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Patch Drives: In the Ford Flex, I Was Shaking Up the Suburbs

I didn't see it coming, but I fell hard for the oh-so-polarizing crossover. Not only did it fit my family, but it awoke a rebellious spirit that was repressed years ago — all from a three-hour test drive.

Editor's note: This is the latest in a series. Read all of the Patch Drives installments here.

I learned a few things with my first test drive: captain's chairs are important, my kids are kind of annoying in giant old vans as well as brand new shiny cars and I haven’t lost my inner rebel.

Oh, and this: the Ford Flex is a pretty great ride.

In my quest to research and shop for a new ride (and chronicle the adventure for Patch readers along the way), I took my first potential "next ride" for a test drive this week. Here's how it went.

First date nerves

I was and still am way out of my comfort zone.

Car dealerships have always made me nervous. What I am about to say goes against every feminist bone in my body: I was hoping the salesperson would be a woman. Yikes. I feel ridiculous, but my auto inferiority, coupled with my stay-at-home mom stereotype insecurity, just had me hoping for a female salesperson.

So I was relieved that when I arrived at in Rochester Hills, my salesperson was indeed a woman. Tonya helped calm my nerves and explain everything there was to explain about driving the Ford Flex.

When I first sat down in the Flex, Tonya showed me the touch screen and synched my iPhone. I instantly felt like Michael J. Fox in Back to the Future — or like I did when I was a kid at the future expo at Epcot. I loved it. (Remember: I am driving a van with a VCR. I officially love the future.)

Polarizing? Bring it on

While part of me wanted to just sit in the dealership parking lot and make hands-free calls all day, I knew my assignment entailed a little more.

Before I set off on my cruising adventure, the dealership's owner, Patrick Scoggin, came out to wish me well. He told me how his wife has driven their four kids around in a Flex since it first came out. Then he mentioned how some people don’t like the way it looks. “It’s polarizing,” he said.

With that, the seed was planted: the seed of my quiet suburban rebellion.

I got in the tricked-out Flex and drove out into the mean streets of Rochester Hills. It was a great feeling to be so much lower than the van. And it felt good not to apologize for barreling through the turn lanes.

I didn’t feel apologetic at all. In fact that whole polarizing thing was pretty fun. I felt edgy for the first time in years. I sunk down in my leather seats and gave people in the cars next to me the “wassup” nod.

“You think this is ugly?" my look told them.

"So what? I’m synched, baby.”

Back to reality

My little fantasyland of coolness quickly ended because it was time to pick up my kids. It was time for the real Flex test — could it handle my four kids?

At the elementary school’s car loop pick up, the kids were giddy with excitement. I was nervous again, praying they wouldn’t spill anything or take out markers (they never have markers, but you know that this would be the day the kindergartner would say “Hey look, I found this Sharpie on the ground and I just autographed the seat.”)

After wowing the kids with everything that Sync thing can do, we ran errands and dropped one child off at baseball practice.

After five minutes of car enthusiasm, my kids were picking fights with one another. They failed to get lost in the edgy, coolness. I gotta hand it to them, they weren’t letting their mom’s writing assignment go to their heads: they were keeping it real.

And for real, all the kids fit comfortably with room to grow. The sports bag and half a week of groceries fit nicely in the back.

The only real complaints/concerns I had were seating style and storage. The Flex I was driving didn’t have captain's chairs, so it was hard to get to the third row of seats. That feature is available in certain models, though. We also would probably need to have an overhead storage compartment if we were going to go on a long trip, simply to fit everyone’s suitcases and all the other junk we feel is necessary on a long trip.

The lowdown

So how does the Ford Flex match up with ?

  • Was there chemistry? Oh yeah, baby. There was chemistry. I had no idea I would fall so hard for something I first thought was kind of ugly.
  • Appearance? I was not a fan, but it really grew on me. It’s the modern-day station wagon. I loved my family’s station wagons when I was a kid. My brother and sister and I used to fight over who got to sit or lay down in the “back back.”
  • Lifestyle? The Flex completely fits my lifestyle of lugging kids around. And readers were right: I can picture bigger kids and even teenagers in this car. The technology really is fabulous; the hands-free calling alone is safer and easier.
  • Affordability: I drove a 2013 Flex. The starting MSRP for that particular vehicle is $37,845. The cost breakdown is as follows: base price, $33,225; options, $3,795; destination/delivery, $825.

Overall, the Flex gets 12 thumbs up from my family and me. It fits the family and all the stuff that comes with us. The polarizing edginess helps renew a sense of long-forgotten rebellious energy.

In that Flex, I could shake up the suburbs.

Angela shopped for her Ford Flex at Huntington Ford in Rochester Hills. The dealership is open 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday and Thursday and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday. To build your own Ford Flex or to check on the inventory at a dealer near you, visit www.ford.com/crossovers/flex.

There are lots of opinions about the Ford Flex; here's a sampling of what other auto writers have had to say. Have you driven one? Tell us what you think!

Next week: Patch readers told me I should stick to a van but try the "mini" version. So I think I'll try out the Honda Odyssey. I can't wait to check out the stow-and-go.

Patch Drives is . The cars Youngblood chooses to test will be at her discretion and not affiliated with any advertising relationships.

Ford dealerships in the Patch Drives area

  • , Troy
  • , Troy
  • , Lake Orion
  • , Macomb
  • , Rochester
Kristin Bull (Editor) May 03, 2012 at 02:24 PM
Welcome to the "future," Angela!
Sharon Taber May 03, 2012 at 04:19 PM
I am in the market for a car also. I don't schlep kids around anymore but do need lots of room for equipment from Dinosaur Hill where I work (including an inflatable planetarium). I drive a Mercury Mariner now, but they are no longer being produced. I will try out the Fords (Escape, Edge, and Flex) and the Mazda CX-7. I drove a few different Volkswagons last week but was underwhelmed. I then drove the new larger Prius which was awesome but I'm afraid it will have trouble in deep snow. If all of our Michigan winters were like last winter it wouldn't be an issue. I really like the Ford sync system and won't drive another car without a hands free interface.
Angela Youngblood May 03, 2012 at 05:12 PM
I think you will like the Flex Sharon! Good luck with your search.
Kristin Bull (Editor) May 03, 2012 at 06:54 PM
Oh, Sharon. Now that would be a Patch story. I can see the headline now: "But Can This Car Fit the Dinosaur Hill Inflatable Planetarium?"
Robert May 03, 2012 at 08:27 PM
We wrer just thinking a Ford Flex was the way to go for our next car. We have 3 kids..
Kristen May 03, 2012 at 11:57 PM
I always loved the look of the Flex but my husband hated it. We took a test drive and he too immediately fell in love. I love my Flex.....have had it for 3 years now and it doesn't get old.
Tiffany May 04, 2012 at 02:24 PM
If you have kids and dogs it doesn't work. I tried. Really tried. We just don't all fit. Especially on e you add luggage and coolers and baseball/gymnastics/ karate bags.
Scott Reska May 04, 2012 at 04:00 PM
The Flex is also available with 4 wheel drive! ! !
Kristin Drummelsmith May 06, 2012 at 03:02 AM
This is probably a topic for another Patch article - but I have to pass something on that my husband sent me: http://www.daveramsey.com/media/flash/elearning/drive-free/player.html. I have always leased my cars ever since I began driving (right now, I drive a Saturn Outlook). So I have always driven new- this video makes me re-think my next car move. I know this article is not about financing, but I thought this video was so interesting. And since we're talking about new Flex's, it seems appropriate. For the record, I like the way the Flex's look!
Kristin Bull (Editor) May 07, 2012 at 11:46 AM
Thanks for sharing, Kristin!
Beth Radtke Vieregge May 07, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Great video, Kristin! Yep, we're cash buyers too. I've been driving my Honda Odyssey since January 2002 (that's over 10 years people!) with nary a car payment. Also, you can mark me down in the "Flexes are hideous" group. But, to each his own! I am hoping to downgrade to something really small and fuel efficient when my oldest goes to college next year. Maybe a VW Beetle or a Honda Accord?
Jessica Story May 10, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Thank you for coming out and test driving the Flex at Huntington Ford, we are so glad that you liked it!

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