When the Flex hit showroom floors in 2009, Ford still owned Volvo, which makes us wonder if any Swedish designers still employed from the 240 era had a part in making the Flex so unflexibly linear. Every line seems to hark back to when station wagons were on their last hurrah and square was hip – in other words, the 1980s. Even just a quick glance at the thing affirms this: the hood is big and flat, the sides are proudly slab, and the roof has not a trace of rearward slope. If the Griswolds were going on a road trip in 2019, they'd probably be doing it in a pea-green, wood-paneled Flex (Hey Ford: if you're reading this, we'd love to see a wood-grain option for the Flex. Seriously.).
Even if all the squareness isn't your thing, it can't be denied that the straightedge shape makes for a practical carryall. Cargo space behind the second row is 43 cubic feet, a number that grows to about 80 cubes when the second row is dropped. The 118-inch wheelbase also means people have plenty of stretch-out room – 42.6 inches of leg room in the front row, 44 inches in the second row, and 33 in the third. Unless you're trying to shove some power forwards in the third row, no one should be complaining for a lack of stretch-out space.
As for the interior, it's a pleasant place to be. The design might not be the most modern cockpit out there, but it's a pleasingly simple, uncluttered layout and crafted out of nicer materials than most other Fords. The base and SEL models get comfortable and durable cloth upholstery, while top-end Limited trims get plush thrones done up in perforated leather. Though the base SE has an attractive starting price, its place at the bottom of the lineup means it most glaringly highlights the car's age – the dinky trim, cheapskate infotainment unit, and manual climate control and passenger seat all give an old rental-car vibe. The SEL and Limited do a much better job of decorating the interior and giving drivers modern creature comforts.
Another thing customers are starting to demand are active safety features. On that front, the Flex is disappointing. Blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert are optional on the SEL and standard on the Limited, but other important features like automatic emergency braking aren't available at any price. Also playing hooky from the options sheet are lane departure warning, lane keeping assist, and automatic high-beams. The lack of safety features is a rather alarming oversight, one we hope is addressed soon if Ford decides to let the Flex soldier on.