March 17, 2011
If you haven't made a cross-country road trip in the U.S., you're missing out. A Cannonball Runbetween shores is an epic adventure. Hollywood knows it, which is why we've had the Griswolds' Wagon Queen Family Truckster and the Clampetts' Olds Model 46 Roadster. Edmunds.com needed one, too, so we added a 2009 Ford Flex.
Our long-term test of the 2009 Ford Flex began like any other. Generate a list of the most noteworthy vehicles from the coming year. Narrow it to a short list of potential purchases. Sell off a car or two from the previous test year and use the proceeds to buy a new Ford Flex. There was no consideration given to trim level. The Ford Flex EcoBoost wasn't available in 2009 so we went straight to the Limited. But our first road trip in the Flex made it clear this durability test would be different than any before it.
Why We Bought It
Ford introduced the Flex as an all-new vehicle in 2009. Not to be confused with the Funkmaster Flex, this SUV was designed for all tastes. Ford's interpretation of minivan utility without the minivan stigma was successful. Our first drive of the Flex left a strong enough impression to earn it a place on our short list. The Flex offered more than just style. Its ride comfort, on-road stability and infotainment system deserved equal praise. We liked it. But there was more.
Time had finally tipped the balance of our editorial brew from single and child-free to more family-friendly in nature. For better or worse, the responsibility of wedding bands and soiled diapers forced our hand. Not to mention it left us with baggage. And we needed a car big enough to carry it all around. Rather than follow our hearts to another two-seater, we acted rationally. The addition of a Flex would accommodate our maturing households while maintaining the SUV-to-sports-car harmony within our test fleet.
We saw the Windstar and Freestar falter years earlier. What did the future hold for Ford's newest family mover? There was one way to find out. We purchased a 2009 Ford Flex Limited and introduced its 12-month/20,000-mile test on Edmunds.com's long-term blog pages.
February 23, 2012
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
December 13, 2010
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
December 10, 2010
By now you all know our 2009 Ford Flex is headed out of the long-term fleet to make room for something fresher. I, for one, will miss having it around.
A sudden business trip popped up in San Diego, so I decided to take the Flex for one last jaunt before the "for sale" process gets well and truly underway. OK, San Diego isn't that far away, but this round trip still amounted to another 200 miles.
In short, our 2009 Ford Flex drives like it always has. Steering, brakes, ride comfort -- it's all pretty solid, much like it was the first time a drove it back in September 2008. The interior still looks great, too, especially after Phil Reed had it detailed in preparation for sale.
The new owner will have about a year of rubber left -- the tires are getting down there but they're not far gone enough to toss them out just yet. The windshield star crack at the a-pillar was repaired and stabilized, but it's still visible. And the wonky center storage box latch still lacks the spring it lost over a year ago. We could fix this kind of stuff, I guess, but I've found it's not a bad policy to have something minor to point out as a car's biggest flaw. Besides, we'd pay more to fix that latch than we'd receive in incremental value.
Fare-thee-well, Flex. I'd like to take you back to my driveway, but I don't want a car payment just now. My family will miss you. You've made the twice-annual trip to Oregon quite pleasant on more than one occasion.
Which brings up a relevant question: which long-term car do we take this year?
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 72,487 miles
December 06, 2010
If you're going to try to sell a two-year-old car with 72,000 miles on it, you better make sure it looks sharp. We took our 2009 Ford Flex Limited to the car wash and had them detail the interior for $100. Two guys crawled all over it for an hour, vacuumed it, shampooed the carpets, cleaned all the surfaces and got the finger prints off the glass. I wouldn't have thought it would make such a difference but it did. Before the detail there was a generally worn look to the interior with scuff marks around all the doors where people had kicked the plastic getting in and out of the car. Afterwards, all the surfaces gleamed with not-too-much ArmorAll-type protectant.
December 03, 2010
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:
December 03, 2010
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
December 01, 2010
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
November 22, 2010
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.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 71,924 miles
November 15, 2010
I kept the cargo area of our long-term 2009 Ford Flex very busy this weekend. As usual the Flex handled every situation I could throw at it.
Go the next page for more pictures of cargo hauling fun.