2009 Ford Flex Limited AWD new car reviews

The Ford Flex has a look unlike most crossover SUVs.
The trim pieces on our Flex garnered a variety of opinions—some were favorable, but most testers didn't like all that chrome.
Our test vehicle had more windows than a greenhouse.
At least they didn't waste any money on a plastic engine cover.

Better than: Dodge Journey
But not as good as: VW Touraeg
GRM Bang For The Buck Index: 64.02

Somewhere between a van, an SUV, and a station wagon, the Ford Flex fills a niche for families on the go. The Flex's street manners impressed us, and the V6 engine provided surprisingly capable acceleration for such a heavy vehicle. The cockpit offered plenty of room for seven adults and their stuff. Plus, Ford claims that the Flex can tow up to 4500 pounds, making this oddly attractive crossover a direct competitor for many traditional SUVs.

The sticker price for our heavily-optioned example wasn't as appealing. However, the bottom line of the mid-level Limited AWD trim level is about $10k less than that of our test vehicle. Meanwhile, a stripped-down base model comes in under $30k. We suspect that a lesser-optioned model might be a great solution for a big family on a small budget.

Other staff views

Joe Gearin Joe Gearin
Associate Publisher

The Flex earned friends here at the GRM headquarters with it's cool looks, loads of space, and pleasant road manners. Sure it isn't a sports car, but it goes down the road with confidence and competence. The Flex also offers one of the most comfortable back seats I've ever sat in. Full sized adults and growing teenagers will love being passengers in this wagon.

Nearly all of us liked the funky looks too. Our as-tested price was silly high, but all of the attributes that won friends here at the GRM offices can be found on the base model.

The Flex is more engaging to drive than an SUV, better looking than most station wagons, and able to tow a reasonable amount. What's not to like?

Scott Lear Scott Lear

Joe's not lying when he says the Flex won a lot of fans in the office. I really liked the packaging of the Flex, but then, I think the Volvo 7-series wagon is one of the coolest automotive shapes ever, so I'm a box proponent. One of the advantages of a big box is that the interior volume doesn't get compromised, and the Flex was simply cavernous inside. It drove well, had so much punch that we were continually surprised that it wasn't the turbocharged version, and was well styled inside and out. The leather inside did feel a bit on the thin side, so there's some concern that it won't hold up well to the miles, but the seats were comfortable and the way the leather was styled was very cool.

The example we drove had too many pricey options, but if I were in the market for lugging around some kids and a boat, the Flex would be high on my list. Easily the most impressive Ford we've had in a long time.

David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

I admit, I only rode in this one, but I can still post a review. Call it one of my editorial privileges.

Honestly, I do dig the looks and don't think it's fair to say that the world isn't big enough for only one or two boxy vehicles. That's like saying there can only be one wedge-shaped car--or only one maker of quilted toilet paper. (Don't forget, competition often improves the breed.)

The Flex is also very different than the Element. For one, the Ford is way bigger. The Element can only (legally) hold four people. The Flex holds like an entire Little League team. I'm going to guess that the Flex can also tow more.

I will say that the Flex does a good job of masking its size. When I first saw the photos, I figured it wasn't much bigger than an Element. Then I saw it in the flesh. It's big but carries it well.

Is it for me? Honestly, no, as I'm probably a better customer for the Element, but I'm not going to slam the Flex because it's boxy. As Volvo taught us, boxy is good.

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Comments

View comments on the GRM forums
dean1484
dean1484 UltimaDork
3/14/09 8:22 p.m.

Cool Looks? Are you all ok? It is a freakin box with wheels. I think Honda and Toyota already have this. Sorry but it just does not do it for me. My wife keeps dragging me offer to them in the dealer lot and I have to be nice and smile and everything but I hate the styling. If it was given to me ok. But pay $$$$ for that? No way.

Now function is a whole different thing. From that point of view I could see owning one. Especially with 4 kids. add a dog and it becomes the perfect family bus.

Speaking of a bus I wonder if they sell it in "bus yellow" now that would be funny! Do one up in the whole bus theme of a fill size school bus.. . . Wait I bet that is what they will be used for eventually.

Sorry guys. You are usually spot on with your reviews but this one gets the "butt-ugly award" in my book. Not "cool looks". I forgot to ask, but, is Ford an advertiser in GRM?

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
3/17/09 3:25 p.m.

Easy now Dean, just because because we have a difference in styling opinions, doesn't mean you have to get testy. Besides, your favorite car sucks! :)

Ford's Racing division has occasionally advertised with us, but that in no way colored the opinions written above. Sorry, but I for one like the retro-wagon looks. The fact that the Flex works well is a nice bonus.

Of course I don't like the looks of the 350z, BMW Z4, or any of the new Acuras, so to each his (or her) own.

Joe Gearin

dean1484
dean1484 UltimaDork
3/20/09 9:46 p.m.

Joe, I happen to agree with you on the 350, and the Z4. I also like the retro wagon look. The dodge PT cruiser a great example of this gone right. What ford has created is a box that very closely resembles the other Japanese box's that are already out there. About the only thing it does differently is size. It is a big car. It seems to me that it wold be going heat to head with a chrysler sebring. Again it is a box that really has no style per say. It is plain vanilla boring. I think the Honda Element kind of cornered this market. It is just an American remake of the Honda element. And for laughs It looks like Honda is going to actually make a car called the "box" Guess what? It looks very similar to the Flex. So again I have to take issue with your assessment of this vehicle. It is nothing more than just boring box. I just don't see any unique styling ques or something that says new, fresh, cool, rock my world style. Nope, just plan boring box. It is really to bad as I think that ford got the retro thing down really well with the new mustang and could have parlayed this in to some really cool cars.

Respectfully

Dean Smith

Joe Gearin
Joe Gearin Associate Publisher
3/23/09 9:54 a.m.

Thanks for the comments Dean.

One of the things that makes the car hobby so cool is the difference of opinion. You say tomato, I say tomatoe (or Dan Quayle does), and it is all good. I like the Flex's long-box look. Of course I kinda like the Element and Scion Xb as well. Jeez, I drove an AMC Eagle to work today, and I kinda like it's looks too!

The one thing we all agreed on though was that the Flex has pleasant road manners. So if it is you cup of tea visually, chances are you will like the package.

Thanks again for the input!

Tom Heath
Tom Heath UberDork
12/10/13 12:00 a.m.

Somewhere between a van, an SUV, and a station wagon, the Ford Flex fills a niche for families on the go. The Flex's street manners impressed us, and the V6 engine provided surprisingly capable acceleration for such a heavy vehicle. The cockpit offered plenty of room for seven adults and their stuff. Plus, Ford claims that the Flex can tow up to 4500 pounds, making this oddly attractive crossover a direct competitor for many traditional SUVs.

The sticker price for our heavily-optioned example wasn't as appealing. However, the bottom line of the mid-level Limited AWD trim level is about $10k less than that of our test vehicle. Meanwhile, a stripped-down base model comes in under $30k. We suspect that a lesser-optioned model might be a great solution for a big family on a small budget.

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