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Ford Introduces the Flex…Daring to be Different

June 22nd, 2009

The Ford Flex is on its way...

The Ford Flex is on its way...

Provocative Ford Flex Dares to Be Different

•    The distinctive 2009 Ford Flex, with its signature side grooves, all-black greenhouse and distinct two-tone 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 multipanel Vista Roof™.
•    Flex is full of class-leading technologies, including Ford SYNC™, voice-activated navigation with reverse camera system, 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.

The wait is over. Ford Flex, a vehicle that confidently challenges the crossover norm, 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 confident that this “white space” vehicle’s distinctiveness will have strong allure, especially after experiencing how much consumers warm to Flex the more they explore it.


The Flex is Flexible

Flexing its Character
From its planted stance and broad shoulders – flanked by signature side grooves – to its all-black greenhouse and contrasting, two-tone roof, Ford designers have created a provocative vehicle.

In a world of automobiles that are easy to categorize, Flex is a radical departure, according to Peter Horbury, executive director, Design, The Americas.

“At first we were uncomfortable with the way Flex could polarize, but its ability to compel an opinion, good or bad, was fascinating,” says Horbury. “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.

Distinctive grooves in the side panels of the new Flex are its signature design element.  On each side, four parallel grooves – as precise as if machined – flank the strong surfaces of the clean Flex profile.  The groove treatment is one of many Flex design cues that reflect its stretched, horizontal feel.

“The grooves really capture interest,” said Richard Gresens, the chief designer of the Ford Flex. “They’re really symbolic of the inherent Flex design architecture and a signal of the contemporary details this vehicle embodies.  People immediately get that when they see Flex for the first time.”

Strong shoulders and prominent wheel arches serve to plant the car firmly on the road and set it down over the standard 18-inch, available 19-inch polished aluminum wheels or bold, 20-in., chrome-effect, painted aluminum wheels.

The Flex design then adds more intrigue with its darkened Privacy Glass and black pillar cladding. This creates uniformly dark effect that designers call an all-black greenhouse. This effect is heightened by the unique Flex roof available in Brilliant Silver or White Suede, an option Ford expects to be popular with customers.  Each of these colors contrast stylishly with the Flex exterior paint palette and the dark glass beneath it.

“The all-black greenhouse allowed us to do the complementing color roof,” said Gresens.  “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 up to 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.”

The interior design of Flex doesn’t just focus on the two front seats.

The two Flex second-row passengers enjoy business-class comfort with very generous legroom.  The feel is like that of a limousine – generously comfortable seats, lots of space and wide windows for an expansive view of the passing landscape.

“Our second row increases comfort and accommodates a wider range of occupants,” said Erik Billimoria, package engineering supervisor. “We didn’t compromise on overall roominess or visibility and we maximized cargo space. I don’t think I’ve been part of a program where we’ve been able to deliver that level of capability.”

Flex features an extraordinary 60.3 cu.-ft. of passenger volume in the second row.  Second-row passengers have an amazing seven inches of knee room and 44.3 in. of legroom.  It’s just another way Flex is in a class of its own.

The second-row doors have been optimized for ease of opening/closing effort. Their trims have been kept slim, and the hidden rocker panels help to maximize ingress-egress ease.

Second row Command Seating® and theater-style seating places third row above second, offering excellent visibility for all passengers.

The second-row seats fold and tumble to provide easy access to the third row and fold flat with the load floor for added cargo space. An available one-touch system folds and tumbles the second row at the touch of a button, which is conveniently mounted on the inside of the C-pillar within easy reach of passengers in the third row, where Flex provides real comfort for two adults.

The large Flex rear cargo opening accommodates items up to four-feet wide resting on the third row armrests. An available power liftgate makes loading and unloading items easy.  Flat-folding seats, including the front passenger seat, give Flex the capability of carrying cargo items up to 119.4 in. in length.

But the Flex interior story is about more than just space. It offers outstanding levels of quiet and comfort.

”The sound package in the Flex is the best executed package we’ve ever done,” said Mark D. Hansen, NVH supervisor.  “The vehicle is incredibly quiet.”

Ford engineers know that customers rank quietness as one a sure sign of a vehicle’s quality.  That’s why they employ an ingenious technology called the Multi Activation Regression Simulation (MARS) model to balance different sound inputs coming into vehicles like the Flex – from the powertrain, wind and the road – and make all the sounds blend harmoniously.

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 technology, developed with Microsoft, is an award-winning, voice-activated, hands-free in-vehicle communications and entertainment platform. It allows users to control most MP3 players and Bluetooth®-enabled mobile phones hands-free using voice commands.  Later this model year, Ford will add 911 Assist and Vehicle Health Reports to the capabilities of Ford SYNC™.
•    Voice-activated navigation integrates several functions, including destination entry, climate control and into one easy-to-use system with information displayed on an 8-inch touch-screen display.
•    Reverse camera system.  Provided with the voice-activated navigation system, 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.
•    SIRIUS Travel Link provides users a suite of data services including real-time traffic, coast-to-coast weather conditions and fuel price information for over 120,000 gas stations, along with popular SIRIUS satellite radio.
•    Sony audio system that features 390 watts of power, 7.1 surround sound and 12 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.
•    Exclusive SecuriCode™ second-generation keyless entry keypad: Housed within Flex’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 functions by entering a five-digit code or lock the doors by simply pressing simultaneously two buttons.
•    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.

Dynamic Muscle

The new Ford Flex doesn’t just look poised and planted.  It drives that way, too.  The Flex driving character is another signal that this is not your typical crossover.

“On the road, Flex thinks it’s a sports sedan,” said Louis Jamail, one of the vehicle dynamics engineers behind its driving capabilities. “It’s extremely confident when cornering with a steering feel that is very linear and intuitive. You can push Flex to the limit and it never loses composure.”

When the driver gets behind the wheel, Flex feels like driving a car.  The Flex development team gave Flex a confident driving character. Its down-to-the-ground stance combines with extensive suspension development – including an all-new rear suspension – to make Flex a solid dynamic performer on the road, with strong roll control giving the driver positive feedback in cornering.

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.

The Flex comes standard with Ford’s exclusive AdvanceTrac® with RSC® (Roll Stability Control), the industry’s only electronic stability control system that uses two gyroscopic sensors to monitor both yaw and roll motions.

AdvanceTrac® with RSC® interacts dynamically with the vehicle while it’s traveling. The system can monitor the vehicle’s path using a sensor to detect and measure understeer and oversteer by monitoring the vehicle’s speed, throttle position and steering wheel angle. When wheel slip or loss of traction is sensed, the system applies braking where needed to keep the car tracking safely on its intended path.

Building on Safety Leadership
Flex comes equipped with features that reflect Ford’s commitment to keep customers safe and secure. Ford Motor Company boasts more vehicles with five star ratings in all four categories of federal crash tests than any other manufacturer in North America.

Flex comes standard with Ford’s exclusive Safety Canopy® side curtain airbag for all three rows. The Safety Canopy® utilizes roll-fold technology designed to efficiently deploy the airbag 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 occupants’ heads and the side of the vehicle providing optimal protection.

Additional standard safety and security features include:
•    Ford’s Personal Safety System™: This suite includes dual-stage driver and front passenger airbags, thorax side airbags for the front seat occupants, safety belt pretensioners, seat weight sensing system for the passenger seat and crash severity
•    Advanced Body Structure: Flex occupants are surrounded by an advanced structural safety system. The body structure has been optimized for stiffness and strength using extensive Computer-Aided Engineering tools to provide outstanding crash performance.
•    Class-exclusive SPACE: Side Protection And Cabin Enhancement Architecture™ (SPACE) is comprised of a hydroformed cross-car beam that runs between the door frames and further strengthens the bodyside. In the event of a side impact, the beam helps divert crash forces away from the occupants.

Manufactured to the highest quality standards at Ford’s Oakville Assembly Plant in Ontario, Canada, Flex will be available at dealers this summer.


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