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 Post subject: Ford Vehicle Question
PostPosted: Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:25 am 

Joined: Mon Nov 16, 2009 9:06 am
Posts: 1117
Location: Trenton, Michigan
My daughter's Freestyle is up for replacement, which she has been very happy with. I know the Flex and Connect Wagon are very different, but what are the pluses and minuses of those two in direct comparison? Any model of either to recommend?

PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2017 1:34 pm 

Joined: Tue Oct 11, 2016 9:39 am
Posts: 132
Location: Plymouth
Hi Steve,

I'm not a car guy, so take this for what it is. I have a 2011 Flex that we bought back in July to replace our 2005 Escape that was totaled while it was parked (yeah, it's quite an absurd story). We have two kids in car seats still and this vehicle has been a huge upgrade, apart from the small fact of having gone from no car payments back to one car payment, but what can you do.

It is the mid-level trim. We didn't care to spend the money for AWD -- we've had it, and for our very low mileage suburban driving, my two cents is that AWD is just throwing money out the window in added maintenance costs over the long haul for little to no functionality for a vehicle used as a family hauler. That said, I know some people like it for other reasons and I even respect that some people just like bells and whistles. My point is simply to say that even at the mid-level trim with "just" the normal V6 and FWD, I find the car pulls pretty well. It gets up to speed without a hitch.

I find the computer is a bit slower to react to throttle input than I am used to, but since we are ultra low mile drivers, our other car is a 2003 Focus I drive 4 miles per day back and forth to the office, and as mentioned, our previous "family" car was the Escape. So you can see it is really an apples to oranges comparison in a generational sense... even a 2011 is significantly more modern than a 2005 in many ways. It definitely took me a few driving hours to get used to the size and heft of this vehicle, but the sightlines are very good and it goes and breaks with plenty of bite.

The cargo space is incredible. We have been taking the kids up to the Petoskey area the last few Julys. Last year we were only able to go because the family members we do this trip with were able to take some of our cargo in their Edge. This year, not only did we not need anyone to haul for us, we fit everything in the back of the Flex below the headrest line so that the rear view mirror was usable! No small achievement for a 5 night trip with two kids under 5. And I know most people will say this, but we really are light packers, my wife and I can share a single adult suitcase for a week. And if you roll down all four rear seats, there's a just a ton of cubage to load things in.

The things I have not liked about this car are not deal-breakers at all, and all but one are things I knew going into the purchase, so no big deal. But if helpful:
- I'm not a big infotainment/touchscreen proponent, but a backup camera would be so great for this car. It has the backup sensors that beep, which are great. But in particular, if the driver(s) in question aren't as confident or adept drivers, they may really appreciate springing for a newer model year at a trim level with a camera.

- Earlier Ford Sync is mediocre. It works. The only feature I use is phone to Bluetooth audio, as it is nice to be able to hear Google Maps instructions read aloud over the speakers when you're on a trip, and it is of course nice for music here and there. But sometimes the thing is totally intransigent about properly connecting to your device. I solved this minor problem by stashing a line-in cable in the console for when it gives me crap and I don't want to mess around with it. This is a very minor nit for me, but some people are big-time Bluetooth users and would hate this. I have an "almost never screw with a phone while driving" policy, so this doesn't matter to me a lot.

- If you have three kids that are all still in seats of some sort, there's no easy entry/exit to the rear row. The third row is designed like an SUV instead of a minivan, where you have to pull the level to tilt the second row seats forward because they are a bench seat. It's not terribly common these days for people to have three kids all young enough to be in full car seats anymore, so probably not an issue. But we have considered what it would look like to add a third kid to the mix, and we figured it'd be handled well enough by simply having two of the three kids in the third row, one in the second row, and then the other seat in the second row can be used for access to the third row.

- Excuse me if I'm off on terminology, but it essentially seems to me that the TCM/TCU can be a bit sluggish in a quick upshift-downshift situation. It is not dangerous -- the power you need is there. It just seems in that type of scenario that the computer gets a little foggy and the transmission will thud down the gears a little harder and more abruptly than you'd expect. Our 2005 Escape was very similar with its usage of its overdrive gear, so maybe this is a bit of a Ford thing? To clarify, what I'm referring to is the type of situation where say, you've coasted out your acceleration to something like 45 mph, the car shifts up to the highest gear to drop the revs, and then something happens that quickly forces you to jump on the gas again (e.g. make a pass of someone slowing in front of you). It's that quick asking of the computer to upshift and then immediately downshift "unexpectedly" that causes this. It's not so much a problem in my view as something to be aware of. Some people are used to some of the slightly newer auto transmissions with more gears that leave more seamless shift points.

Sorry for the brain dump, hope it helps. Overall, this is easily the best car we've ever owned. That certainly has something to do with the fact that we have held on to previous cars till they die since our daily driving demands are minimal. Just the newness of this car alone is a revelation compared to the 2003 or the 2005. But I am very happy with the car all around, none of the nominal "cons" I listed above really rank as things that I'd ever cite as reasons for recommending against the vehicle. The thing with a vehicle like the Flex is that it is meets quality expectations for a modern Ford, it has generation-appropriate bells and whistles, it rates well in safety tests... so ultimately, does it's size and somewhat unconventional configuration fit your needs, and do you think its weird looks are cool with a little retro inspiration or do you think they look just plain weird?

- Nathan

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