The Ford Flex seems to qualify as a modern-day cult vehicle. Owners love it, most reviewers love it, yet sales have been slow from the start. That's not the car's fault. This big, distinctive seven-seater mixes hefty doses of comfort, practicality, unique design, and solid driving characteristics. In a market full of conformist crossovers, often dressed up to appear off-road ready, the Flex makes an unmistakable statement about living in the real world with a sense of style.
What's New for 2016
New for the 2016 model year, a Flex Appearance Package includes black door handles, window sills, roof, and grille, as well as 20-inch wheels. SEL and Limited trim levels get Ford’s new SYNC 3 infotainment system with conversational voice recognition, which promises markedly improved operation, an intuitive touchscreen, and a more understandable interface compared to the previous setup. Otherwise, little has changed apart from three new color choices.
Choosing Your Ford Flex
Ford’s Flex is available in three trim levels: SE, SEL, and Limited. Standard powertrain for each is a 3.5-liter V6, which develops 287 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque, driving the front wheels via a six-speed automatic transmission. All-wheel drive is available on the SEL and Limited. In addition, the Limited with all-wheel drive can be equipped with an EcoBoost twin-turbocharged V6 that cranks out 365 horsepower and 350 pound-feet. The standard V6 provides plenty of power for everyday driving duties, while a Limited with the EcoBoost motor could almost qualify as a clandestine muscle car.
Fuel economy is nothing to boast about, estimated at 16 mpg in city driving and 23 mpg on the highway with the standard engine. All-wheel drive drops the estimate to 16/22 mpg, while EcoBoost is estimated at 15/21 mpg (city/highway). Standard equipment for every Flex includes a rearview camera and sensors to detect obstacles while backing up. Optional active park assist uses ultrasonic sensors to locate a parallel parking space, and can then steer the Flex into position as the driver operates the gas and brake pedals.
A midlevel SEL makes sense for most customers -- not much more costly than the SE with its basic feature set, but well short of the Limited’s price. The SEL deserves careful consideration from families in need of serious interior space, who also appreciate a distinctive look. The Limited starts at $37,800, but the sticker price could approach $50,000 if the buyer isn't careful with the order form. Even so, a serious argument can be made that a well-equipped Flex is worth the high tab.