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Well renowned for refurbishing various monster machines over the past two decades, Texas-based designer and tuner John Hennessey converted Ford’s F-150 Raptor SVT crew cab pick-up into a full-fledged Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) with seating available for eight passengers watching the seamless popularity of the Ford pickup especially from SEMA show in 2012. Hennessey Performance garage had already been offering an overhauled version of F-150 Raptor with an upgraded engine pacifying the needs of buyers who wanted more from the van than 411 horsepower. HPE have, since past three years, produced over 400 Raptor beasts and are overwhelmed to offer Velociraptor trucks for sports enthusiasts.
As the F-150 SVT crew cab from Ford factory travels through a series of dealers and is reached at the Hennessey Performance garage, the trailer from the crew cab and the top of pickup bed is scythed off and new parts are welded for attachment of rear set of doors. Original shaded glass windows from the discontinued in 2005 Ford truck, Excursion are installed above the rear set of wheels after masking with new sheet-metal and painting. Following this is the process of addition of a melded three door tailgate, acquired from the Excursion as well, is mounted surgically in place of the raptor trailer tailgate without altering the taillights and rear bumper from the Raptor.
The recently added trailer bed is carpeted and padded, while the padded interior contour lines which cover the sidelines are adapted from the Excursion, too. Then the roof which is insulated with a thick insulation layer is covered with a dark character. Hennessey remarked this was to make the interiors appear, as company-like as possible. The wings of the van remain aboard while modern cues have been grafted onto the body. Chasmal interiors are exposed as the rear compartment is opened, largest in the sports utility market. It is a customer’s decision so as to what to do with the interiors – they could leave it hollow or place a second and even a third row for added seating up to eight riders. Additional mechanical upgrades like fancily wrapped aggressive tires, better Brembo brakes and armour option, alongside interior LED lighting, custom upholstery and entertainment add-ons are available.
Hennessey offers a stock 411 horsepower unit with a 6.2litre V-8 engine that fires from 0 to 97kmph in a span of 7.5 seconds while an alternative supercharged version, a 600 horsepower unit due to which Velociraptor 600 derives its identity, which despite of added 200 kg of weight reaches 97kmph mark in just 5.9 seconds. Moreover, Hennessey is developing another 800 horsepower behemoth for much more curious souls. Even after this beasty performance, on pushing the pedal right, the interior cabin remains silent, while for customers seeking roaring engine can opt for exhaust solutions. Apart from so many changes, the Velociraptor is essentially a Raptor ahead of the front door including stock dashboard and meters, and unchanged wheelbase and chassis.
The success of the beast is certainly enthralling even after rising concern for the fuel prices, but the edition vehicle is restricted to a limited audience because of its base pricing of $159,500 and thus Hennessey is determined to narrow production to only 30 units per year.
With the square and flat, solid face that it carries, Ford Flex 2014 can certainly not just be titled as a family car housing 7 passengers, reminding of the old school station wagons dating back to 1960s and 70s showing off a silken look sleeker than other SUVs. The Flex is a one of its kind innovation. Compared to its competitions in the market namely Chevrolet Tahoe, Honda Pilot etc. focuses over ride quality than off-roading capabilities.
With a seating configuration of 2-3-2 the Flex is aimed pin-pointed at people, until the rear seats are folded and its directions alter to cargo, but not being built upon solid body-on-frame chassis, the Flex is dissimilar to a van. Initially called a Crossover Utility Vehicle by Ford, it has now been decided to be called just a Utility Vehicle rather, the entitlement being unclear. The Flex could be really called a modern version of the old American station wagon clan. It would best be called a crossbreed between a limo and a taxi, not well suited for heavy off-road business. The 2014 Flex received minor tweaks in this year’s model, after last year’s extensive redesign and mechanical upgrade.
The Flex is packed in a box full of stylish confetti with great riding comfort and long journey pleasures. The shape seems to be just apt for an elegant box, simple and sweet, with sharp edges and a rounded front. It utilizes maximum space and provides large interior space while presenting a bold image. The three screen instrumental panel is easy to use and simple while it is a home to the new MyFord Touch System. The rear compartment refrigerator and voice-controlled Sync Communication system have undoubtedly been the favorites of the show. Forgetting its wide body and long wheelbase, the Flex is good enough to respond to your driving requirements. The ride overall is fairly smooth and it quests very well over tight turns, while the quiet interiors add on to the amenity if offers. The Flex boasts a low ground posture, managed nicely because of the large wheels and taut suspension. The electric power steering often arrests the feel, but works well. Despite of its squared appearance, Flex manages to flow through the air at great speeds. An option of contracting color of the roof and a lift gate adorned in brushed aluminum enhance the looks greatly.
The base 3.5L V-6 engine with a power of 287 horsepower, with a fuel economy of 18 mpg in city and 25 mpg on the highway, provides just enough acceleration while a twin-turbo V-6 EcoBoost engine with a power of 365 horsepower adds a thrill to the ride, though compromising on the fuel economy by 2 mpg . An all-wheel-drive system ensures tight grips on snowy and slippery tracks. A 6-speed automatic transmission is available with both engine variants while options of Front-wheel-drive and All-wheel-drive are available for buyers.
The Ford Flex is a clear winner for somebody looking for roomy interiors and soothing long rides but it certainly cannot double as an SUV or a crossover. Although the package is bundled with latest technology and has offers comfortable, smooth and fast rides it fails to please buyers expecting more from its looks.