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Motoring: Ford Flex-es its power

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | January 9th, 2012

If you have a big family, the vehicle on test this week will be of interest to you.

As always, the cheap answer is to get a Dodge Grand Caravan, but if you are not hurting for money and are looking for something quite a bit more interesting, then look no further than the Ford Flex with the EcoBoost engine.

The Flex is a sister vehicle to the Lincoln MKT and thus shares many of its wonderful features, such as the power folding seats and a power lift-gate. Depending on your budget or needs, you can also spec it with a DVD player for the rear seat occupants as well as the power panoramic Vista Roof.

Other notable items on the options list include the voice-activated navigation system, the THX sound system, the blind spot monitoring system, the adaptive cruise control and the active park assist system, which, as the label says, parallel parks the vehicle almost all by itself.

All these features are great, but would be lost on someone like me if the vehicle itself were not nice to drive.

Thankfully, the Flex is nice to drive. Actually, it's much better than I was expecting and the main reason behind it is its engine. While its base 3.5-litre V6 might be a fine engine that produces 262 hp, if you want to have a truly impressive motor, tick the options box for the EcoBoost engine.

This, you see, makes the Flex much more interesting because the EcoBoost is a 3.5-litre V6 with twin-turbo chargers bolted on. The end result is 355 hp and 350 lb/ft of torque. Power is sent to all wheels via a six-speed automatic gearbox with steering wheel-mounted pedal shifters. While this engine was developed specifically to deliver power with great fuel economy (it averages 15 litres/100km, which is decent for a vehicle of this size), I had no idea how much power it had to offer until I took the first off-ramp. As soon as the steering straightened out, it catapulted forward like a gazelle that just spotted a lion in the bushes. Thanks to its twin turbos, the power keeps on coming and it feels like it will never end. This MKT gathers speed so quickly, you really have to watch it or you'll lose it and your license to the O.P.P.

I just wish Ford had thrown in bigger brakes on this thing, because the ones it has on seem barely suitable for a vehicle that weighs over two tons and accelerates like a jungle animal.

On the business of handling, I am happy to say the Flex does a lot better than most people would expect from it, and its ride quality is just what most people would expect from such a vehicle. In short, the Flex will meet or exceed your expectations.

The price, however, might also exceed your expectations, because the base model starts at $46,599. My very well-loaded Titanium Edition test model, which came with nicer body trim and elegant wheels, will set you back $49,599. That is a lot of money, and this sort of money would buy you a very nice Mercedes-Benz, Audi or BMW these days, however the Flex will give you much more equipment for the money.

All in all, this is a very impressive vehicle, and would please most owners. Now, if they would only upgrade the brakes, it would be even better.
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