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July 15, 2009 > Auto Review: Ford Flex

Auto Review: Ford Flex

Ford first brought out the Flex in 2008 as a 2009 model. The Flex is a mid-sized SUV with three rows of seats for seven people. It feels like an SUV but really drives like a car with a smooth, quiet ride, yet feels very sporty. It is a big vehicle but didn't feel like one.

One of its strong suits is interior room; it's very roomy and has great back seat leg room. The front seats are comfortable and you can find a seating position to fit almost anyone's size and shape. There is plenty of headroom. External visibility is excellent. The interior is well laid out with all instruments and controls easy to read and use. There is a system to pick one of seven interior lighting colors so you can change it to suit your mood.

On the negative side, it is a little difficult for full-sized adults to get back to the third row. Also, the front seat headrests seem to be positioned too far forward and bump the back of your head.

The gas filler arrangement was new to me. There is no gas cap. When you open the filler door, all you see is the hole where the nozzle goes in. After fueling, there is a seal on the filler door that prevents gas fumes from polluting the atmosphere.

Flex is available in SE, SEL, and Limited editions. Each one has a 3.5-liter, V-6 engine that delivers 262 HP on regular gas. The EPA mileage numbers are 17 and 24 for the front wheel drive Flex and 16 and 22 for the all-wheel drive model. They all use a 6-speed automatic transmission.

The SEL and Limited come with the Ford SYNC technology system from Microsoft. It is a voice-activated, hands-free communications and entertainment platform that includes a 911 Assist system and can provide Vehicle Health Reports so you can assess system operations of the Flex. You can add a navigation package.

A "Vista Roof" can be added to the Flex SEL and Flex Limited. It has a "regular" sunroof over the two front seats. Then three more glass panels (with sun shades) provide both back rows with abundant natural light. Another neat option is a refrigerator mounted between the second row captain's chairs. It has its own compressor and can keep your picnic or traveling lunch and drinks cool and fresh.

The 2009 Flex SE starts at $28,495 and is pretty well equipped. Moving up to the SEL adds Ford SYNC, dual zone AC system, a better sound system with satellite radio, and larger wheels and tires for $31,270. All-Wheel Drive will add about $1850 to the price. The Limited gets the voice activated navigation, rear view camera, a Sony sound system, leather and power front seats, power rear lift gate, power adjustable pedals, and High Intensity Discharge headlights. It starts at $37,165.

The Flex gets very strong ratings in its crash tests. Side canopy air bags are fitted for all three rows of seats. A full complement of air bags is also fitted to the front row. The Flex is a very good family transportation choice. It looks good, rides and handles well, and is economical to operate.

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