2009 Ford Flex Limited AWD Review

2009 Ford Flex Limited

I’ve written about the “minivan stigma” before, which I’ve always felt was a bit undeserved. From a practical point of view the minivan is arguably the most efficient family-mover in existence, thanks to it’s voluminous cargo space, the ease and convenience of sliding doors, and relatively car-like handling and performance. That said, some people simply despise the thought of owning a minivan, so car manufacturers have taken notice. One of the reactions to this fear and loathing of minivans was the introduction of the 2009 Ford Flex, a new entry into the 6+ passenger crossover segment that attempts to combine some style with most of the traditional features that minivans offer. Did Ford manage to pull off the combination? Our answers and a full-length review after the jump.

Flex Those Features
The Flex I tested was the Limited edition, which was loaded with an impressive number of standard features. A 3.5L V6 engine—generating 263 hp @ 6,250rpm and 249 lb.-ft @ 4,500rpm—is the standard powerplant, mated to a six-speed automatic overdrive transmission. This particular model came equipped with all-wheel drive (AWD), undoubtedly a popular option in my neck of the woods here in Northern Colorado.

The interior is nicely appointed, with leather trimmed and heated seats, woodgrain trim accents, and 2nd and 3rd row seats that fold flat for additional cargo space. Dual zone climate control helps keep multiple passengers in their comfort zones. I found the seats to be firm and supportive, with the 10-way power adjustable driver’s seat making it easy to find the perfect seating position.

I can’t say the same for the steering wheel, which—in a “What were they thinking?” design fumble—doesn’t telescope, which could make finding a good driving position for drivers on the shorter and taller ends of the size spectrum a difficult proposition. (Note: Ford has apparently responded to this frequent complaint by adding a telescoping steering wheel to the 2010 Ford Flex.) Seating space in all three rows was ample, although storage space behind the 3rd row seats was a bit modest.

Our test vehicle came with a few extra amenities, including a Class III trailer tow package ($570), a panoramic vista roof ($1495), a 2nd row floor console ($100), a rear console refrigeration ($760), a navigation system ($2375), and a white two-tone roof ($395). Ford’s excellent Ford Sync system was also included, which I’ll cover in more detail in a paragraph or two.

The Flex is also loaded with safety features, including traction and stability control (AdvanceTrac w/RSC), driver, front passenger and side-curtain airbags, the LATCH child safety system and a tire pressure monitoring system. The 2009 Flex also fared well is crash testing conducted by the NHTSA and IIHS, earning 5 out of 5 stars across all tests in the former and  “good” ratings in testing by the latter.

During our week-long test period with the Flex, we carted groceries, kids, pets, and relatives through a mix of different weather types, from clear days to rain and sleet.The highlight of our test our period was a day-long drive up to Estes Park, CO and the nearby Rocky Mountain National Park.  Despite some super-sized dimensions—the Flex weighs in at a substantial 4700 lbs weight and sports a 117.9″ wheelbase and overall length of 202.3″—the 3.5L V6 managed to move the Flex up and down curvy mountain roads without any trouble. The Flex is clearly no sports car, but the performance is equivalent to comparably-equipped minivans.

The Awesome Ford Sync
I’ve raved about Ford’s slick Sync system before, both in a review of a previous Ford vehicle here at Drivelineblog and also over at Windows IT Pro. In essence, Sync teams a sophisticated voice-recognition system with your car stereo, phones, iPods, and other mobile devices. Setting up a cell phone to work with Sync only takes a few minutes, and the voice recognition is exceptional: I was able to change radio stations, place phone calls, and select CD tracks all by using some voice commands. Sync isn’t perfect—the voice recognition doesn’t work so well when you have a vehicle full of shouting kids—but in most other instances it works like a charm.

Note: I tested the 2009 Ford Flex Limited model; the 2010 Ford Flex includes a number of upgrades and changes, including: a telescoping steering wheel; a new twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 (EcoBoost) engine option with 355 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque; improved suspension for better handling; and a number of other minor upgrades and improvements.

Bottom Line: The Ford Flex limited is an impressive, 7-passenger people mover that features a slick exterior and lots of family-friendly interior features. It does lack the sliding doors and voluminous cargo space that the best minivans offer, but for families looking to avoid a minivan the Flex is a great—albeit pricey—alternative.

Related Reading

Vehicle Specifications
Vehicle: 2009 Ford Flex Limited
Manufacturer website: 2009 Ford Flex Limited
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Base Price: $36,555
Price as tested/options: $43,820; Class III trailer tow package ($570), 2nd row 40/40 seats-autofold ($870), panoramic vista roof ($1495), 2nd row floor console ($100), rear console refrigeration ($760), navigation system ($2375), white two-tone roof ($395)
Engine: 3.5 liter Duratec V6 (263 hp @ 6,250rpm, 249 lb.-ft @ 4,500rpm)
Drivetrain: Front engine, AWD
Fuel Type / Fuel Economy (EPA): Unleaded 87; 16 / 22

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3 Responses

  1. Jeffry says:

    Its awesome to see the interior mostly covered with leather upholstery. Of-course, its a branded car.

  1. January 22, 2010

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