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2009 Ford Flex First Look / First Drive / Full Test



  • rcf8000rcf8000 Posts: 619
    How do I access your site?
  • Karen@EdmundsKaren@Edmunds Posts: 5,028

    Karen-Edmunds Community Manager

  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,997
    sort of strange to me to see so little interest in a new vehicle like the Flex. Nobody is talking about it.
  • For those that need the space, the Flex is a poor substitute for a minivan. However much "space" you think you've got in there, it gets drubbed where it counts by virtually every minivan out there. If, on the other hand, you need a 'ute (and there's very few people that do but my in-laws actually qualify), this won't cut it either. Bottom line, most "CUV's" are a bad idea, and this seems to be a particularly poor example of a bad breed.

    I'm sure there are a large selection of people who will go for the unique (ugly) look, (I like the coffin comment) or will buy into the gimmicks (fridge, ridiculous oversized tires, glass roof) but Ford is just putting a new exclamation point on their run of mistakes. Its mileage isn't great, which is a real liability in an era of ever rising fuel prices, the oversized tires just mean a massive bill to replace them someday, excessive price, and limited cargo capacity. Overall, the Flex just doesn't have anything obviously redeeming about it.

    The best I can suggest is to paint it black and it might make a good hearse. Don't know if the additional height over an old Caddy would be a benefit or a curse.

    If I'm the guy to whom Ford wanted to market this new thing (middle aged, three kids + dog + trailer), they couldn't have failed much more spectacularly. I showed a picture of it to my wife and she threatened me with a loss of select anatomical protuberances if I even considered buying it.

    Looking back at other Ford misses, the Freestar wasn't enough better than a Windstar to be a success, let alone better than the competition. I liked my '99 Windstar, my fourth Ford, but its shortcomings in cargo capacity, passenger comfort, raucous powertrain, continuous run of repairs, and poor mileage became more glaring every year. The Freestar solved few, if any, of these issues, and was actually a step backwards in many areas.

    The last good, sensible Ford vehicle was the Focus wagon - and Ford killed that off last year. Great mileage, good performance, unbeatable space and capacity in its market segment. Every person I know who has one loves it, including the guy with the 2000 year model and the umpteen recalls, none of which was for anything major, in his opinion. Mind you, their's are all older Foci with the old Escort 2.0L engine - unsophisticated but absolutely bulletproof.

    In fairness, I like the look of the Fusion, but is it enough better than the competition to beat them? (I will give the edge on looks to the Fusion over the new Accord and Camry; you can only buy those two with your eyes shut.)

    As a Canadian, I swallow my disdain and hope fervently on behalf of all those Ford employees beavering away at building the Flex in Oakville that this vehicle succeeds. As a formerly loyal but now disgruntled Ford customer, I hope it fails so spectacularly that Ford may get the message that they need to build something good and useful and not keep trying to hit some vague style mark that won't sustain a market.

    My new Sienna may be bland, but it beats my old Windstar in every category that counts. Sorry Ford, the Flex is so far away from what I wanted that I didn't even bother to wait to check it out up close. Sliding doors may be mundane, but they're the most sensible ingress/egress method invented.

    Sorry this sort of devolved to a general rant, but I was *so* disappointed with the Flex. I *wanted* to like it and stick with Ford, and I even tried to drum up some enthusiasm for it, but I can't buy a vehicle that far off from what I want, and for what I want a minivan comes closest. Ford basically lost me as a customer with this vehicle. Once gone, I may never be back.
  • kitko33kitko33 Posts: 1
    Remember those times when Ford owned Range Rover? I seriously can't believe that I have yet to read a review that would mention the fact that Flex borrows too many lines and design cues from Range Rover. The form changed, sure, Range Rover is tall and boxy, Flex is long and boxy (on mighy say that this is the box Mazda CX-9 came in). But still, this is a Range Rover in different form.
  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,997
    Range Rover on the outside and Ford Freestyle on the inside.
  • My wife and I are in the market for a vehicle that has room for a family of 4, good gas mileage and roomy. We're not sold on a mini van or some of the SUVs. I came across the Ford Flex yesterday and love everything about it but the price. However, did anyone see the consumer rating for Ford Flex on

    Check this out:

    The rating says this guy bought a Ford Flex SEL with AWD and options for under 30k! Maybe it is a typo and it was supposed to be 40 k. We can afford < 30k so this caught my attention. The base model we can afford, but I would really like AWD (I live in Ohio). I can't get AWD on the base SE model :(

    So..anyone hear of any prices people are getting from the dealer? Is this legit?
  • rcf8000rcf8000 Posts: 619
    The MSRP of the Flex that the guy bought for less than $30K is about $42K, so there is no way he got it for what he said.
  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,997
    I would say it's possible. The invoice price is in the mid-30s and he might have financed, had a trade, bought an extended warranty, etc...all of which might have led the dealer low the price of the car to $29K because the dealer made thousands off the trade-in, financing, etc. So while it's not likely, it's possible.
  • uofmg35uofmg35 Posts: 1
    Why is everyone complaining about price? Flex starts at $28,295. Compared to some key competitors, it fits just fine:

    Mazda CX-9 = $30,050
    GMC Acadia = $30,470
    Honda Pilot = $27,595

    I will say that once you start optioning the Flex up, it does get incredibly pricey ($45K!!). If you can restrain yourself from getting all the frivolous options, you can have a Flex for under $30K.

    And why do people think they need AWD? FWD in a 4500 lb vehicle will do just fine in everything but blizzard conditions. If you're so concerned about price/fuel economy, just get FWD.

    Anyhow, I think the Flex is just what Ford needs... something fresh, that actually stands out in the segment. It has great interior room and nice materials/styling (for a Ford). It won't touch Highlander/Pilot sales numbers, but it should do better than the unloved Freestar it's intended to replace.
  • mattandimattandi Posts: 588
    Been waiting to see one is the flesh. A local dealer got some in yesterday, so I stopped by today. Didn't drive it, just looked it over.

    It is slightly taller than I expected. That's not bad, just different from expected. It is long so the pics mislead me a bit.

    This is one that folks will either love or hate. Doubt very seriously anyone will be lukewarm on this one. I like the presence and strong lines much more than the T-X. I would like to see one with a roof rack. They didn't have one.

    The third row feels slightly tighter than the T-X. Still plenty of room though. I fit just fine. All they had had the second row captains chairs. I would be more interested in the bench. Cockpit is very T-X like. Snug and appeared very functional and serviceable. Nothing untoward at first look.

    All in all I like it so far. I like the boxy, square look much more than the swoopy, curvy style of most other CUV's. When my wife returns from her trip we'll go drive one. I would like it more at a mid-20's price point. They had SE's and SEL's from about $29k to $36k. In line with the segment. We'll see what they actually start selling at.
  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,997
    As far as price, it's also competing against the Odyssey and Sienna (since Ford doesn't have a minvivan), both of which start in the mid 20s. Bottom line, it's going to sell on it's style and not much else.
  • adentadent Posts: 1
    Anybody drive one?

    Dealers around here have a display model, but at last check (last week) were not allowing test drives.
  • vcookvcook Posts: 2
    I currently lease a Land Rover LR3 and just got back from test driving the Flex. The obvious major difference is the Flex has none of the off-road capabilities of the LR3 and weighs 2,500 pounds less but does share the boxy styling. The Flex is quite long and has comfortable seating with ample leg room in the 2nd row but not so much the 3rd. The vehicle length and tire size give it a smooth ride and it seems to handle well. Acceleration was also good. As for the MPG it all depends where you're coming from ... it's a vast improvement over my LR3 and other SUV's (Explorer, etc) , compares well against similar vehicles (Acadia, etc.). Inside has all the bells and whistles you'd expect. The styling is not going to be everyone's cup of tea but I like it because it stands out - not another jelly bean like so many other cars. :D
  • rdxerrdxer Posts: 33
    Drive a Flex Limited today (I'm replacing my 9mpg Touareg in a few weeks and have been kicking many tires). Overall, I liked the package -- comfortable seats and amazing 2nd row leg room. I asked the dealer to work on some lease numbers and I almost fell out of my chair. The MSRP was $42,540. With no discounts (I wasn't ready to arm wrestle, just wanted to see the lease numbers) and $3,000 total out of pocket on a 36 month, 10K/yr term the monthly payment was $698!!! This includes sales tax (which in my state you prepay all upfront). A $2K discount might take this down by $50-$60 a month.

    What a big disappointment (due to typical Ford low residual rates and no promos). A loaded (and discounted) CX-9 GT with almost the same MSRP runs about $510 (same terms). Not sure this car is worth the difference. I really wanted to like this car.
  • sklarinsklarin Posts: 4

    I am facing the same issue... I am looking at leasing the flex for my wife (replacing an escalade with a monthly payment of $599). Unfortunately, the flex residual on their 36 month lease is around 50%... I live in California and the best 36 month for a MSRP of around 40k, 15,000 miles per year, 0 cap cost reduction, just drive off fees is right at $600! Very tough to lease this car at $600/ month... There are so many other options to look at... Special leases on the Audi Q7, Acura MDX, Volvo XC 90... All offer 3rd row seating, great options, much higher MSRP's... yet much lower lease payments.

    Other than the monthly payment, we really liked the Flex... It drove great, good gas mileage, nice styling.

  • stragerstrager Posts: 308
    Besides styling, the Flex doesn't have anything going for it. The third row is cramped, best for children and mpg is mediocre. Try opening the doors of Flex in a 2 car garage, with the other vehicle in place. For the sake of Ford's survival, I hope it sells. If I had to buy a Ford vehicle, I would instead get an Escape which accomodates 5 passengers comfortably.

    I fail to understand the purpose of these HUGE crossovers that have a cramped 3rd row. :confuse:
  • bobw3bobw3 Posts: 2,997
    I'm not sure what you mean about a "cramped" 3rd row. I have a Freestyle that can fit 2 medium-sized adults comfortably. Plus, considering many sedans are over 190", a 200" CUV with a 3rd row really isn't all that "huge."
  • b4zb4z Posts: 3,372
    i'm always looking for my next vehicle. The FLEX interests me because I have always liked wagons based off of passenger cars. That's what I grew up on and they make the most sense not only from a practical standpoint, but cost(not much more than a sedan), driving dynamics, gas mileage is almost identical, weight and frontal area when compared to a CUV or SUV.
    The FLEX has a lower profile and is the most wagon like, which got my attention.

    The downside is a couple of styling elements:
    The chrome grill needs to be flat black or dark grey. This can be accomplished by having the chrome stripped and sent to a power coater and a paint color of choice.
    Somebody might even want body color, which I think might make the front end too monochromatic, but it could be done.
    Secondly, the stainless steel section on the rear hatch needs to be body color.
    This will integrate the body a little better and will have a smoother look.
    Perhaps this could be pulled off with a heat gun or blow dryer?
    i'm not too happy with the strakes on the side but the two comments above are my only real negatives.

    I have had 2 SRXs. The FLEX only gets 1 mpg better than the SRX hwy. The SRX more than likely has better quality leather and plastics.
    The downside to the SRX is the 3rd row is very small, it is higher profile and geared pretty steep so Caddy is giving up some gas mileage by not offering a 6 speed.
    The SRX V6 is faster and probably handles better.

    I would have to drive the ecoboost V6 and see if I could make the appearance changes to the FLEX before I would consider one.

    It is still on my list but you really have to wonder about Ford's lack of lease deals.
    I can lease a well equipped caddy SRX all day long for anywhere from $399 to $499
    I threw $6K at my current SRX and pay $367 a month and that's a 12K mile a yr lease and not a 10K.
    Ford is well on the way to screwing up this launch if they don't get some incentives on it.
    I'll be following this thread in the hopes of hearing more about this vehicle.
  • stragerstrager Posts: 308
    Compared to a minivan like the Odyssey, the 3rd row of the Flex is cramped. You're right that considering that many sedans are over 190", a 200" CUV is not huge.

    Ever since I started driving a Scion xB (157"), which has more leg room than any SUV or sedan I have sat in, it seems to me that most vehicles sold in America are huge. I've also seen vehicles in Japan that are shorter than 184", which have more leg room in the 3rd row than the Flex.

    One more thing: the Flex and other "supersized" vehicles like the Odyssey will be dinosaurs when gas gets to over $6/gallon in a couple of years, imho.
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