Test Drive: Ford Flex

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Test Drive is a new series that we’re starting at CrunchGear wherein we get a hands-on look at new or interesting modes of transportation. It’s not limited to just cars, either. We’ll take a look at just about anything from scooters to rockets and everything in between.

A wee bit ago I took a spin in the Ford Flex here in NYC. While it’s not a geek’s dream, it does have a few high tech goodies that kept my interest. That’s what we’re going to focus on with these Test Drive features going forward since we’re not an auto blog.

We’ll start off with Easy Fuel. I haven’t owned a car in three years but I remember losing my gas cap once or twice and with Easy Fuel you won’t have to worry about such things any longer. Ford claims that the design cuts the amount of fuel emissions that get released because it’s only open for a short amount of time. I had no way of testing that, but it sort of makes sense. Are there any gear heads in the audience that may know about such things?

After having flown Virgin America I now know what impact ambient lighting has on a person. I never really got the warm fuzzys from Philips ambient lighting products, but Ford’s in-car setup was nice. You can flip through seven colors to find the right color for your mood that’s tastefully splashed across the interior of the car. The in-car refrigerator was probably my favorite nerdy addition. The backseat cooler can fit up to seven 12-ounce cans. You don’t need to spend six figures on a Maybach for that luxury.

Next up is the Sync system, which I reviewed last month when I checked out the Lincoln MKS. I won’t go into great detail for this drive, but I will mention the new features that Flex supports. Mainly 911 Assist and something called Vehicle Health Report.

911 Assist does exactly what its name implies, assuming your cell phone is connected via Bluetooth. In the event of a car crash, airbag deployment triggers the system to dial out, but it gives you the option to cancel if it’s a minor accident and you’re ok. Emergency fuel pump shut-off also triggers the service. It comes standard and there’s no extra fee. Again, this wasn’t something I tested because I wouldn’t intentionally trigger the airbags to smash open my face, but I don’t think this is something Ford and Microsoft would just throw together at the last minute. But then again, you never know.

Sony takes care of the listening experience and since I was on a ‘driving tour’ with other journos in the car, I couldn’t crank the system up as high as I would have liked. But it’s packed with 12 speakers and satellite radio services.

The last thing I’ll mention isn’t gadgety or nerdy, but I really liked the Vista roof. It reminded me of the Mercedes Benz panorama rooftops that you could get on the ’97 SL600. I’m sure you could have gotten it other models, but that’s the one that comes to mind.

I enjoyed cruising around Manhattan in the Flex and it was neat to see pedestrians stop and stare as six (or was seven?) Flexs made their way through the city. It reminded me of the old Surf Woodies from the 60s and 70s. The 3.5L V6 power plant took an iron foot to get up and go, but it accelerated smoothly. And the cabin remained quiet, even in busy sections of Manhattan. The FWD version musters up 24MPG on the highway and 17 in the city, which I suppose is commendable for a car of that size. These beasts start out at $28,500.

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