Ask Gotryke: Searching for a Seven Seater
What’s the perfect car? Well, that depends. On where you live. How you drive. Where you drive. What you like. On your style. On your budget. On leasing and buying. On who you are.
For our readers, confused by car buying. We have advice for you, personalized and customized. Our gift to you:
Hi Tamara — I was searching for info on the Ford Flex when I came upon your blog with a pic on my old buddy Lee with a Flex he painted. So I contacted him to find out what he thought of the car. He suggested I get in touch with you. I had no idea you wrote about cars!
Anyway, I have two kids and a dog and need a 7 passenger car mostly for traveling upstate — about 2 1/2 hours. The Highlander doesn’t do it for me. The Mazda CX-7 isn’t roomy enough inside though it appears to be a great value for the price. Do you think the Flex is worthy of the $37k or so it’ll cost? Would it be better to lease? Still haven’t tested the Pilot which would work too.
All the best,
My thoughts on the Ford Flex:
The Ford Flex is one of the best kept secrets on the market. It has not sold as well as Ford expected, but I think this is a question of timing and polarizing design. I’ve driven several different Flex models, and my fondness for the vehicle grows based on it’s functionality. Everyone I know who has one seems to be quite satisfied. Fuel economy is pretty impressive for the size of the vehicle. It’s seen it’s biggest success in the “urban market” which is how they’ve angled advertising now.
The interior is, hands down, best in class. Interior is extremely important because this is where you’ll spend most of your time, particularly in a family that uses the entire vehicle for day trips. Lee worked with the interior designer Anthony Prozzi on the art car, and we had several conversations about his process. Prozzi is a newcomer to cars, who comes from a strong New York fashion background and it shows in the Flex aesthetics. The rear swinging doors make it easy to get pets in and suitcases.
If you’re into technology, I believe Ford has more tech-stuff as standard options like Sync and stuff and is generally ahead of the curve, due to a first dibs partnership with Microsoft. Mazda, which is owned by the Blue Oval, shares a lot of technology with Ford, so there may be some cross section here.
Flex DNA is also present in the new Lincoln MKT, which is also earning solid reviews. As a juror on Active Lifestyle Vehicles, we just voted the MKT 2009 SUV of the year in the Active Lifestyle Awards. Lincoln is more pricey since it is in the luxe class, and more refined and not funky like Flex. Ride feels similar to me. There are some people who don’t love the steering, but I’m partial to it.
On pricing/ leasing:
I’m not a fan of leasing if you can help it — unless you really don’t plan on driving much to make it worth it. Buying a newish-used car is generally the best bargain, since new cars lose value fast. The Flex has better quality now (they’re neck and neck with Toyota) which is one factor that impacts residual value. The base MSRP on Flex is 28.5k — I’m assuming you’re saying 37k based on options, yes?
On the other vehicles you mention:
On Mazda, I’m guess you mean the CX-9, which is the 7 seater. CX-7 seats only 5.The CX-9 and Flex are roughly the same price; it comes down to pricing it out with the options that are important to you. The Pilot is decent, but kind of banal. Check edmunds.com or kbb.com to get a sense of what you’re getting with each and you can compare them.
Hope this is helpful. Let me know if you have more questions.