By on May 28, 2008

flex-rocker-1.jpgOur Man Berkowitz loved the Ford Flex. He waxed eloquent about the interior, the looks, how it rides and way (he's heard) it drives. However, as Ford points out in their latest press release, there's one major feature he overlooked: "It's the world's first trouser- and dress-friendly vehicle." Yes, dry cleaners across the country are dreading the debut of the Flex because "the Flex team engineered into Ford's newest crossover a concealed rocker panel" that "minimizes your clothes' exposure to the elements." And since "some dry cleaners charg(e) as much as $10 to launder a pair of slacks," owners reap "immediate and tangible benefit" from driving this $30k "alternative people mover." Justin, I'm so disappointed in you for not bringing this ground-breaking design element to our attention. Must. Do. Better.

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26 Comments on “Ford Flex “World’s first trouser- and dress-friendly vehicle”...”

  • avatar
    Brendon from Canada

    Hmmmm…. I think Ford is a few years too late; I read about this feature on a vehicle a few years back (Nissan X-Trail, perhaps?). I’ll check around and post back.

    EDIT: That was easy!

    “Another feature I really liked: the doors wrap over the sills to prevent dirt from accumulating on the door sills so you won’t get dirt on your pants when climbing in and out.” – Greg Wilson, from CanadianDriver’s (site of the same name) “First Drive” of the Nissan X-Trail.

  • avatar
    Jeff in Canada

    Lets see someone take this idea, and implement something similar on the rear lift gate on most vehicles.
    I frequently get a nice dirt line across my front pockets whenever I reach, (deep) into the trunk of my wifes CUV. (Rogue, if anyone’s curious.)
    I think Dodge was onto something when they put that rollout trunk floor on the Nitro (shame about the rest of the thing!)

  • avatar

    This has been a very common complaint about the Cadillac SRX. For many people this could be a major selling point. Seriously.

    Thinking more broadly, it suggests that the Ford team really thought through the details.

  • avatar

    So if I normally would get one pair of trousers soiled every year when entering my vehicle, buying a Ford Flex will pay off in 3,000 years?

  • avatar

    Does anyone actually use the word “trousers” any more?

    I wear pants or jeans…

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    I was aware of this detail, and it was pointed out to me. I also soil my trousers getting out of my VW.

    Ford has attempted to make the Flex a details focused vehicle, which is awesome, but not likely to win a lot of buyers. Should make people who do buy the vehicle “feel good” about their product, and that’s how you win repeat buyers.

  • avatar

    Texas: go to the UK and compliment someone on their pants. They’ll check to see if their underwear is showing. To them, pants are still trousers.

    As for Ford, PR types should have learned by now that in the age of the internet you don’t trumpet the world’s first anything without being damn sure you are the first. Fact checking is way easier than it used to be.

  • avatar

    If you lot carry on talking about “soiling your trousers”, I’ll wet my knickers! LOL

  • avatar

    Justin Berkowitz :
    I was aware of this detail, and it was pointed out to me. I also soil my trousers getting out of my VW.

    I understand that soiling one’s trousers is a common occurance amongst VW owners, especially when they receive their repair shop bills.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz

    @Frank Williams:

    That’s why I’ll only own one under warranty. Still got creamed by a cracked oil pan not too long ago. No warranty coverage for that.

  • avatar

    The Nissan X-trail was not available in the U.S as a new vehicle so maybe they researched the U.S market and did not see a precedent there?

    I think it looks like a cool vehicle. As a fan of the Taurus X (Freestyle) I am curious to see how this vehicle is promoted ane received.


  • avatar

    I saw this feature on a Saab well over 20 years ago at a Colorado dealer. It was a feature the salesman pointed out. Nice, but surely not new.

  • avatar

    Hunh, and here I thought that a car that got me to soil my trousers was a good thing!

    Or hasn’t anyone here heard of pucker factor in relation to an almost automotive event?

  • avatar

    The Germans also beat them to it…my old Audi A6 took care of this problem with a thick rubber flap attached to the door. So when the door was opened, clean rocker panel.

  • avatar

    That’s OK, I’ll buy a Honda and keep cleaning my britches as needed.

  • avatar

    Somehow, I’m trying to work in a term that David Letterman once used on his show — he once referred to someone (who he assumed was gay?) as a “Trouser Pilot”.

    As to the Flex; seems like a nice idea, especially if it keeps those pesky white stains off one’s trousers.

    Road salt, I mean.

  • avatar
    Brendon from Canada

    @Swervin: I’m not sure if that statement deserves a snarky US centric comment or not! (The linked PDF does mention the “worlds first”…) ;-)

    @Katie: we still use “trousers” to refer to what most American’s term “pants”. However, jeans and “cargo pants” don’t typically fit in the category. “Trousers” seem to be something that you typically would wear with loafers or something dressier (as opposed to sneakers).

  • avatar

    I end up with salted pant legs from my Fit Sport’s side sills in winter. My Saab has these cantered inwards and it’s never been a problem. From what I recall, it’s part of the reason why Saabs have traditionally been rather odd-looking.

    I’s a nice touch on Ford’s part, but it’s not unique.

  • avatar

    Just don’t open the door down into any sidewalks when parallel parked. I wish all cars came with rubber bottoms, it makes a lot of sense.

  • avatar


    That’s exactly what I was referring to. VAG is always on top of the little features that oft get overlooked.

  • avatar

    When my wife’s 2002 Sonata was in for service, the dealer loaned us a new 2006 Santa Fe. EVERY FLAMING TIME I got in or out of that THING I soiled the back of my pantlegs. Just as happened in virtually all SUV’s I ever have the misfortune of getting in and out of.

    Here’s a solution.

    BUY A FLAMING AUTOMOBILE so you don’t have to climb up and down from the frapping stupid things.

    It also does wonders for driving fun to have a low center of gravity, something called “road feel” (even in a modest Hyundai Sonata), not nearly so much frapping weight to move about, not so much wind noise and not so much fuel usage for the same dang job done (moving one’s buns from home to work, to the store, to the park, etc).

    God, I loathe Stupidously Ugly Vehicles.

    I’m waiting joyfully for them to take their place in the automotive history museum next to “Americanus-Humogouswastrelous” dog-leg windshield monstrosities with massive fins, such as the 1959 Cadillac.

  • avatar

    @ Justin Berkowitz : “Ford has attempted to make the Flex a details focused vehicle, which is awesome, but not likely to win a lot of buyers. Should make people who do buy the vehicle “feel good” about their product, and that’s how you win repeat buyers.”

    I loved my (departed) 1994 Taurus SHO. (I totaled a police car with it – don’t ask.) The designers carefully thought out many of the details – best seats I ever had, two sets of visors for those times when you need to block the sun from the windshield and your window at the same time, cornering lights that were not overly complex pivoting things but simply wired to the turn signals, etc.

    Ford carefully decontented later Tauruses to have not one of these “suprise and delight” features.

    I drive an Audi now.

  • avatar

    The features sound like a good idea. But it wouldn’t convince me to buy a Flex. In fact, is ford getting desperate or what? How much does this vehicle weight? Sounds to me that ford, like GM, has missed the boat again. Another 3ton??? vehicle that will end up consuming alof of $4gal gas. GM’s CUV’s are already starting to lose sales. Their gas mileage is not that much better that the SUV”s they replaced. So I can’t see that many people getting excited over this heavy weight. What ford needs is a medium sized wagon that gets around 30+ on the highway. Doesn’t sound like this one will come close.

  • avatar

    Curb weight is estimated to be around 4400-4600 pounds, which is a bit heavy, but on par with the Toyota Sienna, Honda Odyssey, and Kia Sedona.

  • avatar

    This is a thoughtful and handy feature. I know, because my 1988 SAAB 9000 did the same thing. The doors were long enough to cover the sills, keeping them clean and dry. Good to see this feature return, even if it’s not a “first.”

  • avatar

    The incredible vanishing rocker panel

    This is even better: DISAPPEARING CAR DOOR

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