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HEELS ON WHEELS: 2015 FORD FLEX REVIEW


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HEELS ON WHEELS
By Katrina Ramser
San Francisco Bureau
The Auto Channel


INTRO TO THE FLEX VEHICLE
View the wagon-like Ford Flex as one of the most space-accommodating crossovers on the market for second- and third-row passengers. Its close-to-the-ground poise makes it an attractive alternative to those not comfortable with the nose-bleed seats some SUV competitors push. With car-like driving manners, the Flex is a surprising choice no family should overlook.

I drove a 2015 Ford Flex with the upgraded 365-horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost direct-injection engine paired to a six-speed SelectShift automatic transmission with Paddle Activation and all-wheel drive. The Flex is available in three trims – the base SE, SEL and Limited. My Limited model came with the following standard features: leather upholstery; woodgrain interior accents; ten-way power driver’s seat; heated front seats; leather-wrapped steering wheel with mounted controls; SYNC with MyFord Touch that includes Bluetooth, navigation and a vivid touchscreen; a rearview camera; upgraded twelve-speaker Sony audio system; fog lights; a power liftgate; nineteen-inch wheels; and High Intensity Discharge headlamps. Total vehicle price as described without options came to $42,400.

The 2015 model year goes unchanged. The Flex gets grouped into top-of-the-line trim SUVs with three rows, like the Chevrolet Traverse, the Nissan Pathfinder, the Toyota Highlander and even the GMC Yukon Denali.

HEELS ON WHEELS REVIEW CRITERIA

Stylish But Comfortable Results: The Flex takes a fresh approach to spaciousness and comfort. One of the best features is how easy it is for passengers to navigate into the second and third rows – and once you get there, you don’t want to leave. My test drive featured a $3,895 Package Group that added a power-fold rear seats plus cooled front seats and a heated steering wheel; as well as a $1,595 Multi-panel Vista Roof and $195 inflatable rear seatbelts. Ford’s MyFord SYNC media system can seem complex for those without quick fingers and strong technology intuition, but you will soon come to appreciate the myriad of commands crammed in there. With 83 cubic feet to store stuff, Ford’s boxy Flex is designed to hold and pack lots of items.

Reliability & Safety Factor: The 2015 Ford Flex has been tested in just “Rollover” with The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and earned 4-Stars in that category. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the vehicle ratings of “Good” in all areas minus Front Overlap with an “Acceptable” in LATCH (Child Seat Anchors) where ease of use is concerned – a great new rating to consider when looking at cars. Standard safety features include anti-lock brakes, stability and traction control, an advanced airbag system and rear parking sensors.

Cost Issues: A base SE trim has dropped to $28,068 with such standard highlights as a leather-wrapped steering wheel, SYNC, and reverse sensing system. With the optional equipment on my Limited test drive, this utility vehicle reached $49,445. A loaded the loaded 2015 Nissan Pathfinder Platinum is $41,410 and a 2015 Toyota Hybrid Limited at $48,245.

Activity & Performance Ability: <.> As with models of the past, the Flex’s EcoBoost engine continues to deliver immediate felt throttle action and flies quite effortlessly on open roads and at inclines. I was confident I could squeeze the wagon through extremely tight openings, yet that boxy shape caused some visibility limits and the vehicle is cumbersome to park even in the most basic of spaces. Also, the lowered suspension means most road abrasions are noticed.

The Green Concern: The Flex’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine has an EPA-rating of 16-city and 23-highway for 18 mile-per-gallon combined with all-wheel drive. The Nissan Pathfinder’s 260-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine with four-wheel drive boasts a fuel economy I couldn’t achieve, which are 19-city and 26-highway for a combined 22 miles-per-gallon – the best I got on that test drive with an even roadway mix was 18.7 mile-per-gallon.

FINAL PARTING WORDS
Alternative style and spaciousness will draw you to the 2015 Ford Flex – your family with experience a unique crossover designed to feel like a mobile living room. Spend some extra time during your test drive to make sure all household drivers feel comfortable parking the dimensions of this boxier wagon.

©2015 Katrina Ramser

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