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2009 Ford Flex Review

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Model: 2009 Ford Flex
Engine: 3.5-liter V6
Horsepower/Torque: 262 hp @ 6,250 rpm/248 lb.-ft. @ 4,500 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 117.9 in.
Length x Width x Height: 201.8 x 88.8 x 68.0 in.
Tires: P235/55R19
Cargo volume: 20.0/43.2/83.2 cu. ft. (3rd row seats up/3rd row up/2nd row down/2nd and 3rd row seats down
Economy: 16 mpg city/22 mpg highway/21.7 mpg test
Fuel capacity: 18.6 gal.
Price: $43,820 (includes $700 destination and delivery charge and $6,560 in options)

The Bottom Line This crossover is unlike any other and lives up to its name. It’s flexible, and offers functionality, practicality and a unique look that will easily be recognize coming down the road. You have to be willing to accept its “pushing-the-envelope” styling, though.

Ford labels its new Flex as a crossover, and a crossover it is. Most crossovers are loosely defined as a combination of a sport utility and a sedan. The Flex fits more in between a Mini and a school bus. It would be easier to classify it as a station wagon, but that nomenclature is 40 years out of date. Or you could classify it as a van with normal swing-out doors.

Yes, its styling is that unique. But like a big square moving van, the Flex’s shape is put to good use. It offers a lot of storage inside, and yet doesn’t look like a moving van. Flex’s straight sides and almost flat glass presents a new view to the air, yet there’s little wind noise when you’re driving it at highway speeds.

The 3.5-liter V6 under the hood offers good power. It is rated at 262 horsepower and transmits its power to the wheels through a 6-speed automatic transmission. Like any respectable crossover, it has all-wheel drive that will come in useful in rain or light snow but won’t do for heavy off-roading.

I was impressed with the fuel economy. The Flex is rated at 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway. We averaged 21.7 mpg in our test, which did include a lot of Interstate driving.

With the high aspect ratio of the Flex, it naturally offers excellent head room in all three rows. The Flex is 68.0 inches tall on the outside, which is more than most sedans or smaller crossovers.

The three rows of seats offer seating for six passengers, although those sitting in the third row may have to be amateur contortionists to get there. The third row folds into a nice well behind the seats, which is where it would sit in our family, for example, but not my daughters’ families. With that third row stowed away, there are 43 cubic feet of storage, more than in most SUVs. Even with the third row up, cargo behind the seat is 20 cubic feet, which is aided by the empty deep well.

And for senior citizens, there’s a power liftgate to make entry to that cargo area easier.

A feature that the Flex offers that can’t be found on most vehicles is a refrigerator in the second row console. This isn’t just a chiller, but an honest-to-God refrigerator. It won’t keep ice cream hard, but it will keep soda or water cold. It’s an $860 option ($760 for the fridge, $100 for the console).

Another neat feature is the three sun roofs. There’s the “normal” large sunroof for the front passengers; two side-by-side sunroofs for the second row passengers, and a large sunroof for the third row passengers. It gives the Flex a feeling of airiness that is always welcome when you’re stranded in the third row. The panoramic vista roof is a $1,495 option.

Other options include the navigation system with a back-up camera ($2,375), a class III trailer hitch ($570), and white two-tone roof ($395). Depending on your proposed uses for the Flex, some of these options might not be necessary. Included are dual zone heating and cooling, the Sync voice-activates audio system, a Sony audio system and privacy glass.

As crossovers go, the Ford Flex is unique. It has a different shape that is instantly recognizable. It has flexibility and utility that is as good as you can find. And it’s fun to drive, especially when people recognize it on the road and smile.

© 2008 The Auto Page Syndicate