2010 Automobile All-Stars

Ford Flex | Now with more muscle.
By Jennifer Misaros

In its debut year, we were so taken by the Ford Flex's classically contemporary style and refined functionality that we named it a 2009 All-Star, calling it a "class act among people movers." For 2010, Ford has equipped the Flex with its much-anticipated EcoBoost engine, thereby addressing the Flex's only weakness - power - and effectively transforming it from a well-rounded family hauler into a large sport wagon. The 355-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 uses direct injection and two small turbochargers to provide effortless, V-8-like acceleration while matching the fuel economy of the all-wheel-drive, normally aspirated Flex. Unlike many turbos that are lazy down low, the pair in the Flex spool up quickly - all 350 lb-ft of torque is available at 1500 rpm - making the Flex an adept urban runabout as well as a capable, medium-duty tow vehicle. And because the EcoBoost's torque curve is flat, a well-timed downshift using the steering-wheel-mounted shift paddles makes quick sprints from 80 to 100 mph only a finger click away. To get the most out of all this muscle, Ford added all-wheel drive and then stiffened the springs, increased the damping rates, and lowered the ride height, making the already-buttoned-down Flex one of the best-handling full-size crossovers on the market. Of course, the addition of the EcoBoost engine does nothing to diminish the Flex's attractive mutation of modern and traditional styling cues or its knack for handily carrying cargo and transporting up to seven people in supreme comfort. Instead, Ford's EcoBoost serves only to elevate the Flex's uniqueness in a market brimming with compromised, look-alike utility vehicles.

Base Price Range: $29,325-$43,635
Engines: 3.5L V-6, 262 hp, 248 lb-ft; 3.5L twin-turbocharged V-6, 355 hp, 350 lb-ft

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