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2009 Ford Flex Review

2009 Ford Flex (select to view enlarged photo)
2009 Ford Flex

MORE: Ford Specs, Comparisons and Prices – Ford Buyers Guide

Katrina Ramser

By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel

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.


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.

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.

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MORE: Ford Specs, Comparisons and Prices – Ford Buyers Guide

©2008 Katrina Ramser