RIP Ford Flex: The retro-inspired wagon that refused to conform (finally) meets its demise

Ford Flex production has wrapped up.

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

When it debuted in 2008, the Ford Flex was cute and fun, a reminder of the possibilities of unique car design in an era where sedans were similar, and crossovers were just starting to grab a foothold.

Ford never sold a lot of Flexes; around 272,000 total in the last 11 years. Toyota sold that many RAVs in the first 6.5 months of 2019. But it did earn a tremendous following of owners who loved their Flex.

2005 Ford Fairlane ConceptBefore the Flex came to market as a 2009 model, it was shown in 2005 as a concept called the Fairlane.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Why did they love it? The space. The Ford Flex was one few vehicles without Subaru badging that tall adults could comfortably sit in. Its retro interior was fun to look at, with unique detailing in the same way as what is in the modern Mini Cooper.

Its three rows meant that owners had room for their kids and stuff without feeling like they absolutely had to invest in a large SUV or minivan.

2013 Ford FlexIts earliest years were the most popular for the Flex. This model is a 2013. Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

On top of it all, the Flex's styling was unique.

"Flex broke the mold. It had both crossover and minivan elements in a hip, trendy package that stood out from what was becoming a really boring minivan segment," said Chris Kessler, Ford Flex marketing manager. "Its design traced its roots to the traditional family station wagons that many of our customers remember growing up with, but it brought forward modern sport/utility design elements and features both parents and kids loved."

2019 Ford FlexThe Ford Flex will end production with the 2019 model year.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

Ford announced the model's abbreviated timeline well in advance of this final production notice.

The Flex was assembled at Ford's Oakville Assembly Complex in Ontario, Canada. The plant currently produces the Ford Edge and Lincoln Nautilus. By halting production of the Flex, Ford is one step closer to announcing its forthcoming electrified models. The company had previously announce that they are is aiming to replace 75 percent of its current portfolio by the end of 2020.

Michael Martinez of Automotive News reported today that Ford will lay off 450 workers in Canada as part of the stoppage.

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Lincoln will not make a performance variant to compete with Cadillac.


TheLincoln Navigator and Cadillac Escalade have been duking it out at the top of luxury SUV rankings for decades, but there’s one area of the Caddy’s development that Lincoln won’t touch. In a recent interview, a company executive told Ford Authority that it has no plans to create a performance variant of the Navigator to compete with the upcoming Escalade V from Cadillac.

2022 Lincoln NavigatorThe new Navigator features several upscale touches and excellent tech. Lincoln

That means the Navigator will stick with the powertrain it’s carried for years, which is a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine that makes 440 horsepower and 510 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a smooth ten-speed automatic and either rear- or four-wheel drive. While there’s more than enough power to get the hulking Lincoln moving, it’s not a powertrain that inspires excitement or engagement, and though beefy, it’s tuned much more for comfort and quietness than drama.

Though more than adequate, those specs are a far cry from the numbers we expect from the Escalade V. The full-size bruiser from Cadillac is expected to get a supercharged 6.2-liter V8, similar to the unit seen in the CT5-V Blackwing and Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. We don’t know power numbers yet, but the engine should deliver horsepower and torque numbers in the high 600s.

Cadillac Escalade VThe Escalade V will be massively powerful. Cadillac

That Lincoln is taking a different approach isn’t surprising. The automaker has already announced its intention to go all-electric, so pouring more time and resources into creating a performance gas-powered SUV isn’t in line with its goals. Company executives have also expressed a desire to avoid imitating rivals, so the decision to leave a performance Navigator behind is not surprising.

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First-year Ford F-150 Lightning production numbers doubled

Ford has begun serial production of the new F-150 Lightning electric pickup truck, marking what could be one of the most important days in recent automotive history. The first trucks rolled off the assembly line at Ford's Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Michigan today, so America's best-selling truck has finally gone electric. Ford wants to sell two million EVs per year by 2026 and have half of its global sales volume to be electric by 2030.

Ford F-150 LightningPast meets future: Ford's new electric pickup will be the F-150

Ford has seen extreme demand for the trucks, with 200,000 reservations since the books opened. To deliver, the automaker plans to increase production to an annual rate of 150,000 units by next year, which involved huge investments in the Rouge Center and created hundreds of jobs. Ford's total investment for the F-150 Lightning crests $1 billion across Michigan alone, and has created 1,700 jobs across various facilities in the state.

Ford F-150 LightningThe first production trucks left the factory today.
Ford Motor Company

Though the Lightning starts around $40,000, the most mainstream models will cost much more than that. The F-150 Lightning Pro, while affordable, is a stripped-down truck intended for commercial buyers. It's still a forward-looking electric truck with amazing capabilities, but it lacks much of the creature comforts and features that everyday drivers expect. Higher trims get the latest driver assistance features, including BlueCruise, which is Ford's semi-autonomous hands-free driving assistant. A 12-inch touchscreen is standard, along with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, navigation, a Wi-Fi hotspot, and more.

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