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The Times
  • Talking Cars: How Flex-ible can a car be?

  • What can you tell me about the Ford Flex? We are thinking about buying one. We need a vehicle that will hold six persons and get good gas mileage, and we do not want a minivan.

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  • QUESTION: What can you tell me about the Ford Flex? We are thinking about buying one. We need a vehicle that will hold six persons and get good gas mileage, and we do not want a minivan.
    ANSWER: The Ford Flex will carry up to seven. I spent a week in a 2013 Flex AWD 3.5 V/6. A couple of weeks ago we used the Flex to go to dinner with two other couples. If you want to complain about anything, it would be getting into the last row seating. The Flex is like a Mini Cooper on steroids. There is no question that Ford has done a great job on not just this vehicle, but all the vehicles that they are building. Gas mileage 17 city 23 highway. Your mileage will vary depending on how you drive. The car has plenty of power, suspension is tight and no noises or body twisting over broken pavement. Base price $35,000 as tested; with optional equipment $39,900.
     
    QUESTION: I was talking with a coworker this week about buying a new Scion FR-S and he said it has a Subaru four-cylinder engine. I asked him if he was from another planet? He said check for myself and I did and he is correct. What are the people at Toyota thinking? Have you ever driven one?
    ANSWER: Welcome to the world of global car making. I spent a few days in a 2013 Scion automatic rear drive only (at this time) vehicle. It does not sound or feel like a Subaru. The power from the Subaru 2.0 liter 200 horsepower four-cylinder engine is surprising, as is the red line at 7,000 RPM. The guys at the shop were also surprised when they opened the hood and saw the Subaru name on the plastic engine cover. The car is a great small rear-drive sports car. The teaming up with Subaru is not new, with Scion, aka Toyota, being a stockholder, and it makes sense for bringing a low-cost car to market. If you look back, Saab also had a Subaru-power vehicle. With the retail cost of $25,300 for the automatic and $24,200 for the six-speed, no options except special paint $200. The car has firm two color seating and a firm suspension, and was a fun and economical 25 city 34 highway MPGs. Fit and finish is what you would expect from the Scion brand, perfect. I would guess a turbo and all wheel drive are in the making.
     
    QUESTION: My wife and I owned an Audi back in the early 1990s, and it was very troublesome. She saw a friend’s Q5 SUV and liked the look and the size. My question: Has the quality improved over the years?
    ANSWER: Back in the day there were lots of problems with a variety of manufacturers. None were exempt from them. Audi, like all manufacturers, has improved and also changed the vehicles to complement American drivers and driver needs. The 2012 Q5 3.2 V/6 is a SUV still built in Germany, engine built in Hungary and transmission in Germany. Our test car base price was $43,000, optional equipment includes Moon light blue paint $475, Nav package voice control, etc., $3,000, and upgrade sound system $850, destination $875. What’s it like to drive this $48,000 SUV? The SUV seats four with comfort, entry and exit is easy. Ride and handling is more car than SUV. The glass roof is almost the entire roof with a perforated sunscreen. Have your wife take a test drive and ask the dealer if you can take it overnight. Most dealers will allow this to make sure this is the vehicle you want. My wife and three girlfriends took it to the Cape for lunch and all were impressed with the Audi. She said it was easy to drive and no blind spots. I was sorry to see our test one go, but there were others waiting to drive it.
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    Junior Damato writes regularly about cars. You can send questions to him care of the Old Colony Memorial, 182 Standish Ave., Plymouth, MA 02360.
     
     
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