FORD Flex: The Blue Oval With Great Driving Pleasure

Ford Flex
With the Flex, Ford offers a vehicle tagged as "people mover" at the prototyping stage. and this name is very appropriate.

With the Flex, Ford offers a vehicle tagged as “people mover” at the prototyping stage. and this name is very appropriate.

Ford Flex specifications

As Ford had introduced the current model Ford Flex as “Fairlane” concept eight years ago, the definition of this prototype was “people mover”. Ford then had planned to discontinue the not-so successful Windstar and exit the minivan segment. The aim of the blue oval was to create a new segment which was a synthesis of the traditional station wagon and the SUV.

Finally Ford launched the Ford Flex in the New York Auto Show in 2007 and since then has been selling Ford Flex in the USA, Canada and in some Middle Eastern countries.

The Ford Flex provides place for six passengers. However, with the extra foldable middle seat in the second row, it becomes a 7-passenger people mover. The legroom in the second row is comparable to executive German sedans; BMW 7 Series, Mercedes S Class and the Audi A8. The Ford Flex, which shares the same platform with the Explorer, together with the MKT, its Lincoln Sibling, is produced in Oakville, Ontario.

With its white roof and boxy design, the Ford Flex resembles to a  Mini on steroids. Who knows, maybe its design may also be an inspiration coming from the boxy Volvo stations of the Nineties. Volvo by then belonged to the Ford Group.

The twin-turbo V6 Ecoboost engine generates a smooth torque curve

The twin-turbo V6 Ecoboost engine generates a smooth torque curve

Ford Canada provided us a top-of-line model for a one-week test drive. The 3.5 liter V6 Ecoboost engine with its twin-turbo provides 365 HP and 344 Nm of torque at 4000 Rev/min. Combined with the full-time-AWD system, the road-holding is simply impressive. The slightly soft suspension is well-suited to North American standards and roads.

I can tell you that Ford Flex was a vehicle with a memorable driving pleasure.

In terms of fuel economy, Ford Flex meets or exceeds expectations. The average consumption was 11.7 liter and thus very reasonable for a car weighing more than two tonnes.

The digitally configurable instrument cluster (which is used in all current Ford and Lincoln models) with the central taco is very practical, once you get used to it. For instance, if you cannot do without a rev counter, you can select and “install” it.

Synch, the infotainment system co-developed with Microsoft enables voice commands from navigation to music and different settings. However, the voice recognition system of the Ford Flex is still premature and often, I had to use to conventional buttons.

The surveys of independent and reliable sources, such as the Consumer Report reveal that the Ford Flex customers are very satisfied with their vehicles. Nevertheless, the people mover was and is far from achieving the annual sales targets of around 100,000, as once projected. The Ford Flex is trailing with distance competitors like Buick Enclave, Chevrolet Traverse and Toyota Highlander.

Sadly, a lot of people resemble Ford Flex a hearse. A testament that the boxy, yet very roomy and practical design is not everyone’s taste.

One of the design features, new for 2013 model is the removal of the Ford Logo from the hood. The Flex on the hood is an attempt to distinguish Ford Flex more from the masses, or other Ford models. Time will tell how much this change will help.

MSRP for our fully equipped press vehicle is 57,500 CAD and this price includes an option package worth 6,800 CAD.

You have a better and higher sitting position then the low body implies

You have a better and higher sitting position then the low body implies

For this price you get a six-speed automatic transmission, navigation system with voice commands, cruise control with distance monitoring, blind spot warning, HID headlights, rain sensing wipers, leather upholstery, a four-peace sun-roof, 20” light alloy wheels, power lift-gate with remote control, towing capacity up to 2-tonnes and inflatable safety belts.

The third row offers reasonable legroom but could be better

The third row offers reasonable legroom but could be better

A Trip to Dunnville, Ontario

On a sunny side in May, we set our destination as Dunnville, a small town near Lake Erie, which was called as a Cayuga settlement. Dunnville is less than two-hour driving from the GTA upon the Grand River near Lake Erie. It is in Haldimand County.

Mudcat is the symbol of Dunneville

Mudcat is the symbol of Dunneville

The Europeans settled in this area and built a village as the entrance to the Welland “feeder” canal. The town flourished as a canal port with several water-powered mills. In 1900 Dunnville was incorporated as a town. However, the destiny of the town changed dramatically when the feeder canal closed in the late 1880’s. When the last mill was destroyed and replaced with a condominium complex about ten years ago, this was the last nail in the coffin of Dunnville, as we know it.

The impassable dam which regulated the level of the Grand River at Port Maitland also helped regulate the level of the Welland Canal (from 1829 until 1887 when the (3rd) canal began to intake its water directly from Lake Erie).

Only a few kilometres from Lake Erie, Dunnville has many private vacation properties. In fact, with old good days already gone, the future prosperity largely depends on tourism.

There are many events and natural attractions. In June the Annual Mudcat Festival is held to celebrate one of the Grand River’s most well-known inhabitants. The festival includes a parade, strongman contests, midway, fireworks and more. Another popular event is the Dunnville Agricultural Fair, held in late August which includes heavy, light and miniature horse shows; sheep and goat shows and much more.

Dunnville at Welland is an interesting but not-so-much noticed escape point for weekend or daily trips from the GTA

Dunnville at Welland is an interesting but not-so-much noticed escape point for weekend or daily trips from the GTA

Dunnville has tennis, golf, lawn bowling and swimming facilities and many Bed & Breakfasts to stay in while enjoying these activities. Tuesdays and Saturday are Farmers Market days. We could not see it, since we visited Dunnville on a Sunday.

The former World War II RCAF Training Base, the Dunnville Airport, offers a unique window on history with its massive hangars and runways now used for recreational flying and skydiving. The airport is also home to Haldimand County’s newest museum, the No. 6 RCAF Dunnville Museum. Unfortunately, on the day of our visit, the museum was closed and we could not much more than taking a few pictures from the outside.

The Grand River and nearby Lake Erie offer a host of aquatic activities from swimming, sailing, wind-surfing, canoeing and feature prime locations for fishing.

You can hike through Byng Island Conservation Area or Rock Point Provincial Park or enjoy a stroll along Port Maitland’s beautiful, brand-new pier. In the fall, Rock Point hosts thousands of Monarch butterflies heading south. Dunnville is also the site of one of the largest expanses of provincially significant wetlands in Ontario and is perfect for bird watching and nature photography.

The infotainment screen is big enough for easy reading but could be designed better to avoid sun glare

The infotainment screen is big enough for easy reading but could be designed better to avoid sun glare

For more and most up to date product and pricing information, please visit:

www.ford.ca 

For more information about Dunnville, please visit:

www.ontariossouthwest.com

 

Varol Karslioglu is a Certified Travel Manager licensed by TICO (Travel Industry Council of Ontario). He is a partner and Marketing Director of ATS Academy Travel Services Inc., in Toronto, a TICO-registered travel company.

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