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PERFORMANCE | 8 out of 10
All-wheel drive “optional”
Car and Driver
“The Flex will accelerate to 60 mph in about 9 seconds”
Can “tow up to 4,500 pounds”
The 2009 Ford Flex will offer a single powertrain, with a choice of front- or all-wheel drive.
Automobile notes that the 2009 Ford Flex’s standard engine is “the same 3.5-liter V-6 found throughout the Ford, Mazda, Mercury, and Lincoln brands.” In the Flex, Ford will push the V-6 to 262 hp and 248 pound-feet of torque. In other applications, TheCarConnection.com notes, this engine produces ample power, with a touch of noticeable engine noise at the very top of its rev range. Edmunds says with “an estimated curb weight of 4,650 pounds, Ford says the Flex will accelerate to 60 mph in about 9 seconds,” which may put it a second slower than the large crossovers from General Motors (Saturn Outlook, GMC Acadia, Buick Enclave, and Chevrolet Traverse). Edmunds adds that a 2010 Ford Flex will include a twin-turbo version of the engine, with about 340 hp.
The 2009 Ford Flex comes with a single gearbox, a six-speed automatic transmission that was co-developed with General Motors. There’s also an “intelligent all-wheel-drive system, capable of routing 100 percent of the engine's torque to either axle,” Edmunds adds. All-wheel drive will be “optional,” Car and Driver points out.
Ford says the front-drive version of the 2009 Ford Flex is rated at 17/24 mpg, while the all-wheel-drive Flex gets 16/22 mpg. Edmunds says it is rated to “tow up to 4,500 pounds.”
Autoblog says "the tuning of the four-wheel independent suspension kept body roll to a minimum, and driver confidence in sweeping corners high." They also note that the Flex's "fuel economy ratings of 17 mpg city/24 mpg highway (16/22 in AWD trim)...trump[s] all of the 7-passenger full-size SUVs." Motor Trend adds that "the Flex demonstrated reasonable acceleration, and its handling was about as sprightly as one expects in a two-ton car. Ride is supple and controlled with minimal lean or fuss in turns, but the long wheelbase and mass are natural deterrents to any boy-racer inclinations." Car and Driver feels "there is nothing overtly sporty about the Flex," but later adds that "the chassis is well tuned for a family crossover, with pleasantly direct steering that has just the right amount of boost and good on-center feel."
TheCarConnection.com's editors drove the Ford Flex recently in New York City and the nearby suburbs. The Flex feels amply powerful for most driving in and out of the city. The 3.5-liter V-6 has enough power to get the job done, though there's a slight amount of engine roar at the top of the rev range. The six-speed automatic transmission is related to the unit used in GM’s big crossover vehicles--Ford and GM joined forces to build the transmissions, but each has its own programming--but in the Flex, the six-speed seems to hunt for gears less.
The Flex's handling is fine for a vehicle of its size. Steering feel is smooth and fairly lightweight, if a little slow on response in the all-wheel-drive model tested. Perhaps the best quality of the 2009 Ford Flex is its ride. It’s not soft, and not firm, just ideally tuned to a comfortable setting that keeps its vertical motions controlled while absorbing most of the atrocious impacts you can find on the Sawmill Parkway--or Lexington Avenue. The Flex doesn't use an air suspension or complex suspension technology to get this sophisticated feel--just a well-tuned multi-link rear suspension. In overall performance, the Flex is surprise-free, and if it’s not terribly exciting, it is certainly more than amply powerful and quiet.
The 2009 Ford Flex has ample power and a smooth, controlled ride, as well as reasonably athletic responses.