft.*
|Behind second row w/3rd row folded
|43.2 cu. ft.
|Behind first row w/ 2nd and 3rdÂ Â Â Â Â row folded
|83.2 cu. ft.
|Maximum towing capacity (properly equipped)
|Class III - 4500 lb.
|Base curb weight