Eulogy Time: As Ford Flex Passes Into History, an Automaker Remembers the Box and the Bucks

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
eulogy time as ford flex passes into history an automaker remembers the box and the

For a model that encompassed a single (but very long) generation, the Ford Flex made a big impact on Ford Motor Company’s image, to say nothing of its fortunes.

You probably don’t remember June 3rd, 2008, but that was the day the boxy, funky Flex first rolled off the assembly line at Ford’s Oakville, Ontario plant. You probably do recall the events of Monday, October 28th, 2019, however, and one thing that should stick with you is this: Ford has officially pulled the plug on the Flex. A handful of models will roll out until some point in November, but today marks the big wind-down.

With the imminent loss of the Flex and the recent death of its Lincoln MKT platform mate (which wrapped up production earlier this month), the automaker’s lineup, like that of so many others, stands to become just a little more devoid of originality.

As it has several times in the recent past, Ford marked the passing with a memorial. So long was the Flex in production, many might be shocked to hear that they can still buy a 2019 model with zero miles on the odometer. Eleven model years, during with the Flex saw only a single major refresh.

First appearing in 2005 as the Ford Fairlane Concept (remember the Alliteration Years?), the Flex served up a style not unreminiscent of other slab-sided utilities born of the 2000s, though its voluminous interior promised versatile seating for six or seven occupants. Power came only from a sturdy V6, and there was once a time when you could option it with a fridge. EcoBoost power arrived in 2010.

“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, the Ford Flex’s marketing manager, in a statement.

“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.”

No one can say the Flex wasn’t a success. While not selling in nearly the same volumes as its Blue Oval CUV brethren, its volume didn’t flag very much as the years wore on. In 2019, Flex sales are up 13.5 percent through the end of September.

Upon its debut, the model provided a unique alternative to the defunct Freestar, allowing parents to get noticed in the school pick-up line, and its SUV-adjacent persona and available turbo power helped boost its cred among male drivers. Ask Bark about his faithful Flex. Depending on where you live, you might even spot one involved in an undercover police operation.

And yet the Flex’s time had come. Riding atop an outdated platform and boasting styling that stopped being fresh years ago (the above pictures show a 2013 and 2019 model), the Flex and MKT were dinosaurs that successfully evaded a extinction-level comet for years but eventually ran out of places to hide. With their discontinuation comes the loss of 450 jobs at Oakville Assembly, and you can bet the union isn’t happy about that.

“For months Unifor has been urging Ford to come up with a plan to avoid this scenario,” Dave Thomas, president of Unifor Local 707, said in a statement reported by Global News. “Ford was aware the Ford Flex and Lincoln MKT were coming to the end of their production life-cycle.”

While this year is all about the UAW, 2020 sees contract negotiations kick off between the Detroit Three and Canadian autoworker union Unifor. The loss of jobs at Oakville, plus the imminent closure of production operations at GM’s Oshawa Assembly, will surely make job retention and new model allocations a top priority.

[Images: Ford]

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  • 3800FAN 3800FAN on Oct 29, 2019

    Too bad. I always saw rhe Flex as the right car for me at the wrong time. Its such a fixed design its a kind of vehicle i could see evolving not so much going through total redesigns. But with sales hovingering in the 20k range for 10 years Ford musthave thought the same as toyota and honda thought whe their slow but steadily selling boxes got old (xb, element) and decided to hang it up.

  • Tankinbeans Tankinbeans on Oct 31, 2019

    I've always had a soft spot for the Flex, but have never had a need for something that big. I like that it had a higher seating position, while not requiring a step ladder to get into and out of. The styling is en pointe as well, no angry Pokemon or asphyxiated guppies here. Also, am I misremembering something here? I could have sworn there was a year or two where the Flex and Exploder were offered with the 2.0 EcoBoost as an "upgrade" to the 3.5NA.

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