The 2009 Flex is Ford's newest model, an unconventional-looking crossover. Gary Boes, chief engineer for the Flex, said a quiet interior and a near carlike ride were two top priorities. Boes spoke with Product Editor Rick Kranz during a Flex press event last month may in New York City.
When did development on the Flex begin?
A little over three years ago.
What competitive vehicles did Ford target?
The Honda Pilot and the Toyota Highlander.
The last-generation Pilot and Highlander are somewhat smaller than the Flex. The Flex is on the D platform used for the Ford Taurus. Why didn't Ford select the smaller Mazda9 platform for the Flex, which also seats seven and is a stretched version of the Ford Edge platform?
We looked at the Edge at one time in terms of a platform. One thing the D platform allowed is that it had the fold-in-the-floor third-row seat. which was in the platform already. We (wanted) a wheelbase that we thought would have a leadership advantage in terms of second row (comfort).
We also have in our lineup the Edge, the MKX, the Taurus X — so we also had to be conscious of where else we were in the segments and where we felt there wasn't anybody else playing in the market.
The Flex's front door is wider than the Taurus'. Since the Flex's platform is based on the Taurus', why did the team push the B-pillar aft?
When we stretched the wheelbase five inches, we moved the B-pillar aft about 30 mm (1.18 inches) to make (the front door wider) and ingress/egress a little better. We were able to increase front-seat travel. We wanted to make sure that if you put the seat all the way back you could get in and out without contacting the B-pillar.