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Weidel on Wheels: Ford’s Flex fits the family just fine

Crossover offers plenty of space, nice amenities and power
By: Jeffrey Weidel
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When shopping for a large, family-friendly vehicle the options have traditionally been somewhat limiting.

The choices were typically a jumbo sport utility vehicle or the tried and true minivan.

A year ago, Ford introduced the quirky-looking Flex, giving car shoppers one more option for a vehicle that can accommodate seven passengers.

While the Flex’s appearance may not be suited to everyone’s taste, most everything else about this crossover wagon is pretty appealing.

Let’s address the visual first. San Francisco-based Huey Lewis and the News once had a popular song, “Hip to be Square.” It could serve as the theme song for the Flex, which ironically I was driving in San Francisco a few days before Christmas.

There were no Huey Lewis sightings, but I did notice plenty of people checking out the Flex, which has a long, boxy shape, yet maintains a certain hipness that some will find appealing.

The Flex has chrome handles on its doors, the front end is flat and the three-bar grille gives off a little sheen. Some adults might not like the overall look, but I’m guessing the 8-year-old will think it’s pretty cool.

Less debatable is the value that the front-wheel drive Flex delivers. It offers great interior roominess even with the maximum seven passengers, has plenty of storage areas, handles well, provides admirable performance and gets decent gas mileage (16-22 miles per gallon) for such a large vehicle.

The price tag on the upgraded 2010 Flex SEL with an EcoBoost engine ran a little higher than expected at $36,115. But that powerful engine was easily handling the steep hills of San Francisco.

The EcoBoost is a 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged V-6 with 355 horsepower that provides an additional 93 horsepower than the base model Flex, which I’m told handles itself quite well with a 3.5-liter, V-6 with 262 horsepower.

Another thing the Flex has going for it as a family favorite: in government safety testing it was awarded a perfect five-star rating in all front and side categories.

Much like the minivan, the Flex would serve as an ideal vehicle for long trips. The addition of optional entertainment features, combined with its smooth ride and generous amount of space are more than enough to keep the kids satisfied for long stretches.

The comfort the Flex offers is a big plus on trips as well. Ford avoided going cheap with the interior styling, providing lots of soft-touch material, smart storage spaces and comfortable seating that is easy to access.

While ideal for longer trips, the Flex is also pleasant enough to drive that menial tasks, such as taking kids to soccer practice or other car-pooling situations can be done with ease.

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2010 Ford Flex SEL

Price: $36,115

Mileage estimate:
16 mpg city, 22 mpg highway   

Power: 3.5-liter, twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V-6 with 355 horsepower

Standard features include: Automatic headlights; fog lights; rear parking sensors; keyless entry; exterior access code pad; eight-way driver seat, six-way passenger power seat; a tilt steering wheel; six-speaker stereo with a CD player, auxiliary audio jack, in-dash six-CD changer, satellite radio; dual-zone automatic climate control; heated front seats; wood interior trim; anti-lock disc brakes; stability and traction control

Where to buy

Get it here:
Auburn Ford Lincoln Mercury

Where:
1650 Grass Valley Highway, Auburn

Call: (800) 350-6591

On the Web: auburnflm.com