2011 Ford Flex spy shots: click above for high-res image gallery

During a rainy and wind-whipped drive home this weekend, we happened upon a foursome of Ford prototypes – one 2011 Lincoln MKX towing a trailer and a trio of Ford Flex crossovers. But unlike the stock-appearing MKX, the trio of Flex EcoBoost models looked different to us, even from a distance. Upon closing in and getting a few frustrating iPhone shots, we decided to speed ahead of the group, pull into a safe lay-by, race to retrieve a SLR camera from the trunk of our long-term Subaru Legacy 2.5GT, and get back in pursuit in hopes of some higher-quality shots – the results of which you see here.

As confirmed by an Autoblog source within Ford, the Flex will receive a new-for-2011 trim level that includes the stealthy alterations seen here: A blacked-out roof (currently, customers can spec a body-color panel, white or gray) and greenhouse, smoked headlamps and taillamps, as well as striking black trim panels and a set of new five-spoke wheels. Perhaps most interestingly, this special Flex receives a carbon-finish grille with the Blue Oval badge deleted. In its stead are big blacked-out letters spelling out F-L-E-X on the hood's leading edge – not unlike some of the company's recent SEMA concepts from Funkmaster Flex and Chip Foose.

Our source informs us that the model will be available in four colors, three of which we spotted: Red Candy, White Platinum, Ingot Silver, and a particularly menacing black model that will feature blacked-out wheels, black chrome moldings, and black mirror scullcaps. The new model will build atop the current Limited trim and be available in both normally aspirated and EcoBoost flavors.

We're not yet sure what the new variant will be called, but here in the States, top trim levels have been dubbed 'Platinum,' while 'Titanium' is the association of choice in Europe, and we're betting on one of those two designations.

Ford's unconventional Flex arguably ambled out of the gate when it was introduced for 2008, but the CUV has been picking up steam as of late, with familiarity seemingly building fondness among consumers. From where we sit, the model's sales improvement is somewhat predictable as the Flex has received a warm reception from critics, and has likely served to blunt the impact of its controversial design. Either way, the new-for-2011 model should go some way toward accelerating the acceptance process when it speeds into showrooms this summer.

Photos by Chris Paukert / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.

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