2018 Ford Flex Review

Despite its age and uncertain future, the Ford Flex remains a great way to move a lot of people and gear.
3 star edmunds overall rating
by Mark Takahashi
Edmunds Editor
The Ford Flex debuted back in 2009 and hasn't been fully redesigned since. In car years, the 2018 version of the Flex is right up against its "sell by" date. When it comes to interior design, quality and available features, the Flex trails newer crossover SUVs and minivans. But aged as it may be, the Flex remains one of our favorites because of its versatile layout. You can cram a lot of people and their stuff into it without breaking a sweat. The Flex is also available with a strong turbocharged V6, which provides plenty of power for highway passing or towing. If you're shopping for a three-row crossover, the Flex is still worth a look.

what's new

The optional rear-seat entertainment system is no longer available. Otherwise, the Flex returns unchanged.

we recommend

We recommend the SEL trim as an optimal middle ground both in terms of content and price. We also suggest the 202A options package for its added safety, convenience and luxury features.

trim levels & features

The 2018 Ford Flex is a large crossover/wagon that can seat either six or seven passengers and is available in SE, SEL and Limited trim levels. The standard engine is a 3.5-liter V6 (287 horsepower, 254 pound-feet of torque) that is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission that sends power to the front wheels. All-wheel drive is available for the SEL and Limited trims. The Limited trim is also eligible for a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 (365 hp and 350 lb-ft) with standard all-wheel drive.

Standard feature highlights for the SE trim include 17-inch wheels, rear parking sensors, heated side mirrors, rear privacy glass, a keyless-entry keypad, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a leather-wrapped steering wheel, a six-way power driver seat (with manual recline), 60/40-split folding second-row seats with an auto-folding passenger side, 50/50-split folding third-row seats, a rearview camera, Bluetooth, a 4.2-inch central display screen, voice controls, and a six-speaker audio system with a CD player and a USB port.

The SEL adds 18-inch wheels, upgraded brakes, foglights, keyless entry and ignition, remote start, dual-zone automatic climate control with manual rear controls, wood-appearance interior trim, heated front seats, a 10-way power driver seat (with power lumbar adjustment), a six-way power front passenger seat (with manual lumbar adjustment), and the Sync 3 infotainment system with an 8-inch touchscreen, satellite radio, a second USB port and smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The SEL trim is eligible for the 202A options package, which adds a power liftgate, blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert, power-adjustable pedals, driver-seat memory settings, leather upholstery (vinyl for the third row), a 110-volt household power outlet and an upgraded seven-speaker audio system.

The range-topping Limited trim includes all of the above plus 19-inch wheels, xenon headlights, LED taillights, power-folding mirrors, automatic wipers, additional metallic exterior trim, upgraded wood interior trim, ambient interior lighting, a navigation system (optional on SEL) and a 12-speaker Sony premium audio system with HD radio. The Limited trim is eligible for the 301A package that adds an automatic parallel parking system, adaptive cruise control, forward collision warning, a power-adjustable and heated steering wheel, a 10-way power front passenger seat, ventilated front seats and power-folding third-row seats.

Additional options are dependent on trim and include 20-inch wheels, roof rails, a tow package, a panoramic sunroof, black exterior and interior trim, upgraded leather upholstery and inflatable second-row outboard seat belts.

trim tested

Each vehicle typically comes in multiple versions that are fundamentally similar. The ratings in this review are based on our full test of the 2015 Ford Flex Limited Wagon (turbo 3.5L V6 | 6-speed automatic | AWD).

NOTE: Since this test was conducted, the current Ford Flex has received some minor revisions, including the addition of the latest Sync 3 infotainment interface. Our findings remain broadly applicable to this year's Flex, however.

Edmunds Scorecard

Overall3.0 / 5.0


3.0 / 5.0

Acceleration4.0 / 5.0
Braking3.0 / 5.0
Steering2.5 / 5.0
Handling3.0 / 5.0
Drivability2.5 / 5.0


3.0 / 5.0

Seat comfort3.0 / 5.0
Ride comfort3.0 / 5.0
Noise & vibration2.5 / 5.0


3.5 / 5.0

Ease of use2.5 / 5.0
Getting in/getting out4.0 / 5.0
Roominess3.0 / 5.0
Visibility4.5 / 5.0
Quality2.0 / 5.0


4.5 / 5.0

Cargo space5.0 / 5.0


edmunds rating
Thanks to its optional 365-hp turbocharged V6 and all-wheel drive, the Flex has plenty of power and traction. We're less fond of the steering and braking, however. In general, the Flex isn't as enjoyable or easy to drive as some newer rivals.


edmunds rating
When it comes to acceleration, the Flex is a solid performer, especially with the available EcoBoost V6. With that engine, the Flex hits 60 in 6.2 seconds, which is quicker than just about any other crossover or minivan.


edmunds rating
The brake pedal has a long travel and little to no feel. The brakes are very effective, however. In our emergency brake test, the Flex stopped from 60 mph in a respectable 120 feet.


edmunds rating
Like the brakes, the steering imparts little feel and feedback to the driver. This doesn't impact most routine driving situations, but the lack of feedback when the Flex is driven on unfamiliar winding roads can be disconcerting.


edmunds rating
The Flex drives smaller than it looks because it doesn't lean as much as taller SUVs when you're going around turns. But it never feels nimble due to its long length, high weight, low-grip tires and occasional intrusive stability control system.


edmunds rating
The six-speed automatic is slow to shift up or down, and the V6 engine isn't particularly quick to rev. This powertrain is strong at full throttle but is less impressive in certain routine driving situations.


edmunds rating
It's not uncomfortable in any way, but the Flex is dated compared to more sophisticated rivals. Not only is the ride louder and busier than we expect, but seat comfort and quietness aren't up to par in the class anymore.

seat comfort

edmunds rating
The Flex's front-seat cushions are flat and featureless. Support for long-distance driving is lacking, and the short seat bottoms may not be comfortable for taller drivers. The second row has plenty of room to stretch out, and the third row is tolerable for average-height adults.

ride comfort

edmunds rating
Disappointingly, the Flex rides stiffly over small cracks, especially when fitted with the optional 20-inch wheels. There's more jostling of passengers when you're driving on uneven pavement compared to other crossovers.

noise & vibration

edmunds rating
There's some wind noise from the upright windshield and the mirrors, but the bigger culprits are the tires and the EcoBoost V6 engine's gravelly, gasping tone.


edmunds rating
If space for stuff and easy access are your primary requirements, the Flex remains a great choice. There's plenty of room for rear passengers, too. But the usability of the interior is marred by aggravating touch-panel controls.

ease of use

edmunds rating
While other Fords now employ physical buttons, the older Flex retains the infuriating and oft-accidentally-hit touch-sensitive controls for climate and audio functions. Steering wheel buttons are difficult to use and poorly labeled.

getting in/getting out

edmunds rating
The doors open wide, and there's no sill to step over, but high curbs will impede door opening. Seats are neither too high nor too low. Second-row access is equally easy, and getting to the third row isn't bad.


edmunds rating
There is plenty of head- and legroom, but the area to either side of the driver feels tight because of the wide center console and bulky door panels. Farther back, the second row feels positively expansive, and third-row passengers will be fine for a bit.


edmunds rating
Excellent forward visibility with a good sense of where the long hood ends. Rear visibility is enhanced with a camera, but even without it we'd feel comfortable backing this one up. Large side mirrors provide good coverage.


edmunds rating
Our test car exhibited more squeaks, rattles and misaligned panels than we're used to seeing. Materials quality is just OK and is easily trumped by newer products, including some within Ford's own fleet.


edmunds rating
If you can't fit all of your stuff into a Ford Flex, there's a good chance you have too much stuff. Some SUVs can carry more based on the spec sheet, but the Flex's boxy shape and flat load floor are great in real-world use.


If there's one area where the aging Ford Flex has remained up-to-date, it's the infotainment system. The Sync 3 system is significantly better than previous versions.

audio & navigation

While the Explorer now employs physical buttons, the older Flex retains the infuriating and oft-accidentally-hit touch-sensitive controls for climate and audio functions. Steering wheel buttons are difficult to use and poorly labeled.

edmunds expert review process

This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.

We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.