2009 Ford Flex: Stepping Outside the Box

Written by Kimatni. D. Rawlins

Ford has finally stepped outside its own shell to manifest a vehicle that undoubtedly stands for something. Yes, they have the best selling pick-up in the business with the F-150 and the world knows of Explorers like they do their children’s names. However, big bruising gas guzzling SUVs and trucks are steadily falling out of the consciousness of buyers and being swapped with smaller, innovative thinking. This means the Flex is a perfect fit in a time where consumers are desperate.

So we headed to Atlanta, Georgia during rapper and super producer Jermaine Dupre’s celebrity weekend, which Ford partially sponsored and involved its activities around the Flex. One of which included a celebrity bowling challenge at 300. Only in Atlanta can you go bowling and feel like you’re in the club. Especially when you see Nelly, Goodie Mob, JD and more walking around like they’re at a Jay-Z concert after party. I went to college in Atlanta and have always appreciated the respect for vehicles in the busy metropolis. From classics to exotics, there is a certain love for transportation there. And though the celebrity influenced weekend consisted of half million dollar Rolls-Royces and Maserati GranTurismos, the Flex definitely stood out. Not as much as it would have at a non-baller event, but it created its own appeal. People certainly took notice when passing by or valeting. Its elongated, boxy body is full of distinctive lines, panels, curvaceous angles and a two-toned roof. Think of a Mini Cooper after training for the Olympics. Base wheel sizes range from 18” to 20”. Want 22s? Check out the Funk Master Flex edition.

So what is the Flex anyway? We do know that it is a crossover in its own right, but not as typical as the rest of the bunch. It could be a converted wagon with new age, digital features. During a business meeting at the host W Hotel, a female colleague called it an earthy minivan. The point is that it is different. Just like the Chrysler PT Cruiser and Chevy Avalanche were different when introduced. And when a vehicle is so different, consumers are going to go in to one of two directions. Hate it or love it. Ford believes it will be a hit. “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.” Me personally, Flex is a cool family mobile. My wife and two daughters would enjoy its interior amenities without sacrificing some type of style. But it’s not for your average gentleman with ambitions.

The Flex’ scope of technology is very impressive. It all starts off with Ford SYNC, a Ford-exclusive collaboration with Microsoft, which is an all-in-one operational unit. Similar to GM’s OnStar and BMW’s iDrive in terms of functionality, the voice-activated, hands-free communications and entertainment system uses an 8” touchscreen LCD to control Bluetooth phones, MP3 players, the 10-gig music hard drive, navigation, reverse camera system, the 390-watt Sony 7.1 Surround Sound and the SIRIUS Travel link which not only gives you the music stations but also real-time traffic, weather, movie listings and times, and fuel prices along your route.

Three Flex models are offered including SE, SEL and Limited. All trim levels feature Ford’s 3.5-liter V6 with 262-horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque with a six-speed automatic transmission. Intelligent all-wheel drive is available as an option. Towing capacity is rated at 4,500 pounds. This allows you to haul a snowmobile or jet skis. However, the vehicle needs more power for its weight and size. Especially if six passengers are traveling. Yet, the upside is that the Flex’s engine will allow you 24 mpg on the highway.

The Flex starts at $28,995 including destination and delivery for the SE. The SEL will be $32,770 and $35,405 for the Limited.

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