Ford "Flexes" The Truth In Releases About New Crossover

By Kevin Miller

05.30.2008

Ford issued a press release earlier this week whose title in the email string screams “FORD FLEX’S DESIGN HELPS CUT DRY CLEANING BILLS”. The release declares that the new Flex crossover is “the world’s first trouser- and dress-friendly vehicle.” They even provided photos of peoples’ clean legs stepping in to a dirty Flex.

The press release goes on to describe that the Flex team engineered a concealed rocker panel into the new vehicle. Ford designers stretched the width of the Flex to wrap around the sill, bringing the step-in area inboard for much easier access by passengers. In combination with the hidden rocker, the Flex door was designed to wrap under the sill, effectively sealing out the elements. With some dry cleaners charging as much as $10 to launder a pair of slacks, the practical Flex design has an immediate and tangible benefit. Really, the Ford press release discusses dry cleaning prices. And now I am.

“The clever design minimizes your clothes’ exposure to the elements. There’s no sill area where dirt usually collects.” said Rich Gresens, Flex chief designer. “We approached the Flex design with one idea in mind: create a vehicle that appeals to customers wanting an exciting alternative people mover. Hidden rockers, refrigerators and tailored leather interiors are just a few examples of how we deliver.”

Such a design is quite clever indeed. And perhaps it is an industry first for crossover vehicles, or even for domestic vehicles of any kind. But “world’s first” is simply untrue, and is where Ford has crossed the line of fact in touting its crossover.

I don’t know what the world’s first vehicle with protected rockers was. But I know that one such vehicle is parked in my garage, and it was introduced almost three decades ago. The original Saab 900, manufactured between 1979 and 1994, has rocker panels which are concealed by the door, a feature which was pointed out in the car’s sales brochures. It was one of the many unique features of Saab’s long-serving first-generation 900 when it was introduced. It really does keep pant legs from getting dirty. It’s a great idea.

So while Ford may feel their boxy Flex is the best, most innovative and stylish vehicle ever introduced, they ought to check their facts before claiming a “world’s first” design feature. And then they should show some respect to the Saab 900.

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Author: Kevin Miller

As Autosavant’s resident Swedophile, Kevin has an acute affinity for Saabs, with a mild case of Volvo-itis as well. Aside from covering most Saab-related news for Autosavant, Kevin also reviews cars and covers industry news. His “Great Drive” series, with maps and directions included, is a reader favorite.

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4 Comments

  1. I thought this was a joke until I realized that both Ford and you are seriously writing about having a car that keeps your trouser legs tidy. Not sure what to think now. Thought it was just a wind-up.

  2. Hey good luck selling a 17/24 mpg vehicle with gas over $4 a gallon.

  3. From the looks of that photo of the opened door, if I owned a Flex I’d spend some $$$ armor-plating my ankles.

  4. wow, can’t believe Kevin is wasting electrons on this. Get a life Kevin! or at least get a grip!

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