by The Car Family

for more reviews go to http://www.motorists.org/carfamily/home/most-reliable-vehicles/

Holiday gift giving hails from Roman days when the Winter Solace was celebrated with an exchange of greenery and sweets. Over time this tradition has changed to reflect both religious overtones, friendship and to sway opinions. Regardless, it is a custom that has given us such classics as It’s a Wonderful Life and O Henry’s Gift of the Magi that reinforce the importance of being both frugal and caring. Which bring one to the question of which vehicle to purchase that share these noble traits. Two trendsetters fit the bill and they are from Ford. The duo we tested were the new Mercury Milan and the Ford Flex.

In the Milan, Mercury has developed a good sized sedan hybrid that easily betters 40 mpg. The reality is that the fuel frugal Milan hybrid can get you to downtown Los Angeles and back on a gallon of gas and you could even take along four of your friends. In other words, E pluribus unum. We aren’t just talking green here, we are talking forest green as this Mercury accelerators to just over 45 mph on electric power alone. That’s perfect for heavy beach going traffic. The instrumentation provides enough intrigue to keep even author Dan Brown researching the driver’s manual not to mention the 33 pounds of air in the tires. This Mercury comes with a SmartGauge and an EcoGuide that glows green the more tenderly you caress the accelerator and rewards you with animated leaves and branches (Not those types of leaves). There is also a radar based blind spot detection system that scans for oncoming vehicles as you back out from parking spaces. Other options include an upgraded stereo with real time traffic, a voice activated communications and entertainment package, moon roof, and eco-friendly cloth seating surfaces made from recycled materials.
Motivating this sedan is a combination of a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine and two electric motors that move the hybrid to 60 in well under nine seconds. Look for a bladder challenging driving range of over 600 miles and your only sacrifice is a smaller trunk and possible marital bliss. The Milan is that rare combination of good value and performance and its clever gauge display communicates with the driver, something that O Henry’s Jim and Delia Young would approve.

Ford Flex

With a comfortable ride, interior arrangement, and an abundance of safety equipment that includes most everything including a tire pressure monitoring systems and LED tail lights, the Mercury hybrid is an ideal family rig, but for those who need more space to haul the family tree or to separate the children there is the long and lean, seven passenger Ford Flex. With its slab-sided retro look, the Flex looks like nothing else on the road. If the appearance isn’t enough individuality, there are a mind boggling number of options you can order depending on the largess of your government owned bank. Buyers may treat the gentle giant Flex to such gifts as a Trailer Sway Control, an Active Park Assist system that uses radar that enables the Flex to park itself, all wheel drive, a six-speaker CD stereo with an auxiliary audio jack, a Microsoft-developed Sync multimedia interface, DVD entertainment system, touchscreen navigation, back-up camera, Sirius real-time traffic, and a rear-console refrigerator.

The Flex is powered by a standard 3.5-liter V6 with 262 horsepower or you can order the EcoBoost turbocharger engine and over stimulate your senses with its 355 horsepower while still maintaining the same gas mileage as the base engine, about 19 mpg in mixed driving. Driving the Flex would make Santa Claus jealous with its fairly large cargo hold, very quiet ride, and soft handling. The seats are comfortable, perhaps a little to cushy for some tushies, and visibility is excellent in all directions.

Family conference: Two excellent vehicles from a fast improving Ford Motor Company; the Milan is family sized and yet delivers fuel mileage nearly comparable to the much smaller Japanese hybrids. The Flex is relaxing to drive and refreshingly different from other large SUVs. And even if you don’t need the seven passenger capacity it never hurts to be prepared. As Annie said in It’s A Wonderful Life,I been savin’ this money for a divorce, if ever I got a husband.”

For a list of all vehicle websites go to http://www.reacheverychild.com/business/auto/index.html

Free version of Gift of the Magi: http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/22440

Free version of It’s a Wonderful Life: http://www.moviesfoundonline.com/its_a_wonderful_life.php

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