2009 Ford Flex: Let's Go to a Crash
September 16, 2010
We took the 2009 Ford Flex Limited out for a crash test.
Don't panic. We didn't crash the Flex (it's too pretty for that). What I mean is that four Edmunds staffers took the Flex on a four-hour round-trip drive to Adelanto in California's high desert to visit Karco Engineering, a test lab and automotive research center. If you ever get the chance to go, the people there are great, and the crash tests are fascinating. Just don't mock the test dummies' thermal underwear and bad shoes and watch out for the rattlesnakes that hang around, looking for a chipmunk snack.
The trek put a little over 250 miles on the wagon (including my commute to and from the Edmunds mothership in Santa Monica), and the route put the Flex through a variety of conditions. We had some stop-and-go freeway driving through downtown Los Angeles, wide-open freeway along the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, a climb to an elevation of 4,190 feet at the Cajon Summit on Interstate 15 and a stretch on straight-shot Highway 395 (where it's easy to speed, but where the CHP trolls in search of the unwary).
While I like the Flex overall, I didn't love its performance in the Cajon Pass. I felt like I really had to stomp on the gas to keep the vehicle at freeway speed while making the climb to the summit. (If you crave more power, you might want to look at the Flex with EcoBoost). Our version of the Flex doesn't seem to like steep and fast.
But aside from that, the Flex made the four of us very comfortable. The navigation system did its job admirably (although it did alert us to an accident that was no longer there). Satellite radio allowed the front-seat passenger to catch up on a little current music. There was plenty of room for the second-row passengers, two Edmunds guys who appreciated legroom and a quiet passenger cabin so they could go over the cars they've owned, cars they've sold and cars they wish they could buy. The cup-holders got a workout: Starbucks on the way out and water (lots of it) on the way home.
Only one problem, and it can be chalked up to operator error. Before setting out, I had stocked the Flex's little fridge with an array of soft drinks (including a medio litro of Coca-Cola from Mexico -- real sugar, not corn syrup). But I missed the part about turning it on. Duh.