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2009 Ford Flex Preview
New crossover is designed for travel
The 2009 Ford Flex is a new full-size crossover that looks like nothing else on the market.
“The Ford Flex will give customers the family-vehicle alternative they've long wanted but couldn't find in showrooms,” says Mark Fields, Ford's president of The Americas.
Going on sale in the summer of 2008, the Flex boasts what Ford calls a bold, expressive design, along with exclusive innovations.
“The Ford Flex has the power to move people emotionally as well as physically,” says J Mays, group vice president of design and chief creative officer. “This crossover has been created for people who know it's the journey - not the destination - that matters most. Its upright, upscale design, versatility and clever touches allow Ford Flex to stand out in an increasingly crowded sea of crossovers.”
The Ford Flex brings to production the Ford Fairlane concept vehicle.
Flex signature exterior design touches include:
Ford's signature chrome horizontal three-bar grille, which builds on the family “face” used on the Ford Edge and Taurus X crossovers. The grille is encapsulated into a single graphic element that also includes a step-up headlamp design with available HID headlamps. This front-end graphic wraps around the sides of the vehicle, accentuating Flex's width.
An all-black greenhouse visually integrates the body with the available two-tone 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 aluminum wheels are offered. Entry and exit is easy for passengers owing to Flex's integrated rocker panel design, which eliminates the need for passengers to step over the rocker panel when getting in and out of the vehicle.
Edge-inspired tail lamps are outlined in chrome. Limited models have LED tail lamps and a brushed satin finish metal appliqué spanning the centre of the liftgate.
Flex's interior was inspired by fashion and furniture design, with modern materials and soft touch points. Accents include tweed-like fabric used for the base-level SE's seats, with inserts delivered in a miniature hounds tooth.
Meanwhile, the SEL series features a soft insert with a more pronounced grain on the seat bolsters, while the Limited features unique diamond-pattern perforations on the leather seat inserts, resembling fine, hand-tooling. Contrast stitching is available on leather seats and the ergonomic centre console.
Flex's interior also is set apart from other crossovers, thanks to clever touches including:
- An available class-exclusive refrigerator, mounted between the second-row Captain's chairs. Unlike competitors' systems that merely keep cold beverages cool, the Flex's compressor-driven refrigerator can cool up to seven 12-oz. cans, four half-litre bottles or two 20-oz bottles from room temperature to 41 degrees in just over two-and-a-half hours. That's 40 percent faster than a standard home refrigerator.
- A Multi-Panel Vista Roof. It not only brightens the interior, it gives Flex occupants seated in each row their own special skylight. The front panel is the size of a traditional power moon roof, while the rear is divided into three specific areas - two openings over the second row seats and one large opening over the third row. Each “skylight” is recessed into the headliner and comes with a manual sunshade.
- Second-row best-in-class legroom that includes comforts such as class-exclusive adjustable and removable footrests. The Flex's second-row seats also 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 unique feature. With a flip of a dashboard switch, colour lighting can be selected for two LEDs mounted on the front console and two mounted to flood the footwells. Two additional LEDs light up the rings around the Flex's cupholders.
- Capless fuel filler system, another segment exclusive. This feature not only eliminates the likelihood of forgetting to put the gas cap back on after fuelling, it also saves time by doing away with unscrewing and replacing a fuel filler cap. Flex owners also will like its environmental benefits, as the capless fuel filler provides a much better seal than a cap, cutting down the emissions of smog-forming vapours.
The Flex's technology includes:
- Ford Sync, a 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, and Lincoln products beginning 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, eight-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 eight-inch, drop-down screen.
- Ford's exclusive 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.
The Flex's chassis was designed to provide more than 1,814 kg (4,000 lb) of towing capacity.
“A quiet ride is no longer a luxury,” said Gary Boes, Flex chief engineer. “It's something that customers have come to expect from their vehicles and equate with quality. We used efficient engineering from the onset to reduce noise, vibration and harshness.”
This included a new independent rear suspension (IRS) with unique geometry that allows for better tuning to deliver a broad range of capabilities without compromising the interior package.
Interior noise was minimized by using sound deadening materials in the dash panel, headliner and under the carpeting. A six-millimetre thick windshield helps reduce wind and powertrain noise, and specially selected tires make road noise nearly unnoticeable.
The Flex is powered by Ford's 3.5-litre V-6, and is mated to a fuel-efficient six-speed transmission. The powertrain is expected to deliver more than 260 horsepower, 240 lb.- ft. of torque and fuel economy numbers on par with other full-size crossovers. Engineers tweaked the sound induction system to deliver a refined yet powerful engine note.
An available intelligent all-wheel-drive system uses an active, on-demand electronic centre coupler to allocate a precise amount of torque from front to rear, up to 100% to either axle. This system can also anticipate wheel slip before it happens.
In addition to a body structure that has been optimized for safety with side intrusion beams in the doors, strategic use of high-strength boron steel and specially designed, energy-absorbing interior door trim, the Flex also comes equipped with additional safety features:
-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, the system applies braking where needed to keep the car 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 the 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 utilizes 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 occupants head and the side of the vehicle.
- Ford's BeltMinder safety belt reminder for driver and front passenger. In addition, Flex comes equipped with standard features, such as child safety locks on the rear doors, the trunk LATCH system and a Tire Pressure Monitoring System.
- Available rear back-up camera. Mounted in the bottom of Flex's liftgate badge, the camera is activated when the vehicle is shifted in 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.
Posted June 10, 2008