2009 Ford Flex

2009 Ford Flex 2009 Ford Flex
First Drive Review

A cooling fan on hot day. Orange Popsicles. Ice-cold sangria. The 2009 Ford Flex. What do these things have in common? Each is undeniably refreshing.

Yes, after a seemingly interminable series of painfully bland products, Ford has finally built something interesting. And after a brief drive of the Flex—in, of all places, New York City and its swanky ’burbs—we’re feeling cautiously optimistic about the funky four-wheeled box. And, for that matter, about Ford.

We’re not necessarily ready to say we love the thing, but we do like it. We are impressed with many aspects of it, and fortunately, we think they are aspects that count—i.e., features that help it carry a bunch of people and things in comfort and with reasonable economy. Which, after all, is precisely the point of vehicles like this.

Flex in the City

There are fairly few car launches in New York City for, we think, obvious reasons. But the Flex actually was right at home in “the City,” its love-it-or-loathe-it T-square styling not looking a bit out of place along New York’s busy boulevards, lined as they are with skyscrapers as rectilinear as the Flex itself. And if Ford had bothered painting one yellow, we’d have been mobbed at rush hour.

Shamelessly reminding everyone of the station wagons of their childhoods, the Flex has nary a curve to be found, and only a few radiused edges. The stacked taillamps—with nifty standard LEDs—bracket an optional, straked metallic panel, adding visual width. The side grooves are a modern interpretation of good old-fashioned wood paneling. If it was Ford’s intention to recall the glory days of the station wagon, it worked, although the Country Squire certainly wasn’t available with 20-inch alloys.

It’s Not All Retro

As evocative as the Flex is of a bygone era, there is rife evidence of new-school thinking on the exterior, starting with the hidden rocker panels. Basically, the Flex’s door skins reach under the body side so that any snow or mud that might be caked to them travels with the door so that passengers don’t get their pants dirty while getting in and out. This also allows passengers to scoot closer to the seat as they climb aboard—particularly good for older folks. Just be mindful when parking next to tall curbs.

Another cool bit is the exterior keypad—a throwback that Ford refuses to get rid of in spite of looking rather silly in the days of the key fob. Until now, that is. It illuminates from under the black B-pillar when one’s hand is waved over it. Ooh, it’s suddenly cool.