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We had the opportunity to sit in a dark maroon Ford Flex at the Dolby booth for a demonstration of their 7.1 Surround Sound system they've developed with the Blue Oval, and the first thing I notice is the super-nice croc-print leather seats beneath me. Michael Becker, Dolby's Global Marketing Director, says something like, "Oh, yeah. This is Funkmaster Flex's Flex." So don't look for the sweet, lizard-like leather on the production version.

But we weren't actually at the Dolby booth to ogle celeb-designed cars, we were there to listen to them.

Becker says one of the premium audio options in the upcoming non-Funkmasterized Flex will be the Sony system we heard with 12 speakers and 7.1 surround sound. With 375 watts it's an awesome-sounding system, especially for what is essentially a station wagon. We can assure you, your parents' Vista Cruiser never sounded this good.

Which brings up the question, "Why put such a high-end sound system in a family car?" So Dolby's Becker demonstrated. If you want to retain some of the premium sound, but still keep the kids asleep in back, use the touch-screen fader to move the sound up front. In most cars, that would have produced sound a little better than a pocket-sized transistor radio. But the Flex's system retains Dolby 5.1 for the front system or the rear if the fader is moved towards the back. This means the sound is still far ahead of that Vista Cruiser, and probably better than what you're driving now.

We can't wait to see how this sounds with real-world noise outside instead of within the crowds of CES-goers. Speaking of which, Becker said the Flex had attracted major attention from show-goers, with one even way overestimating the list price above $100k. It's nice, but not that nice. As if to demonstrate what he meant, while in the car demonstrating the sound system, we had to lock the doors to keep out the curious, even with the car roped off. Possibly a very good sign for Ford's Flex.



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  • 14 Comments
      • 7 Years Ago
      The Flex is going to be a success for Ford. When shown at the Detroit Auto Show (as the Fairlane) and in the more recent consumer groups, this vehicle has had overwhelming feedback. Automotive News reported that since it's unveiling at the 05 Detroit Auto Show, this vehicle has had the most web-hits of any "show-car" at large-scale car shows and was named "most asked about" vehicle in '05. It is different and at first you either love it or hate it, but eventually it grows on you and if you are a buyer in that segment, Ford has hit the nail right on the head.
        • 7 Years Ago
        The Flex might have been interesting in 2005 but this is 2008. Having just been a buyer in this segment I have to say that I can't see the Flex being competitive but that may just be me. This thing is so homely and such a hooptie (in my opinion) I can't imagine anyone seriously considering it as a purchase. Of course people bought the Aztec so who knows.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Well, there goes my retirement check if it depends on the UGLY Ford Flex! This vehicle is the ugliest spud I’ve seen since the Aztec and it market acceptance or lack thereof should be equal to its looks. All I want to know is who the heck is Ford using for its focus groups these days? Cross-eyed monkeys? Or maybe they are using Harvard or MIT graduate students who know nothing of what us car loving everyday folks want in a vehicle. Yes, quality, reliability, functionality and gosh – something that looks good too.

      A Ford Retiree
      • 7 Years Ago
      Yet another big station wagon/SUV thing while their sole contender in the U.S. small car space is the Focus. Sad. And the Fusion? Nice but not really competitive. The saddest part is there's probably a room full of execs in Dearborn scratching their heads in response to yet another year of declining sales.
      • 7 Years Ago
      People...it's a station wagon. Or, if it helps it sell better...it is a longer Scion xB. I for one, think this "box on wheels" fad is over. Scion started it in 2004 and for 2008, redesigned their xB to have much softer edges. Ford is still stuck in 2004 with their xB...err...Flex.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Looks like Cooper's upcoming SUV.
      I'm not a fan of the Flex.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Well, yes, I do have 3 kids a dog, wife, kids' friends, kids' grandparents...etc.
        • 7 Years Ago
        nor should you be, unless you have 2.6 kids, and a dog. the fact is, the people "in" this buying segment are serious consumers and they LOVE it. It addresses the mini-van issue without having to be seen in a mini-van. It's the future of the "people mover".
      • 7 Years Ago
      @ PeterL: +1

      @ Shawn: It's not about music and driving. It's about music, driving, kids and cell phone all at once! Because we all need to be better "multi-taskers." Add my ex-wife's penchant for talking with her hands and repulsion of technology (eg. a bluetooth headset) and you have the average American driver's recipe for disaster and driving up my insurance costs.
      • 7 Years Ago
      There was so many people asking the engineers, testing the Flex on the streets, about the car that they created a calling card with the website and some info.

      I think that, to those that need, this is a great car
      • 7 Years Ago
      If you can't handle listening to music and driving, you shouldn't be driving. Music is a lot less of a distraction than children in your car.
      • 7 Years Ago
      No matter how much I try, I can't bring myself to like the Flex. I've seen them on the road (in pre-production trim) here in Detroit and I just can't see it being a success. Not so much a knock on Ford, but more so on the Flex. I would take a Taurus X every time over this.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I think you're in the minority. This is definitely a big step up from minivans and not as tacky as an SUV. I don't think too many people finds Taurus X appealing because it is designed with as a compromised SUV. Flex is more of an enhenced minivan. Plus it is supposed to get EcoBoost (whatever they call it...I like Twin Force better).
        • 7 Years Ago
        I'm with you on the Taurus X. The Freestyle/TaurusX was a great car but failed primarily because it was not SUV-ish enough. Personally I really liked it though. People in this segment want something that looks like an SUV, not a wagon or a minivan. Unfortunately Ford will repeat that mistake with the Flex as it has the same fatal "I'm really a station wagon pimped to try to look hip and cool" look to it. Being a Gen X'er with 3 kids a dog and a cat, I can't imagine me or anyone I know driving something that looks like that.
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