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Interesting Vehicle Model Railroaders Should Know About

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Interesting Vehicle Model Railroaders Should Know About
Posted by mlehman on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 2:01 PM

Was at the annual Lincoln Square Train Show last weekend  here in Urbana and came across a vehicle I'd never seen or heard of before. It looks like a cross between a Honda Element and a London taxi cab. Called a VPG  MV1, it's built in Indiana, part of that region that makes everythng from HMMVVs to camper trailers.

Powered by a V-6 Ford, the MV1 has a mission to transport those whose physical impairments require use of a wheelchair or other appliance to get around. It's equipped with at least one of several different ramps and has other features to aid its owners. More info here:

http://www.mv-1.us/

A couple of pics.

RTR models seem unlikely, but if you had one it would likely be a stumper in the rare car quiz. Could be great Shapeways or vacuum-former project, though.

What I found interesting was that one of these would make a great car for someone who was on the RR module show circuit. The wide doors, flat floor, and folding ramps would certainly ease moving your modules around. The price ($50k range) and limited availability mean that good luck finding one you can afford is probably what you'll need. But if you really need one of these as I suppose whoever drove this one to the show did, it would make attendance more easily possible at many of life's events for the differently abled.

Mike Lehman

Urbana, IL

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Posted by SeeYou190 on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 7:20 PM

Living in the retirement communities of South Floirda, I see these quite a bit. Wealthy elderly people are everywhere down here!

.

It is a weird looking car, and how common they are is probably regional.

.

-Kevin

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Happily modeling the STRATTON & GILLETTE RAILROAD located in a world of plausible nonsense set in August, 1954.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Tuesday, April 10, 2018 11:22 PM

The Baltimore Mass Transit Admistration has bought a bunch of them for their handicapped mobility service. But for 50K if you need to haul stuff, you could just buy a FORD FLEX or one of the new Transit Connect vans.

The MV-1 is a short wheel base and I believe the rear seating is fixed.

A FORD FLEX is a traditional station wagon, now called "crossover utility" - who comes up with this stuff?

We love our FLEX:

For under $50K it is powered by a 3.5 liter twin turbo V6 at 360 hp/360 lb ft torque, goes from 0-60 in 5 secs, rides smooth on a 118" wheelbase, and is loaded with features.

Put the seats down and it is just like wagons from the 50's or 60's - plent of cargo room.

The MV-1 is just a new version of the Checker Medicar - google it for some pictures - much like the FLEX is nearly the exact same size and shape as a Checker station wagon was:

Sheldon

    

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Posted by tommymr on Thursday, April 12, 2018 12:01 PM

X2 on the Flex. My wife and I love it.  Roomy, but a lot of people can't get past the box shape to even try one out.  Ford doesn't do it any favors because they NEVER advertise it.  Supposedly going away by 2020. Crying

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Posted by maxman on Thursday, April 12, 2018 2:46 PM

Aesthetically challenged.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, April 12, 2018 3:39 PM

maxman

Aesthetically challenged.

 

Well, opinions vary as Patrick Swayze said in Road House, and beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

But for me, function and performance are more important in motor vehicles than other peoples opinion on looks.

I don't like low to ground, hard to get in and out of cars, where you sit on a boat cushion on the floor with your feet out in front of you.

I learned to drive on a Checker like the one in my post above, and my FLEX is as close to that level of utility as anything today.

And my FLEX is FAST and comfortable - Eccoboost twin turbo 3.5 liter V6, 360 HP, 360 lb/ft torque, 0-60 in 5 secs, 1/4 mile in 15 secs, full time AWD, 20" rims, speed rated tires, variable ratio electric steering, 6 speed trans with paddle shifters, power everything, memory everything, carries seven people in comfort on a long smooth riding 118" wheel base, gets 24 MPG highway......

Ever heard of a FORD Taurus SHO? The FLEX is the same platform and the Eccoboost version is nearly the same high performance set up as the SHO.

But most important the previous FLEX we owned saved the lifes of my wife and grandchildren.

So you are welcome to all the low to the ground, lighter weight, "good looking" compact sedans you want, I'll take the FLEX.

And I will take the FLEX over most all the SUV's on the market as well.

Sheldon

 

    

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Posted by Doughless on Thursday, April 12, 2018 3:49 PM

I like vehicles that have a boxy utilitarian look, but like others too.  The black one is obviously a no frills base model.  The silver and red ones on their web site are pretty attractive, IMO.

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Posted by BATMAN on Thursday, April 12, 2018 4:40 PM

When my wife took the kid back to Ottawa to go to University she had booked a smaller car, when they got there they were short on cars so they gave my wife a flex. She loved it. They went to Costco and filled it up with $900.00 worth of stuff for the kid and she said she was really glad she wasn't given the small car. She spent a whole day by herself exploring the Ottawa area and had nothing but good things to say about the Flex. She also said it would be a perfect car for a Veterinarian.

  

It would also be a good train show car I'm sure.Laugh

Brent

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Posted by riogrande5761 on Thursday, April 12, 2018 5:16 PM

maxman

Aesthetically challenged. 

I'm not one to go totally for style but yeah, that thing is butt ugly.

Rio Grande.  The Action Road

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Posted by CGW121 on Thursday, April 12, 2018 6:13 PM

As to train shows the club I belong to has a portable modular layout that we take to shows here in the midwest. It is about 60' wide and 100' long, so as you can guess it takes a good size vehicle to haul it. None of the above vehicles has what it takes so we use a pull behind trailer. Its ugly but gets the job done.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, April 12, 2018 6:50 PM

riogrande5761

 

 
maxman

Aesthetically challenged. 

 

 

I'm not one to go totally for style but yeah, that thing is butt ugly.

 

Again, to each his own. Personally, if we are judging cars on looks alone, there is very little that has been built after 1968 that consider really good looking.

Good looking cars:

1958 Chevy Impala

1966 Chevy Impala

My 1963 Chevy Nova SS convertible was snappy looking, as was most of the GM line up in the early 60's.

I actually like the red and white Checker wagon I posted above. The Checker wagon had much better lines than the sedan version.

So please, just to satisfy my curiosity, what cars do you think are good looking?

Sheldon

 

    

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, April 12, 2018 6:52 PM

CGW121

As to train shows the club I belong to has a portable modular layout that we take to shows here in the midwest. It is about 60' wide and 100' long, so as you can guess it takes a good size vehicle to haul it. None of the above vehicles has what it takes so we use a pull behind trailer. Its ugly but gets the job done.

 

But my truck could pull your trailer:

Sheldon

    

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Posted by maxman on Thursday, April 12, 2018 7:49 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL
So please, just to satisfy my curiosity, what cars do you think are good looking?

I and my wife are now at an age where it is difficult to get in and out of any of the "sporty" vehicles, so that means it has to be something that rides higher.  That said, and in direct answer to your question, any vehicle other than the Flex.  If that thing were painted black and the windows darkened, it could substitute as a hearse.

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Posted by IRONROOSTER on Thursday, April 12, 2018 8:25 PM

Interestingly, Consumer Reports ranks the Flex third in the large SUV class, but does not recommend it.  However, it has the highest owner satisfaction in the class (the only large SUV in the top owner satisfaction rating).  So I guess its highs overcome its lows for owners.

Personally, I love my Toyota Highlander.  Which is tops in the mid size SUV. And recommended.

But to each his own.

Paul

If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, April 12, 2018 8:57 PM

maxman

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL
So please, just to satisfy my curiosity, what cars do you think are good looking?

 

I and my wife are now at an age where it is difficult to get in and out of any of the "sporty" vehicles, so that means it has to be something that rides higher.  That said, and in direct answer to your question, any vehicle other than the Flex.  If that thing were painted black and the windows darkened, it could substitute as a hearse.

 

?

Easy entry is one of the reasons we love it. My wife has Rheumatoid Arthritis and the FLEX is so easy to get in and out of for her. The seats are right at knee level, the doors are big and wide, it really is a great car for us old folks. Not too high, not to low.

So let me understand, you are simply rejecting one of the most comfortable, easy to enter cars on the road because of its boxy looks?

OK

Sheldon

PS - go up to my photo, the rear windows are black out tinted........I liked the paint scheme on out first one better:

    

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, April 12, 2018 9:09 PM

IRONROOSTER

Interestingly, Consumer Reports ranks the Flex third in the large SUV class, but does not recommend it.  However, it has the highest owner satisfaction in the class (the only large SUV in the top owner satisfaction rating).  So I guess its highs overcome its lows for owners.

Personally, I love my Toyota Highlander.  Which is tops in the mid size SUV. And recommended.

But to each his own.

Paul

 

Paul, the Highlander is a great vehicle, but too tall for my wife's arthritis, and too small for our taste.

Consumer Reports - well in my view, there is a lot of built in bias in that publication. They simply don't like big cars, they never have, and likely never will.

Ford has some of the best ratings and lowest warranty problems in the industry, and the FLEX is their star with the best ratings in their product line.

And as you noted, lots of happy owners.....

I don't know what Consumer Reports considers a "low" about the FLEX, but it is everything I need and want a car to be. 

And if you want stylish looks, buy the Lincoln version, the MKT:

https://www.lincoln.com/luxury-crossovers/mkt/?searchid=741563649|40453160044|6123793301&s_kwcid=AL!2519!3!224517599899!e!!g!!lincoln%20mkt&ef_id=WkCBKgAABfxw2g2j:20180413020654:s

There you go folks, a FLEX with curves......

Sheldon

I have no idea why the link will not work as clickable.........

    

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Posted by maxman on Thursday, April 12, 2018 9:52 PM

 So let me understand, you are simply rejecting one of the most comfortable, easy to enter cars on the road because of its boxy looks?

 

I have no need for a vehicle that large.  I don't need to pull anything. I don't need to carry 7 or 8 people.  Fuel economy is important.  Most of our driving is around town.  Vehicles are a poor investment, so cost is important.

I currently drive a Honda CRV, which you would never consider.  However, it fits the above criteria.  I just traded in my wife's Honda Accord for a Toyota RAV4 because of the access issue.  I would have liked to trade my CRV in for a Highlander, but the RAV4 purchase put the kibosh on that.

Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that I don't have an objection to boxy cars.  However, if all the vehicles were in the same class, the Flex would never be considered because it is just an unpleasing looking box.

 

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Posted by BATMAN on Thursday, April 12, 2018 10:04 PM

maxman

 

 

 

You can say that again.Smile, Wink & Grin

Brent

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Posted by maxman on Thursday, April 12, 2018 10:14 PM

BATMAN

 maxman

You can say that again.Smile, Wink & Grin

To quote Forrest Gump, "sometimes poo happens".

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, April 12, 2018 10:16 PM

Do you know what is really fun about owning an Eccoboost FLEX?

You stop at a red light, and some hot shot in a Lexus, or other over priced semi fast car pulls up next to you, and when the light turns green, you leave him in the dust with your twin turbo powered, 15 sec 1/4 mile, 4800 lb, 50's styled boxy station wagon.......

Sheldon

    

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Posted by BATMAN on Thursday, April 12, 2018 10:26 PM

You can tell it's Sheldon cause it's red. KIDS!

Brent

It's not the age honey, it's the mileage.

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, April 12, 2018 10:45 PM

maxman

 So let me understand, you are simply rejecting one of the most comfortable, easy to enter cars on the road because of its boxy looks?

 

I have no need for a vehicle that large.  I don't need to pull anything. I don't need to carry 7 or 8 people.  Fuel economy is important.  Most of our driving is around town.  Vehicles are a poor investment, so cost is important.

I currently drive a Honda CRV, which you would never consider.  However, it fits the above criteria.  I just traded in my wife's Honda Accord for a Toyota RAV4 because of the access issue.  I would have liked to trade my CRV in for a Highlander, but the RAV4 purchase put the kibosh on that.

Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that I don't have an objection to boxy cars.  However, if all the vehicles were in the same class, the Flex would never be considered because it is just an unpleasing looking box.

 

 

OK, your needs are very different, and Honda and Toyota make great cars. But you are right, we would never choose them, based on size alone.

We transport grandchildren, we don't tow anything with the FLEX, but they are well rated for that too.

We keep vehicles a long time (except recently two crashes, 2012 and 2015, have demanded replacements early), The big green 2015 F250 above replaced a 2000 F150 with 240,000 miles. And because they are not and "investment" we have always paid cash or "borrowed" free money from FORD.

Fuel economy is our lowest priority, they have to be safe and do all the jobs first.

Before 2008 we drove Explorers, the F150 and Crown Victoria's (police package equiped).

But once we bought a 2008 Taurus AWD, (same platform as the FLEX) I was sold on AWD, another important feature on our FLEX. Some FLEX's are just front wheel drive, but all of them with the high output engine are AWD.

When the Taurus was totaled in a head on crash 2012, and saved us from even a scratch, I told the wife we needed a FLEX for the grandchild duty. She drove one and loved it. 

In October of 2015 she was in a head on crash in the FLEX, hit by two cars. Her and the two grandchildren only had seatbelt bruises.

In both crashes, the passenger compartment of the cars remained so intact, that all the doors opened and closed as if the car had not been scratched.

I bought another FLEX equiped the same as the first one as fast as I could.

I will buy all the gasoline it takes to keep my family safe........but for a vehilce of its type, 16/24 is not bad mileage. In our regular duties it averages about 20 mpg.

My truck, which I need for my work, gets an impressive 12 mpg - up hill, down hill, loaded, empty, at 80 mph or at 30 mph, pulling a heavy trailer, or not.......but it does weight 7600 lbs....before me, my tools, and 35 gallons of gas are on board.

Sheldon

 

    

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Thursday, April 12, 2018 10:49 PM

Brent,

That's cool. if I was younger I would buy a chip and some parts for mine........

So just imagine how all those guys in those "sports cars" felt being beat by a turbocharged breadbox on wheels.

Our first one was the red and white one, the new 2015 is the all white one, posted earlier. It was only color we could find in October 2015 when we needed to replace the red one.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Canalligators on Saturday, April 14, 2018 10:02 PM

If I needed a truck, I’d buy one.  Otherwise, not for me.  Too darned big, hard to park and maneuver, handle poorly.  For me, safety is first, meaning you can survive a crash, but more importantly, you can avoid crashes with good handling, good brakes and good handling in bad weather.  Second, it must be able to haul a short wheelbase recumbent bicycle, inside without disassembling it.  (Sorry, friends, cycling takes priority over model railroading and just about anything else.) Third is good fuel economy.  A manual transmission is a definite plus.  That all points to a european station wagon.  Since Volvo and BMW don’t make them with stick shift anymore, that leaves VW...

Genesee Terminal, freelanced HO in Upstate NY
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Posted by dirtyd79 on Sunday, April 15, 2018 6:38 PM

All the MV-1s I see around western PA are taxis. I don't think I've seen any as a personal vehicle. They do look interesting but 50 grand is quite a dig in the treasure chest.

"The problem is that there are too many stupid people in the world and no one to eat them."- Carlos Mencia
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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, April 16, 2018 7:10 AM

Canalligators

If I needed a truck, I’d buy one.  Otherwise, not for me.  Too darned big, hard to park and maneuver, handle poorly.  For me, safety is first, meaning you can survive a crash, but more importantly, you can avoid crashes with good handling, good brakes and good handling in bad weather.  Second, it must be able to haul a short wheelbase recumbent bicycle, inside without disassembling it.  (Sorry, friends, cycling takes priority over model railroading and just about anything else.) Third is good fuel economy.  A manual transmission is a definite plus.  That all points to a european station wagon.  Since Volvo and BMW don’t make them with stick shift anymore, that leaves VW...

 

So the MV-1 is a truck? True, the boundry between trucks and cars has become more blured, but what makes it a "truck"? The boxy shape or the upright seating? So does that make my FLEX a truck?

One primary truck feature the MV-1 and the FLEX lack is extra ground clearance, that makes them cars in my book.

If the boxy shape or upright seating make them trucks, then Checkers and 57 Chevys were trucks.

You are welcome to sit on the floor with a boat cushion, I prefer not to.

VW, they built great cars, if the feature set matches your needs.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Doughless on Monday, April 16, 2018 7:41 AM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

 

 

But once we bought a 2008 Taurus AWD, (same platform as the FLEX) I was sold on AWD, another important feature on our FLEX. Some FLEX's are just front wheel drive, but all of them with the high output engine are AWD.

When the Taurus was totaled in a head on crash 2012, and saved us from even a scratch, I told the wife we needed a FLEX for the grandchild duty. She drove one and loved it. 

In October of 2015 she was in a head on crash in the FLEX, hit by two cars. Her and the two grandchildren only had seatbelt bruises.

In both crashes, the passenger compartment of the cars remained so intact, that all the doors opened and closed as if the car had not been scratched.

I bought another FLEX equiped the same as the first one as fast as I could.

I will buy all the gasoline it takes to keep my family safe........but for a vehilce of its type, 16/24 is not bad mileage. In our regular duties it averages about 20 mpg.

 

IIRC, that Taurus/Flex platform was designed when Ford owned Volvo.  I think large Volvos of that vintage were also built on that platform, with different body lines and interior.

In a lot of ways, your cars are Volvos as far as chassis engineering (not really a chassis).

And since the split, I assume Ford has moved on in terms of its own independent designs with the Taurus/Flex/MKZ product being a legacy now.

- Douglas

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, April 16, 2018 9:57 AM

Doughless

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL

 

 

But once we bought a 2008 Taurus AWD, (same platform as the FLEX) I was sold on AWD, another important feature on our FLEX. Some FLEX's are just front wheel drive, but all of them with the high output engine are AWD.

When the Taurus was totaled in a head on crash 2012, and saved us from even a scratch, I told the wife we needed a FLEX for the grandchild duty. She drove one and loved it. 

In October of 2015 she was in a head on crash in the FLEX, hit by two cars. Her and the two grandchildren only had seatbelt bruises.

In both crashes, the passenger compartment of the cars remained so intact, that all the doors opened and closed as if the car had not been scratched.

I bought another FLEX equiped the same as the first one as fast as I could.

I will buy all the gasoline it takes to keep my family safe........but for a vehilce of its type, 16/24 is not bad mileage. In our regular duties it averages about 20 mpg.

 

 

 

IIRC, that Taurus/Flex platform was designed when Ford owned Volvo.  I think large Volvos of that vintage were also built on that platform, with different body lines and interior.

In a lot of ways, your cars are Volvos as far as chassis engineering (not really a chassis).

And since the split, I assume Ford has moved on in terms of its own independent designs with the Taurus/Flex/MKZ product being a legacy now.

 

Please define the use of the term legacy? Yes the driveline and suspession where a joint effort with Volvo back then. This is nothing new in the car business.

Included in that platform/driveline is the Explorer and MKT, and possibly a few other models.

While the Flex may or maynot continue more than another few years, there is no indication that the other large vehicles will get an all new platform any time soon. Nor is there any reason to replace it at this point.

Sheldon

    

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Posted by Doughless on Monday, April 16, 2018 1:48 PM

ATLANTIC CENTRAL

  

Please define the use of the term legacy? Yes the driveline and suspession where a joint effort with Volvo back then. This is nothing new in the car business.

Included in that platform/driveline is the Explorer and MKT, and possibly a few other models.

While the Flex may or maynot continue more than another few years, there is no indication that the other large vehicles will get an all new platform any time soon. Nor is there any reason to replace it at this point.

Sheldon

 

I thought someone mentioned the Flex being discontinued in the near future.  I was only speculating that there may be a redesigned platform designed totally by  Ford coming to replace it.  I didn't realize the new-ish explorer and MKT had the same Ford/Volvo underpinnings.  2008 to 2020 is getting fairly mature for vehicle platforms.

I think the 2008 Taurus was billed as being taller and more upright seating than a traditional sedan and owed much of its design to accomodate Volvo specs, hence the safety stats.   I used to read every issue of Motor trend and Car and Driver back then. 

I assume the vehicle in the topic of this thread is from an existing mature platform? 

- Douglas

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Posted by ATLANTIC CENTRAL on Monday, April 16, 2018 2:39 PM

Doughless

 

 
ATLANTIC CENTRAL

  

Please define the use of the term legacy? Yes the driveline and suspession where a joint effort with Volvo back then. This is nothing new in the car business.

Included in that platform/driveline is the Explorer and MKT, and possibly a few other models.

While the Flex may or maynot continue more than another few years, there is no indication that the other large vehicles will get an all new platform any time soon. Nor is there any reason to replace it at this point.

Sheldon

 

 

 

I thought someone mentioned the Flex being discontinued in the near future.  I was only speculating that there may be a redesigned platform designed totally by  Ford coming to replace it.  I didn't realize the new-ish explorer and MKT had the same Ford/Volvo underpinnings.  2008 to 2020 is getting fairly mature for vehicle platforms.

I think the 2008 Taurus was billed as being taller and more upright seating than a traditional sedan and owed much of its design to accomodate Volvo specs, hence the safety stats.   I used to read every issue of Motor trend and Car and Driver back then. 

I assume the vehicle in the topic of this thread is from an existing mature platform? 

 

The MV-1 shares engine and transmission with the Ford vehicles we are discussing, and it may share some/all suspension components. The body is made by AM General.

At this point there is speculation about the FLEX going away, but FORD is not talking...., sales are level, and not what was originally hoped for. BUT, there has been a little more advertising push for both the FLEX and its brother the MKT, so who knows.

Actually, the Taurus/Flex platform is older than 2008, first called the "Five Hundred" introduced in 2005, but with a Volvo CVT transmission that no one liked.

When rebadged Taurus in 2008, the CVT trans was replaced with the current 6 speed.

The platform supports both front wheel and all wheel drive versions, and the Explorer uses a slightly different version of the trans, and a higher clearance suspension, but the core design is the same, and all three engines are the same family, 3.5 liter, 3.7 liter, 3.5 liter twin turbo eccoboost.

But rather than start fresh, this platform has simply evolved and has been updated partly several times.

Three engines that share parts, two transmissions - fwd/awd, with some minor option variations, and three similar suspensions - now with all the bugs worked out, able to handle vehicles in the 6,000 lb/400 hp range, does not seem likely they would start over just yet, not for that segment of the market that is a bit less trendy, and except for Explorer, mostly lower volume models.

Seems like a good formula.

Sheldon

    

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