First Drive Review: 2009 Ford Flex
This 2009 review is representative of model years 2009 to 2012.
By Shaun Bailey of Road & Track
New York City — Aside from the Mustang and F-150, Ford's model lineup has been undistinguished. The Flex has fixed that. First shown at the New York International Auto Show, it was transformed from the Fairlane concept into the production 2009 Flex. The 6- or 7-passenger wagon has attracted a lot of attention with its form-follows-function styling — it's somewhat polarizing, but I like it.
The Flex has no off-road aspirations so it has only modest ground clearance and 18-in. wheels. Although it's produced on the same assembly line as the Ford Edge and Lincoln MKX in the Oakville, Ontario, plant in Canada, it's actually built on the unit body of a Taurus X, albeit one stretched 5 in. That means standard front-wheel drive and optional all-wheel drive with the handling characteristics of a big sedan. We have lauded the driveability of the Taurus X, just not its styling. The Flex does it right and gives all the rear passengers plenty of space.
This isn't a tough, in-your-face type of vehicle, but it has a lot of character. The type that makes owners proud to be seen with it — even when it's packed with kids and soccer balls. The cool styling and intelligently designed interior give the Flex enough class to be more than a people-hauler.
Sure, the base model — the $28,295 SE with a monochromatic color scheme, 18-in. painted wheels, cloth interior and fwd — is perfect for the large family on a budget, but most buyers will opt for the $32,070 SEL that adds some exterior chrome, heated leather front seats, climate control and wood trim. Enough luxury and comfort are in the SEL Flex that it wouldn't be inappropriate to use it to transport business clients.
Take the big step to the $36,555 Limited and get 19-in. wheels (which still seem a little small) as well as adjustable pedals, Sync voice activation, a 110-volt power inverter, a power liftgate and myriad other detail changes. Except for the base SE model, awd is available for roughly $1850 extra.
I had the opportunity to drive a $43,250 Limited AWD model. Options included the Vista roof, which provides overhead glass panels; a navigation system with the new Sirius Travel Link system that can show weather data and local gas prices and incorporates a backup camera; as well as my favorite option, a $760 refrigerator. It's big enough to hold six soda cans and it's not cooled by an air-conditioning vent, but by a Waeco compressor unit that is also used by Maybach.