Ford Flex killed after more than a decade
Dearborn’s innovative seven-seat crossover is leaving the lineup
After more than 10 years in production, Ford has discontinued the Flex crossover. It debuted in 2008 and received several updates over the years. The long, seven-seat wagon was an early hit, and it aged quite well considering it was a vehicle actually styled sometime in 2004 before its concept debuted in 2005. So its demise, while not surprising given its age, still feels surprising for a few reasons.
First of all: Yes, the Ford Flex has been on sale this whole time. Second, crossovers in that segment are doing well sales-wise, and by this point, we’d guess the Flex had made back the money Ford spent developing it and tooling up the factory. So it wasn’t costing Ford much to keep it in production. Third, the Flex has aged pretty well and so has its platform, generally praised for its smooth ride thanks to the long wheelbase.
For those too young to remember when it debuted, the 2005 Fairlane was the rare concept that had relatively few stylistic changes before it went into production as the Flex. Designed as a large, boxy station wagon (rather than an SUV like, say, the Expedition), the Flex exuded a certain retro cool while offering plenty of versatility, even if to some eyes it looked like a giant, five-door Mini Cooper if optioned with a white roof. Ford didn’t keep the concept’s suicide doors if only to avoid it looking like a minivan or something excessively retro, but it kept the brushed aluminum panel out back, evoking station wagons of decades past. The production car kept the concept’s details at a time when Detroit concept cars were rarely leading to production cars in undiluted form.
Ford gave the Flex a few facelifts through the years to keep it fresh, the most significant coming in 2013 after it had been on sale for five years. Power came from 3.5-liter V6 engines: first, a Duratec V6 good for 262 hp, and later a twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 joined the lineup with 355 hp on tap.
Optioned with the twin-turbo engine and AWD, the Flex was a bit of a rocket, complete with a well-balanced chassis largely immune to nosediving during braking or lifting its nose during hard acceleration. The Flex was also a seven-seater — another quality that has been in demand for quite some time. And the model was also an early crossover hit for Ford at a time when the crossover craze was just taking off.
The Flex has had a good run: Even after 11 years in production, its shape didn’t become stale. In terms of automakers’ product cycles it’s certainly “old,” but it’s still sad to see it go.