2009 Ford Flex Limited: Mount Whitney Road Trip
September 08, 2010
There aren't a lot of cars I want to drive that can carry five guys and all their gear for a three-night road trip to the mountains. Sure, there are the minivans and the giant SUVs. But I wanted something that handled the road well and didn't look like it was taking a sledge hammer to nature. So I was lucky enough to get our 2009 Ford Flex Limited for the trip to climb Mount Whitney, near Lone Pine, about 190 miles north of Los Angeles.
I have a high school friend who comes out from the East Coast each year to climb in the Sierra and this year my brother is joining us. Together with my dad and my son, throw in two golf bags and you've got one full Flex. Even with all that stuff it didn't feel like it was staggering around on the road. Coming through the high desert we hit high winds but the Flex held its position on the highway. But when it came to making the climb from Lone Pine (elevation 3,700 feet) to the Whitney Portal (elevation 8,400 feet) it seemed to be working hard and didn't want to downshift. That was okay with me since it was still delivering about 23 mpg, according to the onboard computer.
Everyone loved the Flex and they all immediately started poking and probing all the features. To them it was a complete novelty. Right away they were excited about the sunroofs since we'll be winding along some mountain roads with peaks towering over us. They also liked the refrigerator box in the center row where we stashed our water and energy drinks for the climb. My son sat solo in the third row seat so we could fold down the seat to allow room for the golf bags. I noticed that the Flex is really quiet at 75 mph and could even hear someone when they were speaking from the third row seat.
On Friday we are going to climb Mount Whitney via the Mountaineer's Route. Before then, we'll spend two days of climbing and acclimatizing to the altitude. So we'll be up and down the mountain roads in the Flex until then. I can't close without including at least one picture from our trip. This one was taken from the area near Big Pine on the Seven Lakes Trail.
Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 67,821 miles