Lights, Camera, Sunburn? - 2009 Ford Flex Long-Term Road Test

2009 Ford Flex Long Term Road Test

2009 Ford Flex: Lights, Camera, Sunburn?

November 19, 2009


Let the sun shine in? Not if I can help it.

I'm a sucker for good lighting. I keep a string of lights in a backyard tree year round, and I even have purses whose interiors light up (strange but true). So it's easy to be seduced by the pretty azure lights encircling the Ford Flex cupholders, or the soft aqua glow of the gauges - though the color reminds me strongly of those metal school lockers from the '50s and '60s.

Mood lighting aside, the Flex has plenty of highly functional lighting to make driving a better experience. Dusk-sensing xenon headlights help navigate the road with confidence, and a strong bulb clearly illuminates the blind zone behind the car at night when using the rear-view camera.

But there is one kind of light I'd rather not see. And I'm not talking about the red and blue ones behind me.

No, it's the sun streaming into my eyes. Although it's been noted that the Flex has a massive visor, it's insufficient when the sun blazes through the driver's side window. A visor extender would fix that, but the Flex, with all its fancy-pants trappings, doesn't have one.

Visors without extenders are a pet peeve of mine, as I'm often driving at times when the sun is at just the right angle to make seeing difficult or to fry my left arm and half my face (not an attractive tan). Drivers in the desert or other warm climates know that the heat blazes right through the window, special coatings notwithstanding.

A little research offered two possible reasons why extenders aren't included in more vehicles. A writer claiming to be a former sunvisor engineer suggested that first, visor extenders don't work well with rollover curtain airbags: If the airbag inflates when the visor is down, you'll get bashed in the head.

The other reason, of course, is money:

'The primary reason those blade extenders aren't more common? Tooling costs. Tooling for the plastic clamshell that makes up the visor is typically about $300,000 US and a real pain to tool and develop, whereas if you do foam or cardboard it's alot cheaper. Trouble is, your choices for inclusion of features is more limited with the cheaper ones. Hard to make a business case for smaller vehicle runs.'

So there you have it. At least now, when I'm blinking and maneuvering to avoid the sun, I know why.

Joanne Helperin, Senior Features Editor @ 39,014 miles

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