It’s a new era when a V6 crossover can offer customers the same benefits, and sometimes more, than its V8-powered competition. But, with the introduction of EcoBoostTM and trailer sway control technology, the 2010 Ford Flex adds a new performance dimension to the full-size crossover – the ability to tow up to 4,500 pounds. It’s also the first and only full-size crossover to offer trailer sway control, a technology that can help bring both the vehicle and trailer-in-tow under control if swaying occurs.
The 2010 Ford Flex is available with the twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine, which produces 355 horsepower at 5,700 rpm and 350 lb.-ft. of torque from 1,500 rpm to 5,250 rpm.1
“With the EcoBoost V6 making a full 350 lb.-ft. of torque by 1,500 rpm and having a flat torque curve past 5,000 rpm, the EcoBoost V6 will have improved towing characteristics versus a naturally aspirated V8, and approaching diesel towing performance,” said Brett Hinds, Ford’s Advance Engine Design and Development manager.
The twin turbochargers provide the flat torque curve at the wider engine speed range. For the customer, this ample amount of low-speed torque means the Flex with attached trailer will have great acceleration – even uphill – as well as passing power. When towing, it’s the torque that gets the vehicle moving – gets car, trailer and gear to the top of the mountain – while horsepower determines and maintains the speed.
Since EcoBoost runs an ideal air-fuel ratio to higher engine speeds and loads, real-world fuel economy is also often greater when compared to other engine technologies.
Flex superior towing experience is further bolstered by Ford trailer sway control technology, which is standard with the optional Class III Trailer Tow Package.
A Flex exclusive in the full-size crossover segment, this technology works in conjunction with AdvanceTrac® with RSC® (Roll Stability ControlTM) and can determine from the yaw motion of the vehicle if the trailer is swaying and take measures – such as applying precise braking or reducing engine torque – to bring both the vehicle and trailer under control.
Many large heavy-hauling SUVs such as the Toyota Sequoia and the Chevy Tahoe do not offer this dynamic mitigation technology.
“Trailer sway can happen unexpectedly and countering the effect is often not intuitive to the driver,” said Ron Heiser, chief engineer of Flex. “With trailer sway control, Flex with EcoBoost can automatically detect trailer sway and apply countermeasures more effectively to bring the trailer back under control.”
When a trailer yaws in one direction, trailer sway control applies selective brake pressure on the Flex opposite side. This selective braking – called asymmetric braking because it occurs on only one side of the vehicle to create counter-moments to the forces applied on the vehicle from the trailer – dampens the vehicle and trailer yaw motion, helping to reduce the sway.
Meeting a Need
Research shows that Flex with EcoBoost Class III towing classification is a perfect fit for the niche customers in the crossover segment who tow, as well as for the increasing number of V8 SUV owners who are moving to smaller, more fuel-efficient V6 crossovers. Through May 2009, for example, nearly 42 percent of V8 SUV customers who purchased another vehicle chose a V6 crossover. Ford alone captures 26 percent of its crossover buyers from large and medium SUV owners.
While 10 percent of crossover customers tow and 29 percent of SUV owners do, the majority are towing less than 3,500 pounds, which makes Flex with EcoBoost an attractive, no-compromise option for buyers with towing requirements – especially true since Flex is also the only full-size crossover to have trailer sway control technology.
Also worth considering is that despite offering a 5.3-liter V8, the Chevrolet Tahoe only offers 320 horsepower and 340 lb.-ft. of torque at 4,200 rpm while delivering fuel economy of no more than 20 mpg on the highway verses the 355 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft. of torque available at 1,500 rpm and fuel economy of 22 mpg on the highway for the Flex EcoBoost.2
“No one else in this segment offers this level of power, performance, capabilities and versatility, and when you wrap it up in Flex’s unique package, we believe that it will offer a compelling buy in the crossover segment,” said Kate Pearce, Flex marketing manager.