• Apr 10, 2007
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]


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  • 39 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      Tom,

      What's the difference between them having the Focus Wagon, Escape, Taurus Wagon, Windstar/Freestar, Explorer, and Expedition. Six utility type vehicles.

      Now they have Escape (base small utility), Edge (upscale small utility), Taurus X (base large wagon), Flex (minivan replacement/upscale wagon), Explorer (real towing capability in a small SUV), and Expedition (large SUV). Six utility type vehicles.

      Which lineup do you prefer? All of the Japanese fanboys rip on them for badge engineering (which the Japanese do quite well also), when they create a lineup of truely unique vehicles you rip on them for having too many of the same vehicle.

      Next question- how many different utility vehicles does Toyota have? Rav4, Highlander, Sequoia, FJ Cruiser, Sienna, 4 Runner, Land Cruiser. That's seven and they're planning another CUV to be built in the Camry plant, that would be eight.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I do applaude Ford for seeing the appeal in Scion xB type styling with a Mini Cooper white roof!
      • 7 Years Ago
      I've been back and forth on sliding doors. When my daughter was an infant, I didn't want them because I hated the noise they make when they closed. That rumble of the rollers followed by a fairly loud slam just seemed too abrupt for such little ears. Then again, maybe I just watched too many prison movies.

      So I got a minivan with swing-open doors (Isuzu Oasis). But now that my kids operate the doors themselves, the third row is now often occupied by their friends, and my Saab sits next to it in the garage, sliding doors suddenly seem like a really good idea.

      Still, Ford was wise to go with conventional swing-opens. Right or wrong, sliding doors would have cast it as just a squared-off minivan, where it would be compared strictly with other minivans and have to compete with them on their turf.

      It's best positioned as a cross-over where the comparison metrics are a little more fluid.

      I hope it does well.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I dont have kids, yet I like it. A versatile on-road people carrier without the outward frugality of a Scion xB or the dorkiness of a minivan.

      Sort of like a nicer and better-looking HHR or PT Cruiser.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I certainly think that Ford did a good job with the design, and conventional doors complete the look. I have never been a big fan of Ford minivans (or most of their products over the past decade), but this Flex is awsome. I would prefer a Flex over any minivan on the market, and most all mid-sized SUVs. Great job Ford!
      • 7 Years Ago
      Karesh nailed it. Auto show and focus group attendees responded positively to the concept Fairlane's feature set. Marketing the car without a key feature prejudices its success.



      • 7 Years Ago
      This is going to be a sales flop. Its trying to be something that people dont want.. much like the Pacifica.. segment buster my a$$.

      This is much bigger than a Pacifica, thats why it will succeed where the Pacifica failed. Many people liked it but the Pacifica is quite small on the inside.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Most of the vehicles in the world have hinged doors...I don't see anyone asking for them to be outlawed because some stupid kid will swing it open and hit something.
      • 7 Years Ago
      The Honda Odyssey returns.
      Jim Gilliland
      • 7 Years Ago
      correction...And for all the people acting like the minivan is a dying segment, it's not. There are still over a million minivans sold each year, with Chrysler selling around 400K of them.

      • 7 Years Ago
      If this is so, why was chrysler able to put a fridge in the dodge grand caravan? or 2 8" dvd screens? Etc.

      Also, how are the people in the third row going to see the DVD screen? if they are sitting outboard, then they will have to lean inwards to see around the captains chairs. Most of the people who will be sitting back there will be small.
      HotRodzNKustoms
      • 7 Years Ago
      I think what they mean about not having sliding doors allowing them those other features all comes back to developement costs, tooling costs, and assembly costs, not so much the costs of the features themselves. Sliding doors are fairly unconventional, complex, and today's soccer mom is so lazy she must have both of them to be powered. That is expensive!
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