The Ford Flex was the last truly fun vehicle on the market
On Monday morning, I awoke to find one of the saddest Car and Driver articles in recent history come across my news feed. Ford had finally announced that the Flex was discontinued. While several outlets were quick to jump on the bandwagon of simply announcing the death of the Flex, no one touched on how sterile the market has become, and how automakers are continuing to trim fat from their lineups. The Flex got the axe this week, and the news was quickly swept away by the press embargo on the GT500 being lifted, and while I am relatively excited about the GT500, I am still uneasy about the Flex's passing.
First off, how dare you, Ford.
In a crossover demanding market, all the Flex needed was a new name and a tasteful set of plastic fender flares, and you could've called it the Taurus X or something, and brought it in line with your crossover-only lineup. This would've given Subaru Outback buyers a proper 7-passenger alternative, that costs about the same as well.
That also doesn't excuse the severe lack of advertising for the Flex either, with the exception of a handful of commercials for pre-facelift models, there was no major advertising for the Flex, which probably explains the relatively slow sales figures.
You managed to take a three-row SUV and made it sell worse than the Kia Sephia did. A genuine laughing stock of the industry, managed to outsell an incredibly practical crossover, and Ford just carried on as if nothing happened, while the Flex and MKT faded into obsolescence.
Was it all worth it?
I'm sat here wondering what other vehicle exists out in there in the world for the sole purpose of being quirky and interesting, and with the exception of MAYBE the Kia Soul, I can't think of anything. The industry at this point has become so focused on being competitive, that there is no room for models that exist for fun anymore. When the Flex was introduced, Ford was on a mission to make their lineup all start with F (Fiesta, Focus, Fusion, Flex, Five Hundred, Freestyle, etc.) and the Flex was meant to be a quirky and retro wagon, but it was also supposed to carry the Fairlane name, and I can't help but think that it should've maintained that name.
"A Flex by any other name be just as spacious and sporty." - Shakespeare....kind of.
Even the high horsepower muscle cars and trucks of the world exist for the sole purpose of one upping each other, and there's a lack of heart in that. Dodge at this point has been reduced to selling you a V8-powered midlife crisis, while GM is just trying to get through the week without having a major recall, and I can't help but feel like the Flex was sort of this beacon, this icon of the industry's past.
It's like when you see a PT Cruiser or an HHR on the road, and after you laugh to yourself about how terrible they are, you're left with a weaker, more vulnerable thought about when the industry was more innocent, and more enjoyable.
"BuT tHe FlEx WaS sO dUmB"
So was the Kia Soul until it started selling 100,000+ units a year. The Flex fit right in with its big slab sides and boxy design language. I will never forget sitting in one at the New York Auto Show in 2016, and being absolutely amazed by the amount of interior space and that's when I vowed that I would own a Flex Ecoboost, in all black. While I have yet to make that dream into a reality, my time to achieve this dream, just became THAT much more limited.
That's the other thing, in a world of $4.00 gallons of gasoline and the SUV craze beginning to really sink its teeth into the market, Ford launched the Flex Ecoboost, which was a 355 horsepower (at the time) middle finger to the world. In a world of hybrid this, and fuel-sipping that, Ford slammed twin turbos under the hood of something with the aerodynamics of a brick. It was pure
So enjoy the scrapyard in the sky, buddy. Thanks for the memories.
The industry has a lot to learn from niche vehicles like you, and as the market turns towards crossovers, and lifted station wagons come back into popularity as sedan buyers are left stranded in American dealerships, a bunch of clueless men in suits will pull up a picture of you and say, "Why didn't we refresh this instead of selling ______?" That's when you'll get to laugh from the great big scrapyard in the sky, and your triumphant return will begin. Until then, rest easy, you utterly perfect vehicle.
There's no sense in asking if you're as upset about the Flex being discontinued, because if you made it this far, you are, so comment below about your fondest Flex memories.