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The Daily Drivers | By Peter Couture and Lyra Solochek

The Daily Drivers: 2009 Ford Flex SEL review

Appearance: There's no way you can discuss the Flex without talking about its love-it-or-leave-it styling. It certainly draws attention. Design guru Chip Foose has likened it to a Mini Cooper all grown up. We agree, but understand that some might find it too boxy.

Performance: The Flex boasts a 262-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine, plenty for the 4,500-pounder. But all those horses in the front-wheel drive car comes with a price — torque steer. That's when the steering tugs to one side under hard acceleration. The handling is responsive and the six-speed automatic shifts smoothly. With a low center of gravity, the feeling you might roll over on turns is nonexistent.

Interior: Ford promotes the Flex as having a "Limo-Style Comfort," and it does. The SEL's leather seats were firm yet comfortable. The 10-way driver's seat adjusts from low-rider low to crunch-your-head high. The second row has plenty of legroom, with optional captain's seats (which are required for the optional built-in fridge.) The third row might be a bit tight for adults, but roomy enough for younger ones. The cabin is library quiet. And not to worry, parents: A rear DVD player is available as an option. If you need cargo room, both the second and third rows fold down flat, long enough for a 6-foot adult to stretch out. (But you might feel like a puppeteer, pulling lots of straps to get the right seating configuration.)

The Flex's Max AC quickly cools down the cabin with dual zones for the front, and independent controls for the rear seats, accessible from the front instrument cluster or the second row. The automatic climate control maintains the temperature you set.

Exterior:.The Flex lacks a minivan-type slider door, and its large doors might be too heavy for some kids. The heavy rear hatch opens vertically and is manually operated. (A power lift gate is availabe in the SEL and Limited models as part of the convenience package.)

Ford calls it a crossover. But we wish they'd just call it what it is: a station wagon. Remember those big bad tanks from the '60s and '70s? Well, they're back in the Ford Flex, but with 21st century technology and amenities. The Flex is based on the Taurus X platform with roomy interior to match its brawny Mini Clubman-on-steroids styling.

Appearance: There's no way you can discuss the Ford Flex without talking about its love-it-or-leave-it styling. It certainly draws attention. Design guru Chip Foose has likened it to a Mini Cooper all grown up. We agree, but understand that some might find it too boxy.

Performance: The Ford Flex boasts a 262-horsepower 3.5-liter V-6 engine, plenty for the 4,500-pounder. But all those horses in the front-wheel-drive car come with a price — torque steer. That's when the steering tugs to one side under hard acceleration. The handling is responsive and the six-speed automatic shifts smoothly. With a low center of gravity, the feeling that you might roll on turns is nonexistent.

Interior: Ford promotes the Flex as having a "limo-style comfort," and it does. The SEL's leather seats were firm yet comfortable. The 10-way driver's seat adjusts from low-rider low to crunch-your-head high. The second row has plenty of legroom, with optional captain's seats (required for the available built-in fridge). The third row might be tight for adults, but roomy enough for kids. The cabin is library quiet. And not to worry, parents: A rear DVD player is available. If you need cargo room, both the second and third rows fold flat, long enough for a 6-foot adult to stretch out.

The Ford Flex's Max A/C quickly cools down the cabin with dual zones for the front. The automatic climate control maintains the temperature you set. The rear air is controllable from the front or the second row.

Exterior: The Flex lacks a minivan-type slider door, and its large doors might be too heavy for some kids. The heavy rear hatch opens vertically and is manually operated. (A power lift gate is available in the SEL and Limited models as part of the convenience package.)

Our 3 favorites

Peter Couture, 49, city driver, 6 feet tall, married with a teenager and a middle-schooler.

Max Headroom: I feel like I could wear a Rayhawk while driving and not scrape the roof liner.

Fuel gauge: It starts counting down when you have 50 miles of gas left. Great reminder for procrastinators.

Handling: Sure, the Ford Flex doesn't handle like a Ferrari, but it doesn't feel like a Freightliner either.

Lyra Solochek, 43, highway commuter, 5 feet 1, married with a 5-year-old and a teenager.

Ride: Slaloms through construction zones with no problems. It's solid, comfortable and is a decent corner-hugger. You can feel the road — in a good way.

Attention to details: 10 cupholders, second-row pullout bin and four 12-volt plugs. Plenty of places for your child to store toys.

Sound machine: Outstanding sound quality from the Sony Premium Sound System.

The bottom line: Boxy can be beautiful. With seating for seven and carlike handling, the 2009 Ford Flex SEL offers ultimate flexibility for a range of drivers — from a young family needing lots of space to a hip-hop-cranking low-rider.

2009
Ford Flex SEL

Price: $28,550, base; $34,455, as tested

Powertrain: 3.5-liter Duratec V-6; six-speed automatic transmission; front-wheel drive (all wheel drive optional)

Horsepower: 262 at 5,200 rpm

Torque: 248 pound-
feet at 4,500 rpm

Curb weight: about 4,500 pounds

Dimensions in inches:
Wheelbase, 117.9 Length, 201.8

Width, 75.9 (88.8 including mirrors)

Fuel economy:
17 miles per gallon city, 24 mpg highway (front-wheel drive); 16 mpg city, 22 mpg highway (all-wheel drive)

Safety features: Full airbag coverage, AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control, antilock brakes, tire pressure monitor

Trim levels: SE, SEL and Limited

Options worth considering: Voice-activated navigation system with reverse camera; SYNC communications and entertainment system; convenience package with power liftgate; DVD entertainment system, all-wheel drive.

Web site: www.fordvehicles.com/crossovers/flex

Ride: Slalom through construction zones with no problems. It's solid and comfortable, a decent corner hugger. You can feel the road… in a good way.

Attention to details: 10 cupholders, second-row pullout bin and four 12-volt plugs. Plenty of places for your child to store toys.

Sound machine: Outstanding sound quality from the Sony Premium Sound System. Even talk radio came in crystal clear.

Max Headroom: I feel like I could wear a Rayhawk while driving and not scrape the roof liner.

Fuel gauge: It starts counting down when you have 50 miles of gas left. Great reminder for procrastinators.

Handling: Sure, the Flex doesn't handle like a Ferrari, but it doesn't feel like a Freightliner either.

The Daily Drivers: 2009 Ford Flex SEL review 06/01/09 [Last modified: Monday, June 1, 2009 11:31am]

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