USA Today: Funky 2009 Ford Flex gets its own calling card - Ford Inside News Community
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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-25-2007, 09:43 PM Thread Starter
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USA Today: Funky 2009 Ford Flex gets its own calling card

Funky 2009 Ford Flex gets its own calling card
By Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY


Engineer Gary Boes show off the cards he hands
out to people interested in Ford Flex when Ford
test drives the vehicle.


NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — The new Ford Flex that drove onto the ferry here puzzled skipper Tom White.
"It's coming down the ramp. I'm saying, 'What's going on here?' " said the 20-year-old mariner. "It looks like a Scion on steroids."

Passenger Mary Ann Moore of Sebastopol, Calif., couldn't figure it out either. "It looks like a grown-up Mini Cooper," said Moore, 50.

Flex won't hit showrooms until summer, but Ford (F) engineers are finding they generate buzz for the new model whenever they go on a test trip. To deal with the curious, Flex is the first Ford to get its own calling card.

It's an example of how automakers are trying to build anticipation for new models. They are becoming increasingly bold in letting the public get peeks — or occasionally even the Full Monty — when it comes to vehicles that, in some cases, haven't even launched.

In the case of Flex, which has been seen at auto shows, it's a matter of trying to drum up interest among potential buyers the engineers happen to encounter.

Gary Boes, Flex's chief engineer, says the calling-card idea resulted from having so many customer inquiries on test trips. It just made sense to come up with something to leave with them. On one side is a picture of the 2009 Flex, a squat, squared-off six-passenger crossover with a colored body and white roof. On the other side is the website for the model, www.fordflex.com.

Prototypes of the Flex — the test fleet numbers six — took to the road starting in April for all kinds of testing, from hot weather in Arizona to cold weather in Michigan to stop-and-go driving in Los Angeles.

Flex receives curious looks wherever it goes, Ford says. "Engineers were asking, 'What should I say?' " says Boes, 44, a 20-year Ford veteran. Then along came the cards. By now, the crews have handed out "a few thousand."

Louis Jamail, the vehicle dynamics engineer riding shotgun with Boes, said his encounter with a couple near Ford's proving grounds in the Phoenix area was typical.

Stopped at an intersection, "I heard this 'honk honk honk.' It was a couple in a minivan. They started firing away questions," says Jamail, 32, who has worked at Ford for nine years. "They sounded really interested. They thought it looked really cool."

He gave the couple a card and made sure they knew about the website.

On a winding, six-hour drive through Southern California to see how Flex handled different road surfaces, Boes and Jamail got interested looks and handed out a fistful of the glossy, wallet-size cards.

When the pair, who both work at Ford headquarters in Dearborn, Mich., pulled the Flex into a Shell station in South-Central Los Angeles to fill up, Keith Pichon jumped out of his pickup for a closer look.

"I like it. It'll pass in the city," said Pichon, 38, a tow-truck operator who lives in Los Angeles. Flex "is not too big, not too high in the air." But he recommended, nevertheless, that they consider a sportier version.

Boes and Jamail took note and pointed out some of the features to him, such as the gasoline filler pipe that doesn't need a cap. They made sure he got a card.

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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-25-2007, 09:51 PM
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Re: USA Today: Funky 2009 Ford Flex gets its own calling card

I bet the Flex gets a lot of old people buyers. They seem to go for that Scion look. I think it is more utility than design, but regardless, the old people seem to flock to the xB.

The Flex is a good vehicle (although the power rating has me wondering), but I would not touch it if I were in the market for such. The design is a huge turn-off to me. Leave Scion boxes to Toyota. I guess it is a good thing they are going with polarizing designs though, beats the 500-era blah designs.

That is an excellent idea about handing out cards from the test vehicles.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-26-2007, 01:51 AM
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Re: USA Today: Funky 2009 Ford Flex gets its own calling card

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I bet the Flex gets a lot of old people buyers. They seem to go for that Scion look. I think it is more utility than design, but regardless, the old people seem to flock to the xB.

The Flex is a good vehicle (although the power rating has me wondering), but I would not touch it if I were in the market for such. The design is a huge turn-off to me. Leave Scion boxes to Toyota. I guess it is a good thing they are going with polarizing designs though, beats the 500-era blah designs.

That is an excellent idea about handing out cards from the test vehicles.
More utility than design you say? Or is it function over form? Either way, I think Ford will sell lots of them. As for the power rating, you don't know what that will be yet, but I guarantee you that the power/weight ratio will be much better than GM's latest CUV choices.

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-26-2007, 10:21 AM
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Re: USA Today: Funky 2009 Ford Flex gets its own calling card

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More utility than design you say? Or is it function over form? Either way, I think Ford will sell lots of them. As for the power rating, you don't know what that will be yet, but I guarantee you that the power/weight ratio will be much better than GM's latest CUV choices.
No, you can't guarantee that. The 2009 Lambda's are getting the 3.6L SIDI engine. Not to mention an optional Ultra V8 in the top trims is coming for 2009 model-year as well.

If the current 260 HP/245 lb-ft. of torque holds true, I find it difficult to believe the Flex won't have power issues. This thing will at least weigh as much as the (overweight) Edge/MKX, if not more. Not to mention the cargo-carrying/people hauling capabilities are greater, meaning more realistic weight than the Edge having more people, etc in it.
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Re: USA Today: Funky 2009 Ford Flex gets its own calling card

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No, you can't guarantee that. The 2009 Lambda's are getting the 3.6L SIDI engine. Not to mention an optional Ultra V8 in the top trims is coming for 2009 model-year as well.

If the current 260 HP/245 lb-ft. of torque holds true, I find it difficult to believe the Flex won't have power issues. This thing will at least weigh as much as the (overweight) Edge/MKX, if not more. Not to mention the cargo-carrying/people hauling capabilities are greater, meaning more realistic weight than the Edge having more people, etc in it.
Yes, he can.

1. He is talking about GM current offerings. Not what GM will sell the year after next.
2. He is the one that works at Ford, not you or me.





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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-26-2007, 10:48 AM
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Re: USA Today: Funky 2009 Ford Flex gets its own calling card

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Yes, he can.

1. He is talking about GM current offerings. Not what GM will sell the year after next.
2. He is the one that works at Ford, not you or me.
1. The 3.6L SIDI will be on sale in August 2008. Flex is "Summer 2008," they will be competing from day one Sobe. Both are 2009 model-year vehicles.

2. 245 lb-ft is what it is.
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Re: USA Today: Funky 2009 Ford Flex gets its own calling card

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Originally Posted by _nsap_ View Post
1. The 3.6L SIDI will be on sale in August 2008. Flex is "Summer 2008," they will be competing from day one Sobe. Both are 2009 model-year vehicles.

2. 245 lb-ft is what it is.
The Duratec 30 made 200HP for the Five Hundred and 221HP for the Fusion. The base of what you are saying is "If the current 260 HP/245 lb-ft. of torque holds true". That remains to be seen, therefore I can't help but to keep all of this conversation in the real of pure speculation and treat it as such.





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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-26-2007, 12:01 PM
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Re: USA Today: Funky 2009 Ford Flex gets its own calling card

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The Duratec 30 made 200HP for the Five Hundred and 221HP for the Fusion. The base of what you are saying is "If the current 260 HP/245 lb-ft. of torque holds true". That remains to be seen, therefore I can't help but to keep all of this conversation in the real of pure speculation and treat it as such.
Just like I hold wingnut's comments as pure speculation.

It would be nice if Ford would not beat around the bush with their power ratings. We heard the same with the MKS power ratings, but it is sounding like the 270 number is staying on it.

Unless Ford really pulls a fast one, I don't see how the Flex can meet the 2009 Lambda's in power (295+ HP), unless they put DI on it.
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Re: USA Today: Funky 2009 Ford Flex gets its own calling card

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Just like I hold wingnut's comments as pure speculation.

It would be nice if Ford would not beat around the bush with their power ratings. We heard the same with the MKS power ratings, but it is sounding like the 270 number is staying on it.

Unless Ford really pulls a fast one, I don't see how the Flex can meet the 2009 Lambda's in power (295+ HP), unless they put DI on it.
I love how I mention power/weight ratio, and you simply talk power.

Regardless of final HP and final engine choice, the Flex weighs many hundreds less. That equates to a better ratio.

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 12-26-2007, 12:12 PM Thread Starter
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Re: USA Today: Funky 2009 Ford Flex gets its own calling card

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Originally Posted by _nsap_ View Post
It would be nice if Ford would not beat around the bush with their power ratings. We heard the same with the MKS power ratings, but it is sounding like the 270 number is staying on it.
How does it sounds like that?





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