2009 Ford Flex Limited: Big Scion. Hallelujah.
September 15, 2008
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