Our California Road Trip Puts This Car to the Test
A great family road trip car has to have plenty of space, good gas mileage and if you are lucky, look really cool. We hit two out of three when we put the Ford Flex to the test, driving 700 miles with three teenagers on a college tour of northern California (I would have loved better gas mileage).
Winning The Husband’s Heart
After a week, my husband is ready to buy a Ford Flex, a crossover that has both serious pick up and plenty of room for a big family. The most amazing feature is the cooler in the console of the second row. It seems like an extravagant addition— a $795 option—when a cooler from CVS is only about $20, but boy was handy. With the flip of a switch, we could freeze drinks on hot days, and keep sandwiches cold on days we had a long drive ahead of us.
Ford Flex’s In-Car Tech Means Never Having to Ask Directions
The navigation system came in handy and was relatively easy to use. I usually struggle with these systems, but I would rate this one a 7.5 out of 10. When we put the street in, it took awhile for the system to let us add the city (we did not take the time to learn how to use the voice function, which I regret).
The car also has the Ford MyKey system, a great option that we didn’t try since we were in control of the driving and the radio on our trip (and with teens in the car there were ear buds in nearly every ear). MyKey lets you set a top speed and keep the radio below a certain volume; nice if your teens are behind the wheel or your husband has had to many speeding tickets.
SYNC More Devices Than You Have Passengers
The Ford Flex also comes with MYFordTouch and SYNC, which manages your media and allows you to sync up to 10 devices: again, a feature we didn’t need when we had the car for a week, but something that would come in handy when you have multiple drivers and spend as many hours a week in the car as we do each week.
The power lift gate lifted and lowered at the touch of a button, and the dual air control meant passengers in the first and second rows rode in comfort—it did get a bit hot sometimes for the person relegated to the third row of seats.
I liked the car a lot, but with one reservation – I value great gas mileage, and even though we drove mainly on the highway, we averaged 18 mpg.
What We Loved
Performance – the car had terrific pick up, handling and did not feel like I was driving a huge truck around
Maneuverability: we did a lot of driving from highways to curvy mountainous roads and the car handled beautifully on both
The third row was super easy to reconfigure; seats fold down with a touch of a button
Very comfortable, plenty of room in back for teens, who loved it
Rear inflatable seat belts – the kids noticed these and loved them
Blind spot alert system
20 cubic feet of cargo space behind the third row (43 behind the second row!)
5 year/60,000 mile road side assistance
What You Need to Know
Base price, about $37,000; price for the model we tested: about $50,000
18 MPG city/25 MPG highway
No third row air control
No third row USB port
Disclosure: Ford provided the Flex for our test drive; opinions expressed are all our own.