Does Today's Dad Need More Power?


Over the last few weeks, I was able to get into two crossovers with upgraded engines. While both offered more horsepower, I wasn’t completely floored by either, and it begs the question of whether they’re worth the additional cost compared to their basic offerings.
Ford Flex EcoBoost
The Flex has become one of my family’s favorite crossovers, winning our vacation challenge in summer 2008 for its combination of comfort, roominess and technological toys. Last week, I drove the 2010 Flex with the EcoBoost engine, a twin-turbo blast from Ford that’s supposed to offer V-8 performance with V-6 mpg. Well, Ford has it half right.


The EcoBoost Flex’s performance was beyond impressive. Driving the V-6 with all-wheel drive on vacation last year, I found the acceleration to be OK; it was more than enough to get on a freeway or to pass but nothing remarkable. The EcoBoost engine, though, was completely remarkable; my 12-year-old let out an audible gasp the first time I floored it with him in the front passenger seat. He asked repeatedly for me to show that power off anytime someone new got into the car with us.

The downside: I was impressed with the all-wheel-drive Flex’s fuel economy last summer when we averaged nearly 22 mpg in a car with five people and enough luggage for all of them over hundreds of miles. Unfortunately, in the EcoBoost I averaged only around 17 mpg, which is about 20 percent worse than the all-wheel-drive V-6, despite the identical EPA ratings for both engines.
Cost: The EcoBoost engine adds about $3,000 to the price of the Flex, and while the acceleration was exhilarating, it ain’t three-grand exhilarating.

V-6 Chevrolet Equinox
I was impressed by Chevy’s new Equinox, from the styling to the high-quality interior (especially its iPod integration) to the gas mileage. In the four-cylinder version, I averaged upwards of 30 mpg. It wasn’t going to win any drag races, but for my family purposes, it had what I needed: plenty of space and great mileage.


The V-6 is just a $1,500 upgrade, but I’d sooner stick with the four-cylinder version.

The steering in the V-6 is hydraulic, while in the four-cylinder it’s electronic. That made the steering wheel seem a lot heavier when teamed to the V-6. In addition, takeoffs were slow and rumbly because of the way the accelerator is tuned,. In a mix of city and suburban driving, I averaged only around 17 mpg. Once I was able to open it up on the highway, I managed to drive the mpgs all the way up to 25 mpg. That was pretty impressive, but all things considered, I’d pass on the extra power and pad my pocketbook instead.





Averaging 30 mpgs in something the size of the equinox still blows my mind.
Sounds like gm should have a hit on their hands if people give 'em a chance and do some comparison shopping.


It doesn't blow my mind. Crossovers are still CARS. Not trucks or SUV's. So they make the doors and roof higher to make it look like an SUV or truck. Well they still aren't!


I've lived on both the East and West Coast and have to say I've never noticed any type of allegiance toward Domestic Cars by people. They were always a last resort or a car they'd give their first time driver child - no matter what the car - Charger, Camaro, etc ... On the coast (currently reside in the East) most people don't even consider an American car, unless they are over 60 and/or a retired Domestic Auto employee or family of one. The Equinox with a decent 4 cylinder sounds like it WOULD HAVE BEEN a big hit for GM ... had GM not engineered and sold it 10 years after the CRV and RAV4 and 5 years after the Murano. Then there is the 3 decade-long grave GM dug for themselves by throwing a bunch of junk out in the market and just expecting people to buy it because it's American and because it supports American Auto workers. Even the rent-a-car companies are now buying Nissan and Toyota and a lot less of Chrysler and GM. You know you are building redundant junk when a rent-a-car company starts diversifying away from you. I realize there are far more Auto-dependencies linked to people's livlihood in the Mid-Western states than the coastal stats, but there is far more population on the East and West coasts and that is GM's bread and butter - or supposed to be. GM will need another 2 or 3 decades to repair the damage they've caused themselves among most Americans. Not a load of crap like "Perception Gaps" (whatever that's supposed to be). And these coming decades will need to be lined with every single vehicle being a smash-hit. Good luck there ...

eegads Rick are you here just to stir up trouble?

OS and everyone else please don't respond.

For the record GM, Ford and Chrysler sell plenty on the coasts. You're speaking in absolutes that don't exist.

The Nissan Murano doesn't come with a 4 cylinder.

GM and Chrysler have largely STOPPED selling fleet cars to rental agencies. That's why you don't see them anymore. That's also why rental car fees are going up! It's a well reported story.

Now please, stay on topic.


Based on your reasoning, ALL crossovers ever made can average 30 mpg...



I don't see anywhere that I said or even implied that all cars/crossovers get over 30mpg.

I only said it's not that big of a deal that a car can get over 30mpg. You are treating them like big SUV's or trucks.


I'm just giving credit where credit is due.

It's not a car. Yeah it's unibody like a car, but that's about it. It weighs as much as a truck and has the aerodynamics of a minivan.

I personally think this reported real world mileage is impressive (compared to every other similar vehicle on the market right now). If you don't, that's fine by me.

Most engines get higher than their EPA numbers on the highway. Well, if you're not keeping up the flow of traffic nowadays (i.e., 85+). Drive a little more conservatively, (<70) and it'd be easily attainable, at least in my experience.


I am sure repeatedly flooring the Ecoboost engine had something to do with it registering worse mileage.


The first picture reminded me of how unattractive this and the Malibu are. At least Chevy did a better job with the rear of this one than they did with the Malibu. I wish Chevy would stop it with the two tone interiors as they look cheap. That's the only thing really stopping me from buying the GMC version.


As harsh as Ricks post is accused of being, he does bring up some valid points. Government Motors has a perception problem to contend with and it will take a very long time to correct that if it is even possible.

Taking 50 billion in TARP money has ticked off a lot of people, including myself. Especially when it has already been reported that we won't see that money payed back.


They still weigh more than a car. Here are some stats comparing my last car (2005 4cyl altima) with the new one (2008 Vue greenline)

Weight Altima - 3041
Weight Vue - 3789
Difference - +24%
Equinox is even 100+ lbs more than this

Average MPG for me Altima - 24.8
Average MPG VUE - 30.1
Difference - +25%

I'd say 25% better fuel economy for something that is 24% heavier is a pretty good improvement.

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