Saturday, August 18, 2012

REVIEW: 2013 Ford Flex-Limited AWD

1919 Ford Model-T "Station Wagon"
The station wagon traces its origins to the use of special hackneys configured to carry passengers and luggage to and from rail depots—hence the name, “station” wagon.   

As early as 1919 the Ford Motor Company was working in partnership with the Stoughton Wagon Company in Wisconsin to outfit Model-T chasis with custom wagon bodies fabricated out of wood.  
By 1929 Ford was the biggest seller of station wagons, sustained by its own hardwood forest and mills to process the wooden components. 

1936 Ford "Woodie" Wagon
Wood-bodied station wagons were more expensive than standard sedans, and during the mid-30’s became something of a status symbol for the well-heeled to wheel around in. The introduction of mini-vans and higher gasoline spelled the end of station wagons’ popularity, although some models are still produced.  

Ford has created an intriguing, modern-day evolution of the A-B-C-D-pillar body design in the nerdishly-sexy Flex 6-passenger crossover vehicle.   

2013 Ford Flex Limited AWD
First introduced in 2009, based on the Fairlane design and sharing the same drive train as the Edge, Ford boasts “there’s nothing Mini or ordinary about the vehicle."
I’d have to agree.

I spent a week behind the wheel of a 2013 Flex AWD, featuring the 3.5-liter Eco-boost V-6, and I must say I was impressed. I liked the styling, I liked the roominess. 

My bride especially commented on how easy it is to get in and out of the Flex with its large door openings.  I like the way the vehicle drove—and must recommend the all-wheel drive configuration.

3.5L Eco-boost V6
The 3.5L V-6 Eco-boost engine is an impressive development, designed to provide as much torque as larger-displacement engines, with fuel efficiency that’s 20% better. The Flex I drove weighed-in at over 4,800 pounds, but the engine and 6-speed transmission, coupled with the all-wheel drive configuration, moved it around very well.

The Limited version of the Flex is packed with all the upgrades, and prices out at over $50k, but you can get into a Flex for under $30k. It’s bigger than a breadbox, but smaller than a van, and you won’t have to play parcel-Tetris in the Flex, with  over 83-cubic feet of space from the back of the front seats to the tailgate. 

My litmus test: can you get two road bikes in the back? 
(I hate carrying my bicycle on the outside of a vehicle; picking bugs and road grime out of a bike’s chain takes all the joy out of a trip.) 

Test passed; you can.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Radio Gypsies

People come and go at Radio stations. That’s just the nature of the business. We’re known as Radio Gypsies, mostly, and it’s rare to work at a place more than just a few years. I have been fortunate to work at one place for as long as ten years, but if I counted all the stations I ever worked at, the average stint has been about 2-1/2 years.

At my most-recent posting, News 92 Fm, we’ve already had three people exit since the station launched, less than a year ago. That's no big deal; it's not uncommon, and it doesn't necessarily make us a "revolving door." The most-recent to leave was the station wit, according to our News Director, which leaves us all wondering if we’ll be truly witless with the exit of Laurie Kendrick.

News92FM Class Clown Laurie Kendrick
Laurie was a spark plug, a powerhouse, a word wizard…and if we’d ever gone to school together, she would have most assuredly been the class clown. Laurie could take a mundane story, and with a few deft edits and some natural sound, turn it into an award-winning masterpiece. She could also tackle a topic no one else dared touch—like the recent inclusion of the “F-bomb” in the dictionary—and handle it with aplomb.

I remember the first time this air staff ever met as a group, at a mixer in a near-town loft, and Laurie came up to me to introduce her self. It was like we’d been old friends forever, even though we’d never worked together before. That was--and is--the beauty of this particular project, seeded from the beginning with a crew of seasoned veterans. We didn’t even consider that this venture wouldn’t work—we just set our minds to get it done.

Laurie exuded enthusiasm for the project from day-one, despite working in what some would consider untenable conditions: workstations for five, packed into a converted mailroom with limited space and even less air conditioning. Even on a “bad” morning, Laurie could break the thickness with a quip, a crack, or a punchline that would immediately break the tension.

She didn’t want us to make a big deal about her leaving—moving to take care of her aging mother in another city. But it is. She’s a saint for choosing to give up a sure thing here in return for the chance to enjoy time with her mom while she can. 

Either way she’s a saint. 
St. Laurie the Sarcastic. 
I’m going to miss her around here.