2009 Ford Flex Road Trip, Stage 1: Sirius Link to a Drive-In Movie
August 10, 2009
As you can see, the girls and I have parked the 2009 Ford Flex at a Drive-In theater. We're waiting for the projectionist to decide that the sun's gone down far enough.
We're tourists, of course, so we don't know the local movie scene. Heck, we didn't even know we wanted to see a movie until we drove by this drive-in while passing by on the 101 freeway.
'Is it open? Is it abandoned? What's playing? When does it start?'
We had no local newspaper or telephone directory, but we did have an ace up our sleeve: Sirius Travel Link.
I've never used the system before, but it's as simple as it gets. Two or three button presses is all it takes to get the name, address and phone number of the theater.
The first step is to press the Info button (yellow arrow). Next I select Sirius Travel Link from the 5 soft buttons on the left side of the touchscreen.
Sirius Travel Link is an add-on pay service above and beyond Sirius satellite radio. Its most well-known function is real-time traffic notifications on the nav screen, but it offers a lot more, as you can see above. The first 6 months are free, but our Flex is way past that point, so we pay $5.99 per month to keep it going.
Anyway, from here I simply press 'Movie Listings', and then I get this....
The car knows where it is via GPS, so I get a list of nearby theaters. The uppermost listing scrolls across the screen to read 'Sunset Drive-In'. Bingo. I press the entry on the touch screen and see the following...
There's the address and the phone number. My cell phone is paired to the Sync system via Bluetooth, so all I do is press the Dial button on the touchscreen to call the theater.
It's a recording, of course. Tonight's show is a double feature: GI Joe followed by Transformers 2. Six bucks a head. Kids under 12 are two dollars. Gates open at 7:30 pm. GI Joe is first and it starts at 8:15 pm.
The Nav system is ready to provide guidance if I need it, but I'm a block away so I don't bother.
We take up a strategic position near the snack bar (and the rest rooms) and wait. Drive-in veterans will notice the lack of a window-hanging speaker. Instead we tune our FM radio to 100.7 FM, as instructed.
The old-school projector (and projectionist) are at ground level, right there next to the snack bar.
Of course the sound coming through the Flex's stereo is decidedly better than any window-hanging speaker ever could be. We put the key in the ACC position, but we find that we have to go through a few extra steps in the Flex to make sure that doesn't kill the battery
1) ACC does indeed kill the gauges, but not the tiny lights that illuminate the power window switches. They're always on in ACC, as far as I can tell. These we'll have to live with.
2) The nav screen can be dimmed to the state you see here by pressing the DISP button once. A second press makes the screen go completely dark, yet the radio stays alive.
3) The ambient lighting in the footwell and the cupholders doesn't respond to the dimmer, but a hidden control in the center console allows me to switch between several colors. Fortunately, one of the 'colors' is OFF.
GI Joe turns out to be silly, dumb fun with lots of explosions -- perfect drive-in movie fare. I wish we had one of these back home.
Dan Edmunds, Director of Vehicle Testing @ 29,435 miles