The 2009 Ford Flex dares to be different. Its contemporary design provoked strong opinions (mostly positive) from nearly everyone I met during a recent seven-day test drive around Ventura County. To be sure, the Flex is like no other vehicle on the road. Which means it’s not for everyone. But Ford knew that going in.
With the exception of the driver’s seat, all of the seatbacks fold flat to open up the interior for virtually any cargo-loading situation—including seven passengers. The powerful V6 engine is mated to a smooth shifting six-speed automatic transmission and a fully independent suspension, which makes the Flex drive and ride like an entry-level luxury sedan.
From its planted stance and broad shoulders—flanked by signature side grooves—to its distinctive multi-panel Vista Roof, Ford designers have crated a provocative vehicle. In a world of easily recognizable automobiles, this one is hard to define. Its prominent stance is a key design element setting it apart from all other vehicles. Just park the Flex next to an SUV or Crossover. The proportions immediately take you by surprise.
Capping the horizontal design cues in bold contrast is the Flex’s unique flat roof. Available in just two colors, White Suede or Brilliant Silver, the roof contrasts stylishly with the exterior paint palette. The Flex’s multi-panel Vista Roof adds even more distinction, and is only available as an option on the Flex SEL and Limited models. The Vista Roof features four glass panels that provide abundant natural light to occupants of all three rows. The forward panel is a power moonroof that opens to let in fresh air. And all four panels have easy-to-use shades when you want to keep the light out.
The exterior design of the Flex creates strong interest, but it’s the clean interior with surprising space and comfort that will really whet your interest. The interior environment is radically different than other people/cargo haulers. You will notice the improvement in the quality of materials used throughout, the unique chrome accents, and the general appearance. Even the way you interact with the Flex is different because of all the new technology packed inside—and outside: To enter the Flex, you use a newly designed keypad that remains invisible until you touch one of the numbers.
Flex is loaded with innovative, class-leading technology solutions that seek to empower, not overpower, the driver. These features include Ford SYNC—a Ford exclusive voice-activated, hands-free, in-vehicle communications and entertainment system. And the EPA specs are better than you might expect: 24 mpg/highway and 18 mpg/city.
The all-new Flex’s ride and drive is impressive as well. The fully independent suspension system provides comfort and precision, with virtually no noise, vibration, or harshness. Up front is a gas-pressurized MacPherson strut setup with rear-facing L-shaped lower control arms with hydro-bushings, coil springs, and a 32 mm stabilizer bar. The rear features a multi-link setup with upper and lower control arms, coil springs, gas-charged shocks, and a 22 mm stabilizer bar.
The all-new 2009 Ford Flex has to be driven to really appreciate its finer points. Just judging by the outside styling isn’t fair to the vehicle or to the consumer. Oddly, the more you dislike the Flex, the more you come to appreciate it. It’s not for everyone. But this versatile vehicle may well represent the new direction in people and cargo hauling.