By on January 21, 2015

flexdriveway

“I’m NOT buying that thing. It looks like one of the cars that the Nazis rode around in.”

Ah, the Ford Flex. It is one of those cars that all “car people” seem to love, while the general public seems to be slow to adopt—perhaps because it looks like one of those cars the Nazis rode around in.

At least that’s what Mrs. Bark said in the summer of 2013 when it became painfully obvious that our 2011 Chevrolet Equinox LT was no longer meeting the needs of our expanded family. I did a good deal of comparison test reading as well as renting of larger CUVs in my journeys around the country in those days, anticipating the day when the Equinox would need to go. I drove them all—Pathfinder, Highlander, Pilot, Traverse, and Explorer—but the one that I always loved to see in the Emerald Aisle was the Flex.

National Car has several of them in the Great Lakes area airport fleets, mostly in Limited trim. I enjoyed driving them as rentals, simply because they drove more like a car than any of their lifted competitors. The Explorer and Flex, while nearly identical in most other respects, were simply not comparable in the joy-to-drive category. The Flex never drove as big as it was—from the driver’s seat, it actually felt smaller than our Equinox did.

Also, for those of you who don’t obsess over the personal vehicle purchases of TTAC writers, you may not remember that I’m not the first contributor here to own a Flex. Nope, that honor belongs to Jack, who had a baller two-tone Flex Limited that he used to tow his racing rig around the Midwest. I remember not being a huge fan of the aesthetics of the car (okay, I may have said that it looked like a hearse), but it always seemed like it would have been a great family car.

So, when the day came that a third-row was no longer simply desirable but mandatory, I only seriously considered the Explorer and Flex. In SE trim, each could be had for well under $30K, including all rebates and X-Plan pricing. And when I took Mrs. M. to drive them, even she had to begrudgingly admit that the Flex was the more enjoyable car to drive—which was important, because our Equinox had seen over 25k miles per year of driving through the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. The 2013 refresh of the Flex, which strays from the design language of both the Ford cars and Ford SUVs, improved the looks of the CUV to the point where she relented on her objections to its quadratical form. Of course, once we settled on the Flex, there really was no other color to consider other than “Mineral Gray,” or as TTAC readers might call it, “Brown.”

Well, here we are two and a half years later, and the Flex has over 55k on the clock. How has it fared? What’s the quality been like? Most importantly, would I buy it again, given the chance?

For the TL:DR crowd, the answers are:

Fantastic.
Amazingly good.
Heck to the yes.

Those who would like to know more can continue on.

I think I can describe my Flex ownership most accurately in the following way: I can’t think of any other vehicle that would do what I need it to do nearly as well as the Flex has.

The importance of the Flex’s ride height simply cannot be overstated. Not only can my six and four-year-old children get themselves in and out of the second row easily, so can my sixty-eight year old mother. This is the one area where it outshines every other vehicle in its class. I don’t know why middle-class America has decided that the elevated ride height of CUVs is a feature rather than a detriment, but I think it would only take a week or two behind the wheel of the Flex to change their collective minds. Not only has entry and exit been easier, loading groceries and Black Friday shopping runs into the cargo area is MUCH easier than in any other third-row CUV.

flexstorage

While the SE doesn’t have all the entertainment options available on higher priced models, that can largely be remedied with a $69 dual-screen DVD player. However, it is missing a feature that I desperately wish I had sprung for—the second-row bucket seats. The SE has the bench seat in the second row. Although my kids like having the middle seat available for stuffed animal and LeapPad storage, it makes getting back to the third row nearly impossible for adults, especially if car seats are installed. I would love a re-do on that buying decision.

Also, the third row seats shouldn’t be used by anybody larger than a non-Jack member of the Baruth family—which is to say, nobody over 5’9″ or 165 lbs should try to sit back there for any length of time. I’ve done it, but I didn’t enjoy it. My son, on the other hand, loves it back there. I think it’s the closest thing to a modern-day rear facing station wagon seat, where children can envelop themselves in their own little worlds of creativity while the adults drone on in the first two rows.

Fuel mileage, you say? Well…it isn’t good. In fact, it’s bad. Granted, Kentucky is not fuel mileage friendly, what with its picturesque rolling hills of blue grass and truckers who are determined to patrol the left lane of highway 64 with extreme prejudice. That being said, I’ve experience about 21 combined MPG from the non-EcoBoost V6. I think drivers who have a flatter commute could realistically expect closer to 24. Meh.

The compromise you make for lackluster fuel mileage is easily justified when power is applied with the right foot. Real-world acceleration has been incredibly good, even when weighed down with kids and luggage. The Flex has never met an on-ramp it didn’t like. While 0-60 might only be in the 7.5 second range, the 5-60 grunt from the torquey sixer means that you’ll never have trouble merging, and the old-school transmission never searches for the right gear (looking at you, Highlander).

No, not everybody loves the looks of it. But those who do really, really do. I field nearly as many questions from fellow motorists about the Flex as I do about my Boss. The 2013 refresh makes for a much more masculine looking ride—I never feel like I’m driving the Mom Taxi when I’m behind the wheel. In fact, when given the choice for daily driving, I pick the Flex far more often than I pick the Mustang. Sacrilege? Not really. The Flex is just an easier car to drive.

The more utilitarian of you might be wondering, “Why not a minivan?” The Flex doesn’t do minivan things as well as a minivan does, for certain. But it does car things much better. You can take a Flex out on the town and not feel like people are wondering why you’re out without your kids. Yes, you can get a base model like mine, but if you were so inclined, you could spend $50K on a murdered-out Limited and have one bad-ass urban assault vehicle.

It’s simply a matter of preference. After thirty months or so of Flex ownership, I can’t give the car anything but the highest marks. Maintenance cost has been limited to oil changes and standard scheduled maintenance. It is still running on the OEM tires and shocks. It’s inexpensive, it’s unique, and it’s wildly functional.

The Flex is also a fantastic example of a car that isn’t a huge seller yet still retains a great deal of its value on the used car market. A quick AutoTrader search reveals that it’s difficult to find one for less than $20K that isn’t either at least four model years old or has over 100k on the clock. So go ahead and take advantage of the fact that some Ford stores have a hard time unloading them and get a new one equipped exactly the way you like.

I anticipate driving my Flex until it hits the 150K mark, myself, and its flawless mechanical performance over the first nearly 60K gives me no reason to think that it won’t easily hit that milestone and beyond. However, when it comes time to replace it, I hope that Ford is still making new examples. Unlike nearly every other car I’ve ever owned, I have no itch to replace it with anything other than another one just like it.

Seems to me like that’s as good of a recommendation as I could make. If you’re in the market for a CUV, you should be in the market for a Flex.

barksgarage

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140 Comments on “Bark’s Bites: Two Years With the CUV That Flexes from Long Beach to Texas...”


  • avatar
    86er

    My wife bought a Flex a few months back and it has performed in all its intended roles admirably. It’s also painted that swell Cinnamon red with the white top, so it doesn’t look like the other amorphous greyscale blobs out there.

    I think I have a theory for the ride height preference. A lot of people spend a great deal of time in 4×4 trucks, whether as work or personal vehicles, and going from that into a Flex would make them think they’re “sitting on the ground”.

    I will have to have the Nazi analogy explained to me.

  • avatar
    7402

    I’ve always thought Ford should have sold this as the Lincoln Continental. With those slab sides it would be easy to tweak the lines a bit and throw a grill on reminiscent of the of the beautiful 4th generation Continental. With some nice upscale touches inside and badge appropriate goodies it probably would have sold better than the flex and maybe saved Lincoln to boot. Hell, you could probably have even made a sedan version and let the Checker-like proportions subliminally call to the livery crowd.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      They do make the Lincoln MKT, however it more resembles a prehistoric underwater apex predator than a stately old sedan from the Continent.

      • 0 avatar
        Felis Concolor

        One of the reasons the MKT hasn’t sold very well is definitely the Flex itself: the 3rd row in the Lincoln is a waste of space and the sloped roof line, while reducing visual size, also destroys the rear seat’s utility. People who cross shop the MKT and Flex tend to quickly cross the former off their list if they’re serious about carrying around more than 4 people.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Felis Concolor-

          It’s the looks too…

          I only have an MkT because they are cheaper than the Flex used, especially with the 3.5EB. It turns out that it’s a better vehicle for a family that isn’t going to get bigger than 4 people though.

          • 0 avatar
            bomberpete

            Maybe it’s because I live in NYC, but I have the impression most MkT models sold are black-on-black, have “Town Car” lettering and go right to the limo companies.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    Sounds like you feel about your flex the same way I feel about my ’04 Passat Wagon. But *sob* that ship has long sailed, so I’m hoping it’ll last a lot longer than its current 140k.

    I fear the Flex is doomed; it looks too much like a wagon, and consumers keep not buying those.

  • avatar
    50merc

    86er, me too on the Nazi-car analogy. I fail to see much resemblance between a Flex and a Mercedes typ W31 G4.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercedes-Benz_W31

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      If you take the W31 out of uniform it makes more sense

      http://www.panzerfux.de/panzerfux_e/prodpic/1-35-Mercedes-Benz-Typ-G4-W31-ICM-35532-ICM-35532_b_0.JPG

      Definitely a resemblance around the greenhouse

  • avatar
    danio3834

    “I can’t think of any other vehicle that would do what I need it to do nearly as well as the Flex has.”

    Are we ignoring minivans? Cause the Flex is pretty much a minivan. I know, don’t call it that.

    Also, 21 combined mpg is pretty decent for a vehicle of this size and weight.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      “The more utilitarian of you might be wondering, “Why not a minivan?” The Flex doesn’t do minivan things as well as a minivan does, for certain. But it does car things much better. You can take a Flex out on the town and not feel like people are wondering why you’re out without your kids.”

      End block quote.

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        “But it does car things much better. You can take a Flex out on the town and not feel like people are wondering why you’re out without your kids”

        So the only car thing it does is make you look like… Wait, the only reason you’d buy a Flex instead of an Edge is because you have kids, so that doesn’t work.

        I’m really struggling with this. Other than image, which is dubious, what does a Flex do better than top-trim Oddy, Sienna or T&C? I like the Flex, but I found it actually drives heavier than any minivan.

        • 0 avatar
          DeeDub

          It’s a minivan for those that are too vain to drive a minivan.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I have an MkT Ecoboost and have had significant time behind the wheel of the Flex. I find it drives much nicer than any of the minivan competition. That especially goes for long distance trips. If someone regularly takes 4+ hour driving trips, the Flex is the go to vehicle.

          My wife had to drive 5 hours, with our daughter, last weekend, through snow storms and ice. I can’t think of a vehicle I’d rather her drive than our AWD MkFlex.

        • 0 avatar
          bludragon

          I don’t get the out on a town part either. Perhaps when my kids are older?? No, the real reason a family man wants this car over a minivan is the towing capacity. Because (as mentioned in the article) race car.

        • 0 avatar
          George B

          For families who drive their children to school, conventional swinging back doors open and close faster than minivan sliding doors.

      • 0 avatar
        danio3834

        As psar noted, this block quote doesn’t adequately address why the obvious minivan comparison is ignored.

        There’s no reason why the average person wouldn’t equally assume that both would be family oriented vehicles, so I don’t buy the image thing.

      • 0 avatar
        smartascii

        I have to say, as both an enthusiast and a childless person, it confuses the heck out of me that this desire to pretend like you’re not a mommy/daddy only seems to manifest itself when the procreative types go car shopping. The rest of the time, they seem very intent on telling me how great their kids are, and how they changed their lives, and how I’m so totally missing out. Okay, fine. So why won’t you buy a minivan, again? Because people might think you’re a parent? …?!?

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          I didn’t buy a minivan because I couldn’t find the proper combination of a comfortable ride, upscale interior, towing capacity of 5000 lbs, car like handling, AWD, and 350+ HP in any of the minivans on sale currently. Anyone that drives one of these 5000 pound beasts isn’t disguising the fact that they are a parent.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Didn’t you buy an MKT? You have a Lincoln minivan.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I was responding to psar, who viewed the Flex as different from a minivan.

            I view the MkT as a minivan/wagon thing. It’s sort of in between, but I accept the fact that it’s a minivan with no sliding doors. It’s a Brougham minivan I guess. I should get an landau top for it.

            If you count my C-Max, I own two minivans built by a company that refuses to acknowledge that it builds minivans. They even market the consumer version of the Transit Connect as a wagon. I guess the Windstar and Freestar really ruined the idea of a Ford minivan.

          • 0 avatar
            zoomzoom91

            Are the MKTs really noticeably cheaper than the Flex on the used market? I personally like the Flex a lot, especially in twin-turbo guise, but whenever I recommend it to anyone shopping three row vehicles, more often than not they look at me sideways. Not sure why square is so polarizing. I guess it doesn’t blend in.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Zoomzoom91-

            Yes the MkT is noticably cheaper than a similar Flex in the used market. Obviously, we cannot compare a loaded up MkT to a Flex SE with cloth. Our MkT ended up costing around $5000 less than the most comparable Flex I could find. It also has a much better CPO warranty (among other things). That’s an extreme example, as our MkT had been on the lot for a couple months, but I found other MkTs that were cheaper than the Flexes I looked at.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “I guess the Windstar and Freestar really ruined the idea of a Ford minivan.”

            Bingo.

            It doesn’t matter what people call them, the MKFlexes are nice practical vehicles with good available powertrains, but there is little question about their purpose.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Dtremit-

            The MKX seems to be the Lincoln depreciation exception. All the other MK vehicles seem to go for well under 50% of MSRP after 2-3 years. That’s a CPO price too. When the new MKX drops this year, prices of the old body style may see increased depreciation. In 2017-2018, there will be a ton of off lease MKXs in the new body style. That may be a good time to buy too.

        • 0 avatar
          bludragon

          It’s more what people think of themselves than what other people think.

          The reality is that kids require giving up a whole bunch of stuff you previously enjoyed.

          The SUV sells to the part of people that like to treat themselves to some excess. Before kids a sports car might have been a better way to do that, but you need to give that up. A minvan has no other purpose than transporting people in comfort, hence the draw to the suv which has some capability to do more than that.

          • 0 avatar
            dtremit

            @bball40dtw I wish that depreciation carried over to the MKX — but it doesn’t seem to. I have been browsing CPO models, and don’t see a lot of deals out there. In most cases, a new, well-equipped Edge on A-plan is less than what they’re asking for a two-year-old MKX.

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          I’ve always thought a minivan is that one brief moment you can wear your battle medals publicly.

          Ms. Dave M.’s restrictor plate limited us to one….and I can’t seem to get that one to fatten up enough to sate my desire for a minivan….

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        I never understand why so many car guys, who almost never drive minivans, always want to poke fun and badger others for not wanting to buy minivans. Sure it might be more practical and a little more functional, but so is shopping at Kohls and wearing overalls and going to bed at 8PM on a Friday, no one wants to do any of that either. Face it, lots of people don’t WANT to drive a minivan, and if they’re laying out $30-50k of their own money, it’s going to be on something they WANT.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I don’t get 21 in my town commute, so that wasn’t sound too bad to me.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      No minivan has 365 hp. For me, the availability of the TT V6 is enough reason to choose the Flex. And I would if the buying decision were strictly up to me.

      My wife hates the look, though, so I doubt we’d get one if we had more kids and our Subie ended up being too small. I expect the go-to vehicles in that case would be the MDX and the Durango. EcoBoost or not, *I* can’t get past the look of the Explorer. I find it pig-ugly.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        I don’t like the Explorer look either (even though sales tell me I am wrong). To be fair, I don’t like the look of many of the midsized-large CUVs. The new Edge is the exception.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      So is it surprising to anyone that the guy who has a yellow Boss Mustang is at least a little concerned about image?? :)

      Like it or not, image is a huge reason why all cars sell, even the minivans. I cannot imagine a bigger waste of money than spending $40k+ for a top line Sienna or Odyssey, but to the upwardly mobile young moms, one of those minivans is more impressive to her friends than a Benz or BMW. Clearly the Flex is a minivan in disguise, but I can see where a black one with the silver trim looks classy and it meets his particular needs. I still wouldn’t buy one. For me, I like the image of a truck, so for a utility vehicle it will be a real SUV or a real truck. The kids learned how to climb in, we dealt with the car seats, grandma never really rides with us anyway so it works.

  • avatar
    bomberpete

    Bark – Glad your experience is good.

    As someone who grew up with a German-hating father, I don’t see the Nazi analogy at all. To me it’s more like a Range Rover knockoff or a Mini Cooper on steroids. Neither is bad in my eyes.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      I see it as an homage to the station wagons of old, but hey, it’s all in one’s point of reference.

      Certainly Bark didn’t have to elucidate to the extent he did to us car guys as to the Flex’s appeal.

    • 0 avatar

      You beat me to it on the nazi analogy and the MINI. That was exactly what I was going to say (I did not think of the range rover knockoff though).

      But, this thing is a CUV? No! It’s a station wagon!

      And, you drive 25K a year in the Appalachians? I’m impressed, and a bit envious. No, I don’t want to live in the Apps, but I would love to do some driving in them.

      Anyway, I guess we can say this thing has flex appeal.

    • 0 avatar
      cornellier

      The Nazi reference is just click bait. Better not to waste time on it.

  • avatar
    GS 455

    I absolutely love the way the Flex looks (my wife hates it). It looks like nothing else on the road and it has the perfect ride height and ease of ingress/egress. I’ve test driven quite a few SUVs and I just don’t like the way they ride and handle. The Flex seems to have the best of both worlds. I would get a Flex but I wish it came with a heeted steering wheel.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    If I had more disposable income, I’d be driving an EcoBoost Flex. They are boss. (word used intentionally)

    Yes, even though they are auto only.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Me too! Definitely the most solid feeling vehicle on the Ford lot. In my important judgment factor of how the doors close, and how solid the interior bits feel, it scored very highly.

      I must have EcoBoost, and Limited Titanium, and also the multi-sunroof thing.

      It ranks up there with a brown XC70, and I bet would win in my comparison.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Two tone Flexes are even more boss.

  • avatar
    Pahaska

    Still looks like a hearse. Ay my age(82), I stay as far from hearses as possible.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      You must never have seen an MKT hearse or an XTS hearse. This is much more attractive than those.

      http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s–wExlHmIJ–/c_fit,fl_progressive,q_80,w_320/18n6nx0gqjt3zjpg.jpg

      http://www.autogeek.info/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/heritage-..jpg

    • 0 avatar
      wstarvingteacher

      @ pahaska I hope I am around to comment like that in 10 more years. I won’t though because I would drive one of these in a heartbeat. Wish I could jack up my 57 and slip one of these under it. 13mpg in the 57.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Probably the best-looking Ford on the market–bar none.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Dang it I still want one! Too bad the resale values are so high on a vehicle “nobody wants”. I’m happy with my Highlander but I groove on the futuristic County Squire looks of the Flex.

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      It’s a budget-version Land Cruiser. No one wants one but they’re hard to get. I guess it’s profitable, so maybe Jim Farley isn’t as stupid as I thought.

      • 0 avatar
        Chicago Dude

        I know a couple people who drive the Flex and they all love them. It’s a small market niche but Ford apparently nailed it. You can’t get them used because, once purchased, nobody wants to get rid of them.

        It appears that a few Audi engineers are Flex fans, because the next Q7 is a German Flex. Hopefully that validation makes Ford build a next generation, because I’d be interested.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Dan, you let me down – I was certain you would have gotten one by now!

      Personally, I love these, and believe Ford really messed up by not naming it the “Country Squire”. “Flex”? What’s that mean? I suppose it’s flexible in how versatile it is, which I would agree.

      Anyway, I think these would look best with some wood on the sides…

      • 0 avatar
        This Is Dawg

        From all the Flex reviews I’ve read, it seems like the buyer’s wife always gets hung up on the looks. I can’t imagine naming this thing “Country Squire” would convince any more of these wives. Can your wife imagine bragging about her new “Country Squire?” I know mine wouldn’t.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          I am surprised then, that the Taurus X / Freestyle didn’t sell better, as essentially the same vehicle.

          The Eddie Bauer and Limited versions of the restyle one (LED tail lamps) is pretty nice.

          That’s also a way to get a much cheaper Flex.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            The Freestyle/Taurus X actually had a couple years of better sales than the Flex. 2005-2007 were better sales years for that model than the Flex has ever had. The Flex has never hit 40% of it’s 100K a year original sales target. More Freestyles/Taurus Xs have been sold then Flexes (207K to 193K). That was done in basically two fewer years too.

            The Explorer is just a restyled Taurus X with LR cues, a mild lift, and better engines/transmissions. That’s the ticket to 200K units a year…

  • avatar
    Erikstrawn

    I wanted to buy a Flex to replace my wife’s ’00 Accord V6, but used Flexes were well over 10k around here. Ended up buying an ’05 Scion xB for $4500. 30mpg and my 6’6″ teenage son can fit in the back with plenty of room. Parts availability is good, and people are bailing on them dirt cheap now that gas is $1.60/gal. It’s a budget alternative that is truly unsung.

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      My buddy has a ’06 Scion XB — the last lighter one — and loves it. His job commute just went down to nothing so it should last quite awhile.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      An alternative to “Boxy Vehicle”, but not one to “Three Row vehicle”.

      The Flex is significantly larger, after all.

      • 0 avatar
        Erikstrawn

        True on the third row, but it does fit eight foot 2x4s and the rear seats fold flat for larger stuff. We also have a Suburban we keep around for hauling a trailer. One of the bonuses with a Flex is that we could sell the Suburban as well. They just haven’t depreciated enough yet.

  • avatar
    Scoutdude

    Had the Flex been introduced a few years earlier I likely would have bought one. However by the time they came to market we were on the downward portion of the need for a 7 passenger vehicle curve. We decided that it was better to keep the old SUV for times when we needed to carry more people, cargo or tow and get a sedan for the majority of driving. That limited the driving of the SUV to ~5,000 miles per year allowing it to go from high miles for the year to low miles for the year and last us many more years.

    I still look at Flexes on the used market from time to time and as Bark has noted they hold their value well anything under $20K is usually pretty high miles, rebuilt title, a basest of base models or some combination of the 3. For a “3rd” vehicle that wouldn’t see much use I can’t justify buying a new one nor spending anywhere near the asking price of the used ones that interest me.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    I don’t recall ever reading a Flex review until now. To my surprise, they’re still selling well – 23k units last year in the US.

    I once sat in a $40k Flex at the auto show, and remember hating it, and thinking it was way overpriced. So this review was a pleasant jolt.

    The Flex’s looks remind me of a scaled-up and stretched Scion xB1.

    Thanks for answering the minivan question, but I don’t accept the image problem as a good reason to reject a minivan. Now on my 4th minivan, I really think they have more overall utility than a large wagon (Flex) or a truck.

    However, two advantages I can see for the Flex over a minivan: fuel economy and seating position. My minivans have always gotten around 15 mpg in town (1996-2009), and you do have to climb up a bit to sit in one.

    • 0 avatar
      thats one fast cat

      IIRC the Flex (particularly the ecoboost model) has a much higher rated tow capacity than minivan(s) – even uprated ones.

      There seems to be a male/female thing about the Flex – my fam rented one for a 10 day sojourn out west and I thought it was fantastic, hauled three kids plus in-laws well along with the luggage. I liked the way it looked and the way that it handled.

      My wife? Well, not so much.

      • 0 avatar
        baconator

        Towing capacity is 4500 lbs for a Flex with the tow package. That’s helpfully bigger than the 3000-3500 lb ratings of minivans, but it means you have to tow your race car on an aluminum trailer instead of U-Haul’s 2500-lb rental bridge trestle.

        I’d be a lot more excited about it if it had a capacity in the 5500-7000lb range. It’s certainly got the horsepower and torque, so I’m guessing the transmission and brakes are the limiting factor.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        “My wife? Well, not so much.”

        That’s it in a nutshell as to why the Flex doesn’t sell better. The kid haulers (women) don’t like them. End of story

        • 0 avatar
          TrailerTrash

          you folks nailed it.
          women do not like it.
          I was telling my wife as I read how although nobody buys it…you cannot get them used cause nobody gets rid of them once purchased.
          She just barked back…It is Ugly…No!
          So we will never get the one car I want.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            When that happens to me, I go buy it anyway. If it were up to her, we’d have 3 Suburbans.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “When that happens to me, I go buy it anyway”

            Your sofa must be getting pretty worn out from you sleeping on it so often

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @danio

            Nice to see someone around here has some balls!

            I’m pretty sure all my married guy friends had theirs removed on their wedding nights.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            “Your sofa must be getting pretty worn out from you sleeping on it so often”

            She’s not some kind of vain b1tch, so it’s not really a big deal. We don’t fight about such things. We change vehicles around enough that whatever it is will probably be replaced in short order anyway. If she really hates whatever it is, she can always drive the F150. It’s gigantic, cumbersome and therefore acceptable to her.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      So far, the Flex seems to enjoy much higher quality and reliability over Chrysler/Dodge minivans, while being something of a good value over the expensive Honda, Toyota and Nissan minivans.

      Everyone Ive known whos had a late model T&C/Caravan has had mechanical issues, complained of poor quality, and had pretty sharp depreciation. Almost like nothing has improved, quality wise, since the crappy earlier ones. I see Hondas and even Toyotas with bad transmissions for sale at steep discounts online. I must be the only one who doesnt hate the newer Quest (anythings better than the bloated Versa look of the old one), but I wouldnt choose one over a Flex.

      • 0 avatar
        SCE to AUX

        We’re very happy with our 09 Sedona, which has been very affordable and reliable.

      • 0 avatar
        NN

        We bought a late model (2013) Quest this year and love it. The Flex & was the only other real competition. I wanted something with some unique or interesting qualities about it, three row and spacious, but something that would be reliable, also. Love Suburbans but too expensive and too much gas for my wife who drives 25k/year (we bought in June before the oil crash). Quest won us over with the quality of the interior & convenience of sliders. Wife never loved the looks of the Flex, actually preferred the minivan. But I know I would have been quite happy with one of those as well.

  • avatar
    vtnoah

    Wife and I are starting to look at 3rd row vehicles as our twins start to gain in girth and length. I’m pushing for an EcoBoost Flex if we can swing it but she’s not sold on the looks. Hoping I can get her to at least take a test drive and that will swing her to my side. Then it’s just a matter of a quick tune and I’ll be rocking a 500hp Super wagon. Yes Please!

  • avatar
    Tinn-Can

    When I see these I think “Old people too fat to fit into an XB.”

  • avatar
    CaptainObvious

    Definitely have to chime in here and say I love the looks of the Flex – but my wife not at all. Ended up with a Mazda CX9.

    • 0 avatar
      AlfaRomasochist

      We did the same thing. We both liked the Flex but decided it was too much money for what it was, ended up in a AWD Touring CX-9 for quite a bit less than an el-strippo Flex. It’s fine for what it is, but we wish we had gone with another minivan. These days the Mazda doesn’t get as much use around town since it’s much easier to get the way-back crew in and out of the Volvo with its rear facing 3rd row.

      Don’t the Flex and the CX-9 share a platform? I know the Mazda got the 3.7 Duratec instead of the 3.5 in the Flex but I think they’re both Edge based. Could be wrong, too lazy to look it up.

      • 0 avatar
        dtremit

        The Edge and CX-9 are both CD3-based (derived from the original Mazda6). The Flex is on the same D4 platform as the Explorer (originally derived from the Volvo S80).

    • 0 avatar
      thats one fast cat

      Holy Cow, Batman — us too.

      Pushed mightily for Flex, ended up with CX9 AWD with every option. The kids liked the back seat of the CX9 better (!) and the wife was a no go on the cut rate range rover. Oh well, at least we didn’t end up with another R500 (that we were thankfully trading out of)

      • 0 avatar
        Chocolatedeath

        Funny thing is I almost got a 2007 R500 too. DAMN. Its amazing how things work out aint it. Are there really that many of us that considered all three of the vehicles as our top choices?

    • 0 avatar
      Chocolatedeath

      Damn. I thought that I was the only one. I love my 08 CX9 but really wanted the Flex. My wife wanted the Flex as well however Ford dealer at the time only wanted to give 1k off retail. Got the Mazda for 10k fully loaded. Only thing missing was the GameBoy port. I still lust after the Flex and wife has said that in four years if they are still making them that I can have one. Thanks honey…lol

  • avatar
    jfbramfeld

    It’s an interesting car. And since when is 0-60 in 7.5 slow? That’s a tenth of a second slower than my Jaguar S-type. While it isn’t fast, surely there is some middle ground where 7.5 is more than reasonable for a big station wagon, or whatever.

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      It’s not slow. I had a 2000 Eclipse that did 0-60 in 7.2 and that was considered pretty good.

      More importantly, not that long ago minivans and light-duty truckie-type things did 0-60 in 9-11 seconds with all that weight. They had torque and mid-range thrust so no one except auto journalists screamed about it too much.

  • avatar
    bnolt

    With two 8mo old twin granddaughters (and one more on the way), my wife wanted something a little more spacious than our 04 Tribute. We looked at the Flex. I like the styling, but my wife was ambivalent(or bemused)about my choice. She wouldn’t even sit in it. She looked in through the rear door and said “Nope, not going to work”. The Explorer and CX-9 weren’t gonna work either.

    We ended up with a Grand Caravan SXT. I wasn’t willing to drop what they want for the Sienna or Odyssey and the Quest is a bit odd looking, to say the least.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    As one who drives the murdered out version (Kodiak Brown w/Ti package) I’ll confirm the glances and questions which are asked during daylight hours; I think part of it stems from the new front end treatment which evokes the look of GE’s early EMD locomotives.

    Here at high altitudes, I’m noticing a lot of Flex Limiteds which I’m assuming are also equipped with the turbocharged engine option to humble the hills, especially the infamous I-70 West out of Denver and the occasional Walsenburg-Alamosa stretch.

    I can’t recall where I read a statement regarding the Flex’s average transaction price but apparently it was somewhere over $40K, which means people ordering them really love their luxury features and are willing to add on the leading/bleeding edge options. At a steady 24K units per year I feel this is a signal to Ford to keep the model but move it steadily upmarket; make it the flagship people mover and provide more than enough gee-whiz-bang features available for the customer. Being able to shuttle kids around while running several other errands including picking up or dropping off bulky items is nice, and when we go to a major metro area to visit with friends and see a show, movie or nice restaurant, the cushy interior and good rear seat room make my car a no-brainer when it comes time to figure out who’s driving.

    My height comes from my upper body, so I sit taller in seats than someone of more normal proportions, and I don’t have any difficulty using the 3rd row seats in my Flex; the presence of the glass roof with its attendant headliner cutouts might provide those crucial extra inches to make the 3rd row more accommodating than base models.

  • avatar
    Eric the Red

    I have a 2012 Flex SE. It replaced a 2008 Buick Enclave. I loved the Enclave for the first three years and then it went to HELL. A paid for vehicle with low miles that we HAD loved quickly turned into a POS. Finally we had to say if we are going to pay this much for repairs then why not get a new vehicle. Can’t replace a bad vehicle (or a poorly aging vehicle) with the same model so turned to the Flex.
    YES it takes some time to get used to the style. Once you get beyond that it is a great vehicle. I have ridden and drove the Explorers many times and they aren’t a pimple on the *** of this vehicle. The Flex drives with more sport (yes sport) than the Explorer, it rides better, holds more, can haul more people, etc.
    The Flex definitely is a smaller stature vehicle than the Enclave I had but it does everything as good if not better than the Enclave. Other than a slightly smaller storage area (although still not small) the seating capacity is the same.
    2 1/2 years with no problems or issues.
    BUT it was the fourth year of the Enclave that bit me!

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      Your Enclave sounds like the GM story since…well, forever. The rot really seems to set in @50-80K miles.

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      The only reason the Explorer (as a CUV) exists is to pick up sales that were being left on the table by the Flex. Personally, I would rather have the Flex, too. I really havent liked the Explorer since the second generation was phased out.

      A friend was looking at CUVs. She drove a Traverse and an Explorer. I tried to get her to look at a Flex, she refused. She ended up with a demo Chevy with like 400 miles on it, LT trim. She paid less for it than the Ford dealer wanted for a used Explorer Limited. The only new Explorer on the lot was a Limited as well.

    • 0 avatar
      zoomzoom91

      We have an 07 Acadia and similar stories to tell. Blew the engine, conveniently just over 100K. Several sunroof leaks. Other little issues. I pushed for the Flex but no one else would even test drive one. A better name wouldn’t hurt.

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    GE (General Electric) did not manufacture EMD (Electro-Motive Division of General Motors)locomotives. The early GEs, from the 1960s, would be the U25B, U28 and U30. EMDs of that era were GP30, GP40 and SD45. Later editions would be SD40-2, SDP40F (my license plate of my Amtrak Buick Terazza) and PH40.
    My Buick Rainier is painted to resemble the Milwaukee Road SDL-39 #586 from 1972.
    If the Ford Flex looks like a GE “U-Boat”, then it’s fine with me!
    My nephew drove 500 miles to buy a Flex in Glendale, Arizona,on our way to pick up our 1976 GMC Motorhome being rebuilt in Chino Valley.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    The Flex/MkT have a longer wheelbase than the Explorer. That is part of why the ride seems better. Plus, it adds more rear legroom.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    “It looks like one of the cars that the Nazis rode around in”

    Which is odd, since it looks nothing like a VW Thing, which looks like a Kuebelwagen.

    Nor does it also look like a Mercedes 770 Hitlermobile.

    What was she even thinking of?

    (I can understand it being polarizing; I think it’s handsome and clean, my dad thinks it’s horribly boxy.)

    • 0 avatar
      JohnTaurus_3.0_AX4N

      I really, really dont get that refrence, either. Over the past year or so, Ive watch a dozen or more Nazi/WWII documentries. Nothing about the Flex resembles any vehicle in that era, only the color of the author’s model kinda looks like the “Nazi-brown” uniforms their lower rank (IIRC) wore.

  • avatar
    Sigivald

    “I would love a re-do on that buying decision.”

    Is it not possible to just buy seats from a recycler (from a wrecked one) and replace the bench with buckets?

    You might look into that.

    It *ought* to be a relatively simple swap; if there’s power adjustment for the middle row buckets, they’re probably pre-wired in every chassis to save effort, and if not, well, that may not be a dealbreaker for the kids, especially in child seats.

  • avatar
    mikeg216

    Think of the flex as a modern bauhaus inspired Vista cruiser. I suspect that this model will live a long and profitable life as it’s chassis is shared by several products that sell much more. Also the average transaction price on a flex is around $43000 there’s obviously a market for it and so does ford after all they are getting ready to introduce a explorer that starts at $53000 right at where the limited titanium edition tops out at

  • avatar
    TrailerTrash

    Reading through all the post above…I think TTAC has solved the Flex sales issue.
    Women just do not like it.
    Read through all the post and just count how many wives say negative things about the Flex and how many of us guys like it.
    Wow…really an eye opener.

  • avatar
    Wodehouse

    The ford Flex is a great car. They ride and drive so much better than anything else in the grown up size class including the CX-9

    It looks a bit like a shrunken 1970 Chevy Suburban and I love that.

  • avatar
    Mikein08

    The Veterans Administration buys quite a few of these for transporting
    patients from place to place. I’ve driven one for the VA for 3 or 4
    years now. My personal criteria for a vehicle like is, how well does it
    do in snow? And the answer is, very well. It’s quite functional for
    what we use it for, my only gripe being that the driver’s seat is not
    quite big enough for my fat ass. Don’t know about fuel economy, don’t
    know about reliability, don’t care about ugly or pretty, but it does do
    its intended job quite well.

  • avatar
    baggins

    I am 6’4″ with my height in my torso. I loved the headroom in the Flex I sat in a few years back. Thought the interior was quite nice as well.Less bullish on the looks.

    But we have an 2014 Odyssey, a true 3 row vehicle.

    We removed the passenger side second row captains chair and now access for everything is a breeze. And holds 6 with good of space for 5 of the 6 passengers Only the 3rd row pass on the drivers side is limited on space. Plus holds 8 if put the seat back in.

    But the biggest plus over a flex or indeed any CUV is the 35 cubic feet behind the 3rd row. I dont think you can do a road trip in a flex or any CUV with 3 rows in place and luggage for all as well.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    If I’m honest, I didn’t even know they still made these.

    They’re not uncommon on the roads, I guess I just don’t notice them. I bet the Ecoboost is a good sleeper.

  • avatar
    AoLetsGo

    I have the Edge not the Flex. It works for us since we have two big kids who are not around much and don’t car pool anymore. Usually it is just me with the back seats down, a 4×8 commercial rug in the back to keep it clean from the bike or dog.
    My co-worker’s wife has the Flex with 60k on it and she just had a strange problem with it. As it was explained to me, part of the rear suspension just snapped as she was driving (25mph thankfully) and the rear wheel angled in and rubbed against the body. Sorry I can’t be more specific it was not explained very well to me and I am not that mechanical. Might be something you want inspected though.

  • avatar
    jeffzekas

    The Flex is one of the worst cars I’ve driven: the touch screen is a pain to use, distracting when driving. The rear seats are cramped. The seat belts are always sticking. The remote rear hatch is unnecessary. And all the tech will break in 5 years, making for an expensive car that cannot be fixed by an enthusiast. Best car for families: 1986 Ford Crown Victoria Station Wagon: low tech, cheap parts, and high reliability.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I see what you did there.

      P.S. The Country Squire is a great recommendation. If some of you think getting your woman into a Flex is a tough sell, try buying some old station wagons.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Lol, I know a guy who almost scored a showroom ’71 Country Squire. I mean this thing was perfect, was buying it just to be a winter beater/Home Depot go getter. $1200.00 Wife said NO!

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          I would have bought it then told her it was her new primary whip. I’m a jerk like that. My wife has come to appreciate some very oddball vehicles over the years after initially hating them.

          • 0 avatar
            bomberpete

            You’re lucky. Most guys would end up sleeping in the garage.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            When we met I was a car hoarder, and not much has changed. So she knew what she was getting into.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            My wife wouldn’t care what I brought home to drive myself (as long as I didn’t break the bank) but I’d be sleeping with the cats for awhile if I brought home her car without telling her about it. And, unfortunately, she hates the looks of the Flex, although she’s driven one and appreciates that it drives better (even in NA form) than other big three-row vehicles.

  • avatar
    thegamper

    I leased for my wife what I believe was a 2009 Flex, limited trim, black with silver roof, captain chairs. It was a great car, I liked it quite a bit. So smooth for highway driving, quiet and spacious on the inside. In limited trim, is remarkably plush for a volume brand vehicle. I agree with the author that it drives much smaller than it is. I have driven quite a few 3 row vehicles since my family of 5 required the space. I have to say that the Flex handles almost shockingly well for its heft and dimensions. I would love to have leased or purchased another for my wife. I would recommend it to anyone. However, when I was shopping for a limited, I wasn’t finding the deals that I got in 2009 and I am a deal chaser so I had to look elsewhere.

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    I always liked the Flex, rented them and Chrysler Town and Countrys about 50/50. I preferred driving (and looking at) the Flex. My wife absolutely hates them, more than she despises minivans.

    There seems to be a common thread here – how can a vehicle evoke such negative reactions in women only?

    I drive a sporty CUV as the kid hauler. V8, AWD, trailer hitch and room for 5 + luggage. It’s as close to a flex as I’m liable to get.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      My wife daily drives the even more offensive looking MkT. When we bought it, I told her that she wouldn’t have to look at the outside while driving, and she really likes how it drives. The look of it has grown on her and she really likes the vehicle.

  • avatar
    Domestic Hearse

    This is the first review I’ve ever read that led with Godwin’s Law. That said, I’ve ridden in a Flex with four other cyclists after a Century ride. The Flex was incredibly spacious, room for all our gear and us, comfortable, smooth. It may have been the exhaustion talking, but it was one of the most relaxing, enjoyable conveyances I’ve ever had.

  • avatar
    ringomon

    I’m lucky enough to have a wife that actually loves the looks of the flex. (She’s Japanese, so make of that what you will).

    We both really like them. Living in the Detroit area we see a good number of them. Around Columbus where we lived before not so much.

    Only problem is the price. Just too high for us having young kids and a new house and trying to be responsible budgeting.

    Ended up with a Mazda 5. Which has the added benefit of sliding doors in our narrow garage where I’m not even sure I could park a Flex. Third row only good for short trips and leaves zero cargo area though.

    Maybe for the replacement when the kids are a bit bigger- if they’re still making them.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      Ford managers, or their spouse, are driving the Flex right now as amanagement lease. You will see a ton of them. I know four different managers that have a Flex in their household. All Limiteds, with the Ecoboost V6, AWD, and black roof/wheels. Gray, red, and white are popular colors to match the black roof. They replaced Explorer Sports from the year prior.

      You will also see the Flex in many upper middle class neighborhoods around Detroit, since people tend to buy domestic. I live on a dead end street with 18 houses, and four households have a Flex.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    From the Ford Flex Website
    Weight: FWD 3.5L TiVCT 4439 lb
    EPA-Estimated Ratings (Actual mileage will vary) FWD: 18 city/25 highway/20 combined
    AWD: 17 city/23 highway/19 combined

    It’s just about identical in weight to our Oddy and has identical EPA mileage for the FWD model. All in all, a big SW with a smallish, but usable 3rd row seat. Mini van functionality in a different package.

  • avatar

    I love love love the Flex, but have a hard time believing I’d rather have one for Mom Car duty (and all the abuse that entails) than a $20k Caravan (that does People Mover duty better) and an extra $20k to play with.

    We currently have a Mazda 5 in a desperate attempt to have a better-driving family car, but to be honest it mostly falls between all the stools. I console myself with the fact that it was 19k brand new and is now paid off.

    • 0 avatar
      dtremit

      Ah, but the $20k Caravan isn’t equipped nearly as well as a base $29k Flex, let alone a $40k model.

      Below the $27k SXT, the Caravan is stuck with a manual driver seat and steel wheels.

      As for the people mover duty, it depends on the people. The Flex has some of the most comfortable seats I have ever sat in. The second row seats in the Caravan are pretty dire for adults beyond short trips.

  • avatar
    John

    I guess the more things change, the more they remain the same. I was struck by the pink Huffy bike in the picture – I remember putting one together for my daughter. She had the same foot powered car too. I was driving a Plymouth Voyager minivan, and constantly fooling with my ’91 Mustang LX 5.0 to beat my neighbor who had a Grand National, one quarter mile at a time. Good times. Savor them.

  • avatar
    Nichodemus

    When I saw the picture of the Flex, I thought for sure this was going to be the dreaded “Last Year Of The Ford Flex” article. I want one of these so bad, but no, you don’t find many used ones.

  • avatar
    johnharris

    I bought a Flex in 2009, to be used 80% for work and 20% for home. I’ve put 100,000 very hard miles on it.

    Only problems:

    A broken rear trailing arm, reason unknown—might have been caused by an employee running over something. That led to a near-stranding.

    The crappy plastic cladding on the A and B pillars (both sides!) fell off on the highway at various times. About $250 to have the dealership replace those. They told me it happened all the time to the Flex.

    No other mechanical issues, even though this one has been borderline abused.

    Major likes:

    Wonderful for long road trips, usually towing boats. My colleagues fight over who gets to drive it cross-country. One employee eventually bought his own.

    Gigantic, highly functional interior, yet from the outside it doesn’t look that big.

    Low roof compared to the usual SUV makes for easy cartopping of kayaks and small boats.

    I hope they keep it in production, but my personal record on this is not good. The Flex replaced my Honda Element! Like the Flex, a car beloved by owners but no one else.

  • avatar

    Wife just replaced her 2008 Nissan Quest with a 2014 Ford Flex SEL. Purchased the Flex used with 20,xxx miles.

    She’s been very happy with the Flex, feels more like a car than a SUV. I’ve always loved station wagons, but the larger SW is no longer available.

    We appreciate the positive feedback from an owner with some real world mileage on the car.

  • avatar
    stevelovescars

    A Flex might also be chosen over a minivan because it can be had an AWD configuration. The only minivan I’m aware of left on the market that offers all-wheel-drive is the Sienna and it costs more, if one can even find one.

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