Ford Flex Sales Falter

Automobile Staff
#Ford, #Ford
Ford Flex

Though the folks at Ford had high hopes for its 2009 Ford Flex, the boxy, three-row crossover is suffering from falling sales just four months after its release.

Starting at $28,295 (but easily upgradable to over $44,000), the Flex has been called "a very good vehicle and a brave experiment" and "a very imaginative product" by critics.; We were won over with the Flex's eye-catching exterior, refined interior, and an extensive list of interesting gizmos (need we remind you of Sync?).; Customers seem to echo those sentiments - those who own Flexes have thus far expressed overall contentment with their new crossover.

So what's the problem? The first is image: the boxy, tank-like look may suggest to some that it has bad fuel economy, despite its mileage (17/24 mpg) being comparable to similar vehicles of the class like the Honda Pilot. The relatively high price is also a factor, to be sure, as concerns about the economy top peoples' lists of anxieties.

Still, Ford remains enthusiastic about their latest offering - as well they should be.; Though sales have dipped in light of today's economy, Ford's still managing to sell Flexes to multiple demographics (not just large families) and at a higher transaction price than both the Honda Pilot or Toyota Highlander.

We think the introduction of the 3.5-liter turbocharged V-6 "EcoBoost" motor - slated for '09 - may help, as well...

Source: Detroit Free Press

I remember discussing the soon-to-be-introduced Ford Flex with some Ford marketing and engineering people I met at a Champ Car race over a year ago. The nice marketing lady suggested that consumer focus groups told them that the Flex would be a hot new model. I politely told her I thought she was dreaming. The Flex is too big and expensive to appeal to a young, hip crowd. If there is ever a market for an overgrown Mini Clubman, Ford will have the market cornered. Until then I have to wonder how a company can spend so much on focus groups and still have no clue as to what's "cool".
Aside from the F150, the Flex is the only Ford I would even consider buying (aside from a few of their excellent european models). However, even though we have a new baby and a need for a minivan-type vehicle, I won't buy a Flex because of bland driving characteristics, uncomfortable driver's seating position (I'm 6'4") and poor milage. I have never understood why Ford can get efficient about how it uses interior space and why it can't create good driver's seating. My 2002 F-150 crewcab is not good in either category. In contrast, my 2007 BMW 335i is great on both counts as is my wife's 2004 Acura TL. My old 2000 Volvo V70 T5 was the best. Why Ford can't use Volvo's or Ford europe's engineering (seats/ turbo diesel engines) more effectively is a mystery. Alas, we won't buy a Volvo either since Ford has gutted those cars of their former utility (3rd row seats) and decent milage (turbo 5 cyl). We will likely get an MDX which at least has handling and good ergonomics as well as the 3rd row seats.

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