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This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!

Published on Thu, Jul 30, 2009

By: The LACar Editorial Staff


I'm beginning to think Ford does have a better idea. Take a sleek, distinctive crossover vehicle like Ford Flex, give it a V-6 engine that delivers V-8 power with the fuel economy of a V-6 and you have the technologically advanced 2010 Ford Flex with EcoBoost. Introduced just one year ago, the original Flex was, according to some, long on eye appeal and features but short on power for a vehicle its size. Ford seems to have solved the problem and will undoubtedly satisfy those power-hungry critics with the twin-turbocharged all aluminum 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engine. The direct injection of highly pressurized fuel into the combustion chamber of each cylinder results in increased performance and fuel efficiency.

Ford tells me that the best place to test the capabilities of this vehicle is in the mountains so, following a two-hour flight from Los Angeles, I am in the Colorado Rockies ready not only to experience some of the most beautiful scenery in the country, but also to see if this vehicle lives up to Ford's claims as it is put it to the test under a variety of conditions. The start point for our road test is the luxurious St. Julien Hotel & Spa in Boulder, Colorado. The front of the hotel now resembles a Ford dealership, with shiny new Flex vehicles lined up and ready for enthusiastic automotive journalists from throughout the U.S. and Canada. From Boulder, we will take a fifty-mile drive to Estes Park. The interior of the vehicle is both stylish and quite comfortable. As I turn the key, I hear an engine that is quiet, yet confident. Pulling out of the driveway, I can feel the power of the big 355 horsepower engine. Making my way through the mountains, the sporty side of me takes over as I switch from the 6-speed automatic transmission to conveniently positioned paddle shifters on the steering wheel. Paddles facilitate precise shifting while keeping both hands securely on the wheel. Upon arriving at our destination in Estes Park, there are two demonstrations highlighting the vehicle's capabilities. The first being a towing demonstration to prove Ford's claims that Flex can effortlessly tow up to 4,500 pounds. Flex's towing package features Trailer Sway Control Technology. The system can determine if the trailer starts to sway, then takes immediate corrective measures, such as precise braking or reducing engine torque.

The second demonstration allows me to test the Active Park Assist self-parking feature. As you are driving, the system can actually locate an available parking space along the curb then, at the push of a button and with my hands off the steering wheel, the vehicle parallel parks itself perfectly along the curb. As one who has tested other vehicles with self-parking technology, I find the Active Park Assist on Flex to be more efficient and the positioning of the vehicle more precise. Making my way back to Boulder, I continue to be impressed with the way in which the vehicle handles. All-wheel drive and sport tuned suspension make the vehicle fun to drive, and a feature called Pull-Drift Compensation helps the vehicle maintain its path even in windy conditions or on uneven roads. From a safety standpoint, I give Flex a 'thumbs up' for a couple of valuable features. Ford SYNC, available on certain Flex models, is a software program that allows you to operate digital music players and Bluetooth phones using voice commands or with controls on the steering wheel. SYNC can actually convert text messages to audio and read them out loud. Another new technology is MyKey, which allows owners to designate keys (to teenage drivers, for example) that can limit the vehicle's top speed and audio volume. Ford Flex with EcoBoost may be a wise choice for consumers who wish to downsize from a full-size SUV to a slightly smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicle. With the exception of a voice-interactive navigation system that didn't seem to recognize every voice command, I am highly impressed with the improvements in Flex for 2010, particularly the powerful and efficient EcoBoost engine. EcoBoost is part of Ford's ongoing effort to create fuel-efficient powertrain systems with the power and performance of larger engines. Ford estimates that by 2013, more than 90 percent of their vehicles in North America will be available with EcoBoost.

SUMMARY JUDGMENT It's Dearborn's first crossover muscle car with green credentials. For more information about Ford products:

SPECIFICATIONS Name of vehicle: 2010 Ford Flex EcoBoost Price: TBA EPA mileage estimates (city/highway): 16/22 miles per gallon Engine type: 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V-6 Horsepower: 355 @ 5,700 rpm Torque: 350 @ 1,500 to 5,250 rpm Drive configuration: All Wheel Drive Transmission type: 6-speed automatic overdrive Steering: Electric power assist steering Suspension: Front: Gas pressurized MacPherson strut; stabilizer bar Rear: Multi-link, fully-independent suspension; stabilizer bar Brakes: 4-wheel ABS AdvanceTrac with Roll Stability Control Overall length: 201.8 inches Overall width: 88.8 inches Overall height: 68.0 inches Curb weight (lbs.): 4,839 lbs. Performance 0-60: 7 seconds

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