I recently had the opportunity to test drive the Ford Flex and it was a huge problem for me. Because I and my kids liked it so much, we did not want to give it back.
We gave our test model a name. “Sexy Flexy”. Probably because of the vehicle’s magnetic appeal. From the instant we saw it in our driveway we were mesmerized. My daughters blushed. Umm… Mommy? Can we sit in the front seat? Like just while it’s parked here? Would that be ok? Can me and my friend sit in the car and hang out while you’re making dinner? Can I show the neighbors?
Fashionista Mom that I am, I was not going to be won over so easily by the suave good looks alone. After all, I bought a Minivan recently for the utility. Much as I’d love to drive the kids to school and run errands in a Maserati, it’s just not practical. I liked the looks of the Flex from the first time I saw it at the LA Auto Show. But I’m demanding of my vehicles – not a pushover for a two tone paint job and grooved door panels. It was going to take a little more to get this practical Fashionista mom’s stamp of approval.
Continue reading to see our slide show and read more about our experience with the Ford Flex.
“How do we open it?” the girls asked.
“There’s a code on the door” I answered.
“Cool! No keys! This is AWE-some!” my 8 year old exclaimed. She had a point. How many times have I stood in the rain scrabbling for my keys in my bottomless pit of a bag. Not to mention the time we had to call 911 because we’d locked our keys AND kid in the car. Great Moments in parenting! I had to give the Flex some points for practicality on the programmable door locks.
Doors flung open, I saw the first of many carefully crafted interior details: the diagonal stitching on the quilted leather seats. It looked very much (intentionally) like a designer handbag. Those diabolical folks at Ford! They know this Mom’s kryptonite. Suddenly the lazyboy-like seat in my Oddysey seemed downright schleppy.
In fact the entire cabin of the Flex struck me as the way that my Minivan might look after the teams from “Queer Eye” and “Pimp my Ride” had their way with it. Details details details. This car pays homage to the Ford vehicles of yesteryear, with lovingly stylized details in every knob, switch, dial and surface. There is even multicolored ambient lighting (you can choose the color for the underdash and cupholder illumination, to suit your mood). The kids mouths dropped open as they yelled out colors for me to try.
“Make it Blue!”
This could get old, and yet, I enjoyed the attention to detail. Each time I changed the light, it felt like I was redecorating.
“This car is SO cool!” my kids exclaimed. They claimed their spots and hopped into the third row, texting their pals from their cell phones to let them know that their mom was driving carpool today.
Comfort & Convenience:
I was able to quickly and easily install my younger children’s carseats (infant and booster) into the Ford Flex. I was even able to realistically intall three car seats in the second row, a carseat load that not many vehicles can handle. My one complaint about the second row on this vehicle, which is a standard complaint about crossovers, is that with two latch equipped carseats installed, you cannot easily access the third row. For larger families with more than one infant/toddler, considering this vehicle, this is a possible issue. The workaround is ordering the car with the captain’s chairs in the second row. You lose a seat in that row, but gain easy access to the third row.
The third row was impressively spacious and comfortable in the Flex. The large overhead skylights eliminated any feelings of crampyness and the stadium seating ensured that everyone had a good view. I only wish we’d had this vehicle when we drove through the Avenue of the Giants last summer
Behind The Wheel:
I put the Flex to the test in Los Angeles traffic. It just so happened that after dropping the kids off at school in the OC burbs, I had a fashion errand to run in downtown L.A., picking up and dropping off several hundred yards of fabric in the fashion district, for my children’s clothing business. My route would take me from suburbs, to freeways, to cramped city alleys, and was a true test of the vehicle’s performance. Driving the Flex I felt completely and totally in control. It held the road expertly and gave me a very secure feeling. Despite the vehicle size and weight, I had no problem merging, passing and changing lanes. More than that, it was fun to drive. The vehicle I was tested included a Nav system that kept me on course and assisted me in avoiding traffic jams. Like everything in the car, even the sounds for the indicators, doors and more were carefully considered and “styled”. The Navigation system was my favorite, emitting a jingly ding ding ding sound each time I reached my destination. It reminded me of a Vegas slot machine and made me feel like not only had I managed not to get lost, I had won!
Upon arrival I was able to easily parallel park the Flex. I particularly enjoyed the guide lines on the rearview camera that were a great assist with this task. The turning radius was a little wider than the minivan but the cameras made negotiating a tight space easier than you’d think with such a large/long vehicle.
I also really enjoyed using the Sync system. I have to admit I never read a single word of instruction and was still able to get my phone working over the car’s bluetooth speakers and had a great time playing with the system.
Stuff, Stuff, Stuff – Where to put the Stuff:
As a mom of four, aged 10m -12 years, I schlep colossal amounts of stuff everywhere. Strollers, backpacks, sports equipment, groceries, and more. As a designer I often drag large loads of fabric and garments as well. On the day of my test drive I had a fashionable load of 20 or so five foot long rolls of fabric, plus the usual stuff for the kids in the carpool. It’s days like this that really convinced me to get a minivan. There’s just no getting all that into an ordinary CUV.
What impressed me about the Flex, and what is very different from other CUV’s we’ve tried to squeeze our oversized family into, is the fact that you don’t have to choose between third row seating and cargo space. The Flex allows you to have it all. Even with the seats up, there is plenty of room for strollers and groceries. Taking a page out of the minivan’s book, the rear storage area of the Flex is recessed, offering a great deal more storage in the well, as well as ample space behind the third row seats.
What was a little unexpected was all the attention that the Flex got. The parking lot moms at my kids school, pulled me over after I unloaded the kids. I worried that I might have violated the parking lot rules but in fact they just wanted to get a better look. In downtown LA my fabric supplier came out to see the Flex and sent pics home to his wife on his cell phone. She was lobbying for a minivan but he thought the Flex was way cooler.
Everyone’s reaction to the Flex was the same. It’s cool. It’s fun. Its not a minivan!
But when push comes to shove, and you need the space, it sure acts a lot like one.
I’m not about to kick my minivan to the curb just yet, there are too many muddy kids in my life. The thought of them trampling all over those gorgeous handbag inspired seats in their soccer cleats is a little disturbing. But the minivan, despite it’s apparent utility, is not my car. I have no real affection for the van. No real attraction. It does not make my heart flutter in the least. Sexy Flexy did,though. I could see myself driving to events, fashion shows and date night, in the Flex. Sure I can even see myself doing the occasional carpool duty and such in it too. But only when everyone is behaving! It’s reassuring to know I could still get the whole family in my cool car. But when the kids get muddy? They’re getting in the lazyboy van with dad! They’re not getting my seats all muddy!
Best For: Mom’s with Style, Families with Minivan issues, Families with older (no longer in infant/toddler seats) children
Read More about the Flex: Ford Flex Website