2010 Ford Flex EcoBoost Road Test Review

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Ford is heavily into stealth mode these days. First came the revived Taurus SHO, with a virtually indistinguishable look from the standard Taurus. Now comes Flex EcoBoost, looking for all the world exactly like the Flex we first met at the New York Auto Show back in 2007.

The 2010 Ford Flex EcoBoost immediately lies to rest any claims that the Ford Flex is sluggish. And granted, the 3.5-litre Duratec's 262 horses have to work pretty hard to move 2,180 kilos (4,800 pounds). The EcoBoost's 355 horses, on the other hand, move two and a quarter tons pretty well. Ford claims the EcoBoosted Flex gets to 100km/h in a tad over seven seconds, as opposed to 8.7 seconds for the Duratec.

Paired with an upgraded six-speed automatic transmission that now offers paddle shifters to respond to complaints about the two choices the earlier transmission offered (drive and low) the EcoBoosted Flex returns an estimated 14.7 L/100km in the city and 10.7 on the highway, by EPA standards. Driven frugally, one should easily average in the mid 11s.

More than a mere engine upgrade though, the 2010 Ford Flex models equipped with EcoBoost get a revised suspension calibration that lowers the vehicle by about 10 millimeters. Also added to the mix is a new electric power steering system. Great for the Flex in that it doesn't tax engine power to steer the vehicle, electric steering also enables Ford to offer another terrific new feature – automatic parking.

Taking advantage of the proximity sensors other manufacturers only use to warn drivers when they're about to bump into something, on the 2010 Flex they're also used to sense open parking spaces sized right for the rather long vehicle, and then to guide it into that parking space with only throttle and braking inputs from the driver.

In several tests of the system we found it to be both a practical and useful feature. Rather than requiring you choose a space and then calibrate the movements of the vehicle into that space, the Flex does all the math itself. Parallel parking is easily accomplished in considerably less time than it would take the average driver to do it on their own.

Speaking of steering, the 2010 Flex now uses a steering column that telescopes as well as tilts. This, in conjunction with generous seat travel and adjustable pedals means the Flex can now easily be tailored to fit virtually any driver.

Also on the steering front, another benefit of the electric system is crosswind correction. The Flex can actually sense when crosswinds are pushing it and make corrections automatically. Behind the wheel all you notice is the vehicle tracks remarkably straight, even in high winds.

This is very useful when towing.

Which is another improvement. The newfound power boosts the Flex's ability to tow. Ford's reps say the crossover utility vehicle will now pull up to 4,500 pounds (2,041 kilos). We tested the towing ability with a trailer pulling a pair of jet skis and some additional ballast for a total weight of approximately 2,500 pounds (1,133 kg). Given that we were at significant altitude in Colorado's Rocky Mountains above Denver, acceleration was quite impressive.

The interior layout that impressed us when the Ford Flex was introduced continues to do so. And well it should, given the vehicle has only been on the market for about a year. And perhaps that is the most remarkable thing of all about the 2010 Ford Flex EcoBoost.

With all the improvements outlined in this piece you'd get the impression the Flex has been around for three or four years and Ford is adding all these new features to keep the model fresh for another couple of years until its replacement comes out (AKA a mid-cycle refresh). Frankly, that the company is working this hard to improve a relatively new vehicle indicates that perhaps Ford really does have a better idea when it comes to keeping its products at the forefront of desirability.

©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Crossover, Ford, 2010, Flex, $30,000 - $39,999, $40,000 - $49,999, Turbocharger,

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