I’m worried about the Ford Flex. I’ve been a fan of this car ever since it first appeared in concept form, as the Fairlane, at the 2005 Detroit auto show.
I love the Flex for its stretch-out spaciousness (including an adult-habitable 3rd row, with generous space behind), its hushed highway demeanor, it’s anti-SUV stance, and particularly its straight-edged design. It appears, however, that most buyers prefer a more conventional look, as competitors like the Chevrolet Traverse and the Honda Pilot outsell the Flex by nearly three-to-one.
Now there’s some in-house competition, in the form of the new Ford Explorer, which is essentially the same vehicle as the Flex underneath but is wrapped in more traditional sheetmetal. It also has a less dorky moniker, one that’s familiar to nearly every American old enough to cut their own meat. Oh, and it’s also less expensive.
So, what’s Ford doing to help out the Flex? Well, last year it added the optional Ecoboost (turbocharged, direct-injected) V-6—intoxicatingly powerful and fairly economical, but pricey. For 2011, Ford’s big idea is the Titanium edition. With its black roof and blacked-out trim, the Titanium edition courts the same hipster crowd that Ford has pitched this vehicle to without success since its launch. Additionally, it’s even more expensive than the Limited; if you check every option box, a Flex Titanium can reach $50,000.
I’m guess the Titanium is not going to save the Flex, but I sure hope something does. With its neo-classical styling and lower ride height, the Flex remains my choice over the new Explorer. For anyone else who feels the same way, I offer this tip: Order a printed brochure, which you can do from the Ford web site, and it comes with a $750 coupon off the price of a new Flex.