DISCLAIMER: The folks at the Ford Motor Company lent me a Ford Flex for a period of three days. The car was a standard model given out to reviewers and thus did not come with a nondescript aluminum briefcase stuffed with $5,000 in unmarked, non-sequential bills. The opinions – key word! OPINIONS! – here are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of DadCentric. Although they kind of do, since the author owns the site. Also, that picture to the left is of the Wagon Queen Family Truckster, which, face it, is the first thing you thought of when you first laid eyes on the Ford Flex.
A few weeks ago, the nice people from the Ford Motor Company dropped off a shiny new 2009 Ford Flex in my driveway. As part of a massive campaign targeting High Profile Bloggers, I would be driving the thing around, to see if it was worthy of a coveted DadCentric endorsement.
A couple of things about me and cars: I am not a Car Person. I know very little about how they work, and terms like “oversteer” and “limited slip differential” are lost on me. I generally think sports cars are for guys who are trying to compensate for lack of hair/penile size; that said, I do own a 2006 Audi A4 2.0T Quattro (which is a “sports sedan”, meaning that with some axle grease and a massive shoehorn you can barely fit two kids and their carseats in back). I prefer functionality over flash, which is why my other car is a 2002 Nissan Xterra – it hauls kids, dog, and surfboards with ease. Finally, minivans suck – they are a shining example of the fact that nearly all parenting products are created with only one half of the parenting equation – Mom – in mind. For that reason alone I refuse to buy one. (Example: the sliding doors. This is a Mom Thing. Moms think they’re amazingly helpful, because it makes it easy to get the kids in the car, especially in the tight confines of packed school/mall parking lots. Dads think that the Duke boys did just fine going through the General Lee’s windows and our kids should be able to do the same. The only van any self-respecting dad should want is this one.)
Which brings me to the Ford Flex. The Flex looks like a Mini Cooper that had accidentally driven into Bruce Banner’s Gamma Ray Chamber, gotten zapped with the Hulkafying Gamma Rays, and then got pissed off when the people at the McDonald’s drive-through forgot to supersize its McRib Value Meal. (Photo comparison: Mini. Flex. White roofs kick ass.) It’s a beast of a car, with room for six people and their dog, or at least two 6 to 9 foot long surfboards (I eyeballed this – I don’t think the good people at Ford would have wanted their Flex returned smelling of surf wax.) I suspected that the Flex might be the Holy Grail of Dadmobiles – a family car designed with BOTH parents in mind; functional, and not a complete embarrassment to drive. To test this hypothesis, Beth and I put the Flex through a grueling series of road tests.