Suburban Dad: 2010 Ford Flex EcoBoost Gas Mileage

The Flex performed pretty well on our cross country move, given that we had two adults and a car full of cargo. Its EPA rating is 16/22 mpg city/highway. The 2011 Flex EcoBoost is rated at 16/21 mpg for some reason. We traveled a total of 2,024 miles over four days. Here’s how each day broke down:

Day 1
  • Distance: 550.7 miles
  • Travel time: 10 hours
  • Terrain: Combination of flat desert roads and crossing the San Bernardino Mountains, and beginning to climb into the Rockies in Utah.
  • MPG: 22.8
  • Notes: Our mileage was likely affected to some extent by trying to keep two cars together on the journey. Still, the Flex’s cruise control worked terrifically, and the steering-wheel controls made slowing down and speeding up easy, not nerve-wracking.

Day 2
  • Distance: 485 miles
  • Travel time: 10 hours
  • Terrain: Mountains all the time, with some quiet stretches of valleys between peaks.
  • MPG: 23.2
  • Notes: I was astonished at how the Flex’s engine handled the climbs through the mountains. Never once did we lag far behind, no matter how steep the incline. Of course, the mileage on this leg was helped a great deal by the steep drop-offs, which didn’t tax the engine at all. This was the best mileage day by far. We were challenged by rain that came and went quickly, often leaving us battling the bright reflection of sunlight from brand-new puddles.

Day 3
  • Distance: 545.5 miles
  • Travel time: 9 hours
  • Terrain: Flat, boring and smelly.
  • MPG: 21.5
  • Notes: It’s amazing how much 40-mph gusts can cost you in gas mileage. We struggled to keep the Flex in its lane. It’s a big target on the road, although the Prius we were driving along with even got pushed around.

Day 4
  • Distance: 443 miles
  • Travel time: 8 hours
  • Terrain: Flat, but greener. Iowa was a welcome break after Nebraska. (Who could have imagined I’d ever compliment Iowa’s countryside?)
  • MPG: 22.8
  • Notes: This was the easiest driving day of all, with no mountains, no winds, no other troubles.

  • Miles: 2,024.2
  • MPG (cumulative): 22.7
  • Travel time: 37 hours
  • Highest gas price seen: $3.29 in Santa Monica, Calif.
  • Lowest gas price seen: $2.61 in Littleton, Colo.
  • Highest temp recorded: 112 degrees in Death Valley, Calif.
  • Lowest temp recorded: 61 degrees in Vail, Colo.

Final thoughts:
The new Flex with the EcoBoost engine got 1.1 mpg better than the one we drove in 2008. That would have saved me $12 on this trip, and the engine is a $3,500 premium. The EcoBoost puts out a healthy 355 horsepower compared with 262 hp in the base engine, though, which is a huge bump.

The difference in performance more than makes up for the higher price. It’s no longer a stately family transport; it’s now more of the kind of car drivers actually want: responsive, road-clinging while still comfortable over the long haul.

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