Buyers haven’t been rushing toward the Ford Flex, which almost seems to qualify as a modern-day cult vehicle. Owners love it, most reviewers at least like it, and yet sales have been slow from the start. That's not the car's fault. This big, distinctive seven-seater mixes welcome 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 squared-off Flex makes an unmistakable statement about living in the real world with a sense of style.
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2017 Ford Flex Overview
What's New for 2017
Aside from some new color choices, the Flex is unchanged.
Choosing Your Ford Flex
Ford’s Flex is again 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.
A 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 energetic EcoBoost engine 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 (19 mpg combined) with the standard engine. All-wheel drive drops the estimate to 16/22 mpg (city/highway), while the EcoBoost, offered only with all-wheel drive, is estimated at 15/21 mpg (city/highway).
Available SYNC 3 infotainment promises quicker performance, conversational voice recognition, an intuitive touchscreen, and straightforward graphical interface, compared to previous systems.
Standard equipment for every Flex includes a rearview camera and rear 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 accelerator and brake pedal. Additional safety options include adaptive cruise control, collision warning with brake support, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert. Inflatable rear seatbelts rear also are available.
A midlevel SEL should make sense for most customers . The SEL costs just slightly more than the basic SE, and yet stops well short of the Limited’s price. The SEL deserves careful consideration from families in need of serious interior space, and who also appreciate a distinctive look. The Limited will approach $50,000 if you're not judicious with options. Even so, there's a case to be made for the relative value of a fully loaded Flex.
2017 Ford Flex Review
Some buyers consider it a large wagon, while others see it as just another crossover. Regardless of where it falls in buyers’ eyes, the Ford Flex has tons to offer, like ample performance, a roomy interior, and loads of features. But despite all the good, buyers have shied away from the Flex, bringing about reports of its elimination in 2020.
Pricing and Equipment
The 2017 Ford Flex starts from $30,920 (including a $895 destination charge) for the base SE trim, but we expect the better-equipped SEL trim to be among the most popular versions. The Flex SEL starts from $33,625 and comes standard with:
- Eighteen-inch wheels
- Fog lights
- Keyless entry, push-button ignition
- Remote start
- Dual-zone automatic climate control
- Power front seats
- Eight-inch touchscreen with Sync3 infotainment
- Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
The base engine is a 3.5-liter V6 with 287 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque. But buyers who prefer the highly rated twin-turbocharged, 3.5-liter V6 with its 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, they must bump up to the range-topping Limited trim ($38,230) and pay an extra $6,250 for the package that includes the turbocharged engine. It's not cheap, but it is worth it.
The Ford Flex is quite large for a crossover, but its two V6 engines have plenty of power to get this people mover going.
- Refined ride and handling, especially for its size.
- Turbocharged engine is a hoot on a vehicle of this size – plenty of power in all conditions helps you forget you're driving a Flex.
- Base V6 is adequately powerful and confident when passing on the highway
- Fuel economy is not very impressive at up to 16 miles per gallon city, 23 highway, and 19 combined. Blame the brick-like aerodynamics and substantial curb weight.
- The electric steering is light and lifeless, which isn't much of a surprise in this segment.
- The first and second row seats are very comfortable and supportive.
- The upper trim levels become quite luxurious.
- Even six-footers can fit in the third row.
- Though it’s roomy, third-row seats’ padding is thin.
- The cabin is a peaceful place with limited road and wind noise.
- The New Sync 3 infotainment system is better than before, but still behind the competition.
The Most Pleasant Surprise
The performance of this 4,600-pound crossover is quite impressive. The base V6 isn’t a tremendous performer, but its turbocharged counterpart is lively and moves the Flex with haste. It also handles quite well, the steering is nicely weighted, and its brakes are plenty powerful. Also, the Flex Limited with the optional $1,495 Appearance Package looks dynamite to our eyes.
The Least Pleasant Surprise
The Flex’s safety ratings are not terrible, as it received an “Acceptable” rating in the small-overlap test and “Good” in the others. But these ratings do lag behind some competitors, and its most advanced safety features, like blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, adaptive cruise, and forward collision warning, are only available as options on the range-topping Limited trim. It also lacks automatic emergency braking – even as an option.
The Bottom Line
The 2017 Ford Flex is a great crossover with tons to offer families, like room for seven passengers, decent performance, and premium features. But some families may find its station wagon-like looks a turnoff and its lack of the most modern safety goodies, like automatic emergency braking, unacceptable.