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2013 Ford Flex: 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show Preview

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2013 Ford Flex

2013 Ford Flex

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The 2013 Ford Flex will be seen in public for the first time in two weeks at the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show, but the first photos are out--and if you thought the Flex couldn't get any more edgy, you would be wrong.

First and foremost, the 2013 Flex wears a new nose that channels its inner geek perfectly. From the straight-on, the new Flex looks exactly like a USB port. The FLEX lettering on the nose might as well read "8GB," since there's no longer a blue Ford oval on the front end, anywhere. The softer look follows inside, where controls have been re-zoned to accommodate MyFord Touch.

MyFord Touch is the new pinnacle of infotainment and connectivity in the Flex, which led Ford's efforts in the arena back in 2009 with relatively advanced features like real-time traffic and weather reports on the go. With MyFord Touch's twin LCD screens on the dash and an eight-inch LCD touchscreen on the center console, the Flex now runs the same firmware as the Edge and Explorer, using a combination of voice commands, touches and swipes, and steering-wheel button clicks to run phone, audio, climate and navigation systems.

The Flex's OS will be the updated MyFord Touch system that was announced earlier this week, with improved screen layouts and less dense displays of information. Every Flex will come with at least a base configuration of SYNC, with emergency features and phone and audio control.

Safety technology is addressed with the addition of second-row inflatable seat belts like those in the new Explorer. They're accompanied by adaptive cruise control and blind-spot monitors, and the previously available rearview camera.

The Flex's powertrain has received some attention as well. The base 3.5-liter V-6 now generates 285 horsepower, up 20 hp from the 2012 model, and has highway fuel economy that's improved by one mile per gallon. The turbocharged EcoBoost engine maintains 355 hp.

New features on the Flex include power-folding side mirrors; keyless entry and remote start; heated and ventilated front seats; and a new manual-mode switch on base models with some level of manual gear selection. All Flex crossovers now have electric power steering as well.

Stay tuned for more on the 2013 Flex, live from the 2011 Los Angeles Auto Show, which opens to the media on November 16.

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