Let me begin by saying I don’t understand California residents. To be more specific, it seems like everyone in California does not work; they either surf and live in a van, or spend countless hours at brunch with no agenda on their day. I’m convinced nobody has a full time job in California.
Ok, now onto the wagon. FYI, all pictures of the car came straight from Turo’s website. I can’t take that good of photos.
Last time I took a trip to California with the friends, we Turo’d a soft top JK Wrangler. Perfect vehicle for the four of us to experience LA for the first time. This time, there was six of us. We needed something that would haul us, and our bags. We considered minivans, Expeditions, Suburbans, even a 15 seat Transit. All would be acceptable, but something didn’t stand out in those options (except the Transit, I am always down for a church van). That is until I came across the Flex. I always had interest in them. They looked great, looked huge inside, and was the cheapest rental rate out of all of them ($55).
I don’t think I will ever rent from another company besides Turo. With them, what you see is what you get. Theres no hidden fees, basic insurance is included (premium insurance is optional), you don’t have to pick from a lot, and some vehicles can be dropped off at any location. I’ve had some bad experiences reserving a “convertible” and getting a car with a sunroof. I’d say the only risk with Turo is hosts can set their own prices. We looked at renting a Widebody Hellcat for a day, but the rental was $400 for a minimum three days.
The Turo process at LAX is fairly simple. They instruct you to find a ride to a parking garage less than 3 miles away (they’ll reimburse the cost of the ride there up to $20). Once you get there, you give them your credentials, and they hand you a key. Every car in the valet lot comes pre-inspected with over 50 photos taken. You can inspect and take some yourself, which I did, but I did not see anything they didn’t see. A few things noted were a couple of scratches on the right hand side wheels, which undoubtedly came from curb rash. There was a 3 inch long crack on the side of the windshield. There were other minor dings and marks on the bumpers which did not phase me too much.
The dark gray over black roof and trim look amazing in this shape. I loved the character lines in the doors as a little throwback to the wagons of yesteryear. It sits fairly high with 6 inches of ground clearance. The roofline gives it a much lower appearance than its 68 inch actual height. The vehicle is long. Wheel base sits at 117" with an overall length of 202". In comparison, the Chevy Tahoe sits at about 116" wheel base with 204" length. That Tahoe starts at $50,000, Flex starts at $33,000.
The inside of the Flex is ginormous. Huge. I am a fairly bigger guy at about 6'2" 270lbs, and cant comfortably sit in any of these seats. I literally tried it too. I sat in every seat in the car for about 4-5 minutes each. My knees barely touched the second row seats when sitting in the third row. I highly recommend opting for the captains chairs. It makes getting into the third row a lot easier, and gives you floor space for groceries or bags. There is ample amount of headroom in every row as well.
The third row has the option for the head rests to come down. This is a nice little detail Ford added to help rear visibility when not in use.
The trunk was big enough to fit two suitcases and a carry-on bag in the back with the third row up. I wish i took a picture of it fully packed in. I was so impressed. The trunk floor being very deep was a huge factor in that. The rear seats also folded forward flat to give the Flex enough room for a surfboard or two.
I usually am not a fan of sunroofs, “skyroofs”, or any glass roofing. This one made me consider otherwise. The Vista Roof on the Flex looks awesome. Every row has an opening. It not only gives in natural light, but makes the whole vehicle seem open. It’s no Jeep Wrangler by far, but a very good compromise.
Interior features I liked included HVAC vents for every row, HVAC controls for the second row, and 110V AC and 12v accessory outlet in the second row. The Flex came with safety features like blind spot monitoring, rear camera, and rear collision detection. I found the blind spot monitoring and the ear camera to be very helpful, especially with a bigger car like this. The collision detection gave me more false alarms than actual alerts. In busy parking lots, the system would beep at just about anything.
The front console is set up very well. The dash is clean, and not over-cluttered. There was a navigation system included, but we defaulted to using our phones for any navigation. The map did show live traffic updates, as well as ETA’s to exit on the route. Hooking up a phone to the vehicle’s Bluetooth was as simple as it can be. The sound system did not sound cheap. This was one of my favorite features. I need a decent sound system in my car; especially when DD’ing a Transit Connect Cargo van with two door speakers.
The driver’s instrument cluster can be customized to certain displays. The left can show digital speed, “analog” tach, fuel economy, and a few others. Th right can show a compass, navigation details, phone details, or music details.
What threw me off, was the volume and seek buttons next to each other on the right hand of the steering wheel. Most hands-on controls I’ve seen separate the two controls. I found myself accidentally skipping a song intending to turn the volume up. The left side has the cruise control functions. the two directional pads on either side control the instrument clusters.
Another small headache I encountered was having one stalk on the column. I’m used to having the turn signal and brights on one end, and the wiper control on the other. I accidentally flashed a few drivers intending to use the wipers. Not a deal breaker, but something that bothered me.
The Flex rides like a firm SUV. It doesn’t have a lot of float like other SUV’s. It sits in a happy medium between a Cadillac CTS and a Chevy Traverse. Think of a Jeep Grand Cherokee in Sport mode. That’s be the best way to describe it. Speaking of Sport mode, the Flex has one. While in it, the throttle response is quicker, and it waits a little longer to shift. Other than that, there isn’t much difference compared to standard “D”.
This Flex unfortunately, did not come with the 365hp Ecoboost engine. It came with the naturally aspirated V6 giving it 287hp. For a Flex with all its seats occupied, it still had enough pull to satisfy. I never felt it struggle to get up to speed. In return, I yielded 24 MPG average for my trip. This was all done on regular gas, too.
The only car related thing we did on the trip was take a ride up the Coastal Highway. We started down in Long Beach, and headed north until we hit Malibu. This was a pleasant 20 mile round trip that did not hit as much traffic as expected. I wish I took more photos while on the highway, but I was driving.
We even stopped at the movie-famous Neptune’s Net. For those who don’t know, thats where Dom and Brian went and had some fresh seafood in The Fast and The Furious. Also where Johnny Utah first met the female protagonist and love interest in Point Break. They don’t really mention anything about being involved in those movies, which is a humbleness I can respect.
If you’re ever in the area, I recommend checking out Point Dume. It is a long bluff on the coast of Malibu that gives amazing views of the coast and the water. It’s a very short hike, about 10 minutes, up to the point. There’s a tide area where you can walk around, as well as the peak giving off some amazing views.
Awesome time overall. I gotta learn to take more pictures when I am traveling.
It’s a shame the Flex never got the praise it deserved. Critic reviews never knocked it, but never praised it as it should. When recommending the Flex to friends and family, they seemed turned off by the “boxy” look. This critique always bothered me; especially when my sister loathed the “boxy” look, then proceeded to buy a Suburban. The interior space blows most three row vehicles out of the water. If power is a factor, the Ecoboost Flex can hit 60 in 5.7 seconds. It has all the safety features one needs if that is your taste. In a world of cookie cutter appearances in crossover and SUV’s, the Flex stands out. I will be looking forward to picking up a certified pre-owned Ecoboost Flex in the not too distant future.
The whole reason for this trip was deeper than just a casual vacation. Two years to the day was when I met my girlfriend. We connected pretty solidly while talking on the Santa Monica Pier. So I took her to the place where it all began, and made the biggest decision of my life
SHE SAID YES!