I was on the Ford Flex EcoBoost launch in Boulder, Colorado where we got to steer these crossovers around mountain bends. The low ride height gives the Flex a serious handling advantage over the other crossovers in this class. The turbocharged Flex offers some serious grip and power. Of course, this is still a big, heavy crossover riding on relatively soft springs, so it does lean in turns.
Over the weekend with this particular Flex EcoBoost, I loaded it to its seven-person capacity with my girlfriend's family, who are seriously considering replacing a tired 2000-era Dodge Caravan with a Flex. For them, the Flex's low ride height is more of an undesirable trait, as it erases the sightlines and security provided with a higher seating position. The Flex's tall roof leaves plenty of room to raise the driver's chair without encroaching on headroom, but still leaves you lower than in a minivan. Their other chief complaint was that the second row doesn't slide forward to provide more legroom for third-row passengers.
I was a bit disappointed by the Flex's all-wheel-drive system. There's still a sizeable amount of torque steer when you plant the throttle, which is a good indicator that this front-wheel-drive-biased setup won't do much to help pull you through corners either. With a relatively advanced and powerful engine under the hood, it's a shame Ford doesn't have a better all-wheel-drive system to complement it.
Eric Tingwall, Associate Editor