2009 Ford Flex: Oregon Day 8, Making our Escape
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.
We kept a steady pace and got completely out of snow country without incident. One overturned Ford Expedition we saw couldn't say the same, but everyone looked OK.
After clearing snow country for good, we stopped for a late lunch. It was then I noticed that we had been getting excellent mileage, so I delayed refueling to see how far I could stretch the tank. At some point the remaining fuel range dipped below 50 miles and the navigation screen automatically zoomed-in and displayed fuel station POI icons, even though I hadn't pre-selected them.
We eventually stopped after 454.5 miles and installed 17.052 gallons of 87 octane. That's 26.7 mpg, nearly 3 mpg higher than the Flex's highway fuel economy rating. The on-board display was more 'optimistic,' as it had been at each and every previous fill-up. It read 27.9 mpg when we finally rolled up to the pump. But I trust my own calculated number more.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 15,055 miles