Ford’s Flex is that oddball US model image

The nameplate is carried by a model with an utterly distinctive look, unlike any other Ford model, and also has good reliability ratings and numerous loyal owners. But it’s also the lowest selling nameplate for the second largest US automaker.

Oddly enough, it’s also one of only two 2015 Ford nameplates that got a recommendation from the influential independent magazine Consumer Reports, while also bringing around numerous new customers – 50 percent of the Flex owners are new to the Ford brand. Because of its poor sales results, after seven years on the market the model could be heading the “Green Mile” – with no signs of a new generation so far. Ford has opted not to axe the model, in spite of the only major refresh job occurring in 2013 for several reasons. The Detroit-based automaker says the model is profitable – though massively lagging the 100.000 units a year goal set back in 2008 at launch. The nameplate is also highly popular among Californian buyers – and we all know the most populous US state has weight in the auto industry. “You either love it or you hate it,” said Lee Dibble, a sales manager at a dealership near Los Angeles.

The model has a polarizing design – somewhat reminiscent of iconic wood-paneled surf wagons. The only other great market for the model outside California – where it gets around a quarter of its sales – is Detroit, thanks to the popularity of employee discounts. “It’s becoming a regional product that we’re embracing as such,” comments Matt Zuehlk, marketing manager for the Flex and Explorer. Both large crossovers share their underlying platform with the Ford Taurus and Lincoln MKT. The Flex has to fend off competition from the popular Explorer, Chevrolet Traverse and Toyota Highlander.

Via Automotive News