Taking a test drive with the Ford Flex

If you read my blog at least periodically, you know I hardly do product or any type of review. But, I am definitely open to suggestions (as evidenced by this post).

A couple or so weeks ago, Gwen Peake of Ford Motor Co. contacted me and asked if I wanted to drive a Ford Flex to NYC. Ford would pay for gas there and to fly me back. I love to drive — but, I thought, “Why just me?”

So, my wife, Amy, and I have turned it into a mini-vacation for the family. I’ve been to NYC many times previously for business but not with the family. The memories and time together would far out-value any added expense we’d incur.

When Ford delivered the Flex Wednesday morning, Ford Flex FordTestDrive-New Cumberland, W. Va.we were a few hours away from setting off on the great American family road trip later that afternoon. We stayed with my aunt and uncle in New Cumberland, W. Va., Wednesday night (image at right) before arriving in NYC around 5 p.m. Thursday. We are staying a couple nights at the apartment of a close friend of a friend of Amy’s in the Times Square area.

Let me start by saying what we typically drive — so you have some idea of what I’m comparing the Flex to, and my family-focused perspective for this review. I drive a 2001 Honda Odyssey and Amy drives a 2007 Kia Sedona. Both were bought with safety as a priority (we have four kids), as well as price. I grew up in a (mostly) Ford family and the car I previously drove was a Ford Escort — which I had for 14 years. My very first car was a used Ford Tempo.

Fortunately, I can’t personally talk of the Flex’s safety features (no accidents!), but it is rated very highly when it comes to safety.

Good, the Not-So-Good & the Final Judgement

As I said above, we left home in the “sparkly black” (as Amy called it) Ford Flex Wednesday afternoon. Our trip took us from the flat lands of northern Ohio, into the rolling hills of southeast Ohio, through the winding and climbing mountains of the Alleghenies, into eastern Pennsylvania and northern New Jersey, before hitting New York City.

Other than icy roads, the drive to NYC pretty much ran the gamut of American road conditions and terrain.

After driving some 11+ hours, the Flex definitely is a more comfortable ride and is quieter than the Ford Flex - Ford Test Drive - rear for front row console unit - Mike Driehorstminivans we drive. Even the kids said the Flex is very comfortable. (I will post videos of their take on the Flex in the next day or so to my YouTube account.)

The Flex has good acceleration/pick up for highway driving, and is easy to drive in-town — whether that’s a bedroom  community like Bedford Township, Mich., or a world-class city like The Big Apple. The brakes are not overly sensitive, so your passengers won’t get jerked around every time you slow down.

Many of the convenience features are excellent, including:

  • giving you the average MPG (we had about 19.4 for the trip),
  • how many miles you have until your gas tank hits empty,
  • multiple ways to adjust the seat and pedals,
  • a roomy first row, console/storage unit, that also offers first and second row passengers plug in and comfort options (see picture at right), etc.

While we couldn’t take advantage of all the Microsoft SYNC features, we did plug in Amy’s iPod and the family enjoyed listening to everyone’s music during the trip. (She previously added the kids’ playlists to her iPod, plus added some of my CDs.)

I was a bit disappointed in not being able to test out some of the other features of the Flex. It seems like we have a basic package. I had hoped to have a refrigerated, second-row console unit and/or its navigation unit, at least.

The only other area in which the Ford Flex FordFlex-FordTestDrive-rear storage area-Mike Driehorstdisappointed me was the back storage (images at right). While the kids, and Amy and I had plenty of leg room and space – the Flex became crowded quickly when we packed our stuff in (even for a short trip like this). The back storage area quickly filled up with a small suitcase, a duffel bag and a stroller.

Our three oldest kids also brought along a backpack for any books, toys, etc. The backpacks had to go between the seats or in the leg room area. So, it was not easy getting in and out from the second and third row seats.

It seems like the Ford Flex would be ideal as a main family vehicle for a family with two children, when you could fold down the back row seats for the storage needed for a long trip. With three or more kids — like the Driehorst family with four — it doesn’t work as a trip/vacation vehicle.

For us, the Ford Flex would be a great secondary, in-town car.

So you know my $0.02 on the Ford Flex. If you have one or have driven one — what are YOUR thoughts?