Ford Flex: the First Full-size Crossover Utility Vehicle

By: Gertrude

A new crossover is on its way, although this may no longer be surprising since it seems like every other automaker has a new crossover to present but according to San Antonio Express News this crossover is quite different.

The crossover that the San Antonio Express News is referring to is none other than the 2009 Ford Flex which was introduced as the first full-size crossover utility vehicle at the New York Auto Show ---and this exactly what makes this crossover distinct from the rest of its competitors.

Until today, crossovers have ranged from the original mini-sized models such as all-new Ford Edge, GMC Acadia and Saturn Outlook, Mazda CX-7 and CX-9, and the Suzuki XL-7. For this year the full-size SUVs that are available on the market are all truck-based models like the Chevrolet Tahoe/GMC Yukon, Ford Expedition, Nissan Armada and Toyota Sequoia.

The Flex will help expand Ford's already good selection of crossovers comprising of the compact Ford Escape and Mercury Mariner---both of which also come in gasoline-electric hybrid versions. Moreover, Ford sells the Edge, based on the chassis of the Fusion midsize sedan, while the Freestyle was based on the chassis of the larger Five Hundred sedan. For 2008 Ford will rename the Five Hundred to become the new Taurus, and the Freestyle to become the Taurus X.

Last year, crossover shows a strong sales return as compared to the traditional SUVs and most auto analysts believes that such trend will continue for this year. Also, for this year it is observed that the truck-based SUVs are somewhat going out of style similar to the way when minivans lost their market dominance.

Ford, which is also has Mazda, maker of quality and as a subsidiary, said that the sales of crossovers in the US market are expected to reach three million units annually by the end of the decade. According to Mark Fields, Ford's President for the Americas at the New York introduction, "Flex is another example of Ford creating more of the products that our customers really want. Ford intends to define crossover vehicles this decade just as we did SUVs in the 1990s."

Last March Ford's crossover sales in the US rose to more than 40 percent compared to the same period last year according to the automaker. Ford also confirms that the production of the Expedition will continue even after the Flex arrives. However if gasoline prices continuous to increase and consumers would abandon the traditional truck style SUVs in favor of crossovers then the production of the Expedition would then be reconsidered.

Ford spokesman Harold Allen said, "Expedition sales actually have been growing the past four months. The people who need the Expedition are still out there and are still buying it. One reason is the great towing capacity of the Expedition."

Despite the fact that both Flex and the Expedition can accommodate seven people, the Expedition can actually pull trailers weighing up to 9,000 lbs while the Flex is limited to hauling 4,000 lbs only. The Expedition appeal to people with bigger trailers while those people who are interested in plain transport would prefer the Flex.

As of now the Flex remains to the only full-size crossover utility vehicle but since it would be made available in summer of 2008 it is not impossible that other automakers can have the same big crossover launched a little earlier and that would be not be good for the Flex.

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