Review: 2009 Ford Flex
This 2009 review is representative of model years 2009 to 2012.
By Doug Newcomb of MSN Autos
The 2009 Ford Flex is unlike anything on the road today — both inside and out. Sure, it has a boxy body similar to the Scion xB, and it cops the Mini Cooper’s two-tone roof scheme. But with its hulking, low-slung stance, sleek side grooves and unique black-on-black “greenhouse,” the Flex cuts a distinctive profile. And then there are all the little luxuries on the inside: generous second-row seating, an elevated “theater-style” third row, an optional refrigerator and a full complement of Ford’s best tech, including Sync, a new navigation system with a built-in hard drive and SIRIUS Travel Link.
The SEL edition adds cool chrome accents on the beltline, door handles and fog light bezels, in addition to 18-inch aluminum wheels and heated exterior mirrors. Interior upgrades on the mid-level trim include first-row heated leather seats, a woodgrain appliqué gracing the instrument panel and door trim, and a premium Sony audio system with 10 speakers, a six-disc CD changer and SIRIUS satellite radio.
Stepping up to the Limited package brings more bling: a satin-aluminum appliqué on the liftgate, chrome “skullcaps” on the power-folding and heated side mirrors, chrome scuff plates, LED taillights and 19-inch polished aluminum wheels. Interior appointments on the top trim include adjustable pedals with memory, second-row footrests, perforated leather seats, ambient lighting, wood inlay and Ford’s popular Sync system (which is a $395 option on the SE and SEL trims).
Under the Hood
The Flex’s second-row seats offer what Ford bills as “business-class comfort,” with over 60 cubic feet of passenger volume and 44.3 inches of legroom. The second-row, three-passenger 60/40 split-bench seat is standard across the line, and captain’s chairs with either a walkthrough or a center console are optional. The second-row seats fold and tumble for access to the third row, which is slightly elevated to give those in the way-back a better view. As an option, a button added to the C-pillar automatically folds the second-row seats into the floor.
The interior offers lots of subtle but stylish touches befitting an inventive design: a center stack finished in satiny sliver-metallic, an elegantly simple instrument panel and chrome accents on the shift knob, door pulls, air vents and cupholder rings. The Flex also offers loads of cutting-edge tech including Sync, and the new SIRIUS Travel Link system that provides real-time traffic, gas prices, weather info, movie times, sports scores and more, plus an optional refrigerator for the second-row center console.
On the Road
On city and suburban streets, the Flex felt confident and poised, and on the freeway the V6 powerplant had no problem passing rubbernecking road mates. The ride was relatively smooth and the steering responsive. But when we took the Flex up into the twisty coastal canyons it was challenged by its bulk. The engine groaned up the steeper grades and body roll on the sharper turns had us stabbing the brakes lest we test a guard rail. And coming down the mountain we had to ride the 4-wheel disc brakes (with ABS) instead of downshifting, since the automatic offers only a single low setting to slow the Flex.
Our obvious conclusion: The Flex makes for a great city cruiser and highway people hauler, but performance-wise it’s proportionately challenged.
Right for You?
As a people mover, we think it hits a sweet spot between bland minivans and super-size SUVs, and it has more ‘tude than your typical crossover. But with gas prices going through the roof, Flex buyers are going to have to vastly value style over fuel economy to go for a vehicle with an MPG rating that dips into the teens. But if you need a car that can comfortably accommodate up to seven passengers, there are few that can do it with the style and substance of the new Ford Flex.
Doug Newcomb has been writing about automotive-related topics since 1988. His work has appeared in Consumers Digest, Road & Track, Rolling Stone, Men’s Journal and many other publications. His book Car Audio for Dummies is available from Wiley Publishing.
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