2013 Ford Flex makes its debut ahead of LA Auto Show

Article by Christian Andrei, on November 8, 2011

The 2013 model Ford Flex that will debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show next week will be sleeker as it will be rounder and more streamlined. The changes were probably made in response to criticisms that the previous model was too boxy. The styling revisions to the freshened 2013 Flex are most obvious from the front.

Instead of Ford’s blue oval, the word FLEX could be seen in big block letters on top of the grille. The interior has also received updates. The Flex is powered by a standard 3.5-liter Ti-VCT V-6 that offers 285 hp, an extra 20hp higher than the existing model.

As a result, the 2013 Flex offers an estimated 18 mpg city/25 highway, 1 mpg more than the present version. The Flex is also offered with Ford’s 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine. It has an output of 355 hp and 350 pounds-feet of torque.

However, both engines come with a six-speed SelectShift Automatic transmission. This seven-passenger crossover will be available with the newest version of Ford’s Sync hands-free telematics system with the next-generation MyFord Touch screen controls.

Ford said earlier this week that it aims to upgrade the system by presenting cleaner, simpler, easier-to-read screens with quicker touch- and voice-response times. The 2013 Flex is fitted with more safety features such as rear inflatable seat belts and radar-controlled adaptive cruise control.

Winner of the Breakthrough Product Award, the Ford Flex comes with innovative rear inflatable seat belts that offer not only increased protection for rear passengers but also incredible comfort. The award given by Popular Mechanics at the annual Breakthrough Product Awards ceremony is one of many revolutionary designs changing how we live our lives such as synthetic limbs controlled by the mind and computer chips made from wood.

Designed to reduce injuries to the chest, head and neck, the inflatable belt protects more vulnerable members of your family who tend to sit in the rear of the vehicle.

Technological advances in both seat belt engineering and airbag inflation have meant Ford has been able to design a process wherein the belts deploy within 40 milliseconds of a crash, protecting the wearer’s torso and shoulders.

The inflatable belts function like normal seat belts and will only inflate in the event of a collision. Using cold compressed gas, the airbag inflates from a cylinder under the seat up through the buckle.

New Ford Flex also comes with Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) which is powered by cross-traffic alerts, radar-enabled adaptive cruise control (ACC) and collision warning with brake support.

The technological advances inside the new Ford Flex are proven to uphold driver safety by detecting the position of other vehicles around you through the use of radar and it does this by using a system of audio and visual cues.

Scanning for vehicles in front of the Flex 20 times a second, the ACC system will recognise vehicles up to 150 yards away and take note of any changes in speed, even as slow as a quarter of 1 mph.

The ACC still works like any other form of cruise control except it will slow down when vehicles in front have slowed down but once the blockage has cleared, it will happily resume the set speed as per the conditions. The ACC can be set according to personal preference, terrain, speed, distance and the amount of time between the Flex and other vehicles on the road for the ultimate in safety.

Press Release

2013 Ford Flex

Fans of the Ford Flex have even more to love with an upgraded model with a sleek new look and even more technology to make driving safer, easier and more fuel-efficient.

"Flex appeals to people who want to stand out from the crowd and has the highest retention rate of any vehicle in the Ford lineup," said Mark Fields, president of The Americas. "With technologies not found in other full-size utilities, even better fuel economy and a more modern, sophisticated look, we're offering people even more reasons to choose Flex with the new model."

The seven-passenger, three-row crossover - which debuts at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show - comes equipped with the new generation of MyFord Touch, rear inflatable belts, collision-avoidance technologies, rain-sensing wipers, keyless entry, first-row heated and cooled seats, power-fold mirrors and an optional new Appearance Package. Plus, the base 3.5-liter engine is projected to deliver 1 mpg better fuel economy on the highway and in the city, with 20 more horsepower.

Enhanced technology

The new Flex features SYNC® with the new generation of MyFord Touch®, making it easier to manage information, control features and adjust settings.

"We've listened to our customers and have improved what they love about MyFord Touch," said Kenneth Williams, systems integration engineer. "In this upgrade, the screens have a cleaner, clearer display. The words on the screens are larger and easier to read, the pressable areas on the screen look more like buttons, and we have made the functions clearer for faster navigation.

"What separates MyFord Touch is that there are multiple ways for customers to manage and control what they want through voice commands, menus accessed through the steering wheel controls, touch screen, buttons or knobs - whatever they prefer."

MyFord Touch includes two 4.2-inch screens in the instrument cluster and an eight-inch screen in the center stack. The feature pairs with the latest version of SYNC.

The base SYNC package includes:

Hands-free, voice-activated calling via a Bluetooth®-connected mobile phone or USB-connected digital music player
911 Assist™, the automated emergency calling service that is free for the life of the vehicle
Vehicle Health Report, the on-demand diagnostic and maintenance information service
Enhanced safety and driver-aid technology

The new Ford Flex is equipped with the automotive world's first production rear inflatable belts to offer improved comfort and protection for rear seat passengers. Last month, this safety innovation was named a Breakthrough Product Award winner by Popular Mechanics, part of the magazine's seventh annual Breakthrough Awards.

The advanced restraint system is designed to help reduce head, neck and chest injuries for rear seat passengers, often children and older passengers who can be more vulnerable to such injuries.

Advances in airbag inflation and safety belt construction methods have enabled Ford and its suppliers to develop inflatable seat belts that are designed to deploy over a vehicle occupant's torso and shoulder in 40 milliseconds in the event of a crash.

The new second-row belts operate like traditional safety belts in everyday use and inflate when sensors indicate a collision event. Each belt's tubular airbag inflates with cold compressed gas, which flows through a specially designed buckle from a cylinder housed below the seat.

The new Ford Flex also boasts available radar-enabled adaptive cruise control (ACC) and collision warning with brake support and Blind Spot Information System (BLIS®) with cross-traffic alert. These technologies help drivers avoid potential accidents using radar to detect the relative position of other vehicles and warn the driver with a combination of visual and audio alerts.

The ACC technology uses advanced radar to scan for vehicles in front of Flex at 20 times per second. The sensor can detect vehicles up to 150 yards away and detect speed changes as small as ¼ mph. When the system is activated, it functions like normal cruise control with the exception of being able to slow down the car when vehicles in front are detected to be slowing down. When traffic has cleared, the vehicle resumes the set speed. Four distance settings accommodate a range of driving styles and road conditions. The driver can set distance, speed and the time gap between vehicles.

Fuel economy bolstered by engines, technologies

Under the hood, Ford Flex's new base engine delivers even more efficiency and performance with the addition of twin independent variable camshaft timing (Ti-VCT) to the 3.5-liter V6.

The upgraded 3.5-liter Ti-VCT V6 engine provides 285 horsepower - an approximate 20 horsepower increase from the previous engine - and 255 lb.-ft. of torque. The new Flex also is projected to deliver 1 mpg more fuel economy, with projected fuel economy of 18 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.

This efficient V6 allows precise, variable control of valve overlap, or the window of time in which both the intake and exhaust valves in an engine are open at the same time. By adjusting overlap continuously, the engine can operate at optimum settings for peak fuel economy or peak power output as conditions demand.

The popular 3.5-liter EcoBoost® V6 remains on the new Ford Flex, bringing the fuel economy of V6 engines with all-wheel-drive capability and V8-like performance of 355 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft. of torque.

A key contributor to EcoBoost fuel efficiency is direct injection of gasoline. This system precisely delivers a fine mist of fuel directly into each cylinder for optimal performance, economy and emissions.

EcoBoost engines are fundamental to the Ford strategy of providing technologically advanced, high-output, smaller-displacement powertrains that deliver exceptional fuel economy and uncompromised performance for millions of drivers around the world. By 2013, more than 90 percent of Ford's North American lineup will be available with EcoBoost technology. Ford holds more than 125 patents on its EcoBoost engine technology.

Both engines are mated to a six-speed SelectShift Automatic® transmission.

The SelectShift advanced gearbox offers the driver a choice between fully automatic operation and manual control. With SelectShift with EcoBoost, paddle shifters are integrated into the steering wheel spokes. Intuitive to operate, a squeeze back on either paddle will deliver an upshift, while a gentle push forward on either paddle will induce a matched-rev downshift. SelectShift won't second-guess the driver with an override shift; manual control is truly manually controlled. The thumb shift is new for 2013 with the standard engine models.

Both engines also are made more efficient with EPAS (electric power-assisted steering). EPAS improves fuel economy approximately 4 percent and reduces emissions while improving steering performance primarily because the steering system is powered by an electric motor connected to the vehicle's battery, instead of engine-mounted hydraulic pump steering systems.

In addition, the new Ford Flex's battery management system operates the vehicle's power supply system in a more economical manner to save fuel. The system:

Allows the alternator and system voltage to be controlled based on battery condition, vehicle operating state and electrical load status
Provides feedback to the vehicle regarding battery condition for active load management and battery diagnostics
Monitors battery temperature (higher voltage in lower temperatures, lower voltage in higher temperatures), extending the battery life
Fresh new look, touches - inside and out

Ford Flex's new front end rounds out the previously boxy edges, creating more visual harmony between the front and the rest of the vehicle. The signature Ford blue oval has been removed from the front, which now solely bears the Flex badge.

In the rear, Flex now has standard dual exhaust and available rear appliqué.

Inside the Ford Flex customers will find a modern, sophisticated driver zone with new clusters, steering wheel and electronic finish panels, as well as new seat trim and foam.

Class-exclusives include the available second-row refrigerated console and the latest generation of MyFord Touch with SYNC.

Appearance Package and paint, wheel choices

Also new is an Appearance Package on Limited and SEL models that includes an available two-tone roof and mirrors, 20-inch machined aluminum wheels with painted pockets, leather seats, unique door trim panels and other interior upgrades for a truly distinctive, premium look and feel.

The new Flex comes in nine exterior colors, including three new colors for the 2013 model year: Ruby Red, Deep Impact Blue and Kodiak Brown. Customers also can choose from body-color roofs, or two-tone with white, gray or black available on the Appearance Package.

Six wheel styles are available for Ford Flex as well.

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