As we mentioned earlier, the Flex has an insane amount of interior space. It beats every other car we’ve ever tested in the second row seating department. Even with the driver’s seat all the way back, rear seat passengers can still practically do a yoga session with the remaining legroom. Even the third row, which isn’t supposed to be the most functional, still provides more room than sitting in the back seat of a compact sedan, so you’re better off just climbing in the back of the Flex than taking that extra car. And if you’re on a road trip and don’t feel like shelling out a hundo for a hotel room, both middle and third row seats fold flat for a jaw-dropping 147 inches of length and 83 inches of width – six inches longer than the Chevy Traverse. The optional vista roof will give you a starlit view to boot.
Although there’s a lot going for the Flex’s interior, there are a few minor quibbles. For instance, because the steering wheel is so close to the dashboard, driver position is awkward. You have to scoot the seat far forward, making already short people feel like a 90-year-old grandma trying to drive her ’75 Caprice. And if you put the seat back to where you normally would sit, you’re gonna be rollin’ gangsta all leaned towards the center with your arm on top of the wheel. The headrests are permanently cocked in a forward position, which might be comfortable for some people, but downright infuriating for others.
The lighting, AKA evening ambiance, in the Flex can be altered depending on your mood. Want to get in touch with your feminine side? Then pink is your color. Had a good day at work? Go with yellow. Just got your head chewed off by your wife and booted out of the house? Go with blue. Although we found the custom illumination feature a little bit frivolous, we couldn’t keep from hitting the button ad nauseam, turning the Flex into a mobile rave party.
The Flex is equipped with Ford’s much advertised Sync voice-recognition system developed by Microsoft. Being that we’re automatically weary of any whiz-bang gadget that comes from deep within Redmond, we had our reservations about Sync. But when my co-pilot was trying to punch directions into the navigation system with no luck, we decided to give Sync a try. Much to our amazement, it worked incredibly well. Inputting addresses was a breeze, and the entire system – from stereo to HVAC to navigation – could be controlled by voice. Really slick.
In most other Ford vehicles, the navigation system is simple and easy to use, but ranks low in the graphics department. Not so with the Flex. System graphics are impressive, almost looking like an angle on view with Google maps, but without the topography. Although the graphics were impressive and Sync’s voice command was a breeze to operate, we were miffed when a new road which opened exactly a year ago didn’t show up on the navigation system. Considering the car is newer than the road, and that Sync has the ability to pull prices from every gas station this side of Borneo, you’d think the system would know about a new road. Even after the female voice tongue-lashed us, trying to make us turn around 300 different ways, when we officially went “off the map”, the system didn’t even care to learn the new road. And here we thought the name Sync referred to its ability to pull real time information and updates. Apparently not.
We love any car that can take a mundane concept and turn it on its head. The styling of the Flex has done exactly this. Yes, it might drive a bit like an SUV, is heavy like and SUV and gets fuel economy like most SUVs, but the Flex does it with uniqueness and style. From the chrome grille and rear hatch, to the blinding 19″ rims to the white vista roof to its overall boxy demeanor, the Flex draws attention everywhere it rolls. Some people love its look, some hate it, but there’s one undeniable truth – a vehicle like the Flex with such distinctive styling always ends up becoming a classic.
This is where the Flex runs into some turbulence with buyers. People look at the $36,500 base price tag and almost choke. When they see the Limited AWD runs over $40,000 they go into convulsions. “40 grand for a Ford? You gotta be kidding,” is the most common response, but hear us out. Yes, 40 grand for a Ford is ridiculous, however, the Flex is not your typical Ford. This car, er, wagon, er, CUV, er, uh, Flex is on a level of quality well beyond anything in Ford’s current lineup. For $40,000, you’re getting incredible cargo space, a monastery-silent, rock-solid ride, luxury beyond a Town Car, outstanding build quality, and a design which makes everything else in its class seem mundane. Besides, with the way auto sales are going and the state of the economy, we’re sure you’ll be able to score a sweet deal on one.
Who Should Buy It?
Simple. If you’re the type of person who always swore they’d never get caught dead in a minivan, SUV, crossover, station wagon or otherwise, but absolutely need the cargo room that those types of vehicles provide, then you absolutely must look at the Flex. Don’t let the sticker price scare you away. This car is worth it.
There’s some dissent in the ranks of the automotive journalism world about the Flex. Some say it’s yet another failed attempt by Ford at a new product, while others praise Ford up and down for finally doing something different and unique. We absolutely side with the latter. The Flex is a terrific machine. Yeah it has a weight problem, yeah, it is a little underpowered and yeah its fuel economy could be better, but you will be hard-pressed to find a better quality, stylish machine with so much room. It’s really unfortunate that the Flex had to be introduced during such trying economic times, because if it was introduced five years ago, this machine would have been an overnight sensation for sure. In its first year Flex sales are lagging, but it surely isn’t to the fault of the Flex. We love this machine, and for those who can justify the sticker price, it’s a must drive.
|Official website for Ford cars, hybrids, trucks, and SUVs – www.ford.com|
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