Recently I got a sneak peak at Ford’s pre-production seven-passenger “crossover” that’s due in showrooms sometime next summer. Looking seriously close to production-ready, the 2009 Ford Flex debuted at the 2005 NAIAS as the Ford Fairlane Concept. With a new name and bold exterior design, this could be the next iconic Ford, couldn’t it?
It may look like a cross between a Range Rover, FJ Cruiser and Mini Cooper, but the Flex is easily one of the most attractive Fords in a while. Exterior highlights include wraparound HID headlights that almost touch the shapely front fenders, behind which are washboard-style character lines that add depth to both sides. Pretty sexy for a vehicle with 1,814 kilograms of towing ability. That roof by the way, will be available in either white suede, silver or any of the Flex’s 10 other colours.
Flex will be built on the D3 chassis (same as the new Taurus and Taurus X models). Though it has been stretched three inches to accommodate a 3.5L V-6 producing around 260 hp and 240 lb.-ft. of torque through a six-speed tranny. Intelligent all-wheel drive with electronic torque-sending will be available.
The comfortable, spacious interior boasts electronic folding second-row seats that allow access to the third row and/or to increase cargo capacity. The third row also folds flat. Other cool features include an actual refrigerator (not a cooler) between the second-row captain’s chairs, multi-panel vista roof and Ford/Microsoft’s new hands-free in-car communications/entertainment system, Sync.
Pricing was not disclosed at the preview event. However, as we get closer to the vehicle’s launch we’re bound to learn more. Seeing as how U.S. sales of crossover vehicles are on the rise (last year they outpaced traditional SUV sales for the first time), Flex is poised and ready to capitalize on this growing market next year. It’s upright, upscale design, versatility and clever touches will certainly help Ford’s future crossover stand out in an increasingly crowded sea of crossovers.