Ford Motor Company (USA) presented the Ford 'Flex' full-size crossover wagon at the New York Motor Show. Looking decidedly like a Range Rover Sport, the Flex will go on sale in the US next year. "The new Ford Flex crossover is a game-changer. It's the first vehicle of its kind that combines seating for seven, interior spaciousness and surprising features with a striking design that looks great on the road and at home for today's modern American families," said Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas, as he revealed the new vehicle at the 2007 New York Motor Show. On sale in the summer of 2008, the Flex is arriving as crossovers continue to outpace even the remarkable growth of SUVs during the 1990s and minivans of the 1980s.
Last year, crossovers surpassed traditional SUV sales for the first time, and they are trending toward annual crossover sales of 3 million units by the end of the decade. Such growth will likely make crossovers the first or second largest vehicle segment in the U.S. "Flex is another example of Ford creating more of the products that our customers really want," Fields said. "Ford intends to define crossover vehicles this decade just as we did SUVs in the 1990s." The Flex joins the Edge and Taurus X in the Blue Oval's expanding crossover lineup. Ford's success with crossover utility vehicles is substantial. In March alone, the company's U.S. crossover sales were up more than 40 percent over last year - led by the success of the new 'Edge'.
Flex's signature exterior design includes:
- Ford's signature horizontal three-bar grille, which builds on the family "face" that defines the Ford Edge and Taurus X crossovers, as well as the Fusion sedan.
- A unique, all black "greenhouse" - defined as the windshield, rear and side windows, and the pillars separating and connecting them to the roof. The design brings together seamlessly the body with the available multi-panel roof. Customers can pair a White Suede or Silver roof option with one of Flex's 10 available exterior colours or choose a body-colour roof.
- Standard 18-inch or available 19-inch bright aluminium wheels, which plant the new crossover firmly on the road.
- Flex's integrated rocker panel design, which eliminates the need for customers to step over the rocker panel when getting in and out of the vehicle.
- Edge inspired tail lamps, which are outlined in chrome. Flex Limited models have LED tail lamps and a brushed satin finish metal appliqué spanning the center of the liftgate.
Flex is set apart from other vehicles thanks to a long list of surprising features. They include:
- A refrigerator mounted between the second row captain's chairs. Unlike competitors' systems that merely keep cold beverages cool, the Flex's available compressor driven refrigerator can cool up to seven cans, six bottles from room temperature to 41 degrees in just more than two and one half hours. That's 40 percent faster than a standard home refrigerator.
- Multi-Panel Vista Roof. It not only brightens the interior, it gives Flex occupants seated in each row their own special skylight.
- Second row, best in class legroom, including adjustable and removable footrests. The Flex's second row seats fold and tumble to provide access to the third row and fold flat into the floor for added cargo space. An available one touch system folds and tumbles the second row.
- Seven colour programmable ambient lighting. Flex owners can choose interior lighting to fit their mood. With this feature customers use a dashboard switch to change the lighting on two LEDs mounted on the front console, two on the footwells and two around the cupholders.
- Capless fuel filler system. This exclusive feature eliminates the likelihood of forgetting to put the fuel cap back on after fueling. It also saves time by doing away with unscrewing and replacing a fuel filler cap and provides a better seal.
- Ford Sync, Ford's voice activated hands-free in car communications and entertainment system. This available system fully integrates mobile phones and digital media players into the vehicle. The Sync in car communications system was developed in collaboration with Microsoft and will be offered exclusively on Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles later this year.
- Ford's next generation navigation system, featuring voice recognition technology and more than 150 hours of music storage. Users can browse the music jukebox via touch screen or by using voice recognition. They can also create custom play lists and burn CDs for storage on the system's hard drive. The system also integrates the climate control and SIRIUS Satellite Radio into one easy to use, smudge resistant, 8-inch touch screen display. Premium AM/FM/MP3 audio systems also are available with a six-CD changer, auxiliary jack to accommodate MP3 players and the latest generation DVD entertainment system with a large 8-inch, drop-down screen.
- Ford's second-generation door entry keypad . Housed within the vehicle's black B pillars, the flat panel, backlit keypad eliminates the need for door mounted buttons and gives customers the ability to unlock doors, disarm the alarm system and disable the auto lock function by entering a five digit code.
Powerful V6 with AWD
Flex is powered by Ford's 3.5-litre V6 engine and is mated to a fuel efficient 6-speed transmission. Flex's available intelligent all-wheel drive system is tuned to provide confident driving in all weather conditions. Intelligent AWD uses an active, on-demand electronic center coupler to allocate a precise amount of torque from front to rear - up to 100 percent to either axle. The system also can anticipate wheel slip before it happens. Safety families demand Flex comes equipped with features that reflect Ford's commitment to keeping customers and their families safe and secure. The new crossover's body structure has been optimised with side intrusion beams in the doors, strategic use of high-strength boron steel and specially designed, energy absorbing interior door trims.
Other safety advancements include:
- Rear back-up camera. Mounted in the bottom of Flex's liftgate badge, the available camera is activated when the vehicle is shifted into reverse, giving the driver a view of what's behind the vehicle. The system works in conjunction with the vehicle's reverse sensing system and uses the navigation screen as a display.
- AdvanceTrac with RSC (Roll Stability Control). This system can predict a vehicle's path, using a sensor to measure oversteer and yaw by monitoring the vehicle's speed, throttle position and steering wheel angle. When the system senses wheel slip or the loss of traction, it applies braking where needed to keep the vehicle safely on its intended path.
- Ford's Personal Safety System. This suite of safety features includes dual-stage driver and front passenger air bags, thorax side air bags for front seat occupants, safety belt pretensioners, seat weight sensing system for the passenger seat and crash severity sensing.
- Ford's exclusive Safety Canopy side curtain air bag. Designed for all three rows, this feature utilises roll fold technology to efficiently deploy the air bag when an occupant's head is resting against the side glass. In the event of a crash, the roll fold bag will deploy between the occupant's head and the side of the vehicle.
- Ford's BeltMinder safety belt reminder for driver and front passenger. Flex also comes equipped with such standard features as child safety locks on the rear doors, the LATCH child safety restraint system and Ford's tyre pressure monitoring system.
The Flex is designed for the US market and won't be available in Australia.