Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Ford Families Get Glimpse of New Flex

Ford has put a strong focus on family-friendly vehicles in recent years, and those efforts will be on full display when the refreshed 2013 Ford Flex crossover debuts at the LA Auto Show, which is taking place from November 18-27. Sporting a sleeker front-end design, an upgraded engine and intuitive in-car technology, the automaker expects the Flex to be an enticing choice when it reaches Ford dealerships next year.

Ford has further refined both the exterior and interior design of the boxy 2013 Ford Flex, adding a more modern front end that replaces the previous three-bar grille with a single chrome band flanked by futuristic headlights. Inside, the Flex receives new gauge clusters and electronic finish panels, revised seat trims and a new steering wheel. The crossover also remains the only vehicle in its class to offer a second-row refrigerated console to keep kids’ juice boxes cold.

“There’s nothing else like the Flex on the market,” said Alan Melkonian, owner and general manager of Massachusetts Ford dealer Stoneham Ford. “It’s stylishly boxy, which means it looks modern while maintaining the impressive amount of space needed to accommodate large families and their belongings.”

Under the 2013 Flex’s quirky exterior lies an upgraded base V6 engine that produces 20-more horsepower than the previous unit thanks to independent variable camshaft timing. Putting out 285 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque, the new V6 is also more fuel efficient than its predecessor, netting a one mpg increase for a projected 25-mpg rating on the highway with front-wheel drive. Plus, there is an all-wheel-drive system available for families looking to conquer Massachusetts’ wintry roads, as well as an available EcoBoost V6 engine that produces 355 horsepower for parents that prefer the fast lane.

While fuel-efficient performance is a big part of the Flex equation, technology doesn’t take a back seat. The 2013 Flex will come with an updated version of SYNC with MyFord Touch, Ford’s comprehensive infotainment system. The new system is easier to use thanks to simplified menus and controls that can open up access to a suite of internet apps when connected to a Bluetooth-enabled smartphone.

Of course, any proper family vehicle has to pass muster when it comes to safety, and the Ford Flex has the technology to keep all seven passengers safe. New features include available radar-enabled adaptive cruise control, collision warning with brake support and the Blind Spot Information System with cross-traffic alert. The second row of seats also now incorporates Ford’s innovative inflatable seatbelts, which can greatly reduce the chance of injury in an accident.

“Safety is of utmost importance when it comes to Ford’s family vehicles,” Melkonian noted. “The Flex is the second vehicle to feature Ford’s inflatable seatbelts, a feature that won a Breakthrough Product Award from Popular Mechanics. Flex buyers can rest assured that their family is safe in the back seats.”

Ford has been working to prevent injury to vehicle occupants even when there is no accident involved. The 2013 Ford Escape will feature lighter, more comfortable seats that are designed to prevent back pain from frequent driving. The next-generation Escape will also debut at the LA Auto Show.