August 11, 2010
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
April 19, 2010
Yesterday I was feeling a little crazy. Reckless even. But the 11 am showing of How To Train Your Dragon was sold out, so I was forced to Plan B.
Instead of the movie, I drove our long-term Ford Flex 21 miles with 0 range. It was intense. Spine tingling. When I finally stopped for gas I was physically shaking and my mouth was dry. What a rush.
Scott Oldham, Edmunds.com Editor in Chief
February 26, 2010
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 ...
February 05, 2010
Despite the fact that our Flex has racked up nearly 50,000 miles, I had yet to spend any real quality time in it. That changed this week when I took it to Vegas, about a 600-mile round trip from my house in greater L.A. I averaged 22.4 mpg with the drive being mostly open freeway cruising running between 70-80 mph.
Herewith are some random cheers and jeers I had for this Ford, some of which you may have already seen noted by my colleagues.
-- Great seats: Plush, wide and yet supportive enough for a four-hour stint.
-- Nav system: Easy to use and clear graphics too.
-- Sync system: Easy hook-up to my phone, a voice recognition system that knows what I'm saying, and a cool weather forecast function.
-- Awesome highway cruiser. With the speed limit being 75 over much of the ride, I just set the cruise at 80. With the engine loafing along at 2000 rpm, the low levels of road and wind noise and the lack of vibration, it felt like we were going more like 50.
-- Capless fuel filler. I was surprised by how much I appreciated this feature which eliminates the minor steps of removing and replacing a fuel cap. Didn't think I was that lazy!
-- Plenty of cubbies for snacks, cell phone and wallet.
-- Nav system Traffic: Showed the freeway (yes the portion I was on) as "green" when it should've shown "red" -- it was very slow-moving traffic for a few miles.
-- The cruise control: The buttons are all the same, so you have to glance at them to operate the system, and there's no "cancel" mode.
As you can see, there's plenty good and not much bad to say about the Flex. Now I know why this car is so popular with the staff for road trips.
I did not see the Flock of Seagulls. The sign caught my eye so I had to shoot it as proof that, nearly three decades later, The Flock are still milking their crowd pleaser: "I Ran". Besides, I'll take "Space Age Love Song" over I Ran any day.
John DiPietro, Automotive Editor @ 46,921 miles
January 04, 2010
Our winter Oregon trip in the 2009 Ford Flex is over. We're all home safe and sound.
You may be wondering what happened to the updates from the Bend leg of our trip. Well, they weren't necessary because, for a variety of reasons, that part of our trip was cancelled.
The night before we were to leave it snowed 6 inches in the mountain passes between the beach and Bend, with more forecast for the day we would need to leave. Tracy and the kids were in no mood to spend 10 hours in the car--slowed by snow an the likely need to fit chains--for what would amount to a one-day visit on the other end, no to mention the longer drive home--slowed by still more snow on rural two-lane roads--that would result. I was game for the drive, but since it was her sister we were to visit I wasn't going to force the trip on them for the sake of an interesting blog post or two. This is our vacation, after all.
Instead we stayed a couple of extra days at Dad's hilltop hideaway and then drove home. Everyone was anxious to get home at that point, so we decided to tackle the entire 816-mile return trip in one day.
December 27, 2009
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.
August 25, 2009
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.
August 22, 2009
After nearly two weeks on the road in our 2009 Ford Flex, we decided to splurge and spend the last two nights in one of Mammoth's swankiest hotels -- the Westin Monache.
Great minds think alike, apparently, and we were joined by another Flex (an SEL) in the check-out queue.
The run from Mammoth to our home in Orange County is mostly downhill through the desert, so we expected this run to produce the best MPG yet.
But we haven't been seeing the same 25 and 26 mpg figures that we saw last winter. Why?
Well, unlike our winter trip, we've made fewer long uninterrupted runs -- none, actually. Every tank of gas has included side trips to places like Virginia City and the Bodie ghost town. There have also been significant doses of city driving, like in Reno and Bend.
August 19, 2009
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.
August 17, 2009
Today we said "so long" to my folks and their stunning place on the Oregon coast. It was time to point the 2009 Ford Flex inland (and further north) toward Bend, Oregon.
The Flex of course has been a great conveyance for the four of us as we cover the long distances between stops to visit family and see cool stuff.
Could we be doing this type of long distance trip in a sedan? Probably, but there would have been a lot of compromises.
As it stands, the Flex and its flexible and spacious three row seating arrangement has made it possible to bring my parents along with us to town for eats and drinks -- something no sedan would have allowed.
August 12, 2009
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.
August 12, 2009
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.
August 11, 2009
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
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 29,692 miles
January 06, 2009
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?
January 03, 2009
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.
January 02, 2009
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.
December 28, 2008
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.
December 27, 2008
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
December 26, 2008
"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 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
December 01, 2008
After four months in service, our 2009 Ford Flex has earned the following fuel economy numbers:
Worst tank: 14.9 mpg
Best tank: 24.8 mpg
Average: 20.1 mpg
Not exactly the 24 mpg that Ford is touting, but not bad, either.
Kelly Toepke, News Editor @11,650 miles
October 20, 2008
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