2009 Ford Flex test drive

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First let me say I really like the design of the Flex. It does have a presence in the streets.
It is much better looking than any minivan available in the US. And it’s not an SUV.
It is big but has a friendliness to it.

The car is larger than it seems. The top of the line wheels are 20 inches and they don’t look big!
That’s how large it is.

Like many have already said, the interior is not as interesting.
But the designers tried to make it up by using really interesting materials and textures. the overall feel is very relaxing.

As you can see, it is more than roomy. Even the 3rd row seats fit adults.

But how does it drive?
Well, first, it feels very solid on the road. Strangely enough the doors feel a bit cheap when you close them. Not from inside but from outside. They still have that metallic sound that doesn’t really make you feel you bought an expensive car.
I noticed the same thing with the Edge last year.
The step in is very easy. Not too high or low. But once you get going and drive by other cars, you realize you are actually sitting higher than most.

The engine is smooth, unless you really push it. Then is screams pretty much like most other 3.5 Liter V6 engines out there.
the problem is, it doesn’t seem to have much torque at all. And the 6 speed auto always wants to upshift.
On hills, you basically to constantly fight the transmission. And push the engine.

The ride is smooth , but it’s no magic carpet. it absorbs bumps but you do feel them.
While cruising, the car is very quiet.
The steering is light but precise, with a very pleasant feel to it.

The Sirius travel link option is pretty amazing. You can find out the cheapest gas prices on your route, or movie schedules from local theaters. Plus instant traffic info etc… All for $6.95 on top of the Sirius subscription.

And I finally got to try Sync. Another amazing feature. It recognized my iPod right away, displaying my playlists right onto the screen.
But I could never get the voice activation to work. No matter what it would always revert to the main menu.
It drove me nuts for about 15 minutes.
I’m sure it can be explained quickly, but I was hoping to figure it out myself.
But hey, it’s from Microsoft, so I don’t expect it to be that intuitive.

The sunroofs are a great idea, but the one above the driver is just a regular small size one.
The best one is above the 3rd row seat. The front one should be much larger.

The fridge works, but is much too small to accommodate the needs of 5 or 6 people on board.
And make sure you don;t forget your frozen food over night in there.

I think the Flex is an amazing alternative to a regular Minivan. As well as a 7 seater SUV.
It is basically a 21st century American station wagon. Although “wagon” seems to be a dirty word these days…

It is not cheap. About $29 000 for a base model, and over $40 000 for the Limited with options.
The one I was driving had AWD and I averaged 18MPG on our mixed trip with about 15 to 20% freeway driving.
Not bad for such a large car.

It’s not a sports car (The engine and transmission let you know that early) but it doesn’t look like one.

If you need that many seats, you owe it to yourself to take a serious look a the new Flex.
It’s not every day that a large car comes with such strong personality.

I’ll post movies soon.

Conversation 20 comments

  1. Nice review, thanks Vince.

    During development the pics turned me off, but this looks like a nice vehicle now that it is done. It’s different and very practical. I think, however, that it is maybe $4,000 too pricey in general, especially with the Traverse coming out, so the initial “gotta-have-it” folks will pay up and then there will be cash on the hood.

    Your mileage was not bad considering it has AWD, but the stated mpg is like 17/24 for the FWD unit, qhich is about 10% below the GM lambda’s, so good luck to Ford on that. As I said, I like it, but pricing it highly and then giving me lower mileage than a lambda would steer me toward GM if I needed something this large.

  2. i have been 100 % against this from day 1, but i just sat in the all new Pilot in Canada. Unbelievable, in a very bad way. i am sure that this interior was made by either mattel ( barbie plastic) or chrysler. there is so much hard plastic and the fit and finish was terrible. This flex may be the better choice.

  3. Ford might need to offer a 4 cylinder turbo to attract
    the more frugal shopper and conservationist.
    I love cars but hate that they still run on gasoline.

  4. As was mentioned in another review, hit the O/D button on the shifter when you’re in the hills. It locks out sixth, holds gears longer, and will downshift automatically on braking. That reviewer said it made all the difference when in situations where the engine is pushed.

  5. Does it have:
    -a two-way tailgate?
    -rear-facing back seat?
    -woodgrain on the side?
    -AM/FM Radio with 8-Track and 4 speakers?
    Flex, I KNEW Country Squire and You’re NO Country Squire!

  6. I like this car but I wish they would come out with a short version. This thing looks way to long for my taste.

  7. i am sure that the douchbag boy has a learning disability. he is certainly challenged and we all should be careful not to offend.

  8. 4 cylinder turbo?

    Acura RDX is 4C turbo and gets 17/22/19 with 240 HP
    Acura TL is 6c 18/26/21 with 258HP

  9. Great review Vince! My main concern is the interior quality…are the plastics soft touch or really hard and cheap? From the pictures I’ve seen, it looks like the dash has nice soft-touch materials while the lower portions you don’t see often have hard plastics.

  10. Have to say Ford finally has a decent looking Crossover. Now they will have to put a drivetrain that gets good power and milage with some reliability in it. The GMC Acadia I have gets an EZ 23mpg in a 5,000 lb crossover that has more room than a Tahoe. To tell you my wife has been run into the back 3x in last 3 years convined me big has advantages in safety. Its like that Mario game….big bowser gets hit by little Mario,,,..Mario losses some stars…OR 5 star safty ratings are relative to individual size. Hey my kids ride in this vehicle and folks out there have important cell phones to yak on about nothing and don’t pay attention.

  11. How much room is behind the third row, Vince?

    I find that most if not all SUVs (except the behemoth ‘burban) has hardly any room back there for 6-7 people. The exception being a regular minivan … load of trunk space behind the third row.

  12. This vehicle – bought 1 year old – should be a good value.

    What, $20K after 1 year? one can get a lightly used Explorer for $15K

  13. Looks like a Mini and an Expedition had too much tequila one night…The sex and birth must have hurt.

  14. That’s what I’m sayin, when and If I ever need a vehicle this size, after being around the block a year, this thing will be a dream come true price wise when bought used!

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