Ford Flex Review:
Ford had a great run with the Explorer SUV in the 1990s. Today many
families still want and need the Explorer’s virtues, but would rather
have a tall car than a domesticated truck.
With its “floating”
roof panel, all the window pillars are blacked out, the new Flex looks a
bit like a MINI Cooper on steroids. It is, however, much more imposing,
weighing 4,640 pounds in its all-wheel-drive configuration, and
stretching nearly 17 feet long.
Ford first showed the
Flex as a concept car, and based on a very positive reaction, delivered
a fairly faithful version to consumers this year. The design is less
macho than an SUV. A distinct set of grooves along the doors is unique
and is also mirrored inside on the center console. The roof is quite
flat. The overall look is tailored, handsome, and even elegant.
Inside, the ceiling is
quite high. The materials feel substantial and blend well together. In
my tester, the tan and dark gray-grained plastic, woodgrain, and black,
silver and chrome accents worked together in a particularly harmonious
way. Even the leather on the seats had an unusual perforation pattern.
The wood along the top
edge of the fat, leather-wrapped steering wheel matches up with the line
of “woodgrain” trim on the dash when you’re pointing straight ahead.
That’s a kind of subtlety not often found in previous Ford designs.
Actually the Flex felt more luxurious than the Lincoln that I tested the
I cruised virtually
silently in the Flex. Ford’s engineers designed in quiet by working to
eliminate all wind noise, adding sound insulation material, and using a
new inset side door design. The steering feels heavy and solid but the
wheel turns easily. A dead pedal for the left foot is welcome.
cupholders (red) were an amusing touch. Less amusing was the lack of
covered storage (and no apparent place to add a rear cover) and the
serious slam it took to close the glovebox.
You can get a Flex in
three levels: SE, SEL, and Limited. The SE is nicely equipped, but the
SEL adds heated leather seats with 10 adjustments for the driver and six
for the front passenger, a 10-speaker Sony premium audio system, and
machined rather than painted 18-inch alloy wheels. The Limited goes full
boat, with 19-inch alloy wheels, upgraded leather interior, upgraded
lighting systems, and a nice, fat silvery appliqué on the rear panel
that helps the car stand out.
All Flex models are
motivated by Ford’s 3.5-liter Duratec V6, which puts out 262 horsepower
and 248 lb.-ft. of torque through a six-speed automatic transmission.
The standard front-wheel-drive models get EPA ratings of 17 mpg City, 24
mpg Highway, while the all-wheel-drive version, like my Black Clearcoat
Limited tester, rates at 16 and 22 respectively. I averaged 17.1 mpg.
The EPA Green Vehicle
Guide gives the all-wheel-drive Flex a 7 for Air Pollution and 4 for
Greenhouse Gas. The front-wheel-drive version improves the latter score
to a 5. That’s acceptable for a big car, but nothing to get excited
You can add many
options to your Flex. One is the $1,495 Panoramic Vista Roof. This
equal-opportunity sunroof gives everyone a piece of the sky. You can
also order a second-row refrigerator ($760) for those long trips across
the desert. My tester had a navigation system ($2,375), as well as
Ford’s highly touted SYNC system.
I played a bit with the
SYNC voice commands. I asked it to find me a Starbucks and it cheerfully
offered up barber shops! Oops. Also, at one point the disembodied voice
asked, seeming out of nowhere, “Did you mean 72?” My wife and I are
still laughing about that one.
SYNC is not perfect
yet, but once you figure out some of the commands, you can control
numerous features by pressing a button on the steering wheel and asking
for what you want. For example, you make changes to your iPod
programming without touching the iPod itself. It plugs into a USB port,
so it is charging while it sits, a nice benefit over a simple AUX jack.
The Flex comes with
Ford’s new Easy Fuel capless fueling system. Just pop open the fuel door
and insert the gas nozzle. It seals back tightly when you close the
little door. Very clever and much appreciated. Now no more lost gas
shipping, start at $29,250 for the SE, and move up to $33,025 for the
SEL and $35,660 for the Limited. With options, my Limited model came to
“The Flex is like
nothing else on the road, and it defies being categorized,” said Jim
Farley, Ford group vice president, Marketing and Communications. “I have
a feeling that Flex is going to appeal to a group of customers who feel
absolutely the same way about themselves.”
By Steve Schaefer ©
AutoWire.Net - San Francisco
Ford Flex Review
provided by Tony Leopardo © AutoWire.Net
Ford Home Page
Column Name: The Flex
is like nothing else on the road today
Topic: The 2009 Ford
Word Count: 883
Photo Caption: The
2009 Ford Flex
Photo Credits: Ford
Flex Internet Media
Series #: 2009 - 37
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2009 Ford Flex
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2009 Ford Flex