From the September 2009 issue of Automobile Magazine
by Jeffrey Jablansky
, Jennifer Misaros
, Joe DeMatio
, Phil Floraday
, Rusty Blackwell
Photographs by: Andrew Trahan
Good Lord, this Flex is FAST! I made use of all 355 hp as often as traffic would allow in my night with the Flex. This is quite possibly the only crossover ever to inspire hooliganism. No, it's not going to do burnouts or compel a trip to the local autocross course, but the roll-on acceleration is amazing, and the twin turbos more than keep up with the aerodynamic demands at highway speeds. Honestly, there's enough thrust here to warrant an SVT badge. But I'm happy Ford didn't go that route with the Flex.
EcoBoost does nothing to alter the people- and cargo-carrying ability of the Flex, and it should improve trailering experiences considerably. There's no need to buy a big V-8-powered SUV for occasional towing of things like pop-up campers or moderately sized boats. The Flex EcoBoost won't replace full-size pickups for heavy towing, but I'd like to see how this engine motivates an F-150. Perhaps this is the replacement for displacement.
Phil Floraday, Senior Online Editor
Yep, Ford did a great job with the EcoBoost twin-turbo V-6. There's lots of power across the rev range, giving the Flex the ability to simply rocket out of entrance ramps and onto the freeway. Like Phil Floraday, I found myself taking full advantage of the Flex's capabilities and was weaving in and out of mid-evening freeway traffic. At 90 mph in top gear, you don't get much response if you mash the accelerator, but hit one of the shift paddles (which don't feel great to your fingertips, unfortunately), and the downshifts are immediate and produce almost violent forward thrust. This is definitely a people mover for mommies in a hurry. What also surprised me was how tractable the Flex EcoBoost is around town; throttle tip-in is just right, and the twin-turbo V-6 pours on lots of usable torque for the urban cut-and-thrust.
One jarring note for me was the driver's seat. Its fixed-position headrest is canted forward at a weird angle that pushes your head a bit too far forward and prevents you (or me, at least) from sinking fully against the seatback. Combine this with a steering wheel and column that I could never quite adjust to where I felt it needed to be, and I could never arrive at a truly satisfying driving position, no matter how much I adjusted the seatback, the seat bottom, and the headrest.
Joe DeMatio, Executive Editor
Phil and Joe do not lie: this EcoBoosted Flex is one quick big box. I went beyond highway hustling and sampled the solid towing capabilities of this Flex, and my 2000-pound popup camper trailer barely diminished the Ford's awesome accelerative power (although the Flex's brakes were a bit stressed by the extra weight of the unbraked trailer). Indeed, I think the Flex beats pretty much every other six-cylinder vehicle that I've hooked my camper behind (such as the Jeep Wrangler, Chrysler Town & Country, Toyota FJ Cruiser, and Subaru Tribeca). Fuel mileage, towing or not, is slightly disappointing at 18 mpg combined, but what can you expect from a 355-hp, 4800-pound, all-wheel-drive SUV?
I also concur with Joe about the Flex's imperfect driving position. My issue, though, is that I feel too short behind the Flex's steering wheel, with the door-window bottoms near my shoulder and enough extra headroom to wear the Chiquita banana lady's hat. At 5'6", I'm certainly no Yao Ming, but I'm still taller than many people who will end up driving Flexes. The lack of a telescoping steering column only compounds things.
Growing families with enough cash shouldn't be afraid to overlook that, though, because this Flex is the real deal---a spacious crossover with lots of room for American-sized people and their stuff. That it is stylish, particularly in this metallic black hue with a silver roof, and handles well for a vehicle of this size and shape further strengthen the Flex's position in the marketplace.
Rusty Blackwell, Copy Editor
I concur. The Ecoboost V-6 is amazingly responsive in any gear and at nearly any speed, making this Flex equally adept at scooting around town and performing quick passing maneuvers on the highway. It's also quiet - turbo-whine is minimal - and refined - shifts are smooth and well-timed.
Although I'm not usually enamored with SUVs as a genre, I find the Flex such an easy vehicle to live with. Its squat, upright proportions make ingress and egress a breeze and the low, flat, rear load floor is ideal for bringing whatever you need with you. The vertical rear and side windows allow for a mostly unencumbered view of the world outside and the interior is attractively finished and comfortable. As a total package, it's very well-thought out and extremely easy to use day to day despite its large footprint. Add the Ecoboost and the Flex becomes even more user friendly. The Ecoboost V-6's abundance of easy acceleration makes an already great package even more desirable.
Jennifer Misaros, Production Editor
I sat in the back - the way-way back - of the Flex while someone else drove. I was pleasantly surprised by the level of comfort in the least-spacious area, and though headroom was tight, there was plenty of legroom. Unlike some crossovers that compromise rear-seat window size for style, the Flex gives third-row passengers a good view of the passing scenery. You don't feel like you are in a clunky minivan, although it's clear you're riding in the back of a long-wheelbase vehicle. Kudos to Ford engineers for making the Flex feel a lot more lithe than it is, at least for the passenger.
Jeffrey Jablansky, Intern
2010 Ford Flex EcoBoost
Base price (with destination): $36,890
Price as tested: $41,555
Rapid Spec 208a-AWD $3050
-Sony 12-speaker sound system
2nd Row 40/40 seats-autofold $650
Class III trailer tow package $570
Silver two-tone roof $395
16 / 22 / 18 mpg
Size: 3.5L twin-turbocharged V-6
Horsepower: 355 hp @ 5700 rpm
Torque: 350 lb-ft @ 3500 rpm
Weight: 4839 lb
20-inch painted aluminum wheels
255/45R20 Goodyear Eagle RS-A tires