2009 Ford Flex Long Term Road Test

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2009 Ford Flex: What I Hauled This Weekend

November 15, 2010

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I kept the cargo area of our long-term 2009 Ford Flex very busy this weekend. As usual the Flex handled every situation I could throw at it.

Go the next page for more pictures of cargo hauling fun.

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2009 Ford Flex: Maybe In Khaki

November 02, 2010

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Two EZ-Ups. Two large tables. Seven chairs. Three coolers, cups, plates, multiple jugs of juice, tea and water. One doomed, burro-shaped pinata. And this was before several foil pans of hot food went in. Just another rager at the park for the Kid's birthday with all her five-year-old pals.

I was skeptical that the Flex could haul it all, but it did. At 83 cubic feet, the Flex's cargo hold approaches the volume of an Odyssey with just its third row folded flat (91 cubes). The Flex also felt confidently composed at speed with that load (and nope, I didn't leave the wooden folding table floating up there on the window).

So are the rumors of the Flex's death greatly exaggerated?

Hard to say.

Ford sales were up 46 percent in September, but the Flex didn't contribute much - just 2,204 units sold during the month, fewer than even the anemic Expedition. The automaker also announced net income of $1.7 billion during the third-quarter, but nary a mention of the Flex in the company line. Instead, models like the Edge, Focus, Taurus and Mustang shouldered much of the third-quarter success. Year to date, Flex sales are down 8 percent compared to 2009.

Maybe it's too expensive. Fuel economy underachieves. The polarizing design is too boxy, too different, too weird. Maybe if they offered it in khaki. Whatever. It's still a great car, as our record total of blog posts - and reader praise - can attest. All the dads at the toddler toga admired its style and utility, particularly the second-row chiller box and its contents, reserved to ease the burdens of my fellow weary travelers.

Dan Frio, Automotive Editor

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2009 Ford Flex: Precious Cargo Hauler

October 30, 2010

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I don't know what we're going to do once our 2009 Ford Flex goes away. It helps us with our moves, makes our family road trips so comfortable and is the popular subject of many a caption contest.

And when I had to transport my brand-new 42-inch TV home, our long-term fleet didn't offer many options as desirable as the Flex. That gaping maw of a rear cargo area with its power liftgate and fold-flat seats. Pfew! I just sat in the back with the TV to steady it during the drive while another editor took the wheel.

BTW, premature Black Friday sales FTW!

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor

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2009 Ford Flex: See Ya Later, Tailgator

September 20, 2010

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At the risk of overblogging my kid, I feel compelled to post this shot taken Saturday morning while I was hanging out at my friend's (we'll call him Mike Schmidt) garage sale.

Early Saturday morning I loaded up the long-term Ford Flex and hauled some junk over to the Schmidt house. Emma was dozing in a second-row seat when we arrived, so I unloaded without her enthusiastic assistance. When I walked back across the street a few minutes later, she had already set up shop in the Flex's spacious cargo hold.

I think the pic nicely illustrates how much room the Flex offers. And the dinginess of the carpet shows just how much it's been used.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 69,086 miles

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2009 Ford Flex: Making My Life Easier

August 23, 2010

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We've had our 2009 Ford Flex since September 2008 and even though it has been THE road trip car for our staff, surprisingly it seems like no one, besides me, has actually used it as a moving van, at least according to the long-term blog. I moved over the weekend and the Flex was a nice little supplement to the U-Haul I rented. It carried my precious mid-century wood desk which wouldn't fit in the already jampacked U-Haul. Obviously that power cargo door came in really handy during the move when hands were too busy carrying boxes to reach for keys. And hurray for fold-flat seats!

But something I found out about my new place, turns out the garage I was so excited about having barely fits cars the size of our Flex. The Flex's sensors and beeps helped me with easing the car into the spot oh-so carefully and it was a good thing that I could fold in the mirrors, too. For some reason the above picture makes the space seem bigger than it is but I did have to fold in the right side mirror. This was just a one-time thing and I will never try to fit a car this big in that garage ever again.

Besides that, the Flex made my least favorite thing to do in the world -- moving -- so much easier, whether transporting moving boxes and furniture or serving as an errand runner to Bed, Bath & Beyond.

Flex, I owe you one.

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 66,433 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Bike Hauler It Ain't

July 09, 2010

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I bought a new bike last week. I did it for two reasons -- 1. It was my son's birthday and 2. I had our long-term 2009 Ford Flex, so I figured carrying the bike home would be a no-brainer.

Well, it was a no-brainer, but not a no-strainer, as I had to hoist the bike up, tip it over and slide it in. But then the pedal got caught on the folded third-row seat so I had to lift it again, slide it around and reposition the pedal, all while trying to avoid any scrapes or scuffs to the Flex's interior panels.

Sure, I could have dropped the third-row seats down to avoid catching the pedal on the back of them, but then the angle would have been more extreme between the third-row and second-row seat backs. Not sure that would have actually made getting the bike in/out any easier. Good thing it was a smaller bike with (if I remember correctly) 26-inch wheels versus the larger models the store had for adults.

I finally the got the bike loaded, but considering the shop was about a half-mile from my house I almost wished I'd just rode it home and walked back for the car. Bottom line, the Flex is great for people-moving and passable for small to medium cargo carrying. But bikes are best carried on dedicated bike racks or in the open bed of trucks.

Karl Brauer, Editor at Large @ 59,543 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: West Coast Run -- Cargo & Oil

June 28, 2010

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As I was preparing our Long-Term 2009 Ford Flex for a family trip up the West Coast I realized the third-row seat wasn't in the "stored" position. I'd used the Flex to move floor-standing speakers and Ford GT parts in the past, but this was my first time using it for a family vacation and I wasn't sure it would have enough space.

But after pulling the necessary levers and dropping the rear seats down I was more optimistic. Twenty mintues later the Flex was loaded for a 10-day road trip, for a family of four, and there was still nothing stacked higher than the lower window edge, meaning no hit to visibility. Sweet!

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2009 Ford Flex: Fits Even More Stuff

June 07, 2010

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It's Sunday evening. My wife asks me if we can go buy some house plants at Home Depot and then head over to Target. Sure, dear, it's not like there's a NBA Finals game on or anything. Good thing I have a DVR. And good thing I had the Flex; she neglected to mention she was planning on buying a towering Kentia palm.

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2009 Ford Flex: An Ideal Location For Reusable Bags

June 01, 2010

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The more I drive our long-term Ford Flex the more I've come to appreciate the space behind the Flex's third-row seats. To keep grocery bags from spilling their contents in most cars' trunks you need to either use one of those stretchable cargo nets (which never work very well) or buy some sort of cargo management accessory.

But the Flex's deep well behind the seats is ideal for grocery bags, especially the reusable kind. You can line up about five of them, no problem, and they all sit nice and snug. I will point out that minivans typically have this feature, too, so it's hardly an exclusive. But I like the shape and depth of the Flex's space a little more. Along with the power-operated tailgate, it just makes grocery shopping that much easier.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 56,557 miles

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2009 Ford Flex: Taking Us Out To The Ballgame

May 03, 2010

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A little more than a week ago my New York Yankees came to town, so we fired up our long-term 2009 Ford Flex and headed for Anaheim.

My "Suit up kids, we're going to the ballpark!" was enthusiastically greeted with cheers and requests for cotton candy. Angel's Stadium is about 60 miles from our home and I was glad to have the Flex for the trip. The more I use the Ford for freeway travel the more I like it.

Although once we got there, the Flex's lack of a cargo cover was a bit of a bummer. We had to hide some valuables under seats for them to be out of sight.

After the game, the late night drive home was comfortable and drama-free, which is exactly what you want. Kids crashed. Wife happy.

Sure the Yanks lost, but it was fun family outing and the Flex was the perfect vehicle for the job.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2009 Ford Flex: Seats Are Very Easy To Fold

May 01, 2010

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Got me a new addition for my garagemahal, free shelves from photographer Scott Jacobs'.

As I expected the shelving unit fit easily in our long-term 2009 Ford Flex, and as I expected the Flex's four rear seats folded flat very easily. But notice how the armrest/console/frig between the second row bucket seats is in the way and could have been easily damaged. And it is not removeable.

It didn't really affect this day of heavy hauling, but it could be a problem when you're transporting larger, sharper or dirtier cargo.

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: A Tiring Task Made Easy

April 05, 2010

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This weekend, I had to mount some tires on rims as part of my Miata restoration project. The tires in question are old -- 20 years old. Understandably, no tire shop would touch them. But in the interest of accurate display, I needed to have the "correct" BFG T/A R1 tires on the car. What to do?

I loaded the four thoroughly used tires I got from a fellow racer and some bare rims into our 2009 Ford Flex and hauled them to another friend's race shop, where he agreed to let me have access to his mount and balance machines so I could do it myself.

I was done in 20 minutes. It all went smoothly because the sidewalls were remarkably free of cracks and the rubber was still pliable due to indoor storage in a dark, climate-controlled space.

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Surprise Utility

February 01, 2010

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Here's a little surprise I stumbled into this morning while fiddling with the Flex's seats. This might very well give the Flex the ability to carry a ten-foot-long piece of cargo (like, say, a 2x4 or rain gutter or any other piece of hardware sold in that length) without cutting it down. I haven't measured it, but it looks possible.

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2009 Ford Flex: Oh No, Not Another Oregon Road Trip!

December 22, 2009

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Oh Yes! Another 2,500-mile road trip, another grab for the keys to our 2009 Ford Flex. Would I like to take something else for a change? Sure. But the continuing emphasis on downsizing in the automotive world means our own test fleet is rather short on large family vehicles these days. The next biggest, the Volvo XC60, is unable to manage the job without a roof pod.

Besides, the Flex just might be with us for a full 100,000 miles--we're waiting for a response from one final decider before giving this plan the green light. It seems likely at this point, so our 2,500-mile trip could not be wasted. My family is not complaining, not one bit.

We'll try to keep things fresh for this third go-around.

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Boxier than My Speakers

November 09, 2009

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I recently used our Long Term 2009 Ford Flex to transport my ancient DCM Time Window 1A speakers. While ancient in design and construction these speakers still sound...well, better than almost any other home speaker I've ever heard (the "almost" is the DCM Time Window 7 speaker, of which I also own two sets).

However, because this speaker design comes from the groovy 1970s they have a groovy exterior shape. Instead of being blocky, they're oval towers surrounded by an almond-like base and cap. I like the shape, but it's not condusive to lateral G forces when you lay the speakers on a flat cargo area.

In other words, every time I went around a corner the speakers would slide and roll, banging into each other and the Flex's interior panels. After just two turns I stopped and wedged my backpack (aka "man-purse") in-between the speakers to secure them.

It worked, but as I was closing the rear hatch it occurred to me that the Flex's exterior shape is boxier than my speakers. Made me wonder what shape a 1970's version of the Flex might look like...

Karl Brauer, Edmunds.com Editor in Chief @ 37,420 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Haulin'

October 13, 2009

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What do you do when a load of stuff needs hauling north and the Ram's already out? Dial 1-800PAK-THE-FLEX.

We have already praised our 2009 Ford Flex's usefulness in various kinds of over-the-road duty, and we've spun its odometer (yes, it's digital, but come on) past 36,000 miles in less than 15 months. What the Flex does great is accommodate a wide range of loads - people, luggage, cargo, Golden Retrievers, anything short of bulky furniture - and pound up the freeway in a relaxed, smooth and efficient manner. For this weekend, we averaged 21.3 mpg over 1312 miles, almost all of it at a steady 75 mph indicated and the load in back a light press fit between carpet and headliner. We had all the aft seats folded flat, but depending on the needs of the moment, of course, the Flex can be configured to suit. And the trip was a delight: comfy, entertaining (thank you, Sirius) and not at all the ordeal the miles/day might suggest.

Our gripes are pretty small, and some have been documented here before. Like Dan Edmunds, my arms are too short for my legs when seated at the Flex's helm, though I could find a compromise position that mostly let me forget about it. I don't love the steering feel, which strikes me as a bit more truck-like than necessary, and the slick, capless fuel filler sometimes dribbled a little overflow even when I didn't top off.

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2009 Ford Flex: Mucho Trips to Target

July 20, 2009

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I think my husband hates me. All he wants to do on weekends is take a nap by the pool, and I prefer to use our time together to get things done. And bought.

This weekend, we purchased a 127-gallon outdoor storage bin to hold our rainbow crop of styrofoam pool noodles.

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: It Holds Big Stuff, Part XXVII

July 13, 2009

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In case it's not obvious, that's a the underside of a washing machine. And it's in the back of our longterm 2009 Ford Flex.

That the Flex can hold large items is not news. But wait, there's more!

Did you see the dryer sitting just in front of the washer in the lead pic?

No?

Well, friends, here's a view of said clothes tumbling device taken from the side door:

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Tired

June 03, 2009

How many wheels/tires do you think you could fit in a 2009 Ford Flex given these limitations:

-No tire may be higher than the headrests.

-Must be room for two persons.

-Must be room for two carry-on bags, a 3 1/2 ton floor jack and a few doze cones.

-Must be stable for > 1,000 miles.

Follow the jump for the answer. (And some pictures!)

So, how many tires did you think would fit?

Did I hear someone say 12? Correct!

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See, the trouble is that the tires we needed to haul were too wide to sit two across in the rear cargo area. It was possible (as seen above) to do so over the rear seats, but doing so required them to sit on top of the fridge hump.

The rear had to be arranged like this: three stacked vertically, two horizontal and one sort of crooked using the jack for stability. There's six. There is not enough depth left in front of the stacked tires to place more vertically or horizontally.

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: "There's a Little Ford GT in Every Flex We Build"

May 26, 2009

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Ford never tried to use that marketing line on its Flex, probably because the cars are separated by 3 model years, a couple dozen feet of cargo space and over $100,000.

But it still occurred to me as I hauled a load of spare Ford GT parts home in it recently. Yup, I'm stockpiling Ford GT parts because A) I might need them someday and B) even if I don't, I'm thinking they're better than money in the bank as far as future value goes. And I felt this way even before A) the government added a third shift to every mint in country and B) the U.S. automotive supplier base appeared destined for its own carpocalypse (supplier-ocalypse?).

Regardless, I needed to haul two Ford GT seats, a steering wheel, a right headlight and a rear tire home. The Flex is our de-facto cargo-hauler since we lost the Grand Caravan, Edge, Tundra, Silverado and X5 in the past year. With up to 83 cubic feet of cargo space it proved easily capable of swallowing said items, even with one second-row seat still positioned for passenger duty.

If you're looking for a minivan but want to avoid the "box-on-wheels" styling and telltale slide doors, the Ford Flex makes an excellent alternative.

Karl Brauer, Edmunds.com Editor in Chief @ 24,301 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Cramming It Full

May 04, 2009

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Here's a shot of the Flex navigating a sissy creek crossing at the Hurkey Creek campground near Idyllwild, California. This was just one chapter in another family hauling adventure for the Flex last weekend. And, once again, the Jacquot family pushed the limits on how much crap can be jammed into a family hauler.

Trivial content details after the jump.

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2009 Ford Flex: Transporting Billy

April 16, 2009

Oh Billy! Transporting Ikea furniture in the Ford Flex

My DVD collection has grown too plentiful for its present home, so a journey to Ikea was in order to add a second, identical storage cabinet. For those of you who've never been to Ikea, it's important to know that they give everything they sell funny Scandinavian names. That loveseat with the flowers over there is Bjorn; that four-drawer chest is Kviby. So you now know what I mean when I say, the original 6-foot-5 Billy I bought nearly two years ago barely fit in our old long-term Cadillac SRX. I obviously had to flip all the seats down and both boxes (the frame and glass door) were resting on the center console armrest. Not ideal.

For the new Billy, I brought along a much better companion -- our long-term Flex. I folded down the second-row seat backs, flip-folded the third row and easily slid both in. Also, the front seats were pushed almost entirely rearward. Despite the picture, I could have stacked both on top of each other and still had room for four passengers and some more Ikea stuff in the trunk well behind the raised third row. Plus, there was a perfectly sized cubby for a pair of extra glass Billy shelves.

If you're wondering how Billy would fit in other big vehicles -- say a Buick Enclave and a Honda Odyssey -- you're in luck. Unfortunately, you'll have to wait a few weeks for an Edmunds comparison test. What a tease.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 21,410 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Flying First Class

March 11, 2009

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Our long-term 2009 Ford Flex Limited pulled light-aircraft duty this past week, shuttling us on an 1,800-mile extended ski weekend to Colorado, and earning a spot on any traveling family's must-consider list. Like a gentlemen's smoking club on wheels, our leather-lined and faux-wood trimmed black Flex Limited is a road-trip tour de force, providing a swift and serene environment capable of hauling the mail or whatever else you wish to carry, while coddling you with impressively integrated electronic conveniences.

We unleashed the Flex on the interstate, where it painlessly delivered us from L.A. to Vail, CO in a single 13-hour/900-mile stint. With the cruise set reasonably close this route's near-constant 75-mph speed limit, the Flex ate up the miles while hauling a ridiculous amount of gear and luggage for a six-day outing on the slopes. With all the rear seats folded flat, cargo space was a non-issue in the Flex, and few circumstances let you pack with such abandon. No need for roof racks as the Flex happily ate our ski box in the cavernous cargo area, with tons of room to spare for luggage ahead or behind it. Did we overpack? Heck yeah. Did it matter? No.

Rolling down the road, the Flex's long wheelbase and soft suspension soaked up road irregularities and showed the cabin to be impressively hushed at speed. Though the early movement in the Flex's suspension is pillowy (great for freeway slab), just beneath lies firmer travel, a setup that helps keep the Flex surprisingly planted and composed in fast sweeping turns, even if body roll is apparent.

The overboosted steering is a boon to interstate miles, and though effort is light, Ford has found a touring sweet spot, as the tiller remains accurate in spite of the boost. This easy but precise tuning helps keep fatigue at bay as you devour 400 miles per tank. The 3.5-liter V6 does not overpower the Flex, but it's quite smooth at cruising speeds, and plenty grunty to keep the Flex out of its own way. While sailing up the continent's spine, we still managed 20.5 mpg.

With light bathing in from the multi-panel Vista Roof, and a southwestern U.S. geography lesson whispering by tall windows, you could not help but feel pride in such a sweet modern version of the classic American station wagon. Ford has updated an icon in duds so cool you couldn't help but feel envy from the minivan set, while providing convenience features you could only dream about in the '70s.

As far as entertainment goes, Ford's latest navigation system with Sync is the benchmark. The large and crystalline screen can be split for simultaneous feedback on navigation, media, and climate control status. The back-up camera is clear and bright, even at night. From Sirius satellite radio to iPod tunes recalled via voice command to a sleep-inducing Jane Austen book on CD, the system is a delight to use, and you can easily catch up on overdue family calls via the voice activated Bluetooth setup. Even with my surname, it never mis-dialed a call to family members.

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2009 Ford Flex: Third-Row Seat

November 03, 2008

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When not in use, the 2009 Ford Flex's 50/50-split third-row seat folds flat and stores in a fairly deep rear well. When the rear seats are raised, the well is exposed. It's perfect for securing grocery bags, especially if you're using the reusable kind.

A low-production-value video of me raising the third-row seat and operating the power liftgate follows after the jump. Why bother watching Marina's HotForWords on YouTube when you can watch this instead?

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The Edmunds TCO® estimated monthly insurance payment for a 2009 Ford Flex in VA is:

$130 per month*
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