Auto Review: Ford Flex finds a niche of its own

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Featured Article - posted Thu., Dec. 6, 2012
Contributed
- Contributed Photo

In the midst of building all kinds of vehicles that fall easily into specific categories, manufacturers occasionally break the mold and create something that defies normal convention. This has been made easier by the fact that many different types and styles of cars now cross into different categories, compared with the more rigid class structures of the past. You don’t have to look any further than the SUV category to see how diverse one type of car has become.

One of the more unique of the new blended style of SUV is Ford’s Flex; a unique entry that combines SUV, minivan and station wagon elements into a handsome, versatile vehicle. Available in both front-wheel and all-wheel-drive variants, the Flex offers a lot of room and comfort, a choice of two V6 engines, and the latest in Ford’s on-board safety and entertainment technology. It’s the kind of do-everything vehicle that appeals to growing families.

Riding on a long, 117.9-inch wheelbase, the Flex drives more like a big sedan than a minivan or SUV, and is able to carry an impressive amount of occupants and/or cargo. The base engine (found on our tester) is a 3.5-liter V6 with 287 horsepower and a 6-speed SelectShift Automatic transmission. A turbocharged EcoBoost version of this engine boosts horsepower to 365. All-wheel-drive was also on our Flex, and in these climes of ice and snow is a great thing to have.  The V6 on our Flex was polished and strong enough to deliver crisp acceleration, aided ably by the SelectShift transmission. Even though the Flex is a fairly tall vehicle, it’s still car-based enough to deliver good handling without excessive body lean in corners. The firm suspension tuning also reaps benefits in ride quality, for the solid chassis stays quiet and composed on all manner of road surfaces, keeping the cabin serene and comfortable. Braking performance is also laudable, with short, controlled stops and excellent pedal feel.

The interior of the Flex can accommodate up to seven, with three-row seating. The driver’s perch was a good place to do business, with our SEL trim level featuring leather seats and generous room, although more lateral support would be welcome.

Ford’s dedication to the latest in touch screen technology lives in My Ford Touch, which is tweaked on 2013 models to be a bit more user-familiar, but I still have issues with it (and all in-car touch screen interfaces). Passengers need not be concerned with such things, though, because the second-row seats are long on room and comfort, and even the third row seats offers decent seating for two. If cargo is on the agenda, fold the third-row seats flat into the floor and you have 43.2 cubic feet of storage, and with both the second and third rows folded, you get a whopping 83.2 cubic feet of cargo space.

The 2013 Ford Flex SEL AWD is EPA rated 17 MPG city/23 highway, and we saw 18 MPG during our week with the vehicle. With options, our MSRP came to $41,280. www.ford.com


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