Second drive: 2009 Ford Flex SEL AWD, I concur!

Click above for high-res gallery of the Ford Flex

As things turned out a brand new Ford Flex turned up the Ypsilanti branch of the Autoblog garage just a week after my friend Chris had one. While Chris used the Flex as a daily hauler, my family and I used the Flex to make a trek up to Traverse City in the opposite corner of Michigan's lower peninsula for a vacation. Our all-wheel-drive Flex was slightly less loaded than Chris' unit, missing the navigation system and built in refrigerator. The gray vacation mobile also had the base 18 inch wheel package rather than the 19s on Chris' tester.

Since we had rented a house by lake, we decided to bring a bunch of food and assorted other stuff so that we wouldn't have to eat out all the time. The massive interior volume of the Flex made loading up the back a breeze. The well behind the third row seats easily holds a full-size cooler and folding the rear seats forward provides a perfect platform for suitcases beach towels, floaties for lounging on the water or whatever else you choose to bring along. Read the rest of my impressions after the jump.

Photos Copyright ©2008 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.

Once we were all ensconced in the Flex we headed out on the 260 mile trip and Ford's new crossover proved itself to be close to the perfect family hauler. While Ford calls this a crossover, the reality is that this is the 21st Country Squire wagon. It drives like a very capable car which is essentially what this is. The Flex shares the same revamped suspension with the Lincoln MKS although with a 5 inch longer wheelbase. Through some twisty roads outside of Traverse City, the Flex body stayed parallel to the pavement and held on tight over rough pavement. The interior of the Flex was also very quiet and relaxed and the seats remained comfortable over the five hour drive.

As Chris noted the Flex attracts a lot of attention. While driving a car like the Audi R8 gets a lot of looks, few people actually walk up and ask questions about it. Not so the Flex. From the senior gentleman at the drugstore who queried me about what it was like to drive to the kid in his early 20s at the kayak rental place, everyone wanted to know what kind of mileage it got and how much it cost. The response to the styling seemed to be almost universally positive. This is certainly a change from the Freestyle which almost no one even noticed existed.

For those that need the extra interior volume, this new wagon is certainly one of the best choices out there. If I were buying I'd probably pass on the all-wheel-drive and the $1,495 vista moon-roof (or BAMR as one of my friends that works for Ford calls it) and keep the price closer to $30K. Over the course of 10 days with the Flex we averaged an impressive 21 mpg. Lose the rear axle driver hardware this would probably climb another mpg or two. There is really only one functional change I would make to the Flex. The long second row doors should be sliders, rather than hinged. Unfortunately people would then see this as one of the dreaded minivans rather than the more popular crossover so that's not gonna happen. But we can dream can't we?

Photos Copyright ©2008 Sam Abuelsamid / Weblogs, Inc.

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