Friday, April 09, 2010

Ford Flex Friday - The Flex IS Your Family Dream Car!

Disclaimer: Let's make this simple; I'm NOT getting kick-backs or being paid for this Ford Flex Series.

I am SO hating our cars these days! You've heard about my Odyssey from hell, but you haven't heard about the hubs 1990-something BMW 325i pain-in-the-neck back-up transportation. It needs new spark plugs wires, and he's "trying" to find a mechanic who will work on it without charging him a grand just to put them in. This means they'll be in sometime next year. He has my so-called "reliable" transportation out of state today - I'm stuck with HIS piece of crap!

The car has "issues" after it rains; it doesn't start. I had my uh-oh moment when I saw the car in the driveway upon my arrival home from Ala-BAM-a, and knew I might be in trouble when the car start jerking while taking Nia to Pre-K. The spark plug wire(s) have a crack in them and when it rains, they collect moisture and the stinking car won't start!

I left the car running while I took her in cause I live in one of those rare safe places where one can do so without the car being stolen and already 100 miles down the road. Secure that I don't have to worry about it dying upon starting, I and put it in first gear - and it dies. Tried several, and I mean several, attempts to get it started again, but fell victim to yet another jump from a stranger who was Paying It Forward from having her own jump on her SUV the other day.

We're doing this all while it's pouring rain outside as well!

After several (more than last time), tries, it finally starts and would you believe, it ran like a smooth dream all the way home. Thank God none of the kids are in the car because mommy had a BIG potty mouth all the way home! And only he knows what will happen with the "Beemer" when I go to crank it up to pick Nia back up.

I may be riding my bike in the rain this afteroon.


When I went to Ala-BAM-a last week, I got the kids seriously engaged in a new form for Farmville (you know, that game I'm completely addicted to on Facebook?). The kids had to find items from the game that looked like them and we applied points and thus had the kids completely focused on something other than my entertaining them throughout the entire trip.

This left me my own time to count just how many Ford Flex's are on the road these days. The trip up there is roughly a little over 2 hours, and during that entire trip up and back - which is a total of a little over 4 hours, there was NOT one, art deco inspired, Ford Flex to be seen!

I was completely shocked!

Well, who, exactly was Ford marketing this car to? It sure has heck wasn't mom's and dad's looking push over a cliff rid themselves of their cumbersome, boring minivans, I'll tell you that!

I live in the Southeastern part of the U.S., and not to mince words about it, people breed down here like crazy so there ARE a lot of families that need to be toting kids back and forth from ball games and cheerleading practice in this car!

In fact, Ford specifically didn't want to market the Ford Flex to families which is completely perplexing to me as it replaced both retired minivans they use to produce, and it is a crossover vehicle which means it acts like a minivan but has been redesigned to fit more into the SUV market without the horrendous gas guzzling affects, ugly bullet design, and erratic - sometimes possessed - automatic sliding doors.

Again, who is this vehicle marketed to?

The upwardly mobile ubanites,

male, thirty-something,

who wanna look cool.


The last time I looked, young urbanites, male AND female, are going for the "green" cars like the "maybe-I'll-stop and maybe-I-won't" Toyota's'. You know, the gas-efficient commuter cars. In these economic times, unless you make a "guaranteed" $100K plus, your going for a smaller, more economical vehicle to spend your two hour commuting time in.

If you're a family like mine, stuffing your four kids, their "belongings", mom, dad, and the upcoming/existing dog into a 40 m.p.g., vehicle is a little like watching those old home movies of how many people they could stuff into a Volkswagen before it exploded into oblivion!

It ain't happening!

I know because I tried to stuff said family in the hubs BMW that holds only 4 very, very skinny people, and I found kids heads coming out between my legs and having flashbacks of giving birth again because there is NO room to stuff my family in anything that remotely looks like a "green" commuter car.


So I think that Fords new Marketing Chief, Mr. Jim Farley, needs go back to his marketing "Smart Board", and rethink this whole family thing again cause I sincerely think that is the reason why I didn't see one stinking Ford Flex during my trip to, and back form Ala-BAM-a.


I looked and found only one video/commercial advertising the Flex as a family car. It's a bit cheesy, but at least there's one out there:

Most of the commercials I found were focused on the car itself which run abundantly in several different countries; or of some idiot 30-something guy who is suddenly blinded by the headlights of one coming at him in the night. He has a "ah-HA" moment thinking he should get one and I'm thinking in the back of my head, "Where's his stinking family to put in it?".

Here is just a little list of the reasons the Ford Flex would be ideal for families even if the starting price is a little higher than a minivan at $28,995.

I'm not going to bore you with the specs that you can find on just about any car mag site, or from Ford itself; just the common sense info that we moms/dads need to get from Point A to Point B!:

  • 10, count em, 10 cup and bottle holders! When you have kids back from soccer practice, you better have all 10 filled with something for them to drink, and they will drink from all 10 of those suckers. Plus some serious storage in every row.
  • Stadium-style sitting for the 2nd and 3rd row seats. This is really important for moms when they have those eyes glued to the rearview mirror on what's happening in that 3rd row seat!
  • Seats that will adjust to just about every direction when you need them. That comes in handy when I time-out in the "corner" is needed on your way to the Grand Canyon this summer.
  • Some serious spacious headroom for whipping your neck around and threatening to "Stop the car", if one, or all don't stop the pillow fight. Which, by the way, has plenty of room for as well. So bring your big fluffy ones on your next trip in this thing.
  • A "compressor-driven" refridgerator/freezer in the rear console. How freaking cool is that!!!? If your kids are like mine, they are asking for something to eat/drink every 10 minutes, which is almost as annoying as "Are we there yet?". With this "built-in" fridge, you can buy them their own mini-supply of groceries and Mickey D's loses out for the next 500 miles!
  • A GPS because we all know that dad's never ask for directions and mom's are tired of navigating them out of some barbaric wasteland!
  • The gas and brake pedals have a feature that allows them to raise and lower. This comes in real handy when teaching your teen to drive and they still aren't tall enough to reach the pedals. Thus ending your having to leave the dusty pillow in the back seat for them to use behind their backs when learning to drive in order for them to reach the pedals and not send the two of you into the neighbors garage one day. "Rearview mirror-check, Side mirrors-check, raise brake peddle 6 inches-check!"
  • BTW, it also has saved seat settings so when that teen does drive, you can put your car back into that position that doesn't leave you smearing your face on the inside windshield in order to climb into the drivers seat. Oh, and after you stop the car, your seat moves back for optimum room getting out of the Flex. Kinda like having a butler available every time you get out of your car!
  • The second and third rows are also incredibly easy to adjust as well, and get this; come with instructions on the back of the seat so your kids won't be constantly asking you "How do you adjust the seat mom?", while you're cruising at 70 on the highway and they think you are magically suppose to come back and show them!
  • 7 Standard seating capacity with 155.8 cubic feet of passenger volume. Oh, too technical here? It means that my oldest daughter can quietly sit in her seat without feeling that her younger sisters' smelly feet are constantly in her face, and my head doesn't hit the roof when I go over an especially large speed bump.
  • Not only are you and your kids safe in this car, Ford Flex is one of the top 10 pet-safe vehicles for 2010. "Buckle up Fido - we're goin for a ride!"
  • There is also an optional rear view camera in case you have a habit of running over your kids tricycle (the hubs), or you happen to live next door to a particularly hyper kid that constantly shows up out of nowhere!
  • Intelligent All-Wheel Drive, which means that the car doesn't just react to slippery roads, but anticipates it. Now if I could only get my kids to do the same thing when it's time to do dishes - life would be perfect!
  • The fact that the Flex earned the 2009 Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). You know; the same people who did all those crash tests on Dateline NBC that freaked all of us out because we found out that our cars got horrible ratings?
  • I love this one because I just found out that the hubs forgot again to put air in the tires of the Odyssey and I tested them and found they were down to 25 PSI when they should have had 35 PSI. The 2010 Flex comes with a standard Tire Pressure Monitoring System that will basically let you know by a light on your dash that you need air in your tires. No more begging the better half to do it!
  • Did you know that the Flex also has that new Active Park Assist System which gives you visual AND audible warnings when getting to close to another car when parking. It's a lot faster and more accurate hjhi
  • than the system that Lexus introduced a few years. Teaching teens to drive has just gotten a whole lot saner in my book! We all hate parallel parking, and this has made it less likely to have a heart attack while doing so. With the price of car insurance these days, we need ALL the help we can get!
  • Now, instead of that ladder you use to hike in and out with your kids in that behemoth SUV; that even Grandma has given up going on trips with you cause she can't manage the climb anymore - Flex has a low body profile that ends all that - no more step bars, or ladders! Easy in, easy out, with no long hard falls to concrete driveway below.... waaaay below.
  • For your kids entertainment value, here's what it has in order to keep you sane on long trips:

    • Sync In-car Connectivity System by Microsoft with a Sony Audio System - I'm a serious Mac person myself, and this let's you use virtually any mobile phone and/or iPod/MP3 player in the car and use them with voice commands or the steering wheels redundant radio controls. "Look Ma! No HANDS!"
    • Voice activated DVD navigation system, which means the navigator with the map sitting in the front seat can NOW take a nap during a long trip without fear of finding their family in the middle of Istanbul if they do.
    • Ceiling Mounted CD/DVD Player. I think this one needs no explanation what-so-ever in the kid department. All it is missing is a $100 gift card to your local video rental store.
    • Programmable Ambient Interior Lighting. This now means that the lights in the interior are totally under the parents control - NOT the kids! This means I can tell my kids when driving at night that the computer turned the lights off and not me and there is nothing THEY can do about it!
    • That incredible Multi-Panel Vista Roof! Brings the moon roof days of the old station wagon back to me when we use to stare quietly at the stars in clear view through the top of the car till we all fell asleep. Dad loved that car!
    • No more losing your gas cap after fill-up's because baby number 1,2,3, or 4 (or in the case of the Dugar's, #19!), is screaming to the top of his/her lungs for that binky! With the Flex's Easy Fuel Capless Fuel Filler, you can just fill and go and forget about remember how many times your suppose to actually screw the cap on so the engine light doesn't go off. And no more leaving it on top of your car only to see it flying off in your rearview mirror soon after "Jr" is quietly sucking on their binky.

Now let me tell you what I really think is cool in this car that every family will value, especially if they have tweens/teens getting ready to drive, or already doing so. If this feature does not lower your car insurance while having kids under your policy, then you have the wrong insurance company!

I am so excited about this feature that I am actually thinking of changing the birthdate's of the twins in order to get their drivers license four year earlier than scheduled! It's that hot!

My Key is a feature that has come out that encourages safe teen driving. It allows mom, dad, or both to program the key through the Flex's message center to do the following:

  • A Persistent Belt-Minder that will drive your teen freaking NUTS until he puts that seatbelt on!
  • Limits, and I mean LIMITS your teen to a top speed of 80 m.p.h.! NO Fast and Furious down Main Street in THIS car!
  • The Traction Control System that limits tire spin cannot be deactivated.
  • An Audio System MUTE that turns ALL music off until the seatbelt is safely buckled in. The volume is then limited to 44% of maximum volume. This means you will not hear your child coming home four blocks before they get there!
  • This one should really bug the crap out of your kids, but makes me laugh hysterially. The car gives a Speed Alert Chime at 45, and.... 55, and/or..... 65 m.p.h.

And there is NOTHING your budding little drivers can do about any of this,

short of ripping the main computer out of the car!

So why IS Ford failing to market to families? I think that they wanted to separated themselves so far away from the "Minivan Era", that they went too far away. If you are a family that has bought vans from them previously, what else are you to turn to when the Ford Minivan is no longer available? A van that comes with the possibility that it won't even stop some time in the future? Maybe a van like mine, that was touted as "reliable" and turned into the biggest shop-queen I have ever owned in my life!

Ford has a LOT to brag about these days to hard working families; so why don't they? They did kiss off the whole auto bail-out thing and decided to fix their own problems instead of passing the bad decision making onto us taxpayers. I'm pretty impressed by that! Maybe they should start some "How To" classes for GM and Chrysler.

Did you know that Ford cut their own household budget much like we average people do? They figured that turning off their computers at night - just like we do here at home - would save them $1.2 million a year plus drastically reduce carbon emissions by doing so. They even named their program PC Power Management.

I understand the downturn in the economy that started in 2007 had a major impact on the sales of the new Ford Flex. Mr. Farley stated that Ford would sell 100,000 Flex's by the end of 2008. Sadly, they sold only around 24,000 by the end of that same year. Though the economy was in the dumps, I think how and to whom they marketed it to had a huge factor to do with it's lack of sales.

"Downsizing the importance of families with regard to the Ford Flex was a BIG mistake Mr. Farley!"

Since Ford has eliminated the minivan (Thank God somebody got current!), then they should marketing the crap out of the Ford Flex to the people who have a minivan. The last thing you want a family to do is head for a minivan with another car company! Keep the minivan clientele by informing them that they are moving into the 21st Century now when they trade UP to the Ford Flex. They lose nothing by giving up the minivan and gain everything when getting a Flex; including individual STYLE AND CHARACTER!

You know I could do a commercial with this!

So Mr. Farley, I'm asking you as a mother of four who is about to get a dog (most likely a BIG one), to please rethink and retool your ideas of laying off marketing to families who quite possibly, will be willing to drive their own archaic minivans off a cliff for a Ford Flex. If you just keep showing them reasons why.

I get what the Flex is all about for families, I hope you do too Mr. Farley.


Still On The Verge said...

I have to admit, I like this car!


Jim Farley said...

My wife is on her 2nd Flex and loves it. I have two kids who also love the Flex with their individual screens. I believe the vehicle design/fun to drive speaks for itself.

I appreciate your input on our marketing and accept it completely. We continue to adjust our positioning for Flex as an attractive and high tech functional vehicle that to input like yours; perfectly suited for family customers, like mine!

Jim Farley
Group Vice President, Global Marketing
Ford Motor Company

Gondooo said...

Carolyn, If I had a large family I would have bought this vehicle based on your review! The commercial would not have had any impact on me truthfully.
Mr. Farley, Carolyn is it to the right people! In fact, use a real family in your commercial! Dare I suggest whose family you should use?! ;)

RockinMama said...

I purchased a 2010 Ford Flex in October and absolutely am in LOVE. We turned in a Chrylser Pacifica for our Flex and there is NO comparison. We are a family of 4 (2 young boys) and we can hardly wait to vacation this summer in it! Yay for Ford for reclaiming their top spot in the industry. We are also a Michigan family, and grandchildren of Ford Retirees, so we couldn't be happier!!!!

pmrussell said...

Because of cars like the Flex, we bought some Ford stock. We are very middle class and I am all for "buying American". Its all about quality AND perception. We are seeing how the "perceived" quality of Japanese autos are now showing their true colors. Thanks for the great Ford blog entry.