New or Used: The Mobile Living Room Edition

Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
by Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang

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 areA) Good for getting kids into the third rowB) Quiet and composed on the highwayC) Reliable enough for a 3 year lease periodD) 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.

Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang
Sajeev Mehta and Steve Lang

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  • AvgGuy45 AvgGuy45 on Sep 18, 2012

    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?

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    • AvgGuy45 AvgGuy45 on Sep 19, 2012

      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.

  • Bkmurph Bkmurph on Sep 19, 2012

    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.

  • Grant P Farrell Oh no the dealership kept the car for hours on two occasions before giving me a loaner for two months while they supposedly replaced the ECU. I hate cords so I've only connected it wirelessly. Next I'm gonna try using the usb-c in the center console and leaving the phone plugged in in there, not as convenient but it might lower my blood pressure.
  • Jeff Tiny electrical parts are ruining today's cars! What can they ...
  • CEastwood From zero there is nowhere to go but up . BYD isn't sold in the U.S. and most Teslas are ugly azz 90s looking plain jane drone mobiles . I've only seen one Rivian on the road and it 's not looking good for them . I live out in the sticks of NW NJ and EVs just aren't practical here , but the local drag strip thrives in the warmer months with most cars making the trip from New York .
  • Lorenzo Aw, that's just the base price. Toyota dealers aren't in the same class as BMW/Porsche upsellers, and the Toyota base is more complete, but nobody will be driving that model off the lot at that price.
  • Mike The cost if our busing program is 6.2 million for our average size district in NJ. It was 3.5 last year.
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