By on September 18, 2012
My wife and I are expecting our 4th child soon. We currently own (outright) a 2012 Odyssey in Touring Limited trim and we lease a 2010 Ford Flex Limited. Both cars are pretty great for carrying around our growing family. But the Flex is coming off lease in March next year and I’m wondering if I should keep it.
The Flex has been a good car; aside from a squeak in the dash that was fixed by the dealership, and a weird throttle control sensor problem that caused surging and power loss (again fixed by the dealership), it’s been fine. The Ecoboost V6 has tons of giddy up and its driving manners are excellent.
Since my wife and I can afford another lease in the premium/luxury segment, I’ve been trying to see what other 7 passenger cars we should consider. There are lots of SUVs with 5 seats in this space, but only a few 7 passenger models. Let’s assume that we don’t want another minivan in addition to our Odyssey. Our biggest requirements are
A) Good for getting kids into the third row
B) Quiet and composed on the highway
C) Reliable enough for a 3 year lease period
D) Interior and power appointments that are worth the price over the Flex. In that order, I guess.
Ideas? Thanks!
Steve Says:
You have already solved your problems. At least as it applies to cars.
The Flex is a great vehicle. Does the market offer a better one? Yes. But given your needs and the stiff five figure premium  you will likely pay by leasing (again)  over the long run, I would encourage you to make this car your keeper.
Then again, you can always ignore my advice and go for the gusto of another leased super-sized SUV that will swallow up your money like a drunken politician in a sea of blank checks.
If that’s the case, my sister-in-law drives a GMC Yukon. Either that or a Tahoe should hold six and a disgruntled relative perfectly well. I would keep the Flex but if shopping around for mobile living room sets is your thing, look at a Yukon.
Sajeev Says:
I doubt there’s a vehicle in this class that can’t handle points A, B and C. They are all good enough while leasing. But point D?  Oh boy.
Get another Flex, because you already like it.  How many premium branded CUVs have that much stuff?  Perhaps the cousin Lincoln MKT, but it’s rather hideous and has a dumb name.  The Flex is funky and cool, especially now with that “circuit board” looking fascia. Now it finally looks a bit more expensive…and worthy of abandoning that “Fairlane” name originally associated with this design.
You can “upsell” the new Flex to anyone.  So consider it done.
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43 Comments on “New or Used: The Mobile Living Room Edition...”


  • avatar

    “A) Good for getting kids into the third row
    B) Quiet and composed on the highway
    C) Reliable enough for a 3 year lease period
    D) Interior and power appointments that are worth the price over the Flex.”

    I met a guy yesterday who was interested in an EDGE and I tried to explain to him how much more he’d get out of the Dodge Journey. Compared to the Flex and the Edge, the Journey gives you the best of both.

    #1 great interior space.
    #2 great 2nd and 3rd row for kids and adults
    #3 great looks
    #4 powerful Pentastar V6
    #5 UNRIVALED technology package with the Uconnect 8.4n
    #6 Relatively low price – compared to the Ford products
    #7 excellent gas mileage

    #8 This crossover goes really, really well over potholes. It’s FANTASTIC on bad roads and you can easily nap in the back no matter how bad the roads get. I made a video demonstrating that Dodge Journey LOVES potholes! youtube(dot)com/watch?v=JH7XX9h-bCE

    • 0 avatar
      Mark MacInnis

      But you forgot the negative…

      #9 It’s a friggin’ low-rent, unreliable, prone-to-grenade-at-any-moment DODGE.

      • 0 avatar

        AND HOW MANY DID YOU OWN???

        My Chryslers haven’t given me a single problem.

        That’s why I’m gonna get another 300c SRT8.

      • 0 avatar
        naterator

        About three weeks ago we rented a 2012 Journey for a week while we were on vacation. Nicely upgraded interior from the predecessor. I liked the red instrumentation.

        But, I found it hard to believe that we couldn’t get gas mileage out of the mid-20s with a 4-cylinder. My XJ8 averaged 31.1MPG from Dallas to Mobile not too long ago.

        This Journey had 12,000 miles and the transmission was already slipping. And the steering was grinding. And a mysterious “bump” every so often that we never did figure out.

        So yeah, still not there. Which is a darn shame because I really want Chrysler to succeed.

      • 0 avatar
        geeber

        You bragged on a previous thread about never keeping vehicles beyond about 70,000 miles. No wonder your Chryslers haven’t given you any problems. You trade them before they can fall apart on you.

      • 0 avatar

        Geber

        Excellent observation.

        Proactive trading is the way to go.

    • 0 avatar
      N8iveVA

      Ah try being a little unbiased for once. Yes the Journey is a decent vehichle, but there’s nothing great about it. Start with #1. Space. The Journey is waaaay too narrow. and “3rd row for kids and adults”. Um hardly.

      • 0 avatar

        I disagree with you.
        It’s designed for teenaged kids.

        It’s more comfortable than a Flex even though it’s not as big as my Enclave.

        I call em like I see em.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        The wife and I looked at a ’12 Journey while shopping for a high-passenger vehicle. She normally goes for Crossovers like this but absolutely hated the style of it, much preferring a fully-loaded Mazda 5 GT. Reasons? The space inside the Journey is not easily accessible to kids vs. a minivan, the gas mileage with the four-pot is no where near what the 5 gets city or highway, the dash is an exercise in extremely bad design (she said it looked very close to my Dodge Shadow from the ’80s), it was not fun to drive, couldn’t get what we wanted in it with the smaller engine and most importantly, absolutely no one looked at it more than once. The Journey is a poor choice.

      • 0 avatar

        Dolorean

        OK – that opinion is fair enough.

        Doesn’t stop them from selling well though.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        With all due respect, I can’t see how anyone can look at the instrument panel of the refreshed Journey and think it looks like a 1980′s anything, much less a Shadow. Maybe I could understand the original Journey before they fixed it, but not the new one. Seriously – the Journey has a really well laid out dash covered in nice soft-touch materials.

        Having sat in both the Journey and Charger, I really like the choice of surface texture/graining in the Journey better than the Charger (the grain is too severe and it makes it look cheaper than it probably really is) although I admit I like the overall layout of the Charger dash a little bit more. Really, all of Dodge’s new interiors look very nice – the Durango in particular is a standout.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    Sienna. The top-trim practically defines mobile living room.

    Nothing without sliding doors offers easy access to the third row.

    That said, it might not hurt to get something smaller if only one of your two vehicles will do long-haul duty with the whole family, which opens up the arena to the Mazda5, Rondo or Orlando.

    And there’s the left-field choice: an off-lease R320 CDI.

  • avatar

    I’m not a Ford fan anymore. My Ford shares haven’t seen the $20/sh mark I was told they would. Their MKT is ok, but it’s nothing spectacular and overly gawdy.

    I currently have a 2011 Buick Enclave I’m trying to get rid of. It’s still on lease and it’s $670 a month.
    It had one side scrape incident which I had fixed through insurance.

    The car is fully loaded and I’m in NYC. Let me know if you’re interested!

    Nav, cooled seats, panoramic roof, less than 38k on the od.

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    I’d keep the Flex. You like it, it fits your needs, and it is unique. Not many 7 passenger vehicles have any kind of character to them.

  • avatar
    swilliams41

    Get another Flex, they are even better now and are soooo much nicer than the Explorer and bigger than the Edge Limited. The Dodge Durango Citidel is nice too. That would be another consideration for me. Nice interiors all and you can get the HEMI in the Dodge, if you want eco-boost like go power. The Flex truly is an underrated gem. BTW, I had a Journey as a rental, it far exceeded my admittedly low expectations. Nice chasis and decent interior, (in black anyway).

  • avatar
    mr_muttonchops

    I’d stick with a Flex. You like it, you know it works, and the facelift does a really nice job of giving it a premium look to match it’s high price. It’s also about as close as you’ll get to a big wagon, and you KNOW some one is going to bitch about lack of wagons in this post. Just getting that out of the way.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      My wife drives a 2007 Durango. I drive a 1995 Taurus wagon.

      Both are very quiet, and isolate you well from outside and road noise. The back seat of the Durango and the jump seat of the Taurus are really only suitable for children, and only for trips under a couple of hours; my boys can tell you a seven hour drive on those third seats are not comfortable at all; though the Durango is probably the better of the two.

      I love the roof rack on both; though loading the roof rack on the Durango without a step ladder is taking your life in your hands, as you stand on the rear bumper, holding on for dear life with one hand while lifting suitcases with the other. The Taurus can be loaded with both hands from the ground.

      The Durango feels safe on the road due to it’s large size. But, it is not fun commuting in traffic with; side visibility is not good, and it is not as sure footed on bumpy roads. It feels at times like you are herding cats.

      The Taurus on the other hand has excellent visibility, and is sure footed. It feels more like a NASCAR racer on the road; though I try to take it easy on it’s aging bones; and it’s Vulcan 3.0L reminds me that it does not have the V-8s found in a NASCAR racer.

      We love them both; and my wife continues to recieve offers from dealers to buy the Durango back for more than the remaining balance on the loan; apparently they are in high demand as used cars. But no selling it; it has been a good vehicle, and is holding up well.

      The Taurus is still averaging 26-27 MPG on the highway versus roughly 20-21 for the Durango. So, the Taurus is still my daily driver on my 120 mile round trip commute every day.

      Having lived with a wagon and an SUV side-by-side, I can really see the advantages for each. But yes, all you can get nowdays is an SUV. Such is life.

  • avatar
    blarfmarfle

    Thanks for answering my question, guys!

    Since I sent this email to Sajeev, I have been looking at different 7 passenger SUVs, and most of them are terrible for getting kids into the 3rd row. The last two vehicles I’m going to look at are the Volvo XC90 and the Infiniti JX35. The Volvo has integrated booster seats, which would be very handy, and the JX35 has a middle row that allows you to slide the seats while there are child seats installed. Anyone have practical experience with either of these?

    On the whole, we’re happy with the Flex, so in the end we’ll probably take your advice.

    • 0 avatar
      gessvt

      Glad to hear that you are considering keeping the Flex, a vehicle that I wish my wife would warm up to.

      Historically, Ford leases were written so that the lease-end purchase price was sky high compared to actual retail value, and most lease cars went to auction as a result. Has this changed recently?

      • 0 avatar

        I checked about a year ago, and nope: Inflated Residuals FTW.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I remember Avis Ford in the late 90s earl 00s with a lot full of just off lease Tauruses/Sables in various trims both sedans and wagons. Roughly 30,000+ miles and darn good deals. Too bad my budget only allowed for a used Escort wagon. I would have thought I was big pimpin with a loaded Sable wagon.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        My neighbor down the street owns an ’11 Flex Limited Black on black. You’d think it be gorgeous and I’m sure its as luxorious as a limo in there. However, I get the shivers looking at its funerial livery and can’t get past how much it looks like a new age hearse.

    • 0 avatar
      TTACFanatic

      My friends have a JX35 so I don’t deal with it everyday but have been in it enough to have “practical experience”. The first thing I will say is that if you like the JX35 and can wait a month get the new Nissan Pathfinder. They are the same damn car and you will likely save at least $10,000.

      The sliding seats work well and give enough space for me to get out of the back seat … its not pretty or elegant but I can get out. The cargo area behind the 3rd row is small but the 3rd row is split folding. My friends have two stroller aged kids which means they have a massive double stroller, it can fit with both sides of the 3rd row up but it is extremely tight, so half the 3rd row is almost always down.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    Without being specific because I lack the product knowledge, when I was a young guy an old guy gave me some good advice. Unless something is in the process of cratering, you are better off keeping what you have than buying a new set of problems. You sound happy but just shopping around. I think you are better off keeping what you have.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Flex all the way, unique vehicle that you like. Why not keep?

    What else you gonna do? Buy a conversion van? That is truly a living room on wheels but certainly will not handle as well as the flex or get as good of fuel economy.

  • avatar

    Anybody wanna take over a 2011 Enclave lease at $670 a month with 2 years left?

    Fully loaded/ perfect condition!

    Now that I got the XJ-L we simply don’t want or need it.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    Why not a Pilot? Depending on where you live, a little extra ground clearance might be nice if you take it camping/fishing. Flex is definitely a great vehicle though, only had 1 as a rental…but it cruised from Billings to Minneapolis, and down to Brookings, in awesome comfort.

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    At one point in my life, I had 3 kids at home and, of course, owned a mini-van. But, for the life of me, I can’t understand why you would want to own two of them — or the equivalent-sized vehicle — at once. So, recognizing the “out-of-the-box” nature of my suggestion, I suggest a nice sedan for the same $$ that would comfortably hold you, your wife and two of your kids.

    I think the Flex is kind of cool and, in a world of lookalikes, it’s pretty different. So, the prudent choice is to keep what you got.

    But, honestly, if you want easy access to 3 rows of seats, a mini-van with sliding doors is the only game in town.

    • 0 avatar
      Astigmatism

      Yeah, I was a bit stunned that he wanted another kid-hauler to go alongside the designated kid-hauler. If you trade off child-hauling duties with your wife, trade off cars as well, and let the free parent drive around in a leased 3er (considering what you’re paying for the Flex). No reason you both should have to suffer all the time.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      This. I like the Flex, but why a family of 4 needs 2 trucksters is beyond me. When I was a kid, our family of 5 had a Suburban and a Pinto, worked out fine. Course, there’s better choices than a Pinto for your runabout, and it sounds like the poster can readily afford them. Get something fun-ish practical…Audi wagon?

  • avatar
    USAFMech

    Great timing. We just went through this scenario two weeks ago. There are only a couple of viable options for us. Our story is three kids and 15+ hour road trips a few times a year. She is a homemaker, so mileage was not a concern.

    If you want to be able to utilize all three rows, with a middle walk through (captains) so that they can get themselves in/out, and still have luggage (and strollers, and groceries, and sports equipment, and, and) behind the third row, the only options are the full size SUV’s and minivans. In full size SUV’s, America still rules the roost for me (U-S-A! U-S-A! etc.) Since mileage isn’t a big concern, we could afford to be selfish and not get a minivan.

    We looked at everything my wife didn’t find too ugly (Sorry M-B R350 diesel and Sprinter). That includes Flex, Durango, Enclave (beauty, that), Acadia (and siblings), Expedition (I’m off Fords. Again.), etc.

    We went with an older, but low mileage, Suburban. It’s slightly less complicated than a hammer, but big enough to deserve a USS designation.

  • avatar
    PaulVincent

    Yup! Flex.

  • avatar
    Neumahn

    I’d go for an Explorer

  • avatar
    ajla

    Ford Econoline conversion van.

  • avatar
    mjal

    Funny how the Flex is so beloved on this site, but women simply think the truck is hideous. Big mistake by Ford for a vehicle that is designed for family use but if the wife hates the styling it’s a no-go.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I agree with you in principle but every van and CUV in America is aimed at women and styled for their tastes, kudos to Ford for daring to be different.

    • 0 avatar
      Slab

      My sister drives a Flex, and bought it because it was the only 7 passenger vehicle in her price range that didn’t look like a Mom-mobile. She previously drove the Scion xB (both iterations), so she likes her cars boxy.

      Where I live (Las Vegas), the Flex is very popular. I find it odd that other parts of the country aren’t as Flex-crazy as we are.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    Only one option.

    Chevy Suburban LT or LTZ with second row bench seat.

    It has low range 4×4
    Good millage
    rock solid 5.3L and 6-speed.
    Useable third row with simultaneously useable cargo space

  • avatar
    86SN2001

    The Flex and Lincoln Flex are both fairly mediocre vehicles. There are far better out there for the money. YOu can get a far more capable Chevy Tahow, with proper RWD and a proper V8, actual off road capability, a reliable 4WD system, and the ability to tow something bigger than a waverunner and you will still see mileage on par with the Flex and Lincoln Flex.

    Whatever you do, stay FAR away from the 2011+ Explorer. The steering on those vehicles stops working whenever it feels like and can result in a horrific accident. As is to be expected, Ford is ignoring the problem.

    http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=320445

  • avatar
    AvgGuy45

    We just finished comparing many of these vehicles. Criteria were similar, but I really couldn’t care less about navigation, leather, etc. (uh…hello…why pay for all those gadgets that are tied to your care when you have a Smart Phone!) I wanted a vehicle with a comfortable ride, seats seven (or 8), decent ground clearance, quiet inside and versatile. I also didn’t want to get much above $30K (which is surprisingly hard to do). I travel often, usually for about 4-5 days at a time. So, over the past year I’ve rented every one of these vehicles (obviously I didn’t go for the luxury brands). I often thought that someday I’d show up at a rental counter and they’d have a “wanted-look out for this frequent vehicle changer” poster up with my picture because I’d often return a vehicle after a few days claiming the check engine light was on-just so I could switch to a different make/model and include a differnt one in my “extended test drive” experience! I also read like, a million reviews for each of them. I drove my wife crazy for over a year. The Dodge was my leading candidate due to price, family friendly features, Pentastar engine and the fact that I only occasionally needed the 7 passenger seating (I have 4 kids). Alas, I found the Dodge a bit too tight in the second row and way too tight in the third. The ride in the back seat was kind of jittery, like my truck which my wife and kids really didn’t like. Honda Pilot was too trucky, same goes for Dodge Durango (which I loved the styling of). I even tried Mitsubishi Outlander which was very noisy inside and not as large as I’d thought. Many vehicles I ruled out due to the stiff ride or road noise. Kia Sportage was too stiff. Toyota Highlander was very nice, and came in 3rd, but was not as nice a ride as the two front runners. Ironically, I just got rid of a Toyota Sienna. After 70K miles it was having all kinds of reliability problems with faulty radio, A/C, brakes and the final straw at 65K miles, was the transmission. So much for Toyota reliability. That van was having all the same sort of problems as my prior three Chrysler/Plymouth vans…just about 10K miles earler. The Flex was the very last vehicle I drove/rented. I was really not keen on the outside styling. And then I drove it. This is the perfect family vehicle. I am baffled that Ford doesn’t sell more. They are highly rated by the Consumer’s Group (assuming you buy into their reliability ratings -of course, I put my faith in True Delta! (nicely done Michael Karesh!). It is Fabulous and since I live in the South, I bought the 2WD version keeping me under the $30K target. Like I said, I’ve driven them all, for days at a time and I’ve found faults with all of them. BTW…The Chevy Traverse was my second place finisher. I thought it had the best ride and the best engine, but it just seemed so much larger than the Flex. Also, my younger kids had more trouble climbing in. For the gent that said the Dodge had a decent 2nd row seat. I really can’t see how that is possible. You really have to sit in the 2nd row of the Flex to appreciate how spacious it is. Anyone else out there have the same type of experience?

    • 0 avatar
      ShoogyBee

      @AvgGuy45 – What year was your Sienna? Just wondering, my uncle has a 2005′ish Sienna and its transmission failed at 78K miles. He never towed with the Sienna, but it was driven in central Florida year-round, which is probably tough on the powertrain. Nevertheless, I was very surprised, to day the least.

      • 0 avatar
        AvgGuy45

        ShoogyBee…that is interesting. Yes, mine was a 2005 also. We never towed, lived in Northern Va (which translates to mild winters, no road salt, suburban drving). We were equally surprised. It would often hesitate between 2nd and 3rd gears-often right after a sharp turn. Odd, right? We had it rebuilt once for a ton of money. It still had issues after that so we sold it within a year. As I’d said…thought the Traverse or Acadia were the ones we’d replace it with, but after driving the Flex we knew it met all our needs perfectly.

  • avatar
    bkmurph

    I’d keep the current Flex or get another Flex. But if your eye is wandering toward something different, you might consider the GMC Acadia or one of its platform twins. My uncle (one of two parents in a blended family with six kids) seems to like his Acadia Denali quite a bit, despite the tacky ground effects. It’s big enough for the whole family, fast enough for his lead foot, and classy enough for his moneyed environs. But hurry and get a 2012 model before the ugly 2013s displace them from dealer lots.


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