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Filed under: Audio, CES, Ford

We had the opportunity to sit in a dark maroon Ford Flex at the Dolby booth for a demonstration of their 7.1 Surround Sound system they've developed with the Blue Oval, and the first thing I notice is the super-nice croc-print leather seats beneath me. Michael Becker, Dolby's Global Marketing Director, says something like, "Oh, yeah. This is Funkmaster Flex's Flex." So don't look for the sweet, lizard-like leather on the production version.

But we weren't actually at the Dolby booth to ogle celeb-designed cars, we were there to listen to them.

Becker says one of the premium audio options in the upcoming non-Funkmasterized Flex will be the Sony system we heard with 12 speakers and 7.1 surround sound. With 375 watts it's an awesome-sounding system, especially for what is essentially a station wagon. We can assure you, your parents' Vista Cruiser never sounded this good.

Which brings up the question, "Why put such a high-end sound system in a family car?" So Dolby's Becker demonstrated. If you want to retain some of the premium sound, but still keep the kids asleep in back, use the touch-screen fader to move the sound up front. In most cars, that would have produced sound a little better than a pocket-sized transistor radio. But the Flex's system retains Dolby 5.1 for the front system or the rear if the fader is moved towards the back. This means the sound is still far ahead of that Vista Cruiser, and probably better than what you're driving now.

We can't wait to see how this sounds with real-world noise outside instead of within the crowds of CES-goers. Speaking of which, Becker said the Flex had attracted major attention from show-goers, with one even way overestimating the list price above $100k. It's nice, but not that nice. As if to demonstrate what he meant, while in the car demonstrating the sound system, we had to lock the doors to keep out the curious, even with the car roped off. Possibly a very good sign for Ford's Flex.

Gallery: CES 2008: Dolby surrounds Ford's Flex in sound

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