Tuned In: Ford Flex Car Show (Luckie Lounge, ATL)

Ford Motor Company is not an organization that immediately

springs to mind when you envision cutting edge or innovative products. But with

their new “crossover” the Ford Flex, the multinational corporation seeks to

gain ground it has lost in the past year to competitors General Motors and Toyota.

First introduced at the North American International Auto

Show in 2005, the Flex made its debut in June. So far, the response has been

mixed. While some people love the design, others are turned off by the compact

frame despite the ample space.

According to Flex Marketing and Communications Manager Usha

Raghavachari, that’s exactly what her company hoped for.

“When you look at the Flex it has an unexpected design,

definitely coming from Ford,” Raghavachari explained to AllHipHop.com. “We

wanted our marketing to be just as unexpected as the vehicle. The advertising

really celebrates the vehicle itself. We did originally have a target audience, but we went to California and saw young college guys saying ‘wow that’s really cool,’ and then got the same response from soccer moms in Chicago. So we focused on not having people in the advertising to prevent any

preconceived notions.”

With a national launch scheduled for September, Raghavachari

is not worried that there have been some negative feedback from the market

research done so far.

“When they (consumers) experience it in the flesh they have

an amazing, emotional reaction,” she reasons. “People either loved it or hated

it and that’s great, our designers loved that. It means you’re not vanilla. If

everyone goes ‘eh, that’s nice,’ it’s like a death knell and you don’t want


With a height of just over 5’8”, the Flex exterior carries

distinctive “grooves” on its side panels which serve as a signature identifier

for the vehicle. Each side is equipped with four parallel grooves to give an

elongated but horizontal image.

The fortified shoulders and salient wheel arches help

maintain the car’s compact look over the standard 18-inch tires. Also available

are 19 and 20-inch chrome-effect, painted aluminum wheels.

The contemporary, seven seat interior features an adjustable

footrest for second seat passengers to enjoy a business-class comfort rarely seen

in todayss SUVs and crossovers. The second and third row seats also fall flat

to create storage space as needed.

The interior program has “mood lighting” available in seven colors. Other entertainment amenities include SIRIUS Satellite Radio, CD/DVD, hard drive storage (music/pictures). But even more important is the “quiet ride” the vehicle supplies. On a test drive, one will find the car remarkably quiet due to a technology called Multi Activation Regression Simulation (MARS), which balances the different sounds coming into the Flex from the powertrain, wind, and road.

Chief engineer Gary Boes worked on Flex from its inception three years ago until completion, and feels strongly that Ford has presented a great product for consumers.

“We used something called the Global Product Development

System, it’s the first time we’ve used it,” Boes explains. “It really helped us

with the discipline of delivering the car. We’ve really taken the idea that we

wanted an emotive exterior design, which we didn’t have before. We wanted to

have all the features but still be comfortable and quiet to ride. Those simple

pillars are kinda new to us. Flex demonstrates all those capabilities.”

Popular DJ Funkmaster Flex endorses the vehicle and even brought out a sleek, red, customized version of the car for media. Asked why he’s endorsing a product that may be seen as a gamble, Funk Flex explains it was the complete package and presentation of the vehicle.

“I guarantee you won’t go more than four blocks without

someone asking you about it,” Flex assured. “Of course safety is important,

features etc and the Flex has all that. But first can you look cool in it? With

the Flex you definitely can. It’s a very smooth ride.”

The Manufacturer’s Starting Retail Price (MSRP) is $28, 295.

For more information, visit www.fordvehicles.com/crossovers/flex