By Nauman Farooq
Back in 2008, Ford launched a new crossover that was very different from any other crossover on sale. Some called it a mega-sized Mini, while some called it a modern day interpretation of the old woody wagon. Its maker called it the Flex.
It was based on the Ford Fairlane concept from 2005, and after seeing the positive reaction the concept created, Ford decided to put it in production.
The name change might have lead to a change of heart for the buying public, because the Flex is the slowest selling mass-produced Ford product in the company’s 109-year history.
Despite the low sales, Ford seems committed to the Flex, and hence is offering a revised version for 2013. Will the changes convince more customers to buy a Flex? That only time will tell, but what we can tell you now is if the changes make it a better vehicle than the Flex used to be.
NEW GRILLE, SAME BOXY LOOK
We’ll begin with the styling. Look at it from the back or the side and you’ll be very hard pressed to notice any differences. The one big clue to look out for from the back is to spot the placement of the Ford badge; it used to be in the middle of the tailgate and now it’s towards the bottom right-hand corner of the lift-gate.
From the front, the differences are much easier to spot. The 2013 Ford Flex gets a completely new nose job, with new grilles and headlights. Gone is the Ford blue oval logo from the grille. Instead, the letters F-L-E-X are displayed proudly above the grille – a style Ford introduced in 2011 on the high-grade Titanium model.
Changes to the interior make a notable difference. Gone is the ugly four-spoke steering wheel, replaced by a much nicer three-spoke design. Look through the steering wheel and you’ll find completely new gauges (which are similar to the ones found in the Ford Fusion Hybrid, minus the Hybrid drive-train readout). With the speedometer right smack in the middle it is now much easier to keep an eye on your speed - not that that’s of much concern with the Flex.
MYFORD TOUCH EASIER TO USE
The center dashboard is completely different also. You now get a larger, clearer screen with the updated MyFord Touch and navigation software, plus all the raised buttons are replaced by soft touch buttons. The look is certainly clean, but it does take a lot of getting used to. Gone is the satisfaction of pressing a button with a reassuring ‘click’ signaling it has engaged the function you’ve requested.
These new flat-panel buttons might be easy for someone who is in their teens and spend all day playing on the iPad, but when was the last time you saw a teen go out and buy a Flex? The age demographic for the Ford Flex is understandably high, and we think some of its more mature customers might be turned off by the new layouts complexity.
What buyer’s won’t be turned off by is the interior space. This is a seven-passenger vehicle that can quite reasonably carry seven adults. So if you want the practicality of a minivan but want something that looks cooler, the Flex is it.
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