This is a nice people mover but, man, $46,000 is a lot of loot. I kept wondering whilst I drove it: Since the Flex walks and talks pretty much like a minivan, why don't I just save the coin and get a Dodge Grand Caravan?
I'm not one of those who are down on the Flex's hearse-like exterior. I actually think it looks cool. It drives big, and sort of heavy, though I must say I would have guessed it weighs more than the number below.
I've also swilled the Kool-Aid on EcoBoost. I fully realize it's a fancy name for a couple turbos, but it works. It's quick, but more importantly, versatile. The six-speed automatic is smooth, and the mileage is up near 20 mpg in town; not bad at all.
You couldn't really ask for much more room, and there are decent-to-good materials throughout the interior. The front buckets are very comfy, too. I like the car a lot.
MANAGING EDITOR BOB GRITZINGER: Whoa, lots of green for this machine, but when you consider what you get, it may be worth it. What you get is an Expedition-size Ford with V8-level thrust and better than 18 mpg around town, where the Expedition would record about 12.5 mpg to haul the same number of passengers and their gear.
While I get the idea of buying a minivan, probably for less money, to get much of the same utility, too many people nowadays just won't buy a minivan--even if it is the most practical vehicle on the planet. So manufacturers play around with the same level of space, utility and fuel economy, but without the sliding doors and minivan silhouette, and voila, you get the Flex (and every other crossover on the market). I'd really like a Flex that was true to its name, with a normal hinged door on one side and a sliding door on the other, but then there's the minivan problem (see above).
However, all that doesn't detract from the overall goodness encompassed in this vehicle, from its comfortable seats and driving position, its strong turbocharged power, reasonable ride and handling, and the array of creature comforts. The black stitched-leather seats alone are worth part of the price of admission.
I'd still like Sync to work better than it does, but it's not a bad interface as long as you don't rely on it and voice commands for everything.
EXECUTIVE EDITOR ROGER HART: Like Raynal, I swallowed the Kool-Aid as far as the Flex goes. Once I drove the thing, I liked just about everything about it. Having the twin-turbo EcoBoost underhood makes it all the better.
The Flex does drive big, but part of the equation is a rather smooth ride, even over the pothole-infested roads around this part. Having said that, I wonder how many folks will pony up this amount of coin to buy this car. It's a lot of dough, and while there's a ton of flexibility regarding what and who you can haul in the Flex, it's playing in a stratosphere with blue-blooded competitors. For $10,000 less, as noted by my colleagues, you can get a loaded minivan that will serve all your hauling needs as well, or better, than the Flex.
Granted, driving a minivan isn't as cool, and no minivan I've driven lately can haul the mail quite as quickly as this EcoBoost-powered Flex. So that's worth something. The question is, is it worth $10,000 more?
COPY EDITOR CYNTHIA L. OROSCO: I have been a fan of the Flex ever since I saw the TV commercials announcing its arrival a few years back. And I've enjoyed my time in the ones we've had pass through the fleet. No different this time with this Flex, and I liked it even more with the EcoBoost power. My neighbor, who works for Ford, has been raving about the EcoBoost Flex for months. It definitely has more get up and go, and even though you can feel the Flex's heft, there's no power lag.
I love the lower stance and the rectangular shape, and the interior is very nice. I'm also a fan of the Ford/Lincoln/Mercury center stacks, control panels and the like. Everything is well laid out and easy to reach. A plus during my overnight was the power liftgate and deep and roomy cargo area, which we loaded up on the monthly grocery trip.
Even though I gush about the Flex and it catches my eye on the road, the sticker is quite large. I'd certainly take a Flex over a minivan, but for the price, I'd probably have to go for something else entirely.
2010 Ford Flex Limited EcoBoost
Base Price: $42,785
As-Tested Price: $46,020
Drivetrain: 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6; AWD, six-speed automatic
Output: 355 hp @ 5,700 rpm, 350 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm
Curb Weight: 4,839 lb
Fuel Economy (EPA/AW): 18/18.3 mpg
Options: Panoramic vista roof ($1,495); rapid spec package including 20-inch wheels, all-season tires ($795); active park assist ($550); white two-tone roof ($395)