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2013 Ford Flex SEL
Ford Flex dashboard
|Manufacturer||Ford Motor Company|
|Production||June 3, 2008–present|
|Assembly||Canada: Oakville, Ontario|
|Body and chassis|
|Class||Full-size crossover SUV|
|Body style||4-door SUV|
|Layout||FF layout / AWD layout|
|Platform||Ford D4 platform|
|Related||Ford Explorer (2011-present)|
Ford Taurus (sixth generation)
Ford Taurus (fifth generation)
|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||75.9 in (1,930 mm)|
|Height||68 in (1,700 mm)|
|Predecessor||Ford Taurus X/Ford Freestyle|
The Ford Flex is a full-size crossover SUV 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 manufactured alongside the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX mid-size CUVs at the Oakville Assembly plant in Oakville, Ontario, where the first Flex was manufactured at the beginning of June 2008.
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/Ford 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, white/cream, and body-color.
In 2010, a second available engine was added, as a 355 hp 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. The 2013 Flex made its world debut at the 2011 LA Auto Show. 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.
In November 2016, the Canadian auto workers union Unifor claimed that as part of their agreement, Ford intends to end production of the Flex in 2020. Ford had not yet confirmed this, but when Ford announced in April 2018 about its plans to focus on SUVs, crossovers, and trucks, the Flex was among the vehicles not mentioned as part of being retained. The 2019 model year Flex only had minor changes, and will be the final year for the vehicle.
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 (475 N⋅m) of torque. In 2013, the Flex gained 15 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.[unreliable source?] AWD is required with the EcoBoost engine option. Towing capacity is 4,500 lb (2,041 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 or full-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.[failed verification] 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, 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 Limited 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 (in 2013 it was changed to body color mirror caps) and door handles.
On the 2011 and 2012 models there was an additional "Titanium" Trim level which was the Limited with blacked out headlights, tail lights, rear applique, 3 bar grille without the Ford logo, blacked out beltline trim, foglamp bezels, and mirror caps. It had different interior trim, upholstery and was only available in Black, White, Red and Silver.  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 Limited and SEL trim levels, 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, and aluminum interior trim panels.
- 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 October 10, 2009.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 30, 2010. Retrieved January 27, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "New Ford Flex rolls off line at Oakville Assembly". Media.Ford.com. June 3, 2009. Archived from the original on August 23, 2008. Retrieved October 10, 2009.
- "The Ford Flex, a.k.a. Fairlane, to debut in New York". March 24, 2007. Archived from the original on September 28, 2007. Retrieved March 24, 2007.
- "Driven: Ford Flex". Car Design News Joe Simpson, December 26, 2008. Archived from the original on June 28, 2010.
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.
- "Ford to kill Flex crossover, union says" from Detroit Free Press (November 1, 2016)
- “Here is What’s New For 2019 Ford Flex” from Ford Authority (March 16, 2019)
- Neff, Natalie (August 24, 2009). "Flexitarian". AutoWeek. Detroit, Michigan: Crain Communications Inc. 59 (17): 24. ISSN 0192-9674.
- Thami Masemola (January 11, 2009). "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 January 6, 2012.
- "F-SERIES DRIVES FORD TO HIGHER MARKET SHARE FOR THIRD CONSECUTIVE MONTH" (PDF) (Press release). Ford. January 5, 2009. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 6, 2009. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
- "FORD CAPS 2009 WITH 33 PERCENT SALES INCREASE, FIRST FULL-YEAR MARKET SHARE GAIN SINCE 1995" (PDF) (Press release). Ford Motor Company. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 11, 2011. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on January 24, 2011. Retrieved November 10, 2014.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on January 31, 2012. Retrieved January 4, 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on January 23, 2013. Retrieved January 3, 2013.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Ford Motor Company Delivers Best Sales Year Since 2006" (PDF). Media.ford.com. January 3, 2014. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
- us news. "Best Affordable Midize SUVs". US News. Archived from the original on November 24, 2010. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
- Tom Mutchler. "Just In: 2010 Ford Flex Limited with Ecoboost". Consumer Reports. Archived from the original on December 9, 2010. Retrieved October 26, 2010.
- Consumer Reports. "Reliability trends, how makes compare". Consumer Reports. Retrieved October 27, 2010.(registration required)
- Consumer Reports. "2010 Ford Flex Customer Satisfaction". Consumer Reports. Retrieved October 26, 2010.(registration required)
- Rachwal, Paul. "Ford Establishes 100,000 annual Flex sales goal". Left Lane News. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
- Ford Motor Company. "FORD CAPS 2009 WITH 33 PERCENT SALES INCREASE, FIRST FULL-YEAR MARKET SHARE GAIN SINCE 1995" (PDF). Ford Motor Company. Archived from the original (PDF) on July 11, 2011. Retrieved October 25, 2010.
- Ford Flex Sales Brochure, 2011, 2012
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