Crossover & Midsize

This Ford SUV Had a Cult-Like Following Before it Got Discontinued

Ford is perhaps best known for its trucks and its sports cars, but Ford has always had many vehicles in its lineup. One of those vehicles was the Ford Flex, a boxy, stylish SUV with third-row seating. The Ford Flex gained a cult following, but unfortunately for its fans, that wasn’t enough for Ford.

What was the Ford Flex?

As USA Today reported, the Ford Flex was first introduced in 2008 – right in the middle of the Great Recession. This wasn’t a great time for the auto industry in general, but despite that, the Flex survived those troubled years. Its boxy design was partially responsible for its success but also partially responsible for its downfall. 

Like USA Today said, that design was simply polarizing for consumers. Some folks loved it, while others absolutely hated it. Regardless, its design wasn’t the only reason why folks loved it. It was also a very capable SUV.

The first-ever Flex, according to U.S. News, was very spacious and roomy. It could seat seven adults comfortably, and it also provided them with a smooth, comfortable, and safe ride. It came with a 3.5-liter V6 that could generate 262 hp. This engine also gave it a decent fuel economy of about 17 MPG in the city and 24 MPG on highways.

The last model year of the Flex, the 2019 Flex, had a lot of upgrades over its decade-old debut model year. Ford made a more powerful, 365-hp V6 available on the Flex, and the already great interior of the Flex got more upgrades. Additionally, the Flex has 20 cubic feet of cargo room without any seats folded, 43.2 cu. ft. of cargo room with its third row folded, and 83.2 cu. ft. of cargo room with its second- and third-row seats folded. 

The Flex wasn’t a good enough SUV

2013 Ford Flex, at the 105th Annual Chicago Auto Show
The 2013 Ford Flex | Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Despite these features, Ford determined, according to USA Today, that the Flex simply wasn’t selling well enough. In the 11 years that Ford has been producing the Flex, just under 300,000 units of the boxy SUV were sold. This means that, on average, less than 30,000 Flex models were sold each year. 

These numbers were too low for Ford, and that’s why Ford discontinued the Flex, according to USA Today. But, with Ford’s strategy of focusing on SUVs and trucks, that’s not the only reason why Ford gave up on the Flex. 

The other reason is that Ford sees better SUV options in the present day and in the future compared to the Flex. Ford doesn’t see the point in continuing the Flex when Ford, as USA Today said, is betting on other SUVs. 

Why Ford discontinued this SUV

Like USA Today mentioned, Ford thinks that electric SUVs like the Mustang Mach-E or revived versions of its beloved Bronco SUV will do far better than the Flex will ever do. That remains to be seen, but given the fact that the Flex never really became too popular, it’s totally possible that Ford made the right call. 

The Flex, while it is a capable and good SUV, ultimately had too much competition, both from other automakers and from Ford itself. Ford’s SUV lineup is huge, and the Mustang Mach-E and the new Bronco aren’t the only SUVs that the Flex would’ve competed with. 

There’s the Ford Explorer, for example, that’s a very popular SUV with third-row seating. And even if customers didn’t want an Explorer, other automakers have great SUVs that competed with the Flex. Whether it was more affordable SUVs or more expensive SUVs, customers seemed to pick something other than the Flex. Ultimately, that’s what caused the Flex’s sales to be so small, and that led to Ford finally pulling the plug on the Flex.