Click above to view high-res gallery of the Ford Flex

The classic idea of aerodynamics gives rise to mental pictures of vehicles shaped like a smooth suppository. Reality turns out to be different, thankfully. Cars like the Ford Flex may appear weighty and as slippery to the wind as a barn while actually sliding through the atmosphere far more gracefully than one might guess. Aerodynamics studies by all automakers have led to the startling discovery that vehicles like the squared-off Flex actually manage their airflow quite well, thank you, and sanding off the corners hinders, rather than helps.

It's the same over at Toyota where they're calling strategically-placed folds "aerocorners." While it's long been held that a teardrop shape is the most aerodynamic, that's not necessarily the case and a droplet-shaped vehicle isn't terribly practical; just try to put that armoire in your first-gen Honda Insight. The worry that all cars will look the same when aerodynamicists start to take over is unfounded, as discoveries in the wind tunnel show that things aren't always as they appear, and there's plenty of room for uncommon design to still cheat the wind.

[Source: NYT]

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