2009 Ford Flex Road Trip, Stage 4: Gold Beach to Bend
August 17, 2009
Today we said 'so long' to my folks and their stunning place on the Oregon coast. It was time to point the 2009 Ford Flex inland (and further north) toward Bend, Oregon.
The Flex of course has been a great conveyance for the four of us as we cover the long distances between stops to visit family and see cool stuff.
Could we be doing this type of long distance trip in a sedan? Probably, but there would have been a lot of compromises.
As it stands, the Flex and its flexible and spacious three row seating arrangement has made it possible to bring my parents along with us to town for eats and drinks -- something no sedan would have allowed.
And there's enough space behind the third row for our luggage, a bunch of groceries or this pile of tools we needed to carry.
Our eventual escape includes a trip over scenic McKenzie Pass from Eugene to Bend, a very narrow, winding road that tops 5,000 feet as it crosses an ancient lava flow.
The sinuous road isn't wide-open enough for the 3.5-liter V6 to seem underpowered. The passengers reach their limit before this powerplant does. In fact, this 'normal' Flex engine has proved itself powerful enough throughout the whole trip.
Would more power be welcome? Sure, I guess. But I put a higher priority on a manual shift mode or, at the very least, a shift gate with more than 'D' and 'L' to choose from.
But let's not call the upcoming new V6 EcoBoost. Using turbos to make a same-sized engine more powerful without harming (or improving) fuel economy is PowerBoost. No one is replacing a V8 with a more efficient V6 in this case, because the Flex never offered a V8 in the first place.
No, EcoBoost would be what you'd get if you put a smaller turbo-4 in the Flex that made the same power as this V6, but with better fuel economy. You know, like they did in 1983 when they put a turbo-4 in the Thunderbird. I had one of those.
Speaking of fuel economy, here's how the last two tanks have gone:
Rural local driving in southern Oregon: 218 miles, 11.2 gallons, 19.4 mpg
Gold Beach to Bend: 341 miles, 16.8 gallons, 20.3 mpg
(Both tanks included a fair amount of mountainous driving)
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 30,613 miles