One of the criteria that doesn't make Ford's new Flex a minivan is its lack of sliding rear doors. Instead, the production version of the Flex gets traditional swing doors, unlike its concept inspiration, the Fairlane, which allowed rear passengers to enter via a set of suicide doors.

The move to nix the sliding doors wasn't so much for aesthetics as it was an opportunity to reduce costs. According to J Mays, the extra cash saved by using a traditional hinge setup allowed the automaker to invest in higher-grade leather, more luxurious interior materials, the glass roof, an 8-inch DVD and even an optional fridge.

While all those things aren't present just because of door selection, they allow the Flex to offer more features not traditionally associated with the benign people movers. So be sure to thank both Mays and Ford's beancounters when you're able to pacify the kiddies with a cold drink and Shrek on DVD.

[Source: Autoweek]