Looking for a wagonlike crossover with space and versatility? The 2017 Ford Flex may be a good match. Here's a quick rundown of what we like, what we don't and the bottom line from the Edmunds editors.
Josh Sadlier: This is Edmund's editor Josh Sadlier, and here's an expert rundown of the 2017 Ford Flex. The Flex the crossover that just won't quit. If you can believe it, we had a long term Flex way back in 2009 here Edmunds. Still the same basic vehicle but, don't let that dissuade you. Still a great family option, three rows with adult sized space in all three. Standard V6 gets the job done, available all wheel drive. Of course we prefer the optional twin turbo V6, pumps out well over 300 horsepower, turns this thing into surprisingly fast minivan alternative, but it's pretty pricey so going to have to check the bottom line on that one. As you can tell from the breadbox styling, plenty of space inside. Maximum utility, fold down those seats so you can fit a bunch of construction supplies in there if you're so inclined. Step inside you'll see what I'm talking about with the passenger space, looks like a couch in there. Nice and high on the bottom cushion, plenty of headroom. You can see the optional glass panels on the roof there, lend a nice airy feel. In the third row, there's legitimate adult space, you can't say that about every three row crossover. You have no problem getting taller people back there. Up front the Flex has a conservative but stylish dashboard design. Sync 3 is a notable improvement over the previous MyFord touch infotainment system. It's a new touch screen, good graphics, responsive, easy to use. Nice materials too. The bottom line with the Flex is that it hasn't changed very much because it hasn't had to. It's still a fully competitive family hauler, certainly worth a look alongside other crossovers. For more Edmund's expert rundowns, click the link to subscribe.
Ford first introduced the Flex in 2009, and it hasn't changed much since. We can't blame Ford for leaving it alone, though. With a boxy body meant to recall station wagons of the '60s and '70s, the Flex doesn't look like any other SUV on the road. The competition has had time to copy it; no one has. The Flex's squared-off profile and spacious third-row seat might put you in the mind of a minivan. But its hinged rear doors and limited cargo space (with all seats in place) reveal that this is actually a big wagon or a crossover SUV, albeit an unusual one.
The Flex treats its passengers well, with adult-friendly seating in all three rows — something few other crossover SUVs can claim. But cargo space with all three rows in place is limited to 20 cubic feet, which really isn't much. Folding down the third row yields a much more useful 43.2 cubic feet. We have other complaints: The touch-sensitive climate and stereo controls on the center stack are a bit too sensitive, and it's easy to brush your hand against the panel and press a "button" you didn't want. We like the new Sync 3 touchscreen interface, but the confusing layout of the steering wheel buttons is decidedly old-school.
The base engine for the Flex is a 3.5-liter V6 that puts out 287 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque. The EPA estimates its fuel economy for the front-wheel-drive Flex at 19 mpg combined (16 city/23 highway). Opting for all-wheel drive subtracts 1 mpg from the combined and highway figures.
With a full load of passengers and cargo on board, the base engine has to work its heart out to keep pace. Ford offers a solution in the form of an optional 3.5 liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V6. Tuned for a V8-like 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, it turns the Flex into a three-row rocket ship. In Edmunds testing, it reached 60 mph in a brisk 6.2 seconds, and out on the open road, we found it eager to gallop at a license-losing pace. The turbo engine comes exclusively with all-wheel drive. Its EPA estimate is not far off that for the non-turbo engine: 17 mpg combined (15 city/21 highway). It is paired with a stiffer suspension, which adds a sporty edge to the Flex's comfort and stability, though both suspension setups show their age over rough pavement. They just don't absorb the bumps as well as newer designs.
The Ford Flex is available in three trim levels. The SE model comes equipped with the basics you'd expect in a modern family car, but we prefer the upgraded standard feature list (and available options) of the midlevel SEL. The top-of-the-line Limited is the only choice if you want the turbocharged engine or advanced-technology safety and driver aids. Edmunds can help find the perfect 2017 Ford Flex for you.
Edmunds attended a manufacturer-sponsored event, to which selected members of the press were invited, to facilitate this report.