Flex Reviews

Full 2014 Ford Flex Review from a Dealer in Louisville Kentucky, KY

What’s New for 2014

For 2014, the Ford Flex sees no changes of note apart from a slight power boost for the base V6 engine and the renaming of the former Titanium Appearance package as simply the Appearance package. The latter now offers a choice of a black or color-keyed roof.

Introduction

Last time we checked, the Ford Flex didn’t have body panels capable of absorbing radar energy like those on  a stealth bomber. Yet with yearly sales totaling only about a seventh of its Explorer SUV sibling, the Flex is not on the radar of many consumers looking for a three-row family hauler that seats six to seven. It’s perplexing to us, because the 2014 Ford Flex is one of the most useful family vehicles out there.

Reasons for our unabashed enthusiasm include the Flex’s roomy and comfortable cabin complete with adult-friendly third-row seating, well-balanced ride and handling qualities and a wide array of options that include a strong turbocharged V6 engine. There’s also the Flex’s unique styling, which has a modern yet retro old-school wagon vibe about it. But even if you’re not too keen on the rectilinear design aesthetic, there’s no denying this Ford’s inherent utility, versatility and abundance of useful high-tech gadgets.

Seating up to seven with room to spare, the Ford Flex provides nearly as much passenger space and seating/cargo flexibility as a minivan but without the stigma. Getting into the Flex’s second and third rows isn’t as easy as with a minivan, but certainly access is better than in most large crossover SUVs thanks to the Flex’s lower stance and standard second-row one-touch tumble feature. The optional second-row captain’s chairs reduce seating capacity to six, but their sliding feature not only increases comfort in that row, but expands legroom in the third row. As such, the 2014 Ford Flex is the rare crossover that allows 6-footers to fit comfortably in all three rows.

There are a couple of downsides to the Flex, however. The biggest of these is the aforementioned offbeat styling, which some people just find off-putting. If that’s the case, the Ford Explorer is mechanically related and similarly equipped — although, in the real world, it can’t match the Flex’s space and versatility.

Outside of the Ford family, the GMC Acadia (and its siblings, the Buick Enclave and Chevrolet Traverse) has room for eight and a bigger cargo hold. We also like the Mazda CX-9 for its sporty personality and the Nissan Pathfinder for its upscale interior. Of course, a minivan would be more practical than any of these vehicles. Still, on our radar screen, the 2014 Ford Flex looms large as a top pick for savvy families.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2014 Ford Flex is a large crossover/wagon available in six- or seven-passenger configurations. There are three trim levels: SE, SEL and Limited.

The base SE comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, rear privacy glass, rear parking sensors, cruise control, keypad entry, air-conditioning, a six-way power driver seat (manual recline and lumbar support), a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, a 60/40-split second-row seat (with a passenger side auto-fold feature for easy access to the third row), a 4.2-inch central display screen, the base version of Sync (voice controls for phone and audio), Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player, USB port and auxiliary audio jack.

The SEL adds 18-inch wheels, heated mirrors, foglights, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), a six-way power front passenger seat and satellite radio. Also included is the MyFord Touch electronics interface, which includes an 8-inch central touchscreen, two multifunction secondary displays in the gauge cluster, enhanced steering-wheel controls, enhanced Ford Sync features (turn-by-turn navigation and traffic reports), two USB ports, an SD card reader and an audio/video input jack.

Additional option packages are available for the SEL. Equipment Group 201A adds a 110-volt power outlet, a rearview camera and a power liftgate. Equipment Group 202A has those features plus a remote ignition, blind spot warning system, rear cross-traffic alerts, power-adjustable pedals, leather upholstery (vinyl in the third row), driver memory settings and an upgraded seven-speaker sound system.

The Limited comes standard with the features from the SEL’s 202A package and further adds 19-inch wheels, additional chrome/satin aluminum accents, xenon headlights, LED taillights, rain-sensing wipers, keyless ignition/entry, a navigation system and a 12-speaker Sony sound system with HD radio.

Optional on every trim level are roof side rails, second-row inflatable seatbelts and sliding and reclining second-row captain’s chairs with a center console.

The navigation system is optional for the SEL. The Appearance package (SEL and Limited) adds 20-inch wheels, a black or color-matched painted roof, different exterior and interior trim and gray perforated leather upholstery inserts. The SEL and Limited can also be equipped with a multipanel rear sunroof (Vista Roof), a rear seat entertainment system (with dual displays) and a tow package.

Stand-alone options for the Limited include 20-inch wheels, a refrigerated compartment in the optional second-row console, heated second-row captain’s chairs and the Equipment Group 301A (or 303A) package that includes an automatic parallel-parking system, adaptive cruise control, a collision warning system with brake support, ventilated front seats, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column and a one-touch power-fold-and-tumble third row.

Powertrains and Performance

Every 2014 Ford Flex comes standard with a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 287 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque. Front-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission are standard. All-wheel drive is optional on the SEL and Limited. EPA-estimated fuel economy is 20 mpg combined (18 mpg city/25 mpg highway) with front-wheel drive. Opting for AWD lowers those estimates to 19 combined (17 city/23 highway).

Optional on the Flex Limited is a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 (dubbed EcoBoost) that produces 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. This engine is paired exclusively with all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The last EcoBoost-equipped Flex we tested hit 60 mph in a swift 6.6 seconds. Fuel economy ratings drop to 18 combined (16 city/23 highway).

Properly equipped, both powertrains are rated to tow up to 4,500 pounds.

Safety

The 2014 Ford Flex comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and rear parking sensors. The Ford Sync system includes an emergency crash notification feature that automatically dials 911 when paired with a compatible cell phone. Also standard is Ford’s MyKey, which can be used to set certain parameters for teen drivers.

A rearview camera and a blind spot warning system with rear cross-traffic alerts are optional on the SEL and standard for the Limited. Optional for both are second-row inflatable seatbelts. The Limited is also available with a collision warning system with brake support.

In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety testing, the Flex earned a top rating of “Good” for its performance in moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side-impact and roof-strength tests.

In Edmunds brake testing, both a Flex Limited with the standard 3.5-liter engine and an EcoBoost model stopped from 60 mph in 128 feet — average for the class.

Interior Design and Special Features

Overall, we like the Flex’s interior because of its abundant soft-touch materials and attractive, upscale design. The spacious layout comfortably affords seven-passenger seating rivaling that of a minivan. Even the third row is accessible and big enough for adults. The optional reclining and heated second-row captain’s chairs reduce seating capacity to six, but comfort increases. Their ability to slide forward also expands third-row legroom.

With either configuration, the standard auto-tumbling feature for the second row makes getting into the third row a snap. The Flex can hold a maximum of 83 cubic feet of stuff behind the first row. This is less voluminous than some minivans and several large crossovers, but you can make the most out of the available space thanks to the Flex’s conveniently boxy shape.

Unfortunately, both of the Flex’s electronics interfaces leave something to be desired. The SE’s MyFord system includes a display screen, but it’s not especially intuitive and some buttons can be hard to reach. The MyFord Touch system that is standard on the SEL and Limited consists of configurable gauge cluster displays and a large main touchscreen. There are nice customization possibilities here, but the experience is soured by the touchscreen’s virtual buttons that are slow to respond and prone to the occasional glitch. You’ll likely acclimate to MyFord Touch and its idiosyncrasies (and the Sync voice command system continues to be very useful), but in general, other systems are easier to use.

Driving Impressions

The 2014 Ford Flex’s base V6 is adequate for a vehicle this size, providing enough gusto to keep up with competing crossovers. The turbocharged V6, meanwhile, invigorates the Flex Limited with more of a sport wagon demeanor thanks to its extra power and the tighter suspension tuning that comes with it.

No matter the model, the Flex provides a very pleasant, if not exactly exciting, driving experience. The ride is always comfortable — even with the bigger wheels — soaking up bumps in the road with luxury car ease. Uncharacteristically responsive steering adds to the Flex’s well-rounded dynamics, as it makes parking easy and provides excellent stability on the open road. Excellent outward visibility also makes the Flex easy to drive.

2013 Ford Flex – Review by Edmunds.com

So What was New for 2013

The 2013 Ford Flex receives a significant update this year. In addition to bolder exterior styling, Ford has added a lot of new standard or optional features, including ventilated front seats, the (updated) MyFord Touch electronics interface, automated parallel parking assist, adaptive cruise control, keyless ignition/entry, blind-spot monitoring, a power tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and inflatable second-row seatbelts. Mechanical changes this year include a more powerful base V6 engine and electrically driven power steering on all models. Finally, the Titanium trim level has been retired, but much of its equipment is still available.

Introduction

Since it was introduced four years ago, the Ford Flex seemed like something out of a retro-futurist comic book. We’ve always liked how it looks, but even more how it works. The 2013 Ford Flex sports an even more avant garde look with a whole new front fascia, headlamps and sleek new trim. Even the traditional blue oval Ford logo was removed from the new, minimalist grille. While this piece of rolling industrial design might not be your thing, there’s little debate regarding the Flex’s inherent utility, versatility and standard/optional technology.

Seating as many as seven with room to spare, the iconic Ford Flex provides nearly as much interior space and seating/cargo flexibility as a minivan but without the stigma. Access to the Flex’s three rows of seating isn’t as easy as a minivan’s, but it is certainly better than the typical large crossover SUVs thanks to the Flex’s lower, more wagonlike stance and standard second-row one-touch tumble feature. Opting for second-row captain’s chairs reduces the Flex’s seating capacity to six, but the added sliding feature not only increases comfort in that row, but expands legroom in the third row. As such, the 2013 Ford Flex is the rare crossover that allows 6-footers to comfortably fit in (and reach) all three rows.

Many have commented that the Flex seems a tad expensive, but note that even base models are generously equipped with a bevy of comfort and convenience features. Climbing up the trim levels not only adds a dizzying array of technology, but also available high-end interior treatments and cutting-edge safety features that rival those offered in many luxury cars. New options this year include an automated parking system, radar-based adaptive cruise control and collision warning with active brake intervention.

There are a couple downsides to the Flex, however, foremost being the Flex’s boxy styling, which some shoppers find off-putting. If that is a problem, the Ford Explorer is mechanically related and similarly equipped. While it can’t match the Flex’s space and versatility, it does counter with a very similar driving experience. Outside of the Ford family, GM’s large crossovers (Acadia, Enclave and Traverse) have room for eight and are long-distance champs. And, of course, a greater amount of practicality can be gained from minivans like the Nissan Quest. But if it were our money, we’d still choose a 2013 Ford Flex.

Body Styles, Trim Levels, and Options

The 2013 Ford Flex is a large crossover/wagon available in six- or seven-passenger configurations. There are three trim levels: SE, SEL and Limited.

The base SE comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, rear privacy glass, rear parking sensors, cruise control, air-conditioning, a six-way power driver seat (manual recline), front seat manual lumbar adjustment, a leather-wrapped tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, a 60/40-split second-row seat (with a passenger-side auto-fold feature for easy access to the third row) and a six-speaker sound system with a CD player and auxiliary audio jack. Also standard is the base version of Sync (voice-activated calling via Bluetooth, vehicle health report and 911-assist free for the life of the vehicle).

The SEL adds 18-inch wheels, heated mirrors, foglamps, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, an eight-way power driver seat (with power lumbar), a six-way power front passenger seat and satellite radio. Also included is the MyFord Touch electronics interface, which includes a large central touchscreen, two secondary touchscreens in the gauge cluster, enhanced steering-wheel controls, enhanced Ford Sync features (turn-by-turn navigation and traffic reports), two USB ports, an SD card reader and an audio/video input jack.

The Limited adds 19-inch wheels, xenon headlights, LED taillights, a power liftgate, keyless ignition/entry, a blind-spot warning system, driver memory functions, power-adjustable pedals, perforated leather upholstery (third row vinyl), a wood-trimmed steering wheel, a 110-volt power outlet, a rearview camera, a navigation system with real-time traffic updates, and a 12-speaker Sony sound system with HD radio.

Most of the Limited’s extra features are available on the SEL within option groups 201A and 202A. The Titanium package (SEL and Limited) is essentially an appearance group that adds 20-inch wheels, a black-painted roof, different exterior and interior trim, and faux-suede upholstery inserts.

Optional on every trim level are roof side rails, second-row inflatable seatbelts and sliding-and-reclining second row captain’s chairs with a center console. The SEL and Limited can be equipped with multipanel rear sunroofs (Vista Roof) and a tow package. Stand-alone options for the Limited include a refrigerated compartment in the optional second-row console and heated second-row captain’s chairs. The Limited further offers exhaustive options within groups 301A and 303A. These features include 20-inch wheels, an automatic parallel-parking system, adaptive cruise control, collision warning with brake support, a one-touch power-fold and -tumble third row, second-row heated seats, 10-way power front seats with ventilation and a power tilt-and-telescoping steering column.

Powertrains and Performance

Every 2013 Ford Flex comes standard with a 3.5-liter V6 that produces 285 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque (up from 262 hp and 248 lb-ft in 2012). Front-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic transmission with manual shift control are standard. All-wheel drive is optional on the SEL and Limited. EPA-estimated fuel economy is anticipated to be 18 mpg city/25 mpg highway and 20 mpg combined with front-wheel drive. Expect AWD to lower those estimates to 17/23/18.

Optional on the Flex Limited is a turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 (dubbed EcoBoost) that produces 355 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. This engine is paired exclusively with all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. The last EcoBoost-equipped Flex we tested hit 60 mph in a swift 6.6 seconds. Fuel economy drops to 16/21/18.

Properly equipped, both powertrains are rated to tow up to 4,500 pounds.

Safety

The 2013 Ford Flex comes standard with antilock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front side airbags, side curtain airbags and rear parking sensors. A blind-spot warning system with cross-traffic alert is optional on the SEL and standard for the Limited. Optional for both are second-row inflatable seatbelts. The Limited is also available with collision warning with brake support.

In Edmunds brake testing, both a Flex Limited with the standard 3.5-liter engine and an EcoBoost model stopped from 60 mph in 128 feet — average for the class.

Interior Design and Special Features

The 2013 Ford Flex interior retains its generous proportions and high quality, following the trend set in both the recently all-new Explorer and refreshed Edge with a dashboard design makeover incorporating the available MyFord Touch system. This interface consists of three display screens and the ability to input commands for various audio, phone and navigation functions via voice, touch controls or buttons on the steering wheel. It’s a smart idea in theory, and it does provide some nice customization possibilities. Unfortunately, there’s a learning curve involved, and even with this year’s update, we’ve found the system can be slow to respond and the touchscreen’s icons are difficult to locate and press on the move.

Overall, the Flex’s interior is great, with abundant soft-touch materials and an attractive, upscale design. The spacious layout comfortably affords seven-passenger seating rivaling that of a minivan. Even the third row is accessible and sufficiently scaled for adults. The optional reclining and heated second-row captain’s chairs reduce seating capacity to six, but comfort increases. Their ability to slide forward also expands third-row legroom. With either configuration, the standard power-tumbling mechanism for the second row makes getting into the third row a snap. The Flex can hold a maximum of 83 cubic feet of stuff behind the first row. While this may be less voluminous than some minivans and several large crossovers, the Flex’s conveniently boxy shape makes the most of what it has.

Driving Impressions

The 2013 Ford Flex isn’t all that inspiring from behind the wheel, but it certainly is not disagreeable, either. The ride is always comfortable — even with the bigger wheels — soaking up bumps in the road with luxury car ease. The base V6 is adequate for a vehicle this size, motivating the Flex with enough gusto to keep up with competing crossovers. The twin-turbo EcoBoost V6, meanwhile, invigorates the Flex Limited with more of a sport wagon demeanor thanks to its extra power and tighter suspension tuning. An uncharacteristically responsive electric-assist power steering system has been incorporated into all 2013 Flexes, providing for easy parking chores as well as excellent stability on the open road.

 

Cars.com Review

By Courtney Messenbaugh

Mother ProofOctober 17, 2012

Since it hit the market as an all-new model in 2009, the Ford Flex has gained quite a following due to its unique looks and strong sense of family-friendliness. This three-row SUV has positioned itself as the anti-minivan.

The 2013 Ford Flex is so stylish and edgy that you almost forget it’s also practical: It seats six or seven people comfortably and still offers a decent amount of cargo space.

For 2013, the Flex maintains the family-friendliness and gains an even edgier exterior look, a more powerful base V-6 engine and improved fuel economy. The new engine delivers an additional 20 horsepower with its 3.5-liter V-6 over the 2012’s model engine.

This SUV offers a unique driving experience that takes some getting used to. Rectangular in shape, driving the Flex feels a bit awkward around corners and not incredibly agile.

The 2013 Ford Flex has a starting price of $31,710, including an $825 destination charge. My test car, the midlevel Flex SEL with all-wheel drive, had a starting price of $36,000, but the as-tested price was $39,195.

 

EXTERIOR

Many of the 2013 Flex’s changes are on the outside. The SUV’s name is stretched across the front and rear ends of the car to remind everyone in the carpool lane that your vehicle choice is iconoclastic. That and it could be used as an eye chart if ever the need arises. The front end is slightly curvier than previous model years, though you might not notice if you hadn’t been told, and dual exhaust pipes now come standard across the lineup.

My test car was done up in a monochromatic Tuxedo Black paint color. Monochromatic is the standard paint scheme and it looked fine — “Like a spy car,” my son proclaimed — but if I were buying one, I’d cough up the extra $395 for the two-toned paint job. The two-toned look is where the Flex made a name for itself, and it’s where the Flex first grabs your attention.

Because it sits low to the ground, the Flex is a breeze for little ones to climb in and out of, though the doors are on the heavy side for children. The liftgate also is on the heavy side, but a power liftgate is available and recommended for those of you who constantly have your hands full.

Rear cargo space with all three rows in use is an impressive 20 cubic feet, and there’s a recessed storage well underneath the cargo-floor cover. This is about half the size of the average minivan’s cargo area, but it’s better than many three-row crossovers; a smaller cargo area is also known as the price of being too cool for school (and a minivan). With the third row down, cargo volume rises to 43.2 cubic feet, and with the second row folded, it goes up to 83.2 cubic feet.

The Flex comes standard with 17-inch wheels on the base model, 18-inch wheels on the SEL and 19-inchers on the Limited trims. Even 20-inchers are available. Automatic headlamps, heated power side mirrors, fog lamps and keyless entry are also standard features.

The 2013 Flex comes standard with a 3.5-liter V-6 engine that makes 285 hp; it’s paired to a standard six-speed automatic transmission and uses regular unleaded gas. With front-wheel drive, this V-6 gets an EPA-estimated 18/25 mpg city/highway. My test car came with all-wheel drive, an option that decreases fuel economy slightly to 17/23 mpg. An optional 355-hp, turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 uses premium gas and gets 16/23 mpg.

 

SENSE AND STYLE

Family Friendly (Not Really, Fair, Great, Excellent): Great
Fun-Factor (None, Some, Good Times, Groove-On): Some

 

INTERIOR

Though it may not translate into the most agile handling, the Ford Flex’s boxy exterior does make for a roomy interior. Head and shoulder room are plentiful, and even the third row has the ability to fit normal-sized adults. Seat cushions have been upgraded for 2013 and seating is exceptionally comfortable in all positions, especially the driver’s and front passenger’s seats.

If you decide to buy a Flex, the biggest decision you’ll have to make is whether you want it to seat six or seven passengers. My test car could seat seven, thanks to the second row’s standard bench seat. Normally, I’m all about more seating capacity, but with a 60/40-split bench seat in the second row, third-row access is difficult. The second-row seats tumble forward, but that can’t be done with a child-safety seat installed on the seat. If you have children in safety seats and if you ever want adults to sit in the third row, opt for the optional captain’s chairs in the second row. This way, there is a small aisle to access the third row, and the captain’s chairs slide back and forth (the bench does not) to allow for increased third-row legroom.

The Flex has six cupholders and four in-door bottleholders; the second row’s bottleholders sit just below the window, where buckled-in passengers can easily grab their drinks. The center console isn’t huge, and there’s an excess of space above and around the glove box that could have been used for extra storage.

MyFord Touch (standard at the SEL trim level and optional on the entry-level trim), which supplements the voice-activated Sync multimedia system, is theoretically great with its ability for full integration of smartphones and other devices. It supposedly can receive and read your text messages to you. However, the system’s 8-inch touch-screen with minimalist touch-sensitive “buttons” (really just arrows on the touch-screen) can be prickly and not always immediately responsive. Moreover, I’m still unsure whether I fully understand how to use everything the system has on offer.

 

IT’S THE LITTLE THINGS THAT COUNT

Storage Compartments (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample
Cargo/Trunk Space (Puny, Fair, Ample, Galore): Ample

 

SAFETY

The 2013 Ford Flex has been named a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It received the top score of Good in front, side, rear and roof-strength crash tests. In rollover crash tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the 2013 Flex received four stars out of five. It hasn’t yet undergone NHTSA’s other crash tests.

The 2013 Flex has standard front-wheel drive, all-disc antilock brakes, an electronic stability system with anti-roll control, traction control, rear parking sensors and six airbags, including side curtains for all three rows. Ford’s MyKey is also standard and a great feature for parents of teens. It enables parents to program one key with volume and speed limits along with seat-belt-usage reminders.

All-wheel drive, a backup camera with parking sensors and Active Park Assist, which helps you parallel park the car, are optional. Other available safety features are inflatable seat belts for the second row’s outboard seats, blind spot and forward collision warning systems, and cross-traffic alert.

There are three sets of lower Latch anchors, with two sets in the second row and a third set in the third row. I really wish more automakers with three-row crossovers would follow the Flex’s example in this regard. All of the Latch anchors are easy to access.