2009 Ford Flex Long Term Road Test

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2009 Ford Flex: From the Archives

February 23, 2012

Ford Flex in Stanley Park

I was just editing the Edmunds model review for the 2013 Ford Flex and it made me a little sad. "Awww, I miss the Flex." It's like an old friend that's moved away, or in the Flex's case, a car with an immense amount of miles sold to a nice couple somewhere.

I also got to thinking that two years ago, I was just returning from my journey up the coast to Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics. We've all done a lot of cool things with a lot of cool cars here on the long-term blog, and sometimes it's nice to reminisce about them. I know I like to crack open an old Car Magazine now and then to re-read some epic drive story. My Olympic trip wasn't what I'd call epic, but there was a town called Weed, Voodoo Doughnuts and an intensive vehicle search by Canadian customs.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ Memory Lane

An Olympic Journey Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 7

Days 8 and 9

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: A Quick Sale

December 13, 2010

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As described in an earlier post, we knew that having 72,000 miles on a two-year-old Ford Flex Limited could be a problem. But as I explained in the ads, if a buyer didn't drive a lot of miles, then in a few years it would be at a normal level. I don't know if my little tutorial helped or not but I got several responses to my Craigslist ad.

Friday afternoon I got a voice mail message from a woman named Angela to say she was coming to see the Flex and bringing a cashier's check. I wondered if the check was for the full asking price. Earlier we had contemplated listing it for $18,500 but, partially based on reader comments, I boosted the asking price to $19,500. After all, we were basically trying to improve the offer we got from CarMax for $14,000.

I had dealt with Angela on the phone but she arrived with her husband, Sean. We took a test drive and they told me they had rented a Flex while on vacation and fell in love with it. They were impressed with all the options and, sure enough, Angela said she drove less than three miles to work. The Flex would an around-town vehicle.

Finally, Sean said, "We really like the car but we're wondering if you are flexible on the price." I asked what he had in mind. He said, "Well, I have a check in your name for $18,000." I said I certainly hoped it wasn't in my name and he quickly said, "No, no -- your company's name."

This was obviously a trick to coax me into selling the car at the lower price. I was a little annoyed so I said, "You know, I wish we had discussed this ahead of time. I feel uncomfortable doing business this way." Sean seemed apologetic and said, "Just tell us what you had in mind." I said I wanted $18,500 for the Flex. "No problem," he said. He pulled a roll of bills out of his pocket and peeled off five big ones. We shook hands, shot this picture and they took the car's title and left.

In retrospect, I might have been a little overly concerned about the mileage. When Angela saw the car, she was so happy with the way it looked, and all the options, that that trumped her fear of mechanical wear and tear. The last thing she said as she left was, "I never thought I'd be able to afford this car."

Philip Reed, Edmunds senior consumer advice editor @ 72,459 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Our Favorite Caption (for the last time)

December 03, 2010

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Thanks to oldchap for this week's favorite caption.

Here are the others that made us hoot:

The Flexodus (ergsum)
So they loaded up the Flex and they moved to Beverly (Hills, that is) (blackngold1000)
Flex, I am yer father. (85se)
Flex, I'm yer pappy. (wshuff)
Goin to the last roundup. (altimadude05)
Happy trails to you! (jacton)
Tex-Mex with the Ex Flex (ergsum)
Awwwl my Flexes drove through Texas... (lowmilelude says)
Drive faster, I hear banjos! (tatermctatums)
You had me at howdy (stpawyfrmdonut)
We'll miss you, pardner. (shaddai)
Ford Flex for sale: A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (ergsum)
Well this means no more hearsing around! (ergsum)
It's time to put the Flex out to pasture, pardners! (ergsum)

And a little ditty Sung to Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again"
I've been sold again -
I can't believe that I've been sold again.
After so many miles I thought you all were my friends
And I can't believe that I've been sold again. (robert4380)

What was your favorite?

To the winner:
You can select one of these three prizes:

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: You Write the Caption (for the last time)

December 03, 2010

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Our 2009 Ford Flex is for sale. Let's give it a fond farewell in its last caption contest.

Picture provided by Vehicle Testing Manager Mike Schmidt.

We'll post our favorite this afternoon. And remember, we have prizes.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Priced for Sale

December 01, 2010

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As you've probably read in this blog, we considered running the Flex's mileage up to 100,000 miles to show that it could go the distance. But then we decided we've proved our point without going all the way to the century mark. Now we're left with a 2009 Ford Flex with a whopping 72,000 miles on it that we have to sell.

Pricing for this car for sale was tricky since it was, basically, an outlier. True Market Value (TMV) was a good guide but it didn't give the full picture. We had to factor in the psychological effect of shoppers seeing the 72,000 miles, their jaws dropping and stammering, "How -- How many miles...?" So to get another view of the market value we took our Flex to used car giant CarMax and had them appraise it. Their offer was pretty disappointing.

Carmax offered just $14,000 for this car that stickered for $42,000 two and a half years ago. While we feel that they hit us pretty low, it did sober us up. We also checked AutoTrader.com but it was hard to find true comparison vehicles. We knew it was important to stay under $20,000 but didn't want to go begging. Finally, we decided to list it for $18,900.

While the high miles are a shocker, it's still a lot of car for the right buyer. And who might that be, you ask? Well, with the rear entertainment system, the third row seat and the cargo space, this makes a nice family hauler. In many cases, around-town miles don't add up quickly. If someone bought it, put on 6,000 miles a year for three years, it would then be a five-year-old car with 90,000 miles or an average of 18,000 per year. That's a lot more palatable than the current 28,800 miles per year.

High miles are a turn off for many buyers. But those miles don't tell the whole story. If you bought the Flex and put a piece of electrician's tape over the odometer so you couldn't see the mileage, you couldn't tell the difference. And you'd have a whole lot more money left in your bank account compared to buying a new, low-mileage Flex.

Philip Reed, Edmunds senior consumer advice editor @ 72,000 miles

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2009 Ford Flex: Easy Fuel Spill

November 22, 2010

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I am so dizzy with gasoline fumes right now. I've got the windows down and the fan up but I can't flush the stank of gas out of our 2009 Ford Flex.

The fuel was going in really slow at my local 76 station. Reaaaaly slow. After more than 7 minutes, I was still standing there, watching the pump's readout tick reluctantly past 15 gallons. It holds a couple more than that, and I had run it really empty, so I thought nothing much of it.

A few moments later I started to hear the distinctive splatter of liquid on concrete as a pool of gas began spreading on the ground. There had been no click at the pump handle, no kick through the hose; gas had simply begun to overflow and run out as if it were supposed to do that.

I'm not sure why it happened. I guess the back-pressure buildup that's supposed to kick off the handle didn't occur properly at this particular pump's meager flow rate. I don't think the capless Easy Fuel system had much to do with it, though the system does seem intolerant of any fuel added after the first click. Trouble is, here that first click never happened.

*shrug*

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 71,924 miles

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Flex vs. Explorer: Which Would You Choose?

November 11, 2010

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In the next month or so the Ford Flex will be getting some stiff competion from...Ford. That's right the blue oval bunch will be selling the new three-row Ford Explorer alongside its three-row Ford Flex. Hmmmmm, which would you choose?

Me? Well, I think I'm on Team Flex.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2009 Ford Flex: Still Stylish or Just Out of Fashion?

November 10, 2010

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It has been more than two years since we bought our black on black on black on black long-term 2009 Ford Flex, but it has been almost six years since we've seen the controversially styled Flex. Remember, the shape debuted at the 2005 Detroit Auto Show as the Fairlane Concept (dig those rear suicide doors).

And six years in car styling can be several lifetimes.

Is that the case with the Flex? Or does it still look fresh? One thing's for sure, the Flex still looks unique all these years later. Maybe the fact that it has failed to start a styling trend after six years says everything there is to say about it. After all, isn't imitation the sincerest form of flatery? And, well, nobody has imitated it.

What do you think? Is the Flex still stylish or just out of fashion?

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2009 Ford Flex: Hooray for Hollywood

November 05, 2010

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Another day, another crew sign.

Welcome to L.A.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor

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2009 Ford Flex: Best Soccer Dad Battle Wagon - Flex or Odyssey?

October 28, 2010

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Recently got some miles in the Flex. Wanted to see how it matched up on the Odyssey, as the Wife has been lobbying for something of the Odyssey/Pilot genus. I'm ambivalent. The Odyssey is great and all, no question. It'll haul the kids, the grandfolk, bikes and boards, tents and stoves. And at the end of its shelf life, when the kids are embarrassed by it, I can pull the seats and press it into service as a crusty beach wagon.

But it's a minivan. Not a van. Not like Jeff Spicoli's. Not like The Mystery Machine or the A-Team's Vandura. A van leaks oil and spits fire from its side pipes. It shoots rockets, hauls amps and drums, and features characters from Robert Plant lyrics airbrushed on the panels.

A minivan does...none of those things. It emits a polite hum from a tightly-sealed V6. Plays DVDs. Holds cups, not hookahs. The Flex, though, is something else. Great design, fine style. Soccer dad without the stigma (or not). But the trade-off for that great look is less headroom. Not enough clearance to freak out when "Jungle Boogie" streams the airwaves. And definitely not enough canvas for painted tributes to Norse legends.

Readers, which is it: Flex? Or Odyssey? Or...(click on B.A. Baracus)

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Tour of a Dirty Flex

October 21, 2010

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I'm not sure what I can say about the Flex that hasn't already been said in the previous 277 posts, so let's just do a quick walk around to look at its condition at about 70,000 miles. Clearly, the engine needs a scrub. I'll add that to my list when I clean this thing up.

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2009 Ford Flex: Flex Across America Challenge

October 20, 2010

Flex Across America Map.jpg

70,000 miles, 24 states and 1 Canadian province. This is the map for our Flex Across America, and although most of those states were checked off on one Mike Magrath road trip, I'm throwing down the challenge right now to check off the rest of these states before we hit the sell-by tally of 100,000 miles.

Since I got British Columbia, I figure that's good enough to wipe out Hawaii. And if someone gets D.C., that's good to substitute Sarah Palinland. But other than that, I say we owe it to the Flex to hit every state in the Union.

But I have a challenge to you dear readers: We need reasons to go to these unchecked states. What should we see? Where should we stop? I'm looking for the sort of places like Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland or Snow's BBQ in Lexington, Texas. I suppose it doesn't have to be food joints that'll surely kill you, but you'll get bonus points for that.

Challenge thrown. Flex out.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 70,386 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Happy 70th, Flex.

October 19, 2010

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Somehow, the 70,000 mile mark sneaked up on our Flex without celebration, so here's a belated happy 70th for our Ford. Having not driven the Flex in ages, I'd almost forgotten what a well-sorted vehicle this is. Smooth, quiet and with incredibly comfortable seating, the Flex is also easy to handle despite its size. Furthermore, at 70k miles it's still free of extraneous noises and still looks great inside and out. If I was married and had kids, this roomy wagon would be my top choice for a family car.

John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 70, 367 miles.

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2009 Ford Flex: Hot Bath

September 27, 2010

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Our 2009 Ford Flex was looking a little grubby, so I took it to our regular car wash late this morning and asked them to give it a thorough scrub-up.

I'm sure you've already heard all the whining from the West Coast during the past few days about our unusually hot weather, but I when I saw the Flex's ambient temperature gauge was reporting over 100 degrees in Santa Monica, I felt bad for the guys detailing the Flex.

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2009 Ford Flex: Dealer Service Shuttle

September 22, 2010

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This morning we used our 2009 Ford Flex as a chase car when we dropped our newest long-term car at the dealer.

Here's a shot of our Flex waiting in the dealer's service lot.

Care to guess what car just joined our test fleet?

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 69,156 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Sparks Spark Woody

September 21, 2010

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Chevy Europe is going to unveil this Spark Woody (commence giggling now) at the 2010 Paris Auto Show. That's nice, except they totally ripped us off ...

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2009 Ford Flex: Let's Go to a Crash

September 16, 2010

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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.

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Mt. Whitney Road Trip - Summary

September 13, 2010

Flex Alabama Hills.jpg

Four days and 800 miles in the 2009 Ford Flex has made me a real believer in both this impressive vehicle and Ford's new direction. I found that it hit a real sweet spot in size and fuel economy. As you'll see on the next page, we stuffed this baby full of gear and guys and it took it all in stride and still delivered a great driving experience.

Besides its retro good looks, which makes a nice contrast with the unusual setting in this photo, the Flex is loaded with new technology. What I liked was that the technology is under the surface. You almost have to dig for it, like in the case of the hill descent feature activated by the push button on the shifter (which I initially missed). But there were other design features I liked, which I'll describe on the next page.

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Mt. Whitney Road Trip - Day Three - Hot Brakes

September 12, 2010

Flex Shifter in Drive.jpg

With all the cool technology in the 2009 Ford Flex Limited you think they would have provided more gear choices than just "D" and "L." Coming down from the Mount Whitney Portal to Lone Pine you descend 4,700 feet on a winding mountain road over only 14 miles. There are sheer cliffs just off the road and in many places no guard rail. When I put the Flex in low it feels like it's in second gear which provides too much engine braking. So the alternative is just to leave it in D and pump the brakes to hold the speed down to a reasonable level. When I got back down to town and parked at our hotel I could smell the hot brakes.

My other gripe with this shifter is that it's hard to tell when it's in gear since the lever doesn't line up with the letter D. Several times I thought it was in gear and put my foot on the gas only to hear the engine rev in neutral. This is the kind of thing that probably wouldn't be a problem once you got used to it. But I definitely would miss having more gear choices for steep descents. Since the Flex has a six-speed transmission, I'd like the chance to use more gears. For mountain driving it's a great feature.

Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 68,116 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Mount Whitney Road Trip - Day Two

September 09, 2010

Flex Nav Screen.jpg

Sometimes, it's the small things. This morning, climbing up to the South Lake Trailhead, north of Bishop, I happened to glance at the nav screen on the 2009 Ford Flex Limited and saw it was 30 degrees. I had no idea it was going to be so cold. As we continued to climb to 9,800 feet, we saw the temperature rise and fall. At the parking lot I took this picture with the temperature at 35 degrees Fahrenheit.

I know it isn't exactly high tech, and many cars these days show an exterior temperature reading. But it helped to be psychologically prepared to step out into near-freezing temperatures. I left the motor running while we ran around to the back and got out our boots and jackets. It's also interesting to see how the navigation system was trying hard to predict what the next street would be. Accurately, it found none. And that was the whole point.

I shot this picture because I saw the mountains behind me reflected in the windows of the Flex. They were just beginning to catch the sun . . . and bring a little warmth to the day. The other picture is of Long Lake, elevation 10,800 feet, a favorite with fishermen.

Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 68,080 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Mount Whitney Road Trip

September 08, 2010

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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.

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2009 Ford Flex: You Can Take the Girl Outta Michigan...

August 31, 2010

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I spent last week on vacation in Michigan, loafing at my parents' house and borrowing cars and bumming rides from every member of my immediate family.

The Motor City 3 were all respresented, as one would expect in the Detroit area, plus one Honda owned by my rebellious older brother.

Came back to California and climbed right into our long-term Ford Flex.

It was just like bringing back a piece of home.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 67,075 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Two-Thirds of the Way to 100K

August 27, 2010

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Our trusty 2009 Ford Flex Limited has made it two-thirds of the way to 100,000 miles, and it shows no signs of letting up. At this point, at least, if feels like it's going to breeze right past this mental milestone.

Which is a good thing because we like having it around. It's firmly entrenched as the go-to vehicle for any trip of any length, and it's great around town, too.

But please answer us this: Would you like to keep reading about this one? Do you want to see how it holds up all the way to 100 kilomiles, a true long-term durability test? Or are you tired of reading about it? Would you rather we sold it and used the money to buy something else?

Here's some stats to help you out:

We bought our Flex just over two years ago. Mileage acculmulation has averaged about 32,000 miles per year. Unless someone takes it on an extended sea-to-shining-sea cross-country road trip, as Mike Magrath is threatening to do once more, we figure that September 2011 is the very latest it'll hit 100,000 miles.

Should it stay or should it go?

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 66,666.6 miles and counting<

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2009 Ford Flex: What is the Plural of Moose?

August 16, 2010

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We just broke the 65,000-mile barrier in our 2009 Ford Flex. There wasn't an opportunity to take a photo at exactly 65k so we had to wait for a safe place to pull over. This was as safe as we could find.

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Name That Car

August 16, 2010

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One never knows what he might run into at a Wyoming small-town parade. Bonus points for anyone who can identify the bizarre machine pictured here with the Flex.

More after the jump.

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2009 Ford Flex: In Odd Company

August 16, 2010

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This guy parked next to our 2009 Ford Flex over the weekend. Maybe you've seen the Rally Fighter before, maybe you haven't. The lux interior and side decals are worth the jump. Check them out.

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2009 Ford Flex: Our Favorite Caption

August 13, 2010

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Thanks to questionlp for this week's favorite caption.

Here are the others that lit our wire:

This brings Eco-Boost to a whole new level (mopar910)
The Flex gets its fuse on. (ergsum)
"... no Escalade, No Ford Escape, just-a pyromania..." (wshuff)
The Pinto Package! (snipenet)
Ford sales are skyrocketing! (ergsum)
"You're all clear, kid, now let's *blow* this thing and go home!" (ergsum)
"Explosive Engine Power" (hybris)
FLEXplosive! (ergsum)
Ford Flex: It's da bomb! (sherief)
Flex Fuel. (sherief)
Ford Flex, a lot of bang for your buck. (ergsum)

What was your favorite?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Ford Flex: You Write the Caption

August 13, 2010

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Happy Friday the 13th.

Senior Editor Josh Jacquot sent me this photo of our Ford Flex from his road trip to Wyoming. Looks like he had a hot time in the old town.

What is your caption?

We'll post our favorite this afternoon.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Wyoming Road trip Fuel Data

August 11, 2010

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More of Wyoming. This is the 145-mile stretch between Casper and Laramie. And again...Nothin'.

Here are the data concerning fuel consumption over the entire 3,115.6 miles driven: Total combined economy for the trip (which only included about 200 in-town miles) was 21.8 mpg. Our best tank was 23.9 mpg and our worst was 17.8 mpg.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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2009 Ford Flex: A Few Images From the Road

August 10, 2010

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As promised, here are a few images from the Wyoming road trip. I've got nothing on Walton's spectacular Oregon road trip documentation, but then I suppose central Wyoming has nothing on Southern Oregon. Above is a shot that's not even from Wyoming. This is in Provo Canyon (Highway 189) just Northeast of Provo, Utah. It's a good bypass around the more congested I-80/I-15 route through Salt Lake City. Scenery ain't bad, either.

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Back In SoCal

August 09, 2010

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After 3,000 miles, 10 fuel stops, lots of dirt, rain, cows and canyons, the Flex is home. Photos, numbers and observations in the days to come.

Josh Jacquot, Senior editor

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Packin'

July 28, 2010

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The Flex is leaving for a nine-day Wyoming adventure on Thursday. Much bloggage upon its return.

Josh Jacquot, Edmunds.com enior Editor

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2009 Ford Flex: In Raider Nation

July 26, 2010

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There is more to this picture of our 2009 Ford Flex than initially meets the eye. Click on the image to enlarge it and take a closer look. This displaced fan is about 450 miles from the infamous Black Hole but try telling him that. Welcome to Raider Nation.

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2009 Ford Flex: Family Truckster Redux

July 21, 2010

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A family reunion. To many folks, those words send shivers down their spine. Thoughts of the the second cousin once removed with terrible breath, the drunk uncle wiping out the dinner table as he passes out or that kid that keeps sticking his tongue out at you every time you look at 'em are enough to make you want to run screaming from these events. How can you be related to these people?

It was this kind of mission I was about to hit the road for. Four days of family at our cabin in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The true comforts I had were the fact I was in the Flex, quite possible THE most liked car in the Long Term fleet rotation, and my lady was coming with me for moral support.

Packing my stuff into the Flex, I immediately thought that this was like the Wagon Queen Family Truckster, sans biting dog and dead relative. It's slab sided chunky proportions were akin to the rakish lines of that Metallic Pea beauty, just moments away from taking a summer road trip. I'm not the only people to think this. The fine folks at Auto Tech Plastics have created an appliqué pictured above for your own Wagon Queen enjoyment. To quote Eugene Levy, "You think you hate it now, wait till you drive it."

Though I doubt I'll get "Honky Lips" tagged on the side of the Flex, I'll definitely get plenty of family fun out of the weekend.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer @ 60,180 miles

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2009 Ford Flex vs. 2009 Mazda CX-9: The Wife Test

July 19, 2010

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Recently my wife parked her year old Mazda CX-9 and spent a few days driving our long-term 2009 Ford Flex. It was my idea. I wanted to find out which three-row crossover she preferred.

After three days in the Flex, my wife's review was short and sweet. "I'll keep my Mazda," she said. "That Flex feels like a boat."

When I asked her what she meant by that she said, "It's all floaty and the brakes don't feel as good as the Mazda's. I feel more in control of the vehicle when I drive my car."

Wow, what a woman. She could not be more right. Fact is, her sportier Mazda is more firmly sprung than the Flex and it certainly feels more secure and smaller on the road. The Mazda also has a firmer brake pedal than the Flex and its brakes reward the driver with more immediate bite.

Maybe next week I'll have her review the Viper.

Scott Oldham, Editor in Chief

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2009 Ford Flex: Turning 60 In a Wagon

July 14, 2010

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Just turned the big 60 in the Flex recently. After a recent oil change it's humming along nicely, cracked windshield and all.

Ed Hellwig, Editor @ 60,016 miles

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2009 Ford Flex: Broken Windshield

July 12, 2010

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Yep, that's a poorly photographed star in our 2009 Ford Flex's windshield. Right up alongside the driver's A-pillar.

It was there when I got in the Flex on Thursday night, and hasn't spread.

Maybe the Flex is old enough now to get a decent deal on new glass?

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 59,734 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: West Coast Run -- Wild Thing

July 02, 2010

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The ultimate destination for this West Coast Run was the beautiful Redwood Forest. I was hoping to find the antithesis of Los Angeles without leaving California, and I did just that outside of the little town of Orick (population 654).

A row of cabins that formerly served logging mill employees have been completely refurbished. We're talking three bedrooms, two baths, DirecTV, microwave; even WiFi. They also include a single-car garage, so if you're driving a vehicle you don't want to leave out, like our long-term 2009 Ford Flex, there's a safe place to store it.

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: West Coast Run -- Tree Me

July 01, 2010

Flex at Drive-Thru Tree Sign.JPG

If you saw our caption contest from last Friday you already know our long-term 2009 Ford Flex was driven into a tree -- literally -- on this road trip. Actually, the above photo would have made a decent caption contest image too.

Anyway, you know the Flex made it in but what you don't know is if it actually made it out the other side...

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: West Coast Run -- HWY 1

June 30, 2010

Flex on Highway 1.JPG

We weren't trying to do that whole "take the coast all the way up" thing on this road trip, for two good reasons. First, because we've already done that; and second, because it adds a lot of time to the trip. But we did manage to make it out to the coast, north of Fort Bragg, where Highway 1 actually turns east and you can't keep riding along the ocean, even if you want to.

And when you're out along this stretch of the Northern California coast it can be pretty desolate, with long distances between fill-ups (or even any sign of civilization). Our long-term 2009 Ford Flex was averaging about 330 miles on a tank of fuel before it hit "E" on the gauge (which means it probably had at least another 20 miles before actually being empty). Given that I wasn't exactly hypermiling, and that it typically took around 17 gallans to fill it up, that works out to about 20 mpg while carrying four people and their stuff at highway speeds.

Not bad in terms of fuel efficiency, but I did pine for the EcoBoost several times while trying to pass trucks on the 101 when the road went down to just two lanes. It was particularly frustrating to know that I could be getting the same 20 mpg out of that engine with an additional 90-plus horsepower and torque for passing.

In fact the only thing that engine costs you...is money, upfront ($3,000). It's far from necessary, as the Flex absolutely gets the job done with the base engine. But the extra oomph comes in handy when there's a long truck and a short passing zone up ahead.

Karl Brauer, Editor at Large @ 58,586 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: West Coast Run -- S.F. Fun

June 29, 2010

Flex on Curvy Lombard in San Francisco.JPG

I admit it -- when I'm in certain cities I'm a push-over for the touristy stuff. That means Empire State Building in New York, Diamond Head in Honolulu, and Lombard Street in San Francisco.

Plus it seemed particularly appropriate to test out our Long Term 2009 Ford Flex's namesake, given the crossover's long size and Lombard's tight curves. Would the Flex even fit?

Of course it did fit with nary a tire scar or unintentionally trimmed hedge. The car was actually quite easy to maneuver and park in San Francisco's notoriously tight quarters. Power wasn't an issue either, despite our long-term car pre-dating the Ecoboost engine option. Low-end torque was enough to power up the steepest S.F. grades, even from a dead stop.

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

June 28, 2010

flex cargo.jpg

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: Our Favorite Caption

June 25, 2010

ford_flex_tree_caption.jpg

Thanks to ergsum for this week's favorite caption. He has quite a few in the honorable mention section, too.

Here are the others that made us bark (bad pun):

It's got a lot of trunk space. (ergsum)
Now we're getting to the root of the problem! (carnage)
Don't worry, its bark is worse than its light. (ergsum)
The Flex was parking up the wrong tree. (ergsum)
Finally! A square peg for a square hole. (firstwagon)
Ford Flex, now available with BarkAssist. (thegraduate)
The Ford Flex RedWoody (rayray633)
Cover me Wedge, I'm going in! (technetium99)
Welcome to Sync. I'm sorry, I can't do that, Karl. (eidolways)
Ecosystem vs. EcoBoost (rayray633)
"Alright, we put the butter on the sides, now just drive forward slowly." (eidolways)
Jenga!! (snipenet)
I'd rather be at the Beech. (sherief)
Do-it-Yourself Country Squire kit. (actualsize)

What was your favorite?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Ford Flex: You Write the Caption

June 25, 2010

ford_flex_tree_1600.jpg

How many times has the Flex been in the caption contest? Because it's everyone's favorite road trip car, it gets lots of interesting photo opportunities. Karl sent me this photo from his vacation.

What is your caption?

We'll post our favorite this afternoon.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Uh, Ford?

June 14, 2010

flex_bp.jpg

You might want to cancel this batch of stickers.

Kurt Niebuhr, Photo Editor @ 57,351 miles

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2009 Ford Flex: We Like It But You Don't

June 11, 2010

flex_stockbikes.jpg

I was dropping my daughter off at school recently. A fellow parent saw me pull up in the Flex."What's with the mom mobile? I thought you were going to be driving a Miata," she said.

"Hey, don't hate the Flex," I told her. "Simply a change of plans. What, you don't like it?"

"Well, I know you've said the Flex is great and all," she said, "but it's just kinda ugly. It's like it doesn't know what it wants to be ... other than maybe a hearse. I just couldn't own one."

Well, whatever floats your boat. But it seems that the Flex isn't floating as many people's boats as I would have thought. I recently asked our crack Edmunds data team to dig up sales figures for the Flex versus its General Motors competition. And the results are, well, ugly for Ford. They follow after the jump.

2009 Total Sales (first full year of Flex)
Flex: 38,623
Traverse: 91,074
Acadia: 53,821
Enclave: 43,150
Outlook: 13,115
GM total: 201,160

It's a similar story for January to May of 2010. I've also added the Lincoln MKT here. I'm sure there are many explanations for why GM is selling so many more Lambdas. But styling could very well be a big part.

2010 YTD
Flex: 16,453
MKT: 3,440
Traverse: 40,900
Acadia: 29,462
Enclave: 21,686
Outlook: 2,614
GM total: 94,662

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Tour de Cali

May 25, 2010

2009 Ford Flex Limited sherpa.jpg

Our long-term 2009 Ford Flex Limited was conscripted into domestique duty this past weekend, hauling cycling fans to several stages of the 2009 Tour of California. With the race shifting from February to May, lofty roads that would have normally been closed due to snow were now open to the race, and our Ford Flex.

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2009 Ford Flex: Vanity Run Amok

May 03, 2010

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On Friday I gave Manager of Vehicle Testing Mike Schmidt a lift to pick up another test car. Before I drove away in our long-term 2009 Ford Flex, Mike noticed there was still an Edmunds vanity plate mounted to the Flex's front bracket.

"We used the Flex in a photo shoot," he said. "Do you want me to take it off?"

I was in a hurry to pick up my daughter from school, so I told him no big deal, we'd take it off on Monday.

Turned out to be a really busy weekend for me, and I put approximately 200 miles on the Flex, mainly just running around town. Several times on Saturday morning I saw people look directly at the boxy SUV, and a couple of guys even pointed at it. Wasn't until late that afternoon that I remembered the Edmunds plate.

I haven't noticed the Flex getting that much attention lately. Do you think people are still checking out the Flex's unique shape, or were they simply pointing out the Edmunds logo?

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 54,611 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Slide, Baby, Slide

April 22, 2010

FlexSlide02.jpg

Magrath posed this question a while back and had me mock up our Flex with a sliding door. The Photochop isn't perfect, I know - the rear seat perspective is off - but you get the idea. The doors on the Flex are pretty wide, and in a city where nine out of ten parking spots are marked "Compact," my passengers have been limited to the narrowest of body types. Pop on this slick slider and maybe I can have more rotund friends.

What do you think? Too much like a minivan, or should I have at it with my 211-piece Craftsman Mechanics tool set (laser-etched, of course)?

Mark Takahashi, Associate Editor

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Get the EcoBoost V6 for Towing

April 12, 2010

2010_Ecoboost_1600_rig_f34_reststop_low2_de.jpg

The time finally came when my restored 1990 Miata racecar was done and ready to be towed to Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca to be put on display as part of the Miatas at Mazda Raceway track event. But I needed a tow vehicle to get it there.

I had originally planned on using our long-term Dodge Ram 1500 pickup, but it was unavailable because Josh was moving over the same weekend. Our 2009 Ford Flex Limited was another candidate, but it lost out because it does not have a factory hitch (and the upgraded oil cooler than comes with it) and it lacks the general sauce of a 2010 Ford Flex with Ecoboost.

But we know people, and I was able to get my hands on an EcoBoosted 2010 Ford Flex with the factory class III trailer tow package for what was essentially an impromptu tow test. Its 4,500-lb tow rating would provide plenty of capacity for the job, as the Miata and trailer weighed just over 3,500 pounds. The whole rig came within 500 pounds of overall capacity when I factored-in the associated tools, luggage, spare track tires, EZ-up, and the all-important Ken, my crew chief, riding with me inside the Flex.

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2009 Ford Flex: One Step Closer to 100k

April 01, 2010

09_ford_flex_laughlin_1600.jpg

We are 700 miles closer to our goal of 100k on the 2009 Ford Flex. It just returned from a two day gambling mission in Laughlin, Nevada. The slots were tight but a 3-hour heater on the tables more than made up for them.

Any trip you can walk away ahead is a good trip. And this was a great one. The Flex seats were as comfortable and supportive on the drive out as on the exhausting drive back. It is easily among the most comfortable cars in our long term fleet.

Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 52,848 miles

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2009 Ford Flex: Still a Looker

March 23, 2010

2009_ford_flex_1600.jpg

Friends, neighbors, strangers in parking lots, there's no shortage of people who ask, "How do you like your car?"

Some know the deal and are used to seeing you with different test cars. Some have no idea that the car is not yours, it's just a make or new model they find interesting.

I drove our 2009 Ford Flex this past weekend, and I swear, I was stopped and asked about the Flex more times and than I've been asked about anything in the last six months.

That's a pretty high compliment considering there's always a river of notable test cars flowing through IL's garage.

Impressive for a vehicle that's nearly two model years old.

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 52,165 miles

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2009 Ford Flex: Trip to San Francisco

March 18, 2010

ford_flex_sf1.JPG

Another month, another road trip for our 2009 Ford Flex. Or at least that's what it seems like. After James' Canadian odyssey, my recent weekend getaway trip to San Francisco is comparatively pretty minor. And as expected, there weren't any surprises; the Flex continues to be a great road-trip vehicle thanks to its low levels of noise, comfortable seats and useful features.

A few pictures and captions of the Flex in San Francisco (it seems like our Flex is turning into our own version of a travelling garden gnome) follow after the jump.

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 51,886 miles

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2009 Ford Flex: Is It Flexible Enough?

March 18, 2010

2009_ford_flex_r34.jpg

As I pulled into my driveway yesterday evening, my neighbor came over to ask about the Flex. He is looking for something to replace his SUV that he bought before he had any children. His family is growing and he needs something that will pass the wife test and entertain his two kids.

I explained how everyone on our staff enjoys the Flex and how it is a great road trip car. It has enough room for plenty of kids and all the stuff that gets carted around with them. But I suggested that if he test-drives one, he also makes sure that his wife test-drives it, too.

At 5'4", I have trouble reaching some things in the Flex. I have to move the seat really close to the front to be able to drive comfortably. I swim in the Flex. And I've seen this guy's wife, she can't be more than 5'2".

So, although the Ford Flex is a versatile family vehicle, it may not suit smaller sized humans.

Have you driven a Flex?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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Editors' Favorites Number Four: 2009 Ford Flex

March 09, 2010

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Yep, the Ford Flex made it into the top five. This might not have happened were it not for three of our editors who picked it as their number-one favorite long-term vehicle. That's high praise for a family hauler. But given that this is the first Edmunds.com long-termer to be given a 100,000-mile test and first one the first to leave the country, it's safe to say this isn't your typical family hauler.

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2009 Ford Flex: Our Favorite Caption

February 26, 2010

ford_flex_weed_caption.jpg

Thanks to ergsum for this week's favorite caption.

Here are the others that lifted our spirits:

Smokey and the Bandit (ergsum)
Bong in 60 Seconds (ergsum)
The Flex has an active Spliff (stpawyfrmdonut)
Weed CA, Elev. 3467'...It Just Seems Higher. (rick8365)
It's a HIT! (vt8919)
Let's hope the motel doesn't have roaches. (vt8919)
There it is, Weed. You'll never find a more wretched...Dude, what was I saying? (technetium99)
It's 5 o'clock somewhere. And it's 4:20 somewhere else. (vt8919)
Edmunds #1 rated road TRIP vehicle (flyusmc)
Officer..."No you were not going 70 you were going 5..." (flyusmc)
Huh. I thought the city would have been a little higher than 3,467 feet. (stharward)
Fast Times at Riswick High (ergsum)
If it were up to us, weed never leave (mnorm1)
This thing drives smoooooth, man. It's just smoooooth. (eidolways)
Now where's the closest Voodoo Doughnuts, again? (questionlp)
Weed: The New Flex-Fuel (questionlp)
Stupid GPS, always leads me to pot holes (sm42)
Welcome to Weed, Glaucoma free since...well, we really can't remember. (ergsum)
It's made the 7-11 run in less than 12 parsecs. (sherief)
Does it do burnouts? (funkymunky)
Tested on a closed course, right? (sm42)

What was your favorite?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Ford Flex: An Olympic Journey Days 8 & 9

February 26, 2010

Milestone Banner.jpgFord Flex 50000 miles

And so we come to the end of my Olympic Journey. This was the trip that saw the Flex become our first car to break through the confines of the United States, but it also saw it become the first to go from 0 miles to 50,000 in our "care." Other cars have seen higher odometers, but they were all used cars.

Given the Flex's odometer that oddly goes to a decimal point, it's rather difficult to stop right on 50,000.0, but darn it, I did it. It gave us something to do as we counted down the miles to 50 grand. When we finally struck the big 5-0-0-0-0-point-0, here's where we were ...

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2009 Ford Flex: You Write the Caption

February 26, 2010

ford_flex_weed_1600.jpg

Automotive Editor James Riswick sent me this photo from his travels to Vancouver and back. For some reason he had to stop repeatedly because he had Olympic-sized munchies.

We suggest: Dude, Where's My Flex?

I know you can do better.

We'll post our favorite caption this afternoon.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Ford Flex: An Olympic Journey Day 7

February 25, 2010

Ford Flex in Stanley Park

With our time at the Olympics sadly over, Team Flex saddled up for our return journey back to the United States. But first, I thought we'd check out one of Vancouver's most visit-worthy landmarks to let everyone get a full appreciation of the city's beauty.

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2009 Ford Flex: An Olympic Journey Day 3

February 24, 2010

Ford Flex at the Canadian Border.jpg

On Monday morning, the Flex boldly went where no long termer had gone before: Canada. And since we've never had a hankering to visit Mexico or catch a raft to Cuba, it was also the first one of our cars to leave the country.

Despite repeated warnings of gigantic line-ups at the Canadian side of the border (as we saw on the way back), by leaving early we had no wait getting through. But a word of (what should have been obvious) wisdom: Do not stop to take pictures of your Edmunds long-term car at the border. This is a bad idea. It will most likely get you sent into secondary for what I can only assume is suspicious behavior. Even if you have a Canadian passport and even if you have in-depth answers to all their questions (what events are you seeing at the Olympics, where precisely are you staying), they are likely to give you a hard time. As the son of a Canadian customs officer, I was greatly shamed by this. But hey, at least we got a picture of the Flex at the border. Also, the Flex is officially the first long-term car to get searched by customs. So there you go.

Day 3: Lynnwood, Washington, to Vancouver, British Columbia
Total Distance: 127 miles

The Flex's trusty navigation system didn't blink an eye when we crossed into Canada and very quickly we were looking at spectacular downtown Vancouver. It's an absolute zoo right now for the Olympics, but normally, it's incredibly chill and has easily the most breathtaking natural backdrop for a major city on this continent (more pictures tomorrow).

I parked the Flex in our rented apartment's parking garage and said goodbye for the next four days. There is no parking at Olympic venues, so we'd be relying on walking, a private couch bus to Whistler (for luge), and the new Skytrain Canada Line to Queen Elizabeth Park (for curling) and Richmond (for speed skating).

In case you care, I've included some pictures from the venues.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 49,278 miles

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2009 Ford Flex: An Olympic Journey Day 2

February 23, 2010

Ford Flex at the Space Needle

After ending Day 1 in Medford, Team Flex set out into the wilds of Oregon with our sights set on Seattle. Unlike the pristine weather on Day 1 and actually throughout the trip, it rained for most of Sunday. Nothing torrential, just a steady rain interspersed with fog in the Cascades.

The Flex's windshield wipers are still holding up after almost 50,000 miles (not that they get used a lot), and despite Donna's complaints, I found that the rear wiper did the job well enough given the inherent design limitation of the back window. Would a double wiper be better? Perhaps, but then it would share something with a Camry wagon and that wouldn't be good for anyone.

Day 2: Medford, Oregon, to Lynnwood, Washington
Total Miles: 464 miles

The rain certainly provided us the quintessential Pacific Northwest experience, but the thing about Oregon I noticed the most was sheep. They were everywhere -- in the green fields, on the green hills -- and generally looked quite content. Along with the cows, horses, goats and three llamas, I think I'd choose Oregon for my place of residence if I were to be reincarnated as livestock. These are the things you think about while driving through the rain in Oregon with your three passengers asleep.

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2009 Ford Flex: An Olympic Journey Day 1

February 22, 2010

Ford Flex at Black Butte

On July 2, 2003, Vancouver was awarded the 2010 Winter Olympics. Roughly around that day I said roughly the following, "I'm Canadian, Vancouver is only a two-day drive away and no matter what I'm doing in seven years, damn it, I'm going to the Vancouver Olympics."

Well, seven years later I indeed departed for the Olympics. Thankfully, seven years later I was doing the job I so-hoped to be doing seven years prior. This gave me a car for the drive, which turned out to be our extra-long-term Flex that's obviously ideal for taking myself, my buddy and our respective signficant others up the coast to Vancouver. As the American customs officer noted on the way back, we also brought our living room with us (pictured, and don't worry, I could still see out the back).

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Rain Patterns

January 29, 2010

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For now the rain is gone, and Blue Wave car wash is running double staff to satisfy the increase in demand. Before I washed the Flex, I found a couple interesting rain patterns that had been left behind.

Chief Road Test Editor, Chris Walton @ 46,004 miles

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2009 Ford Flex: Our Favorite Caption

January 22, 2010

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Thanks to ampim for this week's favorite caption. You can always get me with a Star Wars reference. We also enjoy when you mention other posts.

Here are the others that stuck with us:

The Flex holds up well to all our cheap shots! (ergsum)
Ford Flex: Give It a Shot! (ergsum)
Edmunds.com decides to "stick" with the Flex. (ergsum)
Darn! It must be armored or something! (eidolways)
I wish you hadn't done that, Dave. (eidolways)
No worries kids...the rear wiper has been deemed ineffective (rick8365)
On the highway, these will make us look MUCH faster (dougtheeng)
UnFORDgiven (ergsum)
Full shields to the rear! We're being attacked by Cling-ons!! (technetium99)
I told you, I WANT A BIGGER REAR WIPER! ARRRRRGH! (robert4380)
A look behind the scenes at real-world testing at Edmunds...(mrryte)
Edmunds, Dan Edmunds. (ergsum)
Edmunds staff finally takes out their frustration over the sunroof gap. (thejohnp)

What was your favorite?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Ford Flex: You Write the Caption

January 22, 2010

ford_flex_darts_1600.jpg

Director of Vehicle Testing Dan Edmunds has spent a lot of time with our Ford Flex. So, he's had plenty of opportunities to take caption contest photos.

He here is taking a shot or two or fifty at this favorite family hauler.

We suggest: Ford Flex Hits Target Market

OK, that's not funny. We'll leave funny up to you.

We'll post our favorite this afternoon.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Ford Flex: Rear Wiper

January 21, 2010

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Why are rear wipers always so small? This is not an issue specific to the Ford Flex. I just happened to be driving the Flex in all this rain.

I've never seen a rear wiper that actually clears the back window. It's like they're an afterthought.

Can you think of any car with a wiper that clears the rear glass as completely as the front wipers do?

I'm obsessed with wiper blades today. I just put three new ones on my Integra. And its back wiper is small, too.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Rock Chip

January 12, 2010

2009 ford flex rock star

When I got into the Flex this morning, I noticed this star-shaped rock chip in the windshield by the driver side A-pillar. Bummer. It's about 1 inch in diameter and not in the driver's direct line of sight, so hopefully we can get it repaired instead of replacing the entire windshield.

Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Our Favorite Caption

January 08, 2010

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Thanks to vwthing1 for this week's favorite caption.

There were so many funny ones to choose from. We had a hard time this week.

Here are the others that had us doubled over with laughter:

The Flex left a few skid marks! (ergsum)
Not surprisingly, the motel that night was a dump! (ergsum)
Ford Flex: The Load Warrior (ergsum)
Meanwhile, after my colonoscopy... (zoomzoomn)
Must be an old logging road. (ergsum)
Take Holloway, the other route always gets backed up. (lowmilelude)
Crap! That was our turn! (thegraduate)
Ford tests new FecoBoost technology. (vwthing1)
Craption Contest....hahahaha!!!! (rick8365)
Road trips in the Flex are always a gas. (sherief)

What was your favorite?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: You Write the Caption

January 08, 2010

ford_flex_brown_1600.jpg

Happy New Year, captioners!

Dan Edmunds sent me this shot of the Ford Flex from his vacation.

We offer you: Been Driving All Night. I'm Pooped.

I know you can do better.

This is our first caption contest of the new decade. So, I want to ring the bell.

We'll post our favorite this afternoon.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Ford Flex: Going Nowhere

December 28, 2009

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There's nothing wrong with our 2009 Ford Flex Limited, nothing at all. Got plenty of fuel, too. It's just that we're here on the Oregon Coast and the weather is great ... for the time being.

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2009 Ford Flex: Arrival in Oregon

December 27, 2009

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OK, so Donna beat me to it. But I swear I took this photo of our 2009 Ford Flex with Christmas lights on Dec 24th, the day we arrived in Oregon. Dad and I only got the wireless network set up in his house this afternoon, you see.

Ironically, the electric Mini couldn't actually power the lights that were draped across its flanks. For all its electric subsystems, the Mini E has no 110V outlet to power accessories like a Wii gaming system, a laptop charge cord or a string of christmas lights. But the Flex has such an outlet and, after we wrested control from the kids and unplugged the Wii, we actually drove the final 5 rural miles with these extra "clearance lights" attached to make our grand entrance.

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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: Holy Crap! 40,000?!?

December 10, 2009

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I was driving the Flex back to the office after a long day of photography when I noticed the odo. 40,000? Are you kidding me? 40? 40,000?

I don't think I've seen a long-termer get racked up like this in a short amount of time. Ever. And I've been here almost 11 years!

I think it's safe to say we LOVE this vehicle for road trips. Or just love this car. Period.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer @ 40,072 miles

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2009 Ford Flex: First Rain

December 07, 2009

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Well, it has arrived--the first significant downpour in the Los Angeles area since, well, since I don't remember when. At any rate, I felt the Flex wiggle a few times on the freeway on the drive in this morning, so it got me thinking about tire tread-depth.

As Brent pointed out about a month ago, the rear tires on the Flex are darned near needing replacement, and the puddles on the freeway on this morning's commute made it even more apparent. Here are a couple photos demonstrating the reason why.

Here's a shot of a relatively new front tire (note distinct treads and wear bars still below adjacent treads) that were installed in July.

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2009 Ford Flex: I Don't Want to See It Go

November 24, 2009

flex on the open prairie

Our Flex is very close to hitting the 40,000 mile mark, which has to mean that it will be leaving us soon. As Brent said a while back, this has to be a record for the long-term program. I like the Flex a lot. I'm always happy to take it when it's available, especially when I have more than just my family of 3 to transport.

I keep asking out loud to no one in particular, "Can't we just keep it?" No one has answered me yet. What do you think; would you want us to keep it forever?

Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com @ 39,241 miles

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2009 Ford Flex: Likes and Dislikes

November 16, 2009

fordflex.jpg

I had our 2009 Ford Flex this weekend for a roadtrip/family visit/helping out a friend in need. Here's what I've come to like and dislike about it.

Likes:

  • That power tailgate! Every car with a cargo area should have this regardless of size! I like how it opens and closes so smoothly and quietly. A great way to get my dad, or really anyone, to say, "Ooooh!"
  • So easy to connect my iPhone to Sync. Of course you have to be parked to do this, a pain when you have a perfectly capable passenger to do it for you but once it's connected, it stays connected.
  • Once connected through Bluetooth, the tunes from my iPhone automatically come on the sound system every time I get back in the car and my iPreciousss is deep in my bag. Feels so welcoming.
  • Easy-to-read controls and I especially like the fact that I could figure out how to reset the tripmeter without having to pull out the owner's manual for a change.
  • Despite our Flex's 19.2 mpg average, I liked that I really only had to gas up once during the 380-mile trip up north. If I didn't need a bathroom break or food, I would have tried to go all the way through without stopping once. Ford says the range in highway miles is 409.2.

Dislikes:

  • Doesn't have a lower gear other than "Low." PITA in traffic especially since brakes are kinda plush.
  • Doesn't seem to be a way to advance songs, go through playlists, etc. on the steering wheel controls or stereo controls even when iPhone is hooked up through Bluetooth. Only thing that works on the controls is volume.
  • When iPhone is plugged into the USB port in the center console, not only can you not skip to the next song, etc. on the stereo controls but you can't on your iPhone either. Best to hook it up to the USB port adapter located in the passenger footwell. That way your phone will charge and you can at least control the tunes through your device.
  • Cruise control's "increase" and "decrease" functions aren't too responsive.
  • Seat heaters have only two settings: "lukewarm" and "boiling."

In any case, I was very appreciative of having the Flex for this special trip up north, especially when it came to helping out a friend in need. It definitely made it very easy to do that, providing ample space so she wouldn't have to worry about having to leave anything behind, soothing interiors and did I already mention that handy power tailgate?

Caroline Pardilla, Deputy Managing Editor @ 38,993 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Limted: Still Solid

November 13, 2009

flexnavstreets.jpg

It may not have the most recent updates--like the bowl-- (completed in 02/03ish), I was surprised to find that the Streets of Willow Springs road course was plotted on the 2009 Ford Flex's navigation.

What didn't surprise me was how much I still enjoy the Flex. It's got some 38,000 miles on it now and 6 days, 852 miles, 46 gallons of fuel, a few hundred pounds of test gear later, I still want to own one. It has the best iPod interface available. (Camaro has the best non-nav iPod interface.) Sync is fast and intuitive with good graphics and enough options ( scale, etc) to keep me entertained and informed. The seats are comfortable. It's quiet. Fast enough. It holds everything a Vehicle Testing Asisstant could ever need (including a photographer).

Yeah, there are some broken trim pieces here and there, but to be fair, most don't have to haul around as many tires/jacks/cones/camera operators as ours does. Even so, the Flex is still near the top in my book. Good looks, great ride, holds a lot of stuff, has maps of racetracks. I'm sold.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant

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2009 Ford Flex: 366 Days Later

October 30, 2009

Flex_hwy99.JPGBack on October 29, 2008, I wrote a post about our Ford Flex's quiet cabin at highway speeds. One year later, you wouldn't know that we've added about 27,000 miles unless you looked at the odometer. The Flex is still quiet and, impressively, there are no rattles or squeaks to be heard.

The only thing that seems a little different -- and my memory could be faulty here -- is that the Flex's ride quality doesn't seem to be quite as good on broken pavement as it used to. Director of Vehicle Testing Dan Edmunds suggested that the worn rear tires might be the cause, as there's not as much tread as there used to be to provide cushion and flex.

Speaking of tires, some readers commented on my last post noting how much we've been using the Flex. I believe the Flex's 37,000 miles (we started reporting on it in Sept. '08 with 1,700 miles on the clock) is a record for an Edmunds/ long-term test vehicle. There have been others with more total mileage, but none with as much of a rapid gain. Of course, it helps that we've driven back and forth to Oregon twice (Dan), to Colorado (Paul), and to the East Coast (Mike).

Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor

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2009 Ford Flex: Our Favorite Caption

October 23, 2009

ford_flex_oregon-caption.jpg

Thanks to stpawyfrmdonut for this week's favorite caption.

Here are the others that ruffled our feathers:

Uh, I think we made a wrong turn at the corner of Hitchcock and Lilliput. (oldchap)
The Flex gets a 21 gull salute. (ergsum)
The Fjord Flex (ergsum)
Wish you had that white roof now, don't ya? (lowmilelude)
Let's get the flock out of here. (lowmilelude)
Great, another tourist trap...with lots of crap. (rick8365)
Talented gull leaves truck shaped deposit on roof of Flex. (rick8365)
Looks so good it hearse, drives so well it's almost fowl. (eidolways)
You call it a car. We call it practice. (eidolways)
With gullwing doors it'd be perfect. (mnorm1 )
The Seagull Rally (ergsum)
Nsync meets Flock of seagulls (stpawyfrmdonut)
Flex is number one in the pecking order. (mnorm1 )
And I ran, I ran so far away (gooney911)
We've lured him back! I told you Sync was gullible. (gooney911)
Re-billing Station (sherief)

What was your favorite?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Ford Flex: You Write the Caption

October 23, 2009

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We haven't used a Flex photo in a while. This is from Dan's trip to Oregon. Are they dollhouses? dog houses? bird houses? I don't know.

We offer: A Flex of Seagulls

I know you can do better than that.

We'll post our favorite this afternoon.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Ford Flex Versus EcoBoost V6

September 30, 2009

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You already know how much we choose to drive our 2009 Ford Flex. It has almost 35,000 miles on it now.

But how much better would we like it if we had the Ecoboost?

Let's compare our outings at the test track:

2009 Ford Flex
2010 Ford Flex SEL AWD w/ EcoBoost V6
Engine Type:
Normally-aspirated, 3.5-liter V6
Twin-turbocharged, 3.5-liter V6
Horsepower:
262 hp @ 6250 rpm
355 @ 5,700 rpm
Torque:
248 ft-lbs. @ 4500 rpm
350 ft.-lb. @1,500 to 5,250 rpm
As tested Curb Weight:
4,681 lbs.
4,819 lbs.
0 - 60 (sec):
8.9
6.4
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec):
8.5
6.1
1/4 Mile (sec @ mph)
16.5 @ 85.9
14.6 @ 95.0
60 - 0 (ft):
129
128
Slalom (mph):
57.1
60.6
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g):
0.74
0.76

The difference in acceleration is significant, but look how the braking numbers aren't that different.

You can read more details on Erin's post on our Straightline blog.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Ford Flex: Cool

September 28, 2009

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A new neighbor moved into my apartment building, and this weekend, he stopped me to ask the inevitable question: Why are you always driving a different car each night? His eyes widened and he backed away from me when I told him that I was a Robin Hood of sorts, stealing cars from the rich and selling them so I could use the money to help the poor -- my poor grandmother, who needs the cash for a long-overdue hip-replacement operation. After I explained that I was just kidding, he made his way back into my personal bubble and peppered me with questions about my vehicle for the weekend, the Ford Flex. We talked about the Ford for a bit, with the take-away being that he thinks the Flex is "cool."

It just served to reaffirm what I'd already known: With the Flex, Ford has achieved what many thought was impossible. The Flex is part wagon, part minivan. Wagon? Not cool. Minivan? So not cool. But the Flex manages to transcend all this to occupy a niche all its own, one that makes it an acceptable transportation option even for twenty-something guys like my neighbor.

Warren Clarke, Automotive Content Editor @ 34,550 miles

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2009 Ford Flex: A Rare Bird in So Cal

September 08, 2009

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My friends, the Suarezs, are looking for a new family car and announced this weekend that the Ford Flex has made their shortlist.

When I asked why the Flex, their answer was honestly simple. "Because you don't see them around," they said in unison. (They're freaky that way).

True, not in our Southern California neighborhood, but earlier this summer on a vacation trip to Michigan, I couldn't have thrown a toasted marshmallow from the fire pit without splatting a Flex's windshield.

Any car in particular that dominates your neighborhood?

Kelly Toepke, News Editor @ 32,999 miles

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2009 Ford Flex: The White Knight to our Dark Knight

August 26, 2009

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I caught this "angeled out" Ford Flex at Galpin Lincoln/Mercury/Jaguar/Aston Martin last week. Judging by its plate, it was customized by Galpin Auto Sports, aka GAS, aka the garage that used to do Pimp My Ride.

So, which one would you go for? Are you a Harvey Dent sort or a Batman sort? White Knight or Dark Knight? Angel or devil? Oreo cookie or Oreo cream?

James Riswick, Automotive Editor

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2009 Ford Flex Road Trip: Wrap-Up & Clean-Up

August 25, 2009

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Put a fork in me, 'cuz I'm done. Done with vacation. Done with sleeping in different places every other night. Done with doing laundry on the road. And done with living out of a suitcase.

But one thing I'm not done with is the 2009 Ford Flex. If I were willing to take on a car payment right now, I'd own one -- tomorrow. But my 2003 Honda Odyssey is paid off and still has some miles left in it, so I'm probably going to remain on the sidelines until 2010 or 2011.

Or not. These past two weeks are likely to renew talk among the Edmunds clan of replacing the old minivan. If asked, all four of our right brains would march down to the local Ford dealer right now. A goodly portion of our left brains would go along, too, because the Flex makes sense for our family on a variety of levels.

The only part of the brain -- OK, my brain -- that is holding back is the region devoted to money and the fear of spending it at this moment in time.

In case you're not in the same cheapskate mode as I am right now, here's what we liked -- and disliked -- about the Ford Flex on this vacation.

+1 Ride & Handling: The steering is sure and the Flex goes down the road with effortless ease. And no one got carsick the whole time, despite miles of mountain roads -- unheard-of with my family. Kudos to the chassis development engineers.

+1 Seat Comfort & Space: There's plenty of space in all three rows, and the seats are comfy and supportive. Adults as tall as me (6'-2") fit in the 3rd row.

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2009 Ford Flex Road Trip: A Delicious Milestone?

August 21, 2009

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Our 2009 Ford Flex turned over yet another milestone today. But before you roll your eyes and label this engineer a big fat geek (my wife certainly did), know that it wasn't my idea. I was pestered into doing it by a certain enthusiastic co-worker with two liberal arts degrees.

But if I was going to go along with it, I was going to do it right. So I took the liberty of taking his idea one step further. Let's see if he notices.

Here's the exchange that led up to this point:

It started at lunch about four weeks ago, when the Flex was still one of several candidates for this trip. Mike knew the Flex's odometer by heart, of course, and he knows my Oregon trip is good for about 2,000 miles. If I did indeed select the Flex, Mike had this plan hatched and ready for me to carry out.

Once the Flex got the green light, he reminded me about it a couple of more times in the days leading up to my trip. Then, when I was at home with the Flex and getting prepared for lift-off, I started getting texts:

MM: Aug 8 - Remember to watch the odometer. The .9 is imperative! Enjoy your Trip!

MM: Aug 14 - Hi. Did you reach it yet? How's the trip?

DE: Aug 14 - Great. Might not hit it until the last day.

MM: Aug 21 - Saw your last blog...you're close! Stay sharp!

DE: Aug 21 - OK. 80 miles to go. Chill, baby, chill.

There you have it. But I ask this of the audience at large: Do you think Mr. Liberal Arts Major has been spending too much alone time with our VBOX data logger?

Oh, and here's where it happened...

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2009 Ford Flex Road Trip, Stage 6: Reno to Mammoth Lakes

August 20, 2009

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Today's theme was a dual one: mountains and ghost towns. Our 2009 Ford Flex took us up and down several steep grades on the way in and out of the mountaintop mining towns of Virginia City, Nevada (population 1200-ish) and Bodie, California (population 0).

Without any advance plan to do so, the day turned into a test of the Grade Assist function built into the Flex's transmission software.

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2009 Ford Flex Road Trip, Stage 5: Bend to Reno, Nevada

August 19, 2009

day-8-shoe-tree-oa-tall.jpg

It's been something like 10 days since we left home for parts north in the 2009 Ford Flex. We've seen a lot of cool stuff, but today's run from Bend to Reno is proving to be the least scenic so far.

That's not to say the route down highway 97 through Alturas to highway 395 is ugly -- it isn't. This mostly striaght two-lane rises and falls as the scenery gradually changes from pine forest to desert. It's just that there aren't many interesting landmarks on this lonely road.

Until we come to the Shoe Tree, that is.

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2009 Ford Flex Road Trip Rest Day: A Day in Bend

August 18, 2009

day-7-800-f34-bend-falls-2.jpg

As Ferris Bueller once proclaimed, "If you have the means, I highly recommend that you..." visit Bend, Oregon.

OK, I changed the ending around a wee bit. But today's rest day gave us a chance to sample a couple of the things Bend has to offer, and not all of them required the services of our 2009 Ford Flex.

Above, we're crossing Tumalo Creek after visiting Tumalo Falls. The trip up the unpaved national forest road has a pronounced washboard surface, but a few extra mph smooths things out for the Flex and its passengers quite nicely. Get there early if you want to have time to hike up the trail to the top -- and to avoid the evening onslaught of mosquitoes.

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2009 Ford Flex Road Trip, Stage 4: Gold Beach to Bend

August 17, 2009

day-5-f34-sunset-2.jpg

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.

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2009 Ford Flex: Our Favorite Caption

August 14, 2009

ford-flex-babe-caption.jpg

Thanks to rick8365 for this week's favorite caption.

Here are the other honorables:

This photo is rated XXX for Axe, Ox, Flex (ergsum)
Paul says that Babe prefers a Taurus. (ergsum)
Mr. Bunyan was hired to fix the Flex's 'fake wood' interior. (dougtheeng)
Flex-a-bull (mnorm1)
Mr. Bunyan dragged in his old grass guzzler and got a great deal on a new Flex at Courtesy Ford! (calcarl)
Cows for Clunkers; Ox for Keepers (abyss)
Okay kids, whatever you do, don't ask Babe if he wants to Wii! (ergsum)
You did NOT just park in Bunyan's spot. (lowmilelude)
They are coming out of the woods for cash for clunkers. (stpawyfrmdonut)
Roy Scheider: "We're gonna need a bigger car..." (anonimo)
And I thought I was a lumbering giant (eidolways)

What was your favorite?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Ford Flex: You Write the Caption

August 14, 2009

ford-flex-babe-555.jpg

Vehicle Testing Director Dan Edmunds loves you so much that he sent me a caption contest photo from his vacation.

Here's the 2009 Ford Flex Limited with pals Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.

We suggest: Hey, Babe, Wanna See Me Flex?

We'll post our favorite 4:00ish Santa Monica time.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Ford Flex Road Trip, Stage 3: Frisco to Oregon

August 12, 2009

day-3-800-SF-profile.jpg

Today we left San Francisco behind and headed north to the Oregon border in the 2009 Ford Flex. We needed to cover a lot of ground, so we got an early start.

On of the first orders of business was to fill the tank on the way out of town. Here the Sirius Travel Link made itself useful again, as hitting the "Fuel Prices" button was the quickest way to find a nearby station (much easier than the usual POI method) and, as we saw with our drive-in search 2 days ago, it provided a simple way to set the selected station as a waypoint in the Nav system.

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2009 Ford Flex: 30,000 Miles & Counting

August 12, 2009

day-3-800-30k.jpg

We interrupt your 2009 Ford Flex Road Trip coverage for this special 30,000 mile update. We are told that all is well, and that the Flex steers and handles as well as it ever has, which is to say, quite pleasingly.

That is all.

Wait. Hang on a minute.

We are receiving word that a photograph of the location at which such an event occurs is traditional in such circumstances. Here then, is the wayside rest that sits on the shore of Stone Lagoon in Humboldt Lagoons State Park.

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2009 Ford Flex Road Trip, Stage 2: Mission Accomplished

August 11, 2009

800-day2-on-a-mission.jpg

Stage 2 of our Ford Flex Tour de California (and Oregon) brought us to one of California's most remote and unspoiled missions, Mission San Antonio de Padua. To get there you have to take a detour off Highway 101 for some 25 miles until you get to the checkpoint at Fort Hunter-Liggett, an active Army training facility. From there you drive 6 miles through the base to get to the mission. The military checkpoint requires ID, vehicle registration and proof of insurance in order to proceed.

Any California 4th grader can tell you about the missions and how Fray Junipero Serra, a Spanish Franciscan from Catlunya, founded a string of 20-something of them along what was then called Alta California the late 1700's. The idea was to convert the local Indians and colonize the west coast of North America. San Antonio de Padua, the 3rd one built, was founded on July 14, 1771. It's still an active parish that serves 35 families. Admission is free.

About 2 miles south of the mission you'll find the start of Nacimiento-Fergusson Road, a narrow, twisty road that cuts through the Fort and crosses over the mountains to the Pacific Ocean and Highway 1 at Lucia, right in the heart of the most spectacular part of the Big Sur coast. N-F Road is the only crossing over these mountains between San Luis Obispo and Carmel, and every motorcyclist I know talks about it.

I had planned to check it out for myself on this trip, but a brush fire in those mountains closed the road to all but fire personnel. So our side-trip to the mission was an out-and back affair, and we continued up 101 to our stopover in San Francisco.

Fuel consumption, Stage 1, Yorba Linda to San Luis Obispo: 259.7 miles and 13.2 gallons for
19.7 mpg.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 29,692 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Road Trip, Stage 1: Sirius Link to a Drive-In Movie

August 10, 2009

555-day1-drive-in-waiting.jpg

As you can see, the girls and I have parked the 2009 Ford Flex at a Drive-In theater. We're waiting for the projectionist to decide that the sun's gone down far enough.

We're tourists, of course, so we don't know the local movie scene. Heck, we didn't even know we wanted to see a movie until we drove by this drive-in while passing by on the 101 freeway.

"Is it open? Is it abandoned? What's playing? When does it start?"

We had no local newspaper or telephone directory, but we did have an ace up our sleeve: Sirius Travel Link.

I've never used the system before, but it's as simple as it gets. Two or three button presses is all it takes to get the name, address and phone number of the theater.

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2009 Ford Flex: You Don't Need a Family to Dig It

August 06, 2009

Ford Flex at Birgamot Station

I always feel a bit ridiculous when driving an overtly family vehicle. I really liked driving our long-term Enclave, for instance, but the thought of a 20-something dude with 0.0 kids driving around in a giant Buick family hauler just didn't seem right. If I saw me driving that, I'd figure he'd boosted his dad's car, he'd given up on life prematurely or looked remarkably young for his age.

The Ford Flex is different, though. In our Grave Digger paint scheme, the Flex looks very cool. Although it's also gigantic and can fit my non-existent children (Molly and Skeletor) in comfort, it doesn't give that mom mobile vibe. If I was a family man, I'd appreciate being able to take the wife out to dinner on Saturday night in something that looked like the Flex. Taking the Odyssey or the Enclave would be a little depressing.

Practical and cool scores points for me.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor @ 28,996 miles

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2009 Ford Flex: I Decided to Buy Something Else

July 21, 2009

Flex-or-CX-9.jpg

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I was car shopping for a family hauler to replace our beloved VW Passat wagon (our second). The Passat's lease was up and I was in the market again, only this time a wagon wouldn't do. My wife decided a third row was on the gotta-have list so I found myself, against my will, in the crossover market.

The short list looked like this: Ford Flex, Chevy Traverse, GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave, Mazda CX-9, Subaru Tribeca, Hyundai Veracruz and the budget buster Acura MDX. All others out there were either too lame or too pricey.

I've obviously driven them all for my job, and we've had a Flex, a CX-9, an Enclave and a Veracruz in our long-term fleet over the last few years, so each of those have been used by the Oldham family extensively for daily use and road trips.

And for a while there I was set on getting one of the GM triplets. I was recommending them to all my friends for months. But ultimately the GMC and the Buick turned out to be too much money. Then I decided I like the Flex better than the Traverse, which was the finishing order of a recent Edmunds.com comparison test. The MDX is great to drive and packed with luxuries even in the base model, but it was just too small and too expensive.

The Tribeca got close. I like the way the Subaru drives and dig the fact that its off-the-radar for the majority of suburbia. I even took my wife to Santa Monica Subaru for a look and priced one out, but it was judged by by her to be too small in the third row and the interior left her cold.

Which left the Flex, the Mazda and the Veracruz. Three quality vehicles anybody would be lucky to own. But in the end I chose the Mazda. I leased a white CX-9 Touring for three years. There it is in my driveway next to our long-term Flex.

And the reason I chose it is simple. I decided the CX-9 delivered the best mix of value, fit and finish, styling, comfort and performance for me and my family. I just decided that I preferred the packaging and driving experience of the CX-9 the most.

Hopefully it will treat us well.

Scott Oldham, Edmunds.com Editor in Chief

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2009 Ford Flex: New Horizon

July 14, 2009

During a very involved multi-day shoot, we found a great new use for the Flex: camera platform.

flexplatform.jpg

Instead of carrying a ladder with use, simply pop open the sunroof, stand on a seat and plant your camera on the roof for that extra height.

Scott Jacobs, Senior Photographer

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: True to the Concept?

June 15, 2009

Flex rr limited.JPG

Here's a look at the rear of the Flex Limited. The concept car for the Flex used this nice metallic looking treatment too but how close do you think the Flex is to the original Fairlane Concept from 2005?

Check out the Concept version after the jump...

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2009 Ford Flex: My Winter Olympic Ride?

June 11, 2009

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Last Saturday, I was lucky enough to get tickets to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. And by "lucky," I mean "received the honor of paying an arm, leg and pancreas to attend four events." But it still took some effort, so I still feel accomplished. If you care, I go into more detail after the jump.

What does this have to do with our long-term fleet? Well, I need your help blogosphere. I'll be driving to Vancouver in the dead of February and will need something to get me, three friends and all our stuff through the wintry climes of Northern California, Oregon, Washington and a sliver of British Columbia. Therefore, I'll prefer all-wheel-drive. At first glance, our present fleet actually has quite a few vehicles that meet that criteria: Audi A4 Avant, Audi S5, Mitsubishi Evo MR, Suzuki SX4, Infiniti FX50 and Nissan GT-R. On second glance, never mind. The Infiniti is orobably the best candidate, but as Phil discovered back in December, our long termer has summer tires on it. The Audis would be great for making a hip Olympic entrance, but neither satisfies the friends and stuff criteria. The GT-R would be awesome if my friends were Keebler Elves and we had a plow escort.

If I were to leave tomorrow, I'd probably just take the Flex and its chains since I know they can handle a snowy road trip. But I have eight months before Vancouver and we'll have a different fleet by then. What cars and SUVs should I lobby for to make my Olympic road trip? The serious and ridiculous are certainly welcome.

James Riswick, Automotive Editor

About those tickets. Even as a Canadian citizen with an in-country address (a family member's) my first request for several ticket packages was denied during the "Phase 1 Priority Access Period" of ticketing back in December. Actually, I got three tickets for curling (shut up, I like it). I certainly wasn't alone in my frustration. The next phase was last Saturday, when a la carte event tickets went on sale. Since the system was so overwhelmed with traffic, the Olympic Web site diverted into a "virtual waiting room" where I "sat" for an hour and 20 minutes before being logged into the system. When I got in, I was able to snag tickets for women's luge, women's 1000m speed skating and one of the nightly victory ceremonies at the Olympic Stadium (aka BC Place). And all the women's events is due to scheduling, not because I especially enjoy watching ladies in spandex. Also, Alpine skiing and ski jumping were sold out.

But I'm going, and I'm thrilled. Should make for a fun time (and blog) in eight months.

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Bigger in Person

June 11, 2009

car-of-the-week-banner2.jpg Flex rear.JPG

I think I talked someone out of buying a Flex. It wasn't really on purpose - a mom at a kid's b-day party asked how I liked our Long Term Flex Limited and explained that her current Saturn lease was up. I said "It's a great car but it is BIG - drive one before you decide." The next day she showed up in a brand new 2010 Ford Fusion. My fault? I hope not but this sucker is quite large, something pictures alone don't convey.

Brian Moody, Automotive Editor @ 25,811 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Picture Perfect

June 10, 2009

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This is my favorite picture involving the Flex in all of our 25,000+ miles.

This was taken by Dan Edmunds on his trip to Oregon.

Fierce.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Suspension Walkaround

June 10, 2009

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The 2009 Ford Flex sits crossways in my driveway and the right side wheels are off. Time to peek into the wheel wells to see what's going on in there.

Will we find any surprises?

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Fiesta At My Place

June 09, 2009

555 Courtney's Fiesta with Flex.jpg

I'd better run out and buy lottery tickets. Why? There are only 100 Ford Fiestas in the Fiesta Movement program, and one them turned up two doors down from me as I was in my driveway finishing the photography for an upcoming 2009 Ford Flex suspension walkaround.

If that wasn't enough, the driver turned out to be none other than Courtney Force, daughter of Funny Car legend John Force. An up-and-coming drag racer in her own right, Courtney went to the same grade school as my kids and still lives nearby.

When I took these photos I hadn't yet seen the driver. It was only later, when I didn't have my camera, that the driver came back to the car and I started asking her about the car.

The Fiesta looks really good in person. The outside looks zippy and smart and the inside (Courtney let me sit in it) seems attractive, well-built and sensibly laid-out. This example clearly out-does the current dumbed-down US Ford Focus.

If they keep the production examples at or above this level, Ford will have a strong answer to cars like the Honda Fit and the Scion xD.

Here's a link to a bunch of Courtney's Fiesta Movement YouTube videos.


Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Tresting @ 25,674 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Open Thread

June 09, 2009

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What can we tell you about the Ford Flex that we haven't already? Post your questions and we'll get back to you.

Have you seen any Flexes on the road? What color did you see?

If you've driven one, write a review in the comments section.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: 25,000 Miles

June 01, 2009

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It's been 9 months, almost to the day, since the Ford Flex joined our fleet with the goal of hitting 20,000 miles by year's end. Turns out driving a car to Boston and back has a significant impact on that sort of thing.

25,000 miles, zero squeaks, zero rattles and zero problems. I love this car.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 25,000.1 miles

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

May 26, 2009

Ford Flex Cargo.jpg

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: Another Rough Day At The Office

May 20, 2009

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I mean, seriously. The lengths we go to for our readers' entertainment. But hey, that's what we're here for. If we have to drive all the way to El Mirage to do donuts in the Flex on a lawless dry lake bed, then by OIdham, that's what we're gonna do.

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2009 Ford Flex: Part 2 of What's It Like to Work at Inside Line?

May 12, 2009

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Here's what happens on an evening photo shoot while we're waiting for the light to get good. We buy gas station burritos, beef jerky nuggets and Bugles, and make the 2009 Ford Flex watch as we consume this garbage gourmet food.

Why the Flex? Because its compliant yet controlled suspension and roomy cargo area (with the third-row seats folded) make it useful for shooting car-to-car photography (cool action photos shot from the road of cars on the road... see example shot by Kurt Niebuhr in thumbs below).

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2009 Ford Flex: Crash Test Video

May 06, 2009

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Conestoga Wagon With Tinted Windows

April 27, 2009

2009 ford flex as conestoga posing with wagon wheel

This weekend, our long-term Ford Flex made a trip to some family-owned desert property just past Willow Springs Raceway, the last 6 miles of which were on well-kept dirt roads with only a few relatively minor ruts. The Flex performed like a champ. The ride was a bit bumpy, sure, but it wasn't intolerable, and with the air conditioning on recirculate while we trailed the lead car to our final stop, the desert dust stayed where we wanted it (on the outside, seen above). Despite strong, gusty winds at times on the drive out there, the Flex felt quite steady and planted, unlike a crossover with a higher profile might feel.

I used to think that the Flex was too funky-looking, too big, too hard to drive. But I've gotten used to its size. It's visibility is actually better than most crossovers thanks to the giant greenhouse, and the funky styling had grown on me. Child safety seats are easy to install, too. I think I've finally been won over by this giant wagon with the men's lounge-style interior, pardner.

Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com @ 22,267 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Our Favorite Caption

April 03, 2009

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Thanks to ergsum for this week's favorite caption.

Look how many ergsum had in the finals. You guys are really getting good at this. The final decision was killing me. Heh.

Honorable mention goes to:

Quit your coffin back there. -- I can't, my throat Hearse. (ampim)
For the life of me, I can't get this dead pedal to work. (mnorm1)
Ford Flex, got Goth? (ergsum)
It really is that quiet on the inside. (hendrix22)
Flex!!! -- I cant!! Rigor Mortis! (CommonSense01)
A hearse is a hearse, of corpse of corpse! (ergsum)
No, no, I said you needed to buy a gasket, not bury a casket! (ergsum)
Strange place for a drive-thru, but boy is this McSoylent Green burger tasty. (ergsum)

What was your favorite?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: You Write the Caption

April 03, 2009

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Scott took this picture of the 2009 Ford Flex in its unnatural habitat.

I offer you "My Kingdom for a Hearse"

I'm sure you can do better.

We'll post our favorite at 4PM Pacific Time.

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Ford Flex: Separated At Birth

April 02, 2009

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Scott Oldham, Edmunds.com Editor in Chief

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Oh No! It Won't Come Off!

April 01, 2009

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Houston, we have a problem. The woodie treatment I applied to our 2009 Ford Flex last night just won't come off.

It was funny when I drove to work this morning and got more looks that I ever got in the Nissan GT-R. (Got cut-off a lot more, too.) The best part was that not all of them were disgusted. Some seemed mildly interested.

But now it's April 2nd in Australia. The joke's over. Now what?

Hah! Got you again. It peeled straight off in two minutes. Zero residue.

As you are now aware, it wasn't paint and it wasn't Photoshop. It was good old fashioned Contact-brand shelf paper, which has a mild adhesive backing. I used to use it for car numbers when I road-raced my daily driver several years back. It's $6 for a 25-foot roll at Home Depot. Cuts with scissors. You can get a floral print if you want.

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2009 Ford Flex: Country Squire Package

April 01, 2009

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Taking a page from Mini Cooper and their Mini Motoring Graphics kits, Ford Motor Company announced a similar product for their 2009 Ford Flex.

We've installed a sneak-peek sample on our 2009 Ford Flex long-term test car. The Country Squire Graphics Package, as it's formally called, will be available as a dealer accessory at the beginning of June.

Richard Duschene, senior product planner and strategist for Ford's car division, explained it this way:

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2009 Ford Flex: 14-year-old Boy Approved

March 17, 2009

2009 Ford Flex with some hip youth

I've spent a good deal of time in the Ford Flex, just not our particular long termer. Last summer, I journeyed up to Big Bear Lake, California, in a Cinnamon-colored short termer and was left thoroughly impressed by its road trip manners. One month later I was in Toronto on vacation and picked up a Light Ice Blue SEL from the same factory in Oakville, Ontario, its Ford family-hauling predecessors were built since 1994. Both the Windstar and Freestar (and Mercury Monterey!) minivans were mediocre-to-horrible for most of their existence, and the fact that these diseased members of an endangered species have been replaced at the Oakville plant and in the Ford lineup by a hopefully game-changing vehicle like the Flex certainly seemed symbolic.

While the Flex doesn't have the same max utility of a minivan, that summer Toronto trip certainly showed it had the type of appeal the Windstar could only dream about.

Photos and more after the jump.

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: 20,000 Miles

March 16, 2009

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Just like our long-term Subaru Impreza WRX, our 2009 Ford Flex Limited cruised its 20,000th mile this weekend.

Unlike in the WRX (which has been with us about 4 months longer), it only took us about 8 months to run the Flex's odometer to the 20,000 milestone. I don't know if tha'ts a long-term fleet record (and I'm sure you'll tell me, if it is), but it's obvious that we like this boxy crossover. It seems to like us, too, as it's given us little trouble.

To date: three major road trips (Oregon and back, Massachusetts and back, Utah and back), two scheduled oil changes, one visit to the dealer for brakelights staying on, one not-our-fault bumper scrape.

Bryn MacKinnon, Senior Editor, Edmunds.com @ 20,087 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Oil Change

March 12, 2009

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Our Long Term 2009 Ford Flex limited just got back from an oil change, tire rotation and brake inspection over at Santa Monica Ford. Preliminary estimates predicted this service to cost about 90 bucks here in Santa Monica. It didn't.

$44.59 and a few hours later the Flex was ready to roll. The service advisor even gave me a form to fill out for a $10 mail-in-rebate on the service. The ownership experience with this car just keeps getting better.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 19,932

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2009 Ford Flex: Hit Me Baby One More Time

February 10, 2009

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The other day our 2009 Ford Flex took a shot in traffic. Not our fault. The damage seems to be cosmetic and limited to the plastic bumper cover, but we'll let you know how it all plays out. Body shop here we come...probably next week. Heck, maybe it'll just buff out.

Scott Oldham, Edmunds.com Editor in Chief

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: We Got Weather

February 09, 2009

Now that I'm armed with a video camera, I'm going to drive you CRAZY with moving images. You're gonna get video on EVERYTHING.

As Socrates once said, "An unvlogged life is not worth living."

Here's a video montage of driving the Ford Flex in the rain on my morning commute.

In the second segment, that big gray thing you see looming in the distance is the Pacific Ocean. You'll get a closer look at it in the third segment. Don't worry the whole thing is only a minute long.

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Our Favorite Caption

February 06, 2009

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Thanks to edubya for this week's favorite.

Quite a few gave us a good chuckle. These commenters get honorable mention:

Ford Flex found soiled. Fowl play suspected. (eidolways)
Gullible buyers welcome. (eidolways)
Ford introduces a new Gull Wing option for the Flex (wable)
Ford reveals eco-friendly two tone paint facility. (vwthing1)
With this, we can strike anywhere, anytime. We're unstoppable! Drive on puny human! (gooney911)

What was your favorite?

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: You Write the Caption

February 06, 2009

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Here is a lovely scenic photo taken by our Director of Vehicle Testing Dan Edmunds.

Our Vehicle Testing Manager Mike Schmidt came up with "Talk to me, Goose."

Can you do better?

We'll post our favorite at 4PM (Pacific Time).

Donna DeRosa, Managing Editor

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2009 Ford Flex: Oregon Wrap-Up

January 06, 2009

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It's over. The 2009 Ford Flex has been washed and gassed for the final time and the keys are in someone else's hands for a change.

All told, our trip lasted 2,275 miles. Over that distance, I added a total of 99.8 gallons of unleaded gasoline.

Average trip fuel economy: 22.8 mpg (Enclave last year = 22.1)

Best tanks: 26.7 and 26.5 mpg (Enclave last year = 25.6)

Longest run: 454.5 miles

Worst tank: 18.2 mpg (multiple runs up the steep switchbacks to my folks' mountaintop lair after feeding seagulls and such)

Number of other Ford Flexes seen on the road: Zero (dealer lots don't count.)

Yes, but what do we think after all of that time?

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2009 Ford Flex: Oregon Day 9, Home at Last

January 03, 2009

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Our 2009 Ford Flex is spending tonight in my driveway wearing 9 days worth of road grime. As for us, we're only a little bit cleaner, but we're happy to be sleeping in our own beds.

Earlier on I'd passed along my dad's praise for the narrow door sills and how they ease ingress and egress. An alert reader pointed out that this would keep one's pants leg from getting dirty, too. At first I thought this comment had to do with the geometry of the design and how it made it less likely that one's pants leg would drag across the narrower sill when getting in. But there's more to it than that.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 15, 320 miles

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2009 Ford Flex: Oregon Day 8, Making our Escape

January 02, 2009

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Today, after spending Day 7 doing nothing but recovering from the previous night's celebrations and watching football, we finally pointed our 2009 Ford Flex southward for the trip home. The weather forecast called for conditions conducive to the formation of ice. It had rained overnight, and then the temperature dropped below freezing.

Indeed the icy black asphalt of our hotel's parking lot was hard to walk across as we loaded-up. But we couldn't dawdle too long waiting for sunshine because we needed to get past Weed, California, some 200 miles south, before the predicted snow arrived there at 2pm.

After a few test laps of the parking lot, the front-wheel drive Flex felt secure enough on its all-season rubber and we lumbered out of town as the in-car temperature gauge dropped to 29 degrees and stayed there. It had snowed overnight along highway 97, and we padded along with a group of other cars at 35 mph in places where the plows hadn't yet scraped or sprayed de-icing fluid. We had no problems with grip, but then I wasn't demanding much as I squeezed the throttle like a hypermiler and used sparing steering inputs.

One of the negative points of the Flex is the small swept area of the rear window wiper. Not sure if this can be helped because of the car's basic proportions, but I found myself wishing for more, especially toward the driver's side.

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2009 Ford Flex: Oregon Day 6, Snow Day!

December 31, 2008

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Today we said goodbye to my parents on the coast and headed inland to Bend, Oregon in our 2009 Ford Flex. Our route took us over a 5,400 foot pass where recent snows had brought the snow accumulation up to over 70 inches.

At least 100 miles of our route was in the snow zone, so as the law around here requires, we carried chains, just in case.

Much of the road had been cleared, but just after we stopped to have the Oregon Department of Transportation's "Trip Check" road camera record our passage, the route entered an area with 5 and 6% slopes that was still coated with packed snow.

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2009 Ford Flex: Oregon Day 4, Seagull Approved

December 29, 2008

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Want to have some fun at the beach in your 2009 Ford Flex this winter?

Load grandma, grandpa and the kids into all three rows. Don't feel bad about those in the back seats, because all three rows enjoy generous legroom. Despite the flat roofline, the third row sits a bit higher than the second, which in turn sits fractionally higher than the first. Everyone can see out.

Take a couple of slices of stale bread down to the jetty and wait for the seagulls to gather. It won't take long; they know the drill. Roll down the windows a little ways and toss a bit of it out onto the ground. In no time you'll have a couple of dozen new friends.

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2009 Ford Flex: Oregon Day 3, Stormy Weather

December 28, 2008

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I can't remember where I heard it, or even if it's true, but the Weather Channel is supposed to be the most-watched cable network. It's hard to fathom in southern California, where this trip in the 2009 Ford Flex Limited began. But here on the Oregon coast it's a lot easier to believe.

Dad has his own weather setup, and he has logged temperature, rainfall and windspeed more or less each day since he moved here from So Cal some 19 years ago. This morning's rain gauge reading was 5.4 inches, the second-highest 24-hour total he's recorded.

Despite this, we pointed the Flex toward Gold Beach, 15 miles away. Our mission: fresh Dungeness crab for tonight's annual crab feed. That's right, some adventerous fisherman was out in it last night, bobbing around in his boat and hauling up crab pots to harvest what would become dinner for a lot of locals around here.

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2009 Ford Flex: Oregon Day 2, Eureka!

December 27, 2008

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Phase One of our holiday odyssey in the 2009 Ford Flex has come to an end. We've arrived at my parents' place near Brookings, Oregon after some 830 miles in the saddle.

But not until after we made our now-customary lunch stop at the Lost Coast Brewing Company in Eureka, California. The above painted wall mural frames one end of the parking lot across the street.

So far, our intrepid crew has nothing but good things to say about the Flex:

The ride was smooth and comfortable, yet body motions were never buoyant or floaty. This is quite a trick on many northern California highways, distorted as they are by frequent land slippage and roadbed settling. Kudos to the suspension tuning crew at Ford.

We sit lower in a Flex than a minivan or big SUV and the lower roofline produces a lower center of gravity. Inside, we feel less roll movement in corners. I'm not sure if this is because the body actually rolls less, if it rolls the same but more gradually, or if our lower seated position (closer to the roll axis) results in less seat displacement for a given amount of roll. It's probably a case of "All of the Above."

Bottom line, no one got car sick this time -- even with their heads buried in a book, playing with their Nintendos or watching the DVD screen.

And everyone loved the Flex's entertainment system. The kids found it easy to manipulate the system to keep themselves busy with movies in the back, while Tracy and I kept the iPod going up front. I only wish the Sync interface provided better control over audiobooks. They don't show up under genre. You have to select the author, Neil Gaiman in this case, as if he were a band, or something. And trying to listen to a continuous 7-hour track with no chapter markers is a pain. A book should be an album, and chapters should be tracks. But they aren't.

Even so, the touch screen controls for it all, made possible by the navigation screen, kept it all running smoothly.

And then there are the seats. Stormy weather and cold fuel and food stops made the front and rear seat heaters a big hit. Some of you scoffed at the wrinkly look of the seats themselves in my pre-trip post, but the fact that the leather isn't stretched as tight as a drum made them quite pliable. They squish down just enough in the right spots while providing strategically-placed support over long distances. Sure, they aren't wildly bolstered and sculpted like Recaros, but the Flex isn't a GT-R and it isn't made to haul butt. But it does seem to haul butts rather well.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vedhicle Testing @ 13, 875 miles

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2009 Ford Flex: Oregon Day 1, Identity Crisis?

December 26, 2008

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"What car are you driving up this year?" asked my dad as we called to report our progress from the road.

"It's a 2009 Ford Flex," I replied.

"A what?"

"A Ford Flex. It's new."

"Never heard of it. Does it run on ethanol?"

"No, it won't run on E85."

"Why do they call it Flex, then?"

Good question. I have no answer to that one.

Dad wasn't the only one to make the incorrect flex-fuel assupmtion, either. Two or three other relatives I saw over the last two days made the same deduction. It's such an easy conclusion to draw, apparently, that Ford felt the need to emblazon the Easy Fuel filler neck with "no E85" icons. I don't remember seeing anything like it on any other car that won't run on E85. But, then again, none of them are called "Flex," either.

This misconception seems so pervasive that I have to wonder if the Flex is being dismissed as a vehicle choice by those who either don't have E85 in their area or don't believe in the stuff. That'd be a shame, because this is one nice ride.

As for the Easy Fuel itself, I'm still not used to the lack of a cap. I have to wonder if those who have a two-car stable, one with Easy Fuel and one without, ever get used to it.

All that aside, we burned two tanks totalling 30.06 gallons of regular unleaded today over 682.8 miles of mostly high speed freeway driving, for an average fuel economy of 22.7 mpg. The in-car gauge apparently reads a bit high; it reported the day's average as 23.6 mpg.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 13, 743 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Last Minute Panic

December 25, 2008

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I was struck by a sinking feeling on the day before liftoff to Oregon in our 2009 Ford Flex. Just as the odometer turned over the 13,000 mile mark I noticed that the mileage on the dealer-installed oil change label was identical.

Great. I'm about to embark on a 2,000 mile trip and it looks like the Flex needs an oil change. But didn't it just have one? And how am I going to pull this off on Christmas day?

Out comes the owner's manual to look at the maintenance schedules. The first oil change comes at 7,500 miles; the second at 15,000 miles. This 7,500 mile interval carries through the life of this Ford. Severe service intervals are 5,000 miles, but Ford's definition of "severe" is quite specific and, well, severe. We don't tow, we don't make deliveries or use it as a taxi. Our driving pattern doesn't come close to meeting any of the threshholds.

So the manual is quite clear that 7,500 miles is the proper oil change interval for the way we drive our Flex.

Vehicle Testing Assistant Mike Magrath texts me to say that the last oil change came a couple of hundred miles after the service reminder light came on. He's home for the holidays and away from the receipts, but we figure it at about 7,800 to 8,000 miles. The next change is therefore due at 15,500 miles or so, not 13,000 miles. Indeed the service reminder light has not yet re-illuminated to indicate that oil change #2 is looming.

So the sticker mileage is either an example of a dealer who doesn't read the manual himself or good old upselling. And check out the "Motorcraft Full Synthetic" label. More upselling. The Flex neither requires synthetic nor did we spring for it on the last change. By its presence, the label implies that pricier synthetic is required here. But it's just an ad. The Flex needs nothing more than regular 5W-20.

Nice try, guys. Better luck next time. I'll have ithe oil changed when I get back, and I'm not going with synthetic, either.

This is one of several reasons why I usually change my own oil.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 13,042 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Oregon Bound

December 23, 2008

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To almost no one's surprise, I've got the keys to the 2009 Ford Flex in my pocket for our annual holiday trip north to Oregon.

We're all looking forward to it. It has plenty of room for us to stretch out, plenty of room for our stuff and it's loaded with plenty of toys to keep the miles from wearing us out. We'll put the navigation system, satellite radio, Sync iPod connection, Bluetooth connection, rear DVD screen, and built-in cooler to very good use.

We don't actually leave until the day after Christmas, so I have a couple of days to watch the weather and plan my route. Snow is going to be unavoidable this year because we're adding a side trip to Bend to see my sister-in-law. We have to cross the Cascades to get there from the coast.

California and Oregon are militant about the need to carry tire chains and use them. They set up checkpoints. They're dead serious about it. And many times they don't care if you have AWD. This might not be a problem if you're a local and you have snow tires. But if you're driving up from sunny SoCal, you need chains. And the 10-day weather forecast shows that pesky little snowflake icon up north the whole time.

In fact, as I write this, a colleague in our video production department is already in Oregon and he just called not 5 minutes ago from the roadside while installing chains on the Ford Edge. "Front or rear?" he asked with chattering teeth. I'm not making this up.

And this is where the Flex has a potential problem: The Flex's owner's manual says you can't put chains on a Flex, even so-called S-type cable chains. Chains won't fit, they say, over the standard 18-inch tires as well as the 19 and 20-inch optional ones. (Our front-wheel drive Limited has the 19's.) I've never heard of such a thing on a volume family product. Who signed off on this?

There is one Flex model that can accept chains: the 2WD SE base model can be ordered with an optional 17-inch tire "downgrade." They're 1-inch shorter, you see. They provide one-half inch more radial clearance in the fender wheels. The AWD's final drive ratio is borrowed to keep the gearing straight.

But besides a paltry options list, there is a catch: Ford says they only sell this option in "snow states." What "snow state" denizen would go for 2WD and chains? Sounds like a fleet special, to me. And I'm sure places like California and Arizona aren't considered "snow states," but both have high mountains and real ski resorts. Folks who live outside snow areas and visit occasionally are the ones who need chains, not the locals who live in it. But I digress.

After a bit of frantic research (the keys to the Grand Caravan were long gone so I had to make this work), I learned a few things:

SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) standards require 15 mm of clearance (about 5/8 inch) for S-type chains, roughly speaking.

The optional 17-inch tires have the same width as my 19's, but by being shorter they gain 12.7 mm of radial clearance. That's the difference I have to make up.

I found a brand of cable chain that exceeds SAE S-type requirements. They only need 6.3 mm (1/4 inch) of clearance -- a savings of 8.7 mm.

Using these slim-fit cable chains with my 19-inch tires reduces the descrepancy to only 4 mm -- just over 1/8 inch. I'm sure Ford didn't cut it that close, so I think I'm good. But just to be sure I went down to the garage for some measurements.

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Ford's Finest?

December 22, 2008

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I see a lot of politicians on TV lately. They say stuff like "American cars aren't competitive." I don't know, I've been driving this Flex for a few days now and I can't really see anything that's so bad about it. I'd rather have this than a minivan or even a truck based SUV. The interior is well finished, the car is attractive plus the new nav and audio system is easily class leading.

I'd rather have a Flex than an R-Class, Pacifica, Tahoe, Sienna, Murano and even a Range Rover. Not sure I'd get black though - color aside, this is really a very good family wagon. I could probably name 6 or 7 other American cars that are good enough to put in my garage - the Flex is just one of them.

Brian Moody, Senior Automotive Editor @ 13,122 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Limited is Worth a Test Drive

December 16, 2008

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My brother drives a 2002 Ford Explorer and now he's shopping for a new mid-sized SUV. He called me for some advice and I asked he what he was considering. He said, "We were going to look at that new boxy thing but we're done with Ford."

I said, "Hold on a second."

I bought the 2009 Ford Flex Limited for our long term fleet about two months ago but I hadn't driven it until just recently. On the freeway I noticed it had a very pleasant ride, like a big, heavy luxury car, and it was extremely well insulated. I liked the wide leather seats and loved the feel of the wood and leather steering wheel.

The surprise came when I reached my exit and swung into the spiraling off ramp.

Suddenly, this heavyweight showed it could be level, stable and composed through a tight corner. The only thing that kept it from being downright fun was the light steering.

It's a surprise how big this vehicle is inside. The backseat legroom is amazing! For a big vehicle it gets about 18 mpg in a mix of city and highway conditions which is nothing to write home about.

But could I really recommend this vehicle? Would I buy it? The only thing that puts me off is that, after 12,264 miles I feel a hard upshift from the transmission. That, coupled with the fact that my brother is car shopping because his Explorer's transmission is has a degenerative illness, kept me from being more enthusiastic about this new Ford.

Still, I like the edgy styling, and love the way it drives. So I took the ultimate definitive stance: "It's worth a test drive."

Philip Reed, Senior Consumer Advice Editor @ 12,264 miles

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2009 Ford Flex: Sometimes the Truth Hearse

October 20, 2008

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Just sayin'.

Scott Oldham, Edmunds.com Editor in Chief @ 9,744 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Road Trip Conclusion by the Numbers

October 20, 2008

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It was a long (very long) journey, but I've been back for a few days now. Conclusions-- including a by-the-numbers account-- of the trip are after the jump.

Miles driven: 6,780.2

States visited: 21 (California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico.)

Days on road: 10

Gallons of fuel used: 304.8

Best Fuel economy: 24.8 mpg through Nebraska with a 75 mph average-- maybe slightly higher.

Worst: 17.5 LA traffic + Vegas traffic

Overall Average MPG: 22.2

Cheapest gas: 2.75 in Tulsa.

Longest run on a single tank: 422.3 miles. NY + Western MA

Shortest run: 165.4. Somewhere in Utah a sign said no gas for almost 200 miles. I decided not to risk it.

Speeding tickets: 0 (thanks, Valentine One!)

Breakdowns: 0. Though on the return trip through Arizona the oil change warning illuminated.

Gallons of water (for drinking): 5

Gallons of bug dissolving washer fluid: 1

BBQ Stops: 4

Miles driven on dirt roads instead of highways thanks to nav system: 3

Other Flexes seen on road: 1

Corvette ZR-1s seen on road: 1

Not to get too far into the political sphere here (though I guess I do have a degree in that which I'm sure my parents are thrilled they paid for), but as someone who has lived only in the Northeast and in Southern California, a trip across the nation at ground level is an eye opener-- especially during these tough economic times. At ground level it's easy to see history. To see which industry -- shipping, textile, farming, manufacturing-- built up certain areas and then devastated them when the jobs left. Seeing the towns that have bounced back, the ones that gave up, and the ones that are have just started to grow. Or more frequently now, started to fall. Watching the signs change from Obama / Biden to McCain / Palin and then to Jesus and eventually back to Obama.

Putting a frame of reference on President Bush's comment that our nation is addicted to oil is easy to do here in SoCal with the constant traffic, but it's more than that; an addiction to cheap goods (trucked from the heartland and from port cities) has made entire corridors of the country little more than a string of big-rig fueling stations. And while we're on the subject of addiction, I'm afraid I came across another addiction of ours ( I'm two-for-two in this whole national addiction thing): beef. From sea-to-shining-sea, if corn, wheat or soybeans won't grow, then dagnabit, cattle will. I'm not sure this is great for our collective waistlines or cholesterol count, but it does make BBQ easier to find (and more delicious).

It's a testament to the architects of our society that we can make it all work. The disparity between L.A. and, say, Gallup New Mexico couldn't be greater if there was a sea and a language barrier separating them. But it does and I won't pretend that passing through with short visits has given me any greater insight as to how. In fact, it's made me more confused. All I know is that my text message to Schmidt read "I've never been so happy to see smog" when I passed over the hill and back to LA.

When I first moved to California (for this job) I couldn't understand the allure, why anyone would suffer the traffic, the smog, and the sprawl. But after spending nearly two weeks away from it, I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't pack up and head west.

But I'll get off my soapbox now. Thanks for listening. It was a great trip. If you ever get the chance I recommend it highly. In fact, don't wait for the chance to arise, seek it out. Take a vacation. Quit your job. Just get out on the road and go. But do yourself the favor and figure out a way to do it one way.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 9,265 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Road Trip, On refrigeration and hitting the wall

October 10, 2008

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This is the interior of the refrigerator inside the 2009 Ford Flex. Pictured is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. There was also a fluffernutter, but it didn't last long enough to be in the photo. It's a neat idea but the execution here is a little lame. First, they put the rear armrest hinge on the front. Probably to dissuade the driver from attempting to reach in while driving. Sorry, Ford, not gonna work. Humans are where we are today by adapting and bending the will of our opponents, animate or not. It's possible to get inside if one's willing to drive with their foot (cruise control is a necessity here) and contort a little. It's easier still to make your passenger do it. Its second shortcoming is the size. That's not trick photography, folks it really is that small. The third thing wrong with the fridge is the freeze setting. 12-hours and there's only some frost on the side of the water. It keeps things--and even gets things--very cold, but if you're going to give me a button that says freeze, the damn thing better freeze. Solid. Maybe I should have gone 24-hours straight.

The fourth thing that warrants complaints about the availability of a fridge is the lack of a microwave. Don't laugh. It's got a TV and a DVD player and a refrigerator already. Why not? 10 years ago I would have punched the current me for suggesting a car have any of those things. Now I'm jealous of future-Mike for having an in-car microwave.

Take, for instance a road trip across the country. You drive through a town that actually has food that looks safe and edible, but you're just not hungry...or maybe it was so good you want another order to go. Why not? It won't spoil thanks to the modern marvel of refrigeration. But then the problem arises that cold BBQ sucks. Sure, I could've wrapped it in foil and chucked it under the hood for a few hours but that's not the point.

Speaking of Road Trips across the country, today's installment covers the first few days of the return trip. Boston, NYC, Columbus, St. Louis and Tulsa!

The return trip was intended from the beginning to simply be a return. I was going to go the southern route for a change of perspective, but it was going to be a straight shot. Unless, of course, I ran into some crazy road-side nonsense that I simply couldn't resist. Day one was great. I love NYC and got to spend a few hours there before the clock told me I had to leave. Driving west through PA was marked by cops. Lots of them. Everywhere. On the 76 the only thing I saw more frequently than highway patrol was deer carcasses. Seriously, give out some hunting licenses or something, there were dozens. Day one ended in Columbus with no drama.

Day two was Columbus Ohio to Tulsa, OK. Just over 800 miles and save for a short visit to St. Louis, not much to report. Tulsa did have the cheapest recorded gas of the trip, $2.75 / gal. So that was neat.

Day three I hit the wall. Somewhere around Groom Texas I just couldn't do it anymore. I was done. The pressure and dehydration of the last week finally caught up with me and I had to stop. It was a huge disappointment for me, but preventing a horrible crash seemed prudent at the time.

Driving one way was easy. Having to return was proving a bit more problematic.

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 8,150 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Road Trip Part IV, Best Road Trip Car Ever?

October 08, 2008

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With its black-on-black color scheme (no mini-cooper/FJ white roof for us!) some have complained that our 2009 Ford Flex Limited looks like a hearse. So I took it to one of New England's newest cemetery-- established in the 1720s-- for a better field of reference. Indeed, it does look a bit like a hearse. But the kind of cool hearse that you'd see on open drag nights with a tubbed rear, big block and skull shifter. Except that this has a V6, FWD and a six-speed auto.

While it may not be able to do a huge burnout, and it doesn't have those cool curtains hearses do, it is still the best road trip car available today.

Sure, at 42 grand it's not the cheapest. And averaging 25/26 mpg it's not the most efficient. But when you add up everything-- fridge, nav, DVD player, roominess, comfort-- there simply isn't a better car for driving 8,000 miles in a very short period of time in this price range.

You're driving cross-country and back with a girlfriend in tow, what would you take? (I won't accept any answer of R8, GT-R or any Ferrari-- you need to make it there and back without having anything replaced, that includes your ear drums, spine and eyeballs that have been shaken loose from your skull.)

Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 6,320 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Road Trip part III, made it.

October 05, 2008

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Made it.

The drive east from Ohio into New York and then into Massachusetts is like driving through a calendar. The leaves are starting to turn, the rolling fields are dotted with peeling white or red paint, and air freshens up. It also has a little something that the west coast doesn't have, weather. More specifically, rain. It was another chance to try out the live radar-map some more. The big green thing on the screen tells me where the rain is. So do the rain drops on my window.

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Road Trip Part III, The midwest

October 02, 2008

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When we last left our road trip diary the Ford Flex was whisking us through eastern Colorado and on into Nebraska. Thrilling, I know. With 75 mph limits, straight roads and just enough traffic to avoid being the only car on the road, this was the Flex's time to shine. And shine it did. I turned on my Valentine One, set the cruise control and drove for hours in perfect comfort. Once acclimated to the system, Sync works exceptionally well with an iPod. Sirius' weather link kept me apprised of the looming thunderstorms (which eventually halted my run), and the flat-looking seats kept my butt supported and warm with no complaints. I also managed to, at those speeds, beat the EPA estimated 24mpg with a 25.7mpg tank.

That night I tried, for the first time, sleeping in the Flex. I was hoping the back, seats folded flat, would make an acceptable bed. They don't. It's like sleeping on the floor of a dog's kennel. The front seats don't recline enough for sleeping either. The second row bench is interrupted by the refrigerator so that's out, too. I had an easier time sleeping in our old Lancer than I did in the Flex. That was the last night we tried that. For a detailed account of the rest of that day-- including Iowa-- please see my illustration below. <

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Road Trip Part II

October 01, 2008

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After being thankfully thrown from my original plan due to the lame headlights on the Flex (even the high beams weren't sufficient in that scenario), I was able to, as posted before, see Utah for all I never really knew it was. I wanted to hit Grand Junction by day one. I've been to Colorado before (for off-road driver training) and was won over by the views and the general "vibe" of the state. I don't have any data to back this up, but I'm pretty sure there are more bike trails in Colorado than the entire rest of the world combined. (Unfortunately I don't have my bike with me on this leg of the trip...on the way back I will.) Losing my night running hours meant stops had to be ditched. Denver was out. Grand Junction was punctuated. Vail, however, was still very much in.

The Flex, after almost 1,000 miles, is doing well. But, somewhere around 10,000 feet, before the Eisenhower-Johnson Memorial Tunnel (West of Denver) the Flex's second weakness showed. The transmission-- which it shares with the Buick Enclave amongst others-- just doesn't know what to do with inclines. With no manual option and a lousy L mode, the engine is constantly torn between fuel economy and maintaining momentum. Down. Up. Down. Up. Down. Down. Down. Up. It's not fun. If I were in the Enclave I could just push the button a couple of times, leave the thing in 4 and get on with my trip at a steady RPM. It's a great gearbox in GM vehicles, why isn't it great here at 11,000 feet where I need it?

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Road Trip Part 1

September 29, 2008

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The first leg of this trip was going to be a drag. I knew that much from the start. Southern California up through Vegas, the north western tip of Arizona and then into Utah-- it all looks pretty much the same until you get to Arizona, by then though the drive has started to take its toll. But the Flex is, so far, a willing partner in this adventure and I was feeling pretty fresh. When I hit Salina, Utah-- only 590 miles from my departure point-- the sun had set and route 70 through Utah is a bendy, four-lane highway with a surprisingly high 75-mph speed limit. The highway is also, as the signs indicate, chock full of deer, elk and eagles. I was willing, but the Flex's headlights were not. We paid extra for these HIDs but they simply are not up to the task of illuminating an unlit desert road at 75mph. Maybe it was a good thing, had I been able to "make time" through Spotted Wolf Canyon, I would have missed some of the best sights I've seen to date.

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: ROAD TRIP!

September 26, 2008

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There's nothing quite as American as the road trip. Nothing. Not apple pie. Not baseball. Hell, compared to the road trip even mom looks like a flag-burning communist. And in terms of road trips, this is a good one.

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Big Scion. Hallelujah.

September 15, 2008

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Ford just might have pulled it off. For years, I've told anyone who'd listen that the first company that makes a cool minivan will create the next must-have family hauler trend and score big. The 2009 Ford Flex just might be the template for that cool minivan--or whatever you want to call it.

"It looks like a big Scion," said the caretaker at our secret test location. And I've gotten more than one double-take and enthusiastic thumbs-up from other drivers while commuting in our Flex, some on crotch rockets and one from a genuine first-generation Scion xB pilot.

From some angles the Flex manages to look like a chopped-top surf wagon--especially with the optional white roof. And the embossed side strakes somehow say "woodie", but minus the dry rot and termites. It would look at home with a pair of surfboards on top. But what to call it?

The Flex is no SUV, that's for sure, and the word "crossover" doesn't seem to apply either because those so labelled have typically tried to look like kinder, gentler SUVs. This gives off no such vibe. But it feels too big and substantial to be a wagon. Despite appearing much lower, the Flex stands less than two inches (the short side of a business card) shorter than my wife's '03 Odyssey minivan, but the rear doors aren't sliders.

But the local car wash down the street doesn't care about marketing doublespeak and car classification conundrums; all they know is that I needed to be charged a buck extra for it being an "SUV / minivan" when I had it hosed-off this morning.

I don't care what it's called. I like it.

One thing needs attention before I could own one (and I just might--Tracy thinks it's cool, as well). The seating position doesn't work for 6'2" tall me. The seats themselves are great, but when they're slid back far enough for my legs I can't reach the steering wheel properly. I have to hunch forward a full two inches further than optimal to drive it--the same feeling I got in our long-term Honda Fit. Like the old Fit, this one really needs a telescopic wheel. Oh sure, our Flex has adjustable pedals, but all of the above happens with the pedals as far in as they'll go. Adjustable pedals are a weak substitute for a proper telescopic wheel.

Still, the Flex is cool. If gas prices don't scare folks away from anything bigger than a Focus or Civic, Ford just might have a hit on their hands.

Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 2,314 miles

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2009 Ford Flex Limited: Sir Flex a lot

September 15, 2008

flex blog.JPG I like big cars and I cannot lie, but there's something about the Flex I can't deny. It's big, not round and frankly just too big for me.

Apparently, the Flex has got it goin' on, till the break of dawn because everywhere I went people were taken with this big wagon. I can see why - it has minivan usefulness without looking like - well, like a minivan. Several neighbors used the phrase "surf wagon." Although the Flex feels wide and long on the road, the handling is OK. It never feels sluggish and doesn't have excessive body roll. Nice Job, Ford.

Brian Moody, Road Test Editor.

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2009 Ford Flex: Crunch-Crunch, Drip-Drip

September 10, 2008

Flex Rear Wheel Scrape.jpg Living with our 2009 Ford Flex long-term car for over a week confirmed what I'd already figured -- when it comes to carting people and things around, this crossover gets the job done with both style and grace. The Flex inspired multiple double-takes and a few questions from onlookers during the week, and its plush interior, car-like handling and multiple gadgets (my kids loved the idea of a rear-seat 'fridge) made it a pleasant family tote bag for the most part.

Only two issues arose during my drive time. The first related to the car's flashy, 19-inch chrome wheels. These certainly enhance the Flex's looks, but on a vehicle with this much wheelbase (117.9 inches) keeping them away from curbs can be difficult. I found this out while going through the local McDonald's drive-thru, a path I've travelled several dozen times without incident. This time, however, I scraped the driver's-side rear wheel as I made the turn between order and pick-up.

I couldn't believe it, and looking at the odometer I thought "Well, at 1,850 miles I guess the wheels are broken in." When I got home I went to inspect the damage and noticed that while the rear wheel had a couple scrapes (pictured above), the front wheel (which never got near a curb during my use of the Flex) had much larger and deeper scrapes (pictured below).

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Edmunds Insurance Estimator

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

$131 per month*
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