Say Goodbye To The Ford Flex

Ford Flex
I have often called the Ford Flex the best driving SUV on the road. The fun and fashionable SUV debuted in 2008. Ford Flex dared to be bold. It gained a loyal following as a stylish, roomy wagon blending sport/utility vehicle and minivan capability in a low-slung retro-inspired package.

This week, as part of a plan to strengthen its focus on products in the heart of the fastest-growing segments, Ford is saying goodbye to the Flex. Production that began to celebrity fanfare is now winding down after more than a decade at Ford’s Oakville Assembly Complex.

With its formula of offering a family-size interior and amenities on a platform that drove more like a car than a full-size SUV, Flex’s unique, innovative look – created by designers with backgrounds in fashion instead of cars and trucks – made a statement. Its interior was created by Ford interior designer Anthony Prozzi, who worked in the New York fashion industry. He and his team brought in quilted leather seating surfaces and mahogany inserts in the door panels that resembled the surface of a beautiful roll-top desk. For a time, Flex also could be ordered with a real refrigerator in the console between the second-row seats.

“Flex broke the mold. It had both crossover and minivan elements in a hip, trendy package that stood out from what was becoming a really boring minivan segment,” said Chris Kessler, Ford Flex marketing manager. “Its design traced its roots to the traditional family station wagons that many of our customers remember growing up with, but it brought forward modern sport/utility design elements and features both parents and kids loved.”

Automakers ignore products, don’t freshen them, don’t advertise them, then wonder why sales are dismal. The next thing you know good products are discontinued. It is not a mistake to drop the Flex now, the mistakes were made years ago by Ford totally ignoring a terrific SUV. These are the same mistakes made in the case of Taurus and Fusion, two great quality cars that met their demise due to a lack of attention. Today, rebates alone are not enough, consumers expect those. Toyota and Honda have not abandoned cars…both car companies have worked hard to make them more appealing. Ford should take a page from their book, instead of putting all their eggs in the Electric Vehicle basket, since so far, there is no evidence that market exists.

Celebrities, sports stars and rappers leveraged the unique urban styling of Ford Flex to create custom designs from the very beginning. Funkmaster Flex and Nelly opened the 2008 SEMA show with their own tricked-out versions featuring custom paint schemes, exotic leather interiors and audio/video entertainment systems fit for a superstar – plus their friends and family, of course, in the roomy seven-passenger crossover.

That superstar appeal helped build a loyal following in hip, big-city markets with more than half of Flex sales in Detroit, Los Angeles and San Francisco through 2019. Through the course of its 11-year run, Ford sold more than 296,000 units overall of its unconventional crossover wagon.

Flex was also a favorite among hip comedians and late-night talk shows, several of whom featured the Flex in videos or customized their own versions, which they often used in appearances around Los Angeles. Baseball player Royce Clayton and his sprinter wife Samantha Davies were featured in regional Ford ads along with their children in a Ford Flex.

For traditional custom car fans, designer Chip Foose took the unique design with its flat roof and ribbed side panels to create a stunning wagon-inspired custom ride. On 22-inch Foose Design wheels and lowered chassis with custom blended two-tone blue and cream pearl paint, the “Foose Flex” debuted luxury, performance and style at the 2008 SEMA show.

Ford Motor Company’s Oakville Assembly Complex also built the Lincoln MKT, which ended production earlier this month.
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Dave Foyt
Jerry, I totally agree with your commentary on Ford and others not refreshing and updating products. It seems when the domestic manufacturers come up against real competition i.e. Toyota, Honda, and others, they tuck tail and run instead of re-developing their product. I also agree with your commentary that the Ford president doesn't appear to be qualified for the position. I mean, what does a person in the office file cabinet manufacturing business know about car production? Ford should have done what Kia did, that being recruit a real car guy to run their business.

I was recently in the LA and Seattle area and was amazed at the number of foreign makes in those locales and many of those were cars and not trucks and SUV's. The domestic industry better wake up or that wave will overtake the rest of the country and the domestic auto manufacturing industry as we know it will cease to exist.
The Car Pro
Dave, I agree with much of what you say. I was against hiring outside the industry....until Alan Mulally came from Boeing and will go down in history as the best CEO Ford ever had. The current guy doesn't have the track record.

I've just never been big on putting all your eggs in one basket as Ford is doing today. The business is cyclical and doesn't move as quickly as it should.

Time will tell how successful this current CEO is at Ford, but for now, I am glad to be out of the business.

Jerry Reynolds
Dennis Komes
This is not unusual. Many excellent vehicles fall to the wayside because the manufacturers refuse to advertise them and their great assets. I can name many stories over the years, but I will name a few recent ones: Ford is so impressed with being number one in truck sales that they have ignored some great passenger cars and are planning to discontinue the lineup in the near future, Chrysler has all but ignored the Pacifica until recently and as a result the sales have been lagging behind Toyota and Honda when the Pacifica is a good as any Minivan in the market in spite of what the pundits say (in fact, Chrysler is the only minivan with "Stow n Go" seats, a super asset when you need cargo space at a moments notice), manufacturers and dealers are so busy advertising price that they are forgetting to advertise value. When will they all wake up?

The Car Pro
Dennis, I agree. I sing the praises of Pacifica on the air all the time, especially the hybrid. It's wonderful.

Automakers tend to advertise what THEY need to sell and have the biggest profit in, like trucks. It is a short-sighted strategy.

Not sure they'll ever wake up to be honest.

Thanks for weighing in.

Jerry Reynolds
Jerry, I agree completely with your take. I love my Flex. Another down side for Flex owners is that since it is not in demand, depreciation is steep, which means that to trade for a new one does not make sense. Nor does it make sense to trade for another new Ford, even with incentives on other models. Thank you for all you do. Many of us would like to think of you as a sort of friend.
The Car Pro
Anthony, thanks for the kind words. I agree, it's a shame what happened to Flex. I am not giving up on Ford, I think they will reverse direction on some models. Sadly the Flex is gone.

Let me know if I can help you!

Jerry Reynolds