2009 Ford Flex Review
HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel
INTRO TO THE FLEX VEHICLE
Ford has revitalized the wagon market with the brand new 6-passenger, third-row Flex. Reflecting styling cues from a Mini or Scion, the Flex offers an unconventional – yet completely functional – approach to family driving.
I drove a 6-passenger 2009 Ford Flex Limited with all-wheel drive and a 262-horespower 3.5-liter V6 engine. The top-of-the-line Limited standouts include xenon headlights, 19-inch wheels, power liftgate, power-adjustable pedals, driver seat memory, leather seating and Ford's Sync multimedia interface. Optional extras are second row heated seats ($870); the vista moonroof ($1,495); navigation system ($2,375); and the white two-tone roof ($395). Total vehicle price came to $42,390.
The Flex stands out as an interesting alternative if you've grown tired or confused at the flooded crossover market. It's hard to identify a competitor for the Flex; so well-deserved kudos to Ford for expanding on a shape that is not only unique, but pioneers how families want to get around.
HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA
Stylish But Comfortable Results: Comfort experience inside feels more like a really big sedan than a minivan, making the Flex versatile for family or adult outings. Ford interiors – the leather seating, wood accents and user-friendly navigation system – have grown very impressive over the last couple years. I was able to fit six very well, including two car seats for children in 50/50-split third-row bench (however, a point was made the third-row seat belts were tucked in rather tight). Aside of a vista moonroof, there are three additional skylights – two on both sides of the second row and one farther back – but these do not open, most likely due to safety issues. Rear seats fold easily.
Reliability & Safety Factor: The Flex is a new vehicle, equipped with anti-lock brakes and front and rear airbags. The Flex also has Ford's AdvanceTrac with RSC, a stability control system, which helps apply brake pressure and reduces engine power if the vehicle senses the drive is out of control. The IIHS named the Flex a top safety pick for front and side crash tests, along with rear impact (which is what you want for a third-row vehicle). Ford products have always been sited as having somewhat long braking distances.
Cost Issues: The $42,390 price reflects the Limited edition price; even so, the navigation system and vista roof is still priced little high compared to other makers. You're going to pay just as much for a Highlander Limited or Acura MDX, however.
Activity & Performance Ability: Steering was exceptional – smooth, steady, and predictable on windy roads at higher speeds. The vehicle feels pretty roomy inside and it will take some practice using rear-park assist to parallel; however, you soon understand its boxy shape leaves little surprises. All-wheel drive is offered on the Limited and the SEL trims. I thought the turning radius was decent and more than acceptable. Overall, it is a very steady and exceptionally quite drive with excellent safety measures in tack.
The Green Concern: Estimated fuel economy for the Flex is 17-mpg city and 24-mpg highway driving for an average of 19-to-20-mpg, putting this on the same level – or in some cases, better – than most SUVs or crossovers with V6 engines.
FINAL PARTING WORDS
The Flex was an enjoyable, surprising experience on both the comfort and safety levels. Ford has hit a consumer nerve with the Flex, striking in a place that should help buyers see the unique shape as not just hi and classy, but functional and capable.
Katrina's Car Tips For Women Drivers
- Katrina's 2009 Crossover Watch List
- Katrina's 2009 3-Row SUVs and SUVs
- Katrina's 2008 Top 10 Vehicles For Female Drivers
- Katrina's Basic Car Insurance Coverage For Women
- Katrina's Money Saving Car Tips For Women
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©2008 Katrina Ramser