2013 Ford Flex SEL
Ford Flex dashboard
|Production||June 3, 2008–present|
|Assembly||Oakville, Ontario, Canada (Oakville Assembly)|
|Body and chassis|
|Class||Full-size Crossover SUV|
|Body style||5-door SUV|
|Layout||Front engine, front wheel drive / all wheel drive|
|Platform||Ford D4 platform|
|Related||Ford Explorer (2011-present)
Ford Taurus (sixth generation)
Ford Taurus (fifth generation)
Ford Taurus X
|Engine||3.5 L Duratec V-6
3.5 L EcoBoost V-6
|Wheelbase||117.9 in (2,990 mm)|
|Length||201.8 in (5,130 mm)|
|Width||2009-2012: 80.1 in (2,030 mm)
2013-: 75.9 in (1,930 mm)
|Height||68 in (1,700 mm)|
Ford Taurus X
The Ford Flex is a full-size crossover utility vehicle  manufactured by the Ford Motor Company since the 2009 model year. The Flex supersedes the Ford Taurus X and Freestyle, sharing their drivetrains and using an updated platform.
The Flex is directly related to a group of rebadged variants, Ford's Chicago D4's, so called for the plant where they were manufactured (Oakville Assembly) and the platform (D4) they share: the Ford Explorer and Lincoln MKT. The Flex is closely related to Ford's Chicago D3's: the Mercury Montego and third generation Mercury Sable sedans; the Ford Freestyle and Taurus X wagons, marketed as a crossover vehicles; as well as the fifth and sixth generations Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKS.
Noted for styling by Peter Horbury that recalls the MINI, and a series of horizontal grooves in its doors and tailgate evoking a Woodie, the Flex is marketed in the United States, in Canada and in the Middle East.
The Ford Flex was first unveiled at the 2007 New York International Auto Show It was introduced as Ford sought to introduce a 7-passenger family vehicle without it being a minivan, a segment in decline since the late 1990s.
At the 2005 Chicago Auto Show, Ford showed the Ford Fairlane concept vehicle. Based on the Ford CD3 platform, it was a 3-row people-mover with distinctive styling. The rear passenger doors of the Fairlane were rear-hinged; although this allowed better interior views for auto-show viewers, this configuration also previewed the sliding doors of a minivan.
In the change to a production vehicle, the Fairlane would change names to Flex and shift platforms to the larger D3/D4 architecture. A notable change from the concept was the adoption of 4 conventionally hinged doors, as Ford chose to market it more as a wagon-type crossover. Several key styling features of the Fairlane concept would make their way into the production Flex, however. The most distinctive is a series of horizontal grooves in the doors, intended to evoke a Woodie look without using simulated wood. Car Design News said the styling references "a previous era without resorting to obvious retro styling cues." Additionally, these help to visually lower the vehicle. In a design similar to the Mini and the Range Rover, the roof pillars are blacked out, creating a "floating roof" effect.
The Flex is based on the Ford D4 platform, a version of the Volvo-derived Ford D3 platform that is re-engineered for use in crossover sport-utility vehicles. The chassis shares its underpinnings with the 2005-2007 Ford Freestyle, 2008-2009 Ford Taurus X, and the 2011-present Ford Explorer. While front-wheel drive is standard, all-wheel drive is available as an option. The Flex includes an independent rear suspension system and a traction control system called AdvanceTrac.
At its 2009 introduction, the Flex was launched with three trim levels. As with other Ford cars, there was an SE base model, mid-level SEL, and top-trim Limited. Flexes were available in six or seven-passenger seating configurations, (7-passenger models have a bench seat for the second row). As part of the roof design, Ford offered three colors for the roof paint: black, silver, and body-color.
In 2010, a second available engine was added, as a 355hp twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 became available for all-wheel drive models. On US models, reverse cameras were restricted to Limited-trim models.
For 2012, an automatic parking system was added as option for upper-trim models.
For the 2013 model year, the Ford Flex was given a major body update. While the roofline and doors were retained, the front and rear saw major changes. A single-bar grille replaced the three-bar grille, but other changes to the front end attracted even more attention. Along with the SVT Raptor, the Flex was a model that did not wear the Ford blue oval emblem; the hood wore "F-L-E-X" above the grille. On the tailgate, the Ford emblem was decreased in size and moved to the bottom right corner.
Inside, the dashboard was updated, with a new 3-spoke steering wheel.
The 2013 Flex made its world debut at the 2011 LA Auto Show.
The Ford Flex is powered by two different V6 engines.
The Flex's 3.5 L (213 cu in) Duratec V6 engine produces 262 hp (195 kW) and 248 lb·ft (336 N·m), and is paired with the 6-speed 6F automatic transmission. As of the 2013, the output was raised to 287 hp (214 kW) and 254 lb·ft (344 N·m), respectively.
A direct-injected twin-turbocharged EcoBoost engine is available for the 2010 model. The EcoBoost produces 355 hp (265 kW) and 350 lb·ft (470 N·m) of torque. In 2013, The flex gained 10 horsepower to make a total of 365 hp (272 kW), while the torque remained the same. According to Ford, the turbochargers in the engine are designed to last 150,000 miles (240,000 km) or 10 years. AWD is required with the EcoBoost engine option. Towing capacity is 4,500 lb (2,000 kg). The all-wheel drive system is capable of transferring up to 100% of torque to the front or rear axle as needed.
Sales in the United States
As of October 2010, the Flex is listed as the number 3 affordable mid-sized SUVs in US News behind the Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse. The Flex Ecoboost is also the first ranked large affordable SUV according to Consumer Reports.[not in citation given] It is also ranked the most reliable large sized SUV and Ford's most reliable vehicle as ranked by Consumer Reports. Ford Flex AWD was ranked highest of large SUVs by the percentage of owners who would definitely purchase that same vehicle again.
However, the Flex has not been as successful as original ambitions expected, with sales of less than half the target of 100,000 vehicles that Ford had expected to sell each year. Ford Flex sold 38,717 cars in 2009 compared to three larger competitors sales of 43,150 for the Buick Enclave, 91,074 for the Chevrolet Traverse and 83,118 for the Toyota Highlander in the same year.
Since its introduction in 2009, the Ford Flex has only been available in three trim levels:
The base SE trim level, only available with Front-Wheel-Drive, offers the following features as standard equipment: a 3.5L "DuraTec" V6 engine, a six-speed automatic transmission, seventeen-inch alloy wheels and tires, an A/M-F/M stereo with a single-disc CD/MP3 player and an auxiliary audio input jack (later, Ford SYNC also became standard equipment on this trim level), a six-speaker audio system, cloth seating surfaces, aluminum interior trim panels, keyless entry, power windows, power door locks, gloss black side mirrors and door handles, and manually-controlled two-row air conditioning.
The mid-level SEL trim level, available with either Front-Wheel-Drive OR All-Wheel-Drive, adds the following features to the base SE trim level: eighteen-inch alloy wheels and tires, Ford SYNC, an A/M-F/M stereo with satellite radio, a six-disc, in-dash CD/MP3 changer and an auxiliary audio input jack (later, MyFord Touch or SYNC 3 became standard equipment on this trim level), a seven-speaker premium audio system with external amplifier and rear-mounted subwoofer, a power front driver's seat, a security system, color-keyed door handles, and automatically-controlled two-row air conditioning.
The top-of-the-line Titanium trim level, available with either Front-Wheel-Drive OR All-Wheel-Drive, adds the following features to the mid-level SEL trim level: nineteen-inch chrome-plated alloy wheels and tires, a GPS navigational system (later with MyFord Touch or SYNC 3), leather-trimmed seating surfaces, dual power front seats, heated and ventilated dual front seats, a driver's memory system, push-button ignition and remote start with keyless access (on later models ONLY), a dual-panel panoramic moonroof, a Sony premium surround-sound audio system with center-channel speaker, rear-mounted subwoofer, and external surround-sound amplifier, and chrome-plated side mirrors and door handles.
Also, a Ford Flex Funkmaster Flex Edition was available between 2009 and 2010. Produced in limited numbers with an individually-numbered dash plaque, this special edition Ford Flex was based on the top-of-the-line Titanium trim level, and offered basically identical features, though was only available in a special two-tone Red and Black Clear Coat exterior paint scheme, special twenty-inch chrome-plated alloy wheels and tires, gloss black side mirrors and door handles, gloss black fascia inserts, a red-and-black two-tone leather and suede-trimmed interior, FMF exterior emblems and interior embroidery, and red interior trim panels.
Finally, a Sport Appearance Package is available on the top-of-the-line Titanium trim level, and adds the following equipment to it: gloss black side mirrors and door handles, gloss black fascia inserts, twenty-inch alloy wheels with gloss black-painted accents and tires, a two-tone black-and-gray leather-trimmed interior, aluminum interior trim panels, and Sport exterior emblems.
- "New Ford Flex rolls off line at Oakville Assembly". Media.Ford.com. June 3, 2009. Retrieved 2009-10-10.
- Kelly, Kevin M (June 2008). "Richard Gresens: from trains, planes and … vacuum cleaners: the designer of the Ford Flex finds influence in some unexpected places". Automotive Design & Production. Retrieved 2009-10-10.
- "The Ford Flex, a.k.a. Fairlane, to debut in New York". 2007-03-24. Retrieved 2007-03-24.
- "Driven: Ford Flex". Car Design News Joe Simpson, Dec 26 2008.
Reminiscent of the infamous "woodie wagons" of the ‘50s, the Flex's aesthetic is notable for referencing a previous era without resorting to obvious retro styling cues. Woodie wagons, such as the type-defining 1953 Buick Roadmaster estate, featured wooden exterior panels towards the rear of the car. The Flex reinterprets this through four distinctive horizontal grooves set into the lower half of both front and rear door panels, and a brushed-aluminum tailgate finish.
- Kiley, David (March 23, 2012). "First Drive: 2013 Ford Flex Freshly Tweaked for a Second Life". Autoblog.com. AOL Inc. Retrieved April 1, 2012.
- Neff, Natalie (August 24, 2009). "Flexitarian". AutoWeek. Detroit, Michigan: Crain Communications Inc. 59 (17): 24. ISSN 0192-9674.
- Thami Masemola (2009-01-11). "Ford Flex first car to receive new 3.5-liter Twin Turbo EcoBoost engine". WorldCarFans.
- "Ford Flex Partners With Esquire and E Ink to Present First-Ever Digital Magazine Cover". Theautochannel.com. Retrieved 2012-01-06.
- "F-SERIES DRIVES FORD TO HIGHER MARKET SHARE FOR THIRD CONSECUTIVE MONTH" (PDF) (Press release). Ford. 2009-01-05. Retrieved 2010-10-26.
- "FORD CAPS 2009 WITH 33 PERCENT SALES INCREASE, FIRST FULL-YEAR MARKET SHARE GAIN SINCE 1995" (PDF) (Press release). Ford Motor Company. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
- "Ford Motor Company Delivers Best Sales Year Since 2006" (PDF). Media.ford.com. 2014-01-03. Retrieved 2014-01-06.
- us news. "Best Affordable Midize SUVs". US News. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
- Tom Mutchler. "Just In: 2010 Ford Flex Limited with Ecoboost". Consumer Reports. Retrieved 2010-10-26.
- Consumer Reports. "Reliability trends, how makes compare". Consumer Reports. Retrieved 2010-10-27.(registration required)
- Consumer Reports. "2010 Ford Flex Customer Satisfaction". Consumer Reports. Retrieved 2010-10-26.(registration required)
- Rachwal, Paul. "Ford Establishes 100,000 annual Flex sales goal". Left Lane News. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
- Ford Motor Company. "FORD CAPS 2009 WITH 33 PERCENT SALES INCREASE, FIRST FULL-YEAR MARKET SHARE GAIN SINCE 1995" (PDF). Ford Motor Company. Retrieved 2010-10-25.
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