Simi Valley Ford was one of three dealerships selected in a market zone covering Ventura County and the entire Central Coast to preview the new crossover vehicle, the Flex. In honor of its selection, the dealership hosted a sneak preview for an estimated 400 patrons at the beginning of the month. “We hope this car really takes off for us and is a big seller for Ford,” Simi Valley Ford President Larry Hibbler said about the sneak preview for the new vehicle. “It was very, very well received. People are stopping and noticing the car. It’s so different. There’s nothing out there like it.” The Flex replaces Ford’s discontinued Freestar and Mercury Monterey minivans. Rather than being a truck-based SUV, it is car-based, with the spaciousness of the minivan and the ability to haul cargo like an SUV can. Thus far, according to Hibbler, the dealership has sold a couple of the vehicles, which start at $26,000. That the dealership has already sold any of the fleet is impressive, considering that sales of the 2009 Flex only began a matter of weeks ago. Because the dealership had no problem in the past selling Ford vehicles such as the Expedition and the Edge, Hibbler believes that the carmaker chose his dealership to preview the Flex. Making its debut at the 2007 New York International Auto Show, the Flex bears some similarities to the Edge. The vehicles are produced on the same Ontario, Canada assembly line, and the Flex’s multi-panel Vista Roof, used for sky lighting, is nearly identical to that of the Edge. The Flex also has voice-activated communication, developed via a partnership with Microsoft, with functions for mobile phones, a range of media players and Sirius Satellite Radio. While those features are tempting, the Flex’s main selling point is that it is a seven-passenger vehicle. To capitalize on the amount of space available, there are adjustable and removable footrests for second-row passengers, and the second and third row seats fold into the floor. Though the Expedition also featured the Flex’s highly coveted number of seats, its size put off those conscious of gas guzzlers, Hibbler believes. Meanwhile, the more economically-sized Edge fell short in the number of seats offered. Given that, the Flex offers the best of both worlds to consumers who want a roomy vehicle that isn’t a drain on gas, asserts Hibbler. “This is the vehicle for them,” he said. “That’s really the market we’re going after. The family that needs the (space) but doesn’t want an SUV, van or a station wagon. It has much better gas mileage. It’s going to range at about 19 in town and 24 to 25 on the highway.” For more information about the Flex and Simi Valley Ford, contact: (805) 583-0333.