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Fear not the Ford Flex

Ford's new super-sized crossover's not too bad on gas, but it's great on space.

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A sizable achievement
As I drove a 2009 Flex on a family trip, one comment I heard over and over was "That thing must suck gas like crazy!"

Unfortunately, the Flex's design emphasizes, and even exaggerates, its size. When plans for the Flex were first being laid down, that might have seemed like a good idea. But these days, it might just scare customers away from what is, really, an excellent alternative to the typical minivan. It's a big box designed to carry a lot of people and stuff and it more than looks the part

While the Flex looks enormous in person it's really no longer than the old Freestar minivan it essentially replaces. Its fuel economy, too, is about the same as minivans like the Honda Odyssey and Chrysler Town & Country.

For those looking at SUVs, someone who buys a Flex instead of a full-sized SUV like the Ford Expedition, for instance, could save almost $1,200 a year in gasoline while having even more room for back-seat passengers to stretch out in. They also get to enjoy a much cooler-looking box-on-wheels.

NEXT: Space race
Last updated July 16 2008: 1:36 PM ET
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