2009 Ford Flex Limited: West Coast Run -- HWY 1
June 30, 2010
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