Greene Ford Compares 2010 Ford Flex VS 2010 Toyota Highlander Near Buford, GA

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2010 Ford Flex

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2010 Toyota Highlander

Safety Comparison

The Flex offers optional SYNC, which uses a global positioning satellite (GPS) receiver and a cellular system to get driving directions or send emergency personnel to the scene if any airbags deploy. The Highlander doesn’t offer a GPS response system, only a navigation computer with no live response for emergencies.

Both the Flex and the Highlander have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, front-wheel drive, height-adjustable front shoulder belts, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding and available all-wheel drive.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does 35 MPH front crash tests on new vehicles. In this test, results indicate that the Ford Flex is safer than the Highlander:





5 Stars

5 Stars

Head Injury Index





5 Stars

4 Stars

Head Injury Index



Chest forces

36 g’s

44 g’s

More stars indicate a better overall result. Lower numbers indicate better individual test results.

Warranty Comparison

The Flex comes with free roadside assistance for 5 years 60,000 miles. Ford will send help if you run out of gas, need a jump start, lock your keys in or need any assistance on the road. Toyota doesn’t give free roadside assistance for the Highlander.

There are over 3 times as many Ford dealers as there are Toyota dealers, which makes it much easier to get service under the Flex’s warranty.

Reliability Comparison

The camshafts in the Flex’s engine are driven by a hardened steel chain, with no maintenance needs. The Highlander Hybrid 3.3 DOHC V6 hybrid’s camshafts are driven by a rubber belt that eventually needs to be replaced. If the Highlander’s cam drive belt breaks the engine could be severely damaged when the pistons hit the opened valves.

The Flex has a standard “limp home system” to keep drivers from being stranded if most or all of the engine’s coolant is lost. The engine will run on only half of its cylinders at a time, reduce its power and light a warning lamp on the dashboard so the driver can get to a service station for repairs. The Highlander doesn’t offer a lost coolant limp home mode, so a coolant leak could strand you or seriously damage the truck’s engine.

Engine Comparison

The Flex has more powerful engines than the Highlander:



Flex 3.5 DOHC V6

262 HP

248 lbs.-ft.

Flex SEL/Limited 3.5 turbo V6

355 HP

350 lbs.-ft.

Highlander 2.7 DOHC 4 cyl.

187 HP

186 lbs.-ft.

Highlander 3.5 DOHC V6

270 HP

248 lbs.-ft.

Highlander Hybrid 3.3 DOHC V6 hybrid

270 HP

372 lbs.-ft.

Fuel Economy and Range Comparison

The Flex has a standard capless fueling system. The fuel filler is automatically opened when the fuel nozzle is inserted and automatically closed when it’s removed. This eliminates the need to unscrew and replace the cap and it reduces fuel evaporation that causes pollution. The Highlander doesn’t offer a capless fueling system.

Brakes and Stopping Comparison

The Flex’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the Highlander are solid, not vented.

Tires and Wheels Comparison

For better traction, the Flex SEL/Limited’s optional tires are larger than the largest tires available on the Highlander (255/45R20 vs. 245/65R17).

The Flex’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 60 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the Highlander’s standard 65 series tires. The Flex SEL/Limited’s optional tires have a lower 45 series profile than the Highlander’s optional 55 series tires.

For better ride, handling and brake cooling the Flex has standard 18-inch wheels. Smaller 17-inch wheels are standard on the Highlander. The Flex SEL/Limited’s optional 20-inch wheels are larger than the 19-inch wheels optional on the Highlander.

Suspension and Handling Comparison

The Flex has standard front and rear gas-charged shocks for better control over choppy roads. The Highlander’s suspension doesn’t offer gas-charged shocks.

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the Flex’s wheelbase is 8.1 inches longer than on the Highlander (117.9 inches vs. 109.8 inches).

For better handling and stability, the track (width between the wheels) on the Flex is 1.4 inches wider in the front and 1.2 inches wider in the rear than on the Highlander.

The Flex Limited AWD handles at .80 G’s, while the Highlander Sport AWD pulls only .78 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis Comparison

As tested by Car and Driver, the interior of the Flex Limited AWD is quieter than the Highlander Sport AWD:



At idle

40 dB

40 dB


71 dB

75 dB

70 MPH Cruising

68 dB

70 dB

Passenger Space Comparison

The Flex has 10.1 cubic feet more passenger volume than the Highlander (155.8 vs. 145.7).

The Flex has 1.2 inches more front headroom, .4 inches more rear headroom, 6 inches more rear legroom, 2.4 inches more third row headroom and 3.4 inches more third row legroom than the Highlander.

Cargo Capacity Comparison

The Flex’s cargo area provides more volume than the Highlander.



Behind Third Seat

20 cubic feet

10.3 cubic feet

Third Seat Folded

43.2 cubic feet


Third Seat Removed


42.3 cubic feet

The Flex’s cargo area is larger than the Highlander’s in almost every dimension:



Length to seat (3rd/2nd/1st)






Pressing a switch automatically lowers the Flex’s optional second row seats, to make changing between passengers and cargo easier. The Highlander doesn’t offer power folding seats.

Ergonomics Comparison

The Flex offers a remote vehicle starting system, so the vehicle can be started from inside the driver's house. This allows the driver to comfortably warm up the engine before going out to the vehicle. The Highlander doesn’t offer a remote starting system.

When two different drivers share the Flex (except SE), the optional memory system makes it convenient for both. Each keyless remote activates different, customized memories for the driver’s seat position, foot pedal distance and outside mirror angle. The Highlander doesn’t offer a memory system.

The Flex (except SE)’s optional easy entry system glides the driver’s seat back when the door is unlocked or the ignition is switched off, making it easier for the driver to get in and out. The Highlander doesn’t offer an easy entry system.

The power windows standard on both the Flex and the Highlander have locks to prevent small children from operating them. When the lock on the Flex is engaged the driver can still operate all of the windows, for instance to close one opened by a child. The Highlander prevents the driver from operating the other windows just as it does the other passengers.

In case you lock your keys in your vehicle, or don’t have them with you, you can let yourself in using the exterior keypad. The Highlander doesn’t offer an exterior keypad entry system.

The Flex’s speed-sensitive wipers speed up when the vehicle does, so that the driver doesn’t have to continually adjust the speed of the wipers. The Highlander’s manually variable intermittent wipers have to be constantly adjusted.

The Flex has a standard automatic headlight on/off feature. When the ignition is on, the headlights automatically turn on at dusk and off after dawn. When the ignition turns off, the headlights turn off after a delay timed to allow you to securely get to your front door. The Highlander only offers an automatic headlight on/off feature as an extra cost option.

The Flex’s standard power mirror controls are mounted on the door for easy access. The Highlander’s power mirror controls are on the dash, hidden behind the steering wheel, where they are awkward to manipulate.

The Flex SEL/Limited’s standard dual zone air conditioning allows the driver and front passenger to choose two completely different temperatures so people with different temperature preferences won’t have to compromise. This makes both the driver and front passenger as comfortable as possible. The Highlander Base doesn’t offer dual zone air conditioning.

The Flex’s available GPS navigation system has a real-time traffic update feature that offers alternative routes to automatically bypass traffic problems. (Service available in a limited number of metro areas.) The Highlander’s available navigation system doesn’t offer real-time traffic updates.

The Flex SEL/Limited’s optional Active Park Assist can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The Highlander doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Economic Advantages Comparison

Insurance will cost less for the Flex owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the Flex with a number “3” insurance rate while the Highlander is rated higher at a number “10” rate.

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