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Ford Flex - The next American design Icon?

Ford Flex: Hit or Miss?

Ford Flex - The next American design Icon?
Posted April 4 2007 10:09 PM by Edward A. Sanchez 
Filed under: Opinions, Trend Observations, Truck News , Ford

2009 Ford Flex

While the term "game-changer" is thrown around rather loosely nowadays at auto shows and new vehicle introductions, the number of vehicles the term truly fits is considerably smaller. In recent memory, there are a few standouts that I think have re-defined or at the very least, revived, their respective segments. I think one could safely say the Cadillac Escalade, starting with the 2002 model, brought renewed attention and interest to the luxury SUV segment to an even greater extent than its rival, the Lincoln Navigator.

2009 Ford Flex - Rear

For American full-size sedans, I don't think there's a question in anyone's mind that the Chrysler 300 brought this heretofore neglected and ignored segment back into the public's consciousness. Following the 300 was the Dodge Charger, and now GM is promising to bring over a whole slew of Zeta-based rear-drive sedans, first of which is the Pontiac G8.

Crossovers are the latest "buzz" vehicles in the automotive marketplace. Although they may have marginal significance or interest to hard-core enthusiasts, there's no question they're changing the face of the larger automotive landscape. At first glance, it would seem GM's new family of crossovers, including the GMC Acadia and Buick Enclave, would be the "game-changers" of the crossover market. But if Ford has any say in it, the General's newest players in the crossover game will stand in the boxy shadow of Ford's newest entry, the Flex.

If it looks familiar, it's because it's largely based on the Fairlane concept shown a few years ago on the show circuit. Changes to the concept on the production model include the change of the sliding rear doors to conventional front-hinge swingers (a questionable decision from a pure practicality standpoint, but probably the right one in terms of market appeal and popularity.)

The production model looks suspiciously like a stretched and inflated Scion xB (the first-generation model.) It wears its boxiness with pride. Love it or hate it, its look is certainly unique in the crossover segment. But the question is, will it go down in history as one of Detroit's many high hopes that never gained traction with consumers, or a runaway hit beyond anyone's expectations? Personally, I stand in the middle, but leaning more toward the latter. I think the Flex's boxy profile has the makings of a hit, but I'm not quite willing to bet the farm that there's going to be a waiting list at Ford dealers for it. The GM offerings, as well as Mazda's CX-9, are compelling and stylish alternatives in their own right. But none of them, the suave CX-9 and Buick Enclave included, have the head-turning quotient of Ford's newest entry, in my opinion. But ultimately, it's not my haughty proclamation that's going to determine the Flex's success or failure. It's going to be showroom traffic and sales numbers. I guess we'll just have to wait & see.  

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