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The production version of the Ford Fairlane concept is named the Flex, and the Blue Oval will pull the wraps off this key new vehicle at the New York Auto Show in two weeks. The Flex joins a Ford crossover lineup that includes the newly restyled and renamed Taurus X and, of course, the Edge. The Flex, however, is essentially Ford's minivan replacement. Unlike the Edge, it features three-row seating and opposite-opening side doors (basically big suicide doors, just like the ones seen on the Fairlane). Of course, the "minivan" look is radioactive these days unless you're the Chrysler Group, and Ford thinks it's got a winner in the Flex, which will appeal to families who want minivan utility and space, but not the stodgy appearance. The other domestics are ready with competition -- GM with its GMC Acadia, Saturn Outlook, and Buick Enclave, and Chrysler with the new Town & Country and Dodge Caravan (and the Pacifica, lest we forget).

According to Dow Jones Newswires, dealers who've seen the crossover are very enthused and Ford's looking to hit a sales volume of 100,000 units for the family-friendly hauler starting in 2008. Naturally, the Flex will spawn a Lincoln version as well (it won't be at NY), and if it finds the same level of popularity and acceptance as the Fusion and Edge, well, this whole Way Forward thing is going to start looking pretty good. We eagerly await seeing the Flex in person, and will report back once we've climbed all over it at the Javits Center.

UPDATE: The whole French Doors/Suicide Doors thing is in question, as the Detroit News says the Flex has regular doors. We've contacted Ford, requesting a clarification. We'll let you know what they say.

UPDATE 2: Pointed out in the comments: Multiple Blue Oval News commenters emphatically state, "No!" on the French/Suicide doors, and that community is usually a reliable source of information. This is basically confirmed in Bold Moves episode 15 (thanks to commenter Martin for reminding us). For its part, Ford must be enjoying this, as the response we got from acompany spokesperson was, " All I can say is that one of them is wrong." Indeed, and it looks like the wrong one is Dow Jones. Too bad.

Thanks for the tip, JuanTan!

[Source: Dow Jones Newswires via CNN Money]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      Maybe both reports are correct....sort of.

      It's possible that Ford designed the vehicle in a way that the Ford version will have "front hinged" doors and the Lincoln will have "rear hinged" doors. Kinda like a refrigerator that allows for either left hand or right hand opening on the same unit. That would allow FoMoCo to really differentiate the two without a lot of extra cost.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Suicide doors will hurt. First there's the name--not kid friendly. Then, as #4 notes, they're awful in parking lots and not suited for frequent use.

      I've yet to warm to the look of the concept, but am eager to see the concept. I'm starting to wish I'd planned on NYC.

      Can someone get inside right after the presentation (when they let the press do such things), and report back on legroom, seat height off the floor, seat comfort, and why anyone would buy this inside of a Lambda?

      • 8 Years Ago
      The "name game" is one of the profound indicators of the inferiority of domestics. Honda & Toyota are not foolish enough to believe the name means much.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Com'on first everybody was complaining becaue it was named the Fairlane. Now everyone hates the new name who cares as long as its appealing!
      • 8 Years Ago
      To those who say that the Flex name is hip and somehow better:

      This is supposed to be the minivan replacement. Who drives family-haulers? Soccer moms! Not hipsters. I'd wager that that particular demographic would me more drawn to a name like "Fairlane" over "Flex" any day.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Flex?!! Thats the stupidest name i've ever heard. A new low. What kind of idiot comes up with these ideas. Even Honda would touch that name.

      That vehicle certainly doesn't look like a "Flex" either. Is that car for people who like to flex their sweaty muscles?
      • 8 Years Ago
      "The problem here is there is too much of a similarity to the Mark III Full size Range Rover. The front end looks too roverish."

      No one stepping foot on a Ford lot is even thinking about Range Rover or vice versa.
      • 8 Years Ago
      The problem here is there is too much of a similarity to the Mark III Full size Range Rover. The front end looks too roverish.

      • 8 Years Ago
      Good catch Martin! I watched the video, and it looks like it won't have suicide doors.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I heard that a 600-HP GT500KR Mustang is going to be at New York. Along with Fusion and Milan Hybrid. Maybe Mazda 6.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Michael, Ford officially calls them "French Doors." As for their utility (or lack thereof, more specifically) in a parking lot, I'm skeptical.

      If they aren't minivan owners, most drivers tend to do just fine in lots with traditionally-hinged doors. Plenty of families do it with SUVs today, anyway. I guess we'll know better once we physically open the door to climb in and out.

      Hamud, it is greenlit. The Flex is the production car.
      • 8 Years Ago
      EARTH TO FORD! 1. Produce this thing with the name fairlane. old ford names are awesome, they give the brand character. Lincoln's sedan should be called the Zephyr, not the (uber-boring) MKZ. 2. Build it with the suicide doors. You can bitch all you want about the lack of structural integrity without the b pillar, but it'll give the car CHARACTER, the one thing the ford brand could really use to draw in some buyers.
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