The 2013 Flex from Ford has arrived in dealerships and is available for as low as $31,670, including shipping. Despite being the automaker's largest crossover, this Flex model does not advertise the fact that it is a Ford. The word "FLEX" is visible in massive block letters across the front and the back lift gate. In June 2008, the Flex was launched with the front displaying a 9-inch wide Ford blue oval -- one of the biggest on any of the automaker's products.
On the contrary, the 2013 Flex only has a small Ford blue oval in the liftgate's lower-right-hand corner. The oval was not showcased in the front. The new design in Flex is the result of the automaker's research, which revealed that Flex owners who love their units did not essentially identify them as a Ford. Amy Marentic, marketing manager for cars and utilities, disclosed that one out of two buyers of a Flex have never bought a Ford.
She further stated that it is the highest capture rate of any Ford nameplate. The Flex has been a polarizing design. Some criticized it as a vehicle that looks like a school bus. However, many customers in California think otherwise. The state comprises 20 percent of Flex sales, Marentic revealed. Through the first two months, Flex sales were down 20% to 3,477 units.
It hit record sales in 2009 with 38,717 units. Since then, sales have declined steadily. Ford anticipates that the revamped 2013 model will bring back the Flex's fortunes notwithstanding the high gasoline prices. At 25 mpg highway for the front-wheel-drive variant, the base 3.5-liter V-6 unit achieves 1 mpg better fuel economy compared to the 2012 model. It generates 287 hp. Meanwhile, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine provides 365 hp and 355 pounds-feet of torque. A fully loaded all-wheel-drive Limited edition is available for $43,500.
Ford’s 2013 Flex is equipped with the first-ever production rear inflatable belts that provide improved protection and comfort for rear seat passengers. This safety innovation was just named as winner of the Breakthrough Product Award by Popular Mechanics magazine as part of its 7th Annual Breakthrough Awards.
This advanced restraint system was designed to reduce neck, chest, and head injuries to rear seat passengers in case of accidents.
Advances in construction methods for safety belt and airbag inflation have allowed Ford as well as its suppliers to design and develop inflatable seat belts that deploy over a passenger’s torso and shoulder in just 40 milliseconds when a crash happens. The new 2nd-row belts work like the traditional safety belts for daily use and they instantly inflate once the sensors detect a collision. The tubular airbag for each belt gets inflated with cold compressed gas, flowing through a special buckle from a cylinder positioned below the seat.
The Ford Flex also features available radar-enabled ACC or adaptive cruise control and collision warning plus brake support and BLIS or Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert. All of these technologies help the drivers avoid any possible accidents using the radar to determine the relative position of nearby vehicles and then warn the driver with both audio and visual alerts.
The ACC employs advanced radar when scanning for vehicles in front of the new Ford Flex at 20 times every second. The sensor detects other vehicles that are as far as 150 yards and it notices speed changes that are as little as one-fourth of a mph. Once the system gets activated, it works like a normal cruise control except that it is not able to slow the car down when vehicles ahead are seen to be slowing down.