Ford Fairlane

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]