Three-row crossovers may have replaced the minivan as the preferred form of family transportation, but that doesn't mean they're all hip. Enter the Ford Flex, which is a lot like a large wagon, but in a stylish way. By adding a few Mini Cooper-inspired design touches (such as the blacked-out roof pillars and contrasting roof colors), the Ford Flex strikes us as perhaps the coolest choice among seven-passenger crossovers. It also happens to work just fine as a family vehicle with its roomy cabin, comfortable ride, excellent build quality and pleasant driving dynamics.
Current Ford Flex
The Ford Flex is a seven-passenger crossover wagon with a boxy body designed to maximize interior volume and style. It comes in three different trim levels: SE, SEL and Limited. Standard across the board is a 3.5-liter V6 with 285 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. The Limited offers the option of a turbocharged 3.5-liter "EcoBoost" V6 that makes 355 hp and 350 lb-ft. Both engines send their power through a six-speed automatic to either the front wheels or an all-wheel-drive system.
The base SE comes pretty well equipped, with feature highlights including 17-inch wheels, rear parking sensors, the Sync voice command system and a six-speaker CD stereo. The midlevel SEL adds 18-inch wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, the MyFord Touch electronics interface, an enhanced Sync system, heated front seats and a 12-speaker stereo with satellite radio. The Ford Flex Limited gains 19-inch wheels, xenon headlights, a power liftgate, keyless ignition/entry, a blind-spot warning system, a rearview camera, a navigation system and an upgraded sound system with HD radio. Notable options, depending on the trim level, include a multipanel sunroof, second-row captain's chairs, a refrigerated second-row console, adaptive cruise control and an automated parallel parking system.
The Flex's interior has an upscale appearance and mostly easy-to-use controls. The MyFord Touch interface, however, can be frustrating, as some buttons are difficult to identify at a glance and are sometimes slow to respond. The Flex features three spacious rows of seats, and even the rearmost seats can comfortably accommodate those taller than 6 feet. Entry and exit to those seats are eased by the Flex's low ride height and the second row that can tumble forward at the push of a button. Both back rows fold flat for cargo storage.
In reviews, we've found the Flex a great road trip companion with its responsive performance, handy features and smooth, quiet ride. The standard V6 powertrain is fairly refined, and handling of the SE and SEL versions composed, if not entertaining. The Limited's turbocharged V6 and tighter suspension tuning give it more of a sport wagon demeanor that should please enthusiasts who need a spacious family vehicle.
Used Ford Flex Models
The Ford Flex was introduced for 2009 and ran through 2012 mostly unchanged. The standard (and only) engine offered for that first year was the 3.5-liter V6, then producing 262 hp. Three trims were offered: base SE, midlevel SEL and plush Limited. Although generally very well-rounded and comfortable, the first-year Flex lacked a telescoping steering wheel, which made it difficult for taller drivers to get comfortable.
The following year Ford introduced the telescoping steering wheel as well as the turbocharged, 355-hp 3.5-liter V6 option. For 2011, the glitzy, chrome-wheeled Titanium trim level joined the lineup. Oddly, the next year would be the last for the Titanium as well as the last before the Flex's midcycle refresh. As such, all these Flexes lack a few notable upgrades of the current version, such as new front-end styling (which dispenses with the former, seemingly Schick-inspired three-bar grille), a more powerful (285-hp) 3.5-liter V6 and the availability of cutting-edge features such as MyFord Touch, the automated parking system, inflatable second-row seatbelts and adaptive cruise control.
Read the most recent 2014 Ford Flex review.
If you are looking for older years, visit our used Ford Flex page.