By on April 8, 2016

2016 Ford Flex Limited Exterior Front 3/4, Image: © 2016 Jeff Voth/The Truth About Cars

2016 Ford Flex AWD Limited

3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, twin-turbocharged (365 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm, 350 lbs-ft of torque @ 3,500 rpm)

Six-speed automatic, all-wheel drive

16 city / 22 highway / 18 combined (EPA Rating, mpg)

18 mpg (Observed)

Base Price (SE FWD): $30,495 (U.S.)/$33,689 (Canada)

As Tested: $50,020 (U.S.)/$58,489 (Canada)

All prices include $895 destination charge (U.S.) or $1,790 freight fee and A/C tax (Canada).

“Get that thing off my driveway!” was how Ford’s former executive director of design Peter Horbury described his wife’s reaction the first time she saw the newest people-mover from Ford back in 2008. It was a radical shift for a company that recently exited the minivan market (goodbye Freestar) in favor of something more in tune with the times.

At least that was the plan.

Keeping with the “free” theme, the Freestyle debuted in 2005, lasting until 2007 when it was rebadged the Ford Taurus X as part of the new Taurus family of cars in 2008. This was also back in the day of the infamous Ford Five Hundred, Mercury Montego and Ford’s ongoing relationship with Swedish automaker now-Chinese-owned Volvo. And you thought family holidays were challenging.

Ford decided to squash the Freestyle/Taurus X and replace it with the hearse-like Ford Flex built exclusively at the Oakville Assembly Plant in Ontario, Canada. Sitting in the car with me on that memorable spring day, I could tell by his honesty Mr. Horbury knew the Flex was a huge risk.

Building it outside of the U.S. was a smart move. If it wasn’t successful, they could easily blame Ford’s oversized highway canoe on those crazy Canucks of the north. Seriously, what rational country has a beaver as its national animal?

2016 Ford Flex Limited EcoBoost Engine, Image: © 2016 Jeff Voth/The Truth About Cars

Exterior

Not all is hostile on the outside of the Ford Flex, with significant changes taking place in model year 2013. But first impressions sure make it difficult to see past what’s essentially a big box. Ford tries really hard to add some flash to the outer shell with character body-side groves, a big FLEX logo on the front hood, dual chrome tailpipes and brushed metal strips on the grille.

2016 Ford Flex Limited Exterior Rear 3/4, Image: © 2016 Jeff Voth/The Truth About Cars

The all-wheel-drive Limited model I am testing this week adds the Appearance Package for extra punch. It features 20-inch gloss-black machined aluminum wheels, a black-painted roof and color-keyed front and rear bumpers. HID headlights and LED taillamps also help the look, while providing excellent lighting at night. During the day, they are one of the few bright spots on an otherwise monochromatic exterior.

2016 Ford Flex Limited EcoBoost Engine, Image: © 2016 Jeff Voth/The Truth About Cars

Interior

Inside, Flex offers seating for seven and a long list of standard and optional features. Front seats in the Limited impress with 10-way power plus heating and cooling. But there is a definite lack of legroom up front and getting in and out provides the opportunity to smash my knee against the dash on several occasions, even though the low door sill is designed for easy entry. Headroom is never an issue; neither is visibility with large windows and wide open sightlines. The optional multi-pane glass roof allows natural light to flood the interior during the day, or serious star-gazing at night.

Second row seats come in a 60/40 split arrangement and offer an available center armrest cooler to keep things on ice. Our test vehicle is equipped with optional inflatable rear safety belts for added protection. The 50/50 third row is power activated on our test vehicle, with a useful feature that allows for rearward facing seats at the push of a button. Outdoor sports fans take note.

2016 Ford Flex Limited EcoBoost Engine, Image: © 2016 Jeff Voth/The Truth About Cars

A power liftgate makes putting all your stuff in the back or taking it out a hassle-free experience. Storage is never an issue with the Ford Flex and this is one of the main reasons why you may want to consider it instead of a minivan.

Packed to the roof with suitcases and seven people, it proved this fact to me several years ago on a drive from Los Angeles to Phoenix, Arizona. Complaints from the second- and third-row seats were minimal at best and had nothing to do with the Flex, but rather how fast we could get to a spring training baseball game.

2016 Ford Flex Limited Interior Driver View, Image: © 2016 Jeff Voth/The Truth About Cars

Technology

Active park assist allows me to occupy tight spaces normally reserved for smaller vehicles. A fun feature when parking the Ford Focus or Escape, any stress related to parallel parking the big Flex is quickly removed with the push of a button.

Adaptive cruise control allows me to keep pace with the traffic and improve fuel economy. Set the desired distance and let the Flex do the driving. Advanced collision warning with brake support is ready to take over if things turn ugly in rush hour traffic. Personally, I still prefer the old style cruise control as constant slowing down and speeding up is not my favorite way to spend time behind the wheel.

2016 Ford Flex Limited EcoBoost Engine, Image: © 2016 Jeff Voth/The Truth About Cars

Drivetrain

Power comes in the form of a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 twin-turbocharged gasoline engine. It delivers impressive performance with 365 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 350 lbs-ft of torque at 3,500 rpm. Matched to a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive, the Flex is no demon off the line, but holds speed with ease on the highway.

2016 Ford Flex Limited, Image: © 2016 Jeff Voth/The Truth About Cars

Drive

Here is where it gets tricky and why the Flex is such a conundrum for me.

While it may be truly garish on the outside, driving it is gratifying and completely stress-free once behind the wheel. Independent suspension handles the daily bumps and bangs of city driving. Take to the highway and it feels like you are cruising in a luxo-liner. Only when the road starts to turn corners and four-lane highways narrow down to two does it let you know the Flex is more minivan than sedan.

Inside the cockpit, I notice a few too many rattles and squeaks for my liking. Wind noise is obvious, but it’s no surprise given the generous proportions of glass both on the side and the roof. Engine noise is controlled and not overly obtrusive. The stereo, navigation system and HVAC controls are logical and much better than in the past. With every new version of Ford Sync comes a little more thought and common sense.

2016 Ford Flex Limited Exterior Front Closeup, Image: © 2016 Jeff Voth/The Truth About Cars

Pricing

Base price for the 2016 Ford Flex AWD Limited starts at $38,895. Our fully loaded test vehicle is equipped with features such as all-wheel drive, the equipment group, a multipanel Vista roof and more, bringing the total to $45,350.

Current rumors indicate this may be the last year for the Ford Flex — but I don’t believe it. The Flex faithful appreciate its practical side and seem content to look past the exterior shell. So far, Ford remains quiet on the topic.

Whatever the long term plan, it’s clear both Mr. and Mrs. Horbury were correct in their assessment of this polarizing people-mover. The outside may not be its best attribute, but close the doors and what you get is exceptional space for seven and a drivetrain that, for the most part, keeps you moving down the road without complaint.

And then there is that one key point why you may want to consider the Ford Flex for your family: at least it’s not a minivan.

Disclosure: Ford Canada provided the vehicle and insurance for this review.

[Images: © 2016 Jeff Voth/The Truth About Cars]

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173 Comments on “2016 Ford Flex AWD Limited Review – It’s What’s Inside That Counts...”


  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    With Fords, especially, there really ought to be some effort to give a street price, since the MSRP looks ridiculous. “Ford priced this at $45,350, but in reality any competent negotiator will drive one home for $35k + TTL” makes the MSRP a bit less laughable.

    • 0 avatar
      Arthur Dailey

      Exactly. Although I like the idea of the Flex and it has received good reliability reports, but its pricing is 50% higher than a comparable Dodge Caravan and in reality it doesn’t do anything that much better than a Caravan.

      Therefore, Ford has severely limited its available market.

      Those willing to spend $35k to nearly $60k are going to look elsewhere.

      Those that really want a Flex are going to wait and try to scoop a used/off lease one.

      As an aside, I believe that the Freestar/Taurus X was actually a much better looking vehicle and a better size.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        “Hey honey, you want this hearse-looking Ford thing, or one of those Lexus RXs that all your friends have?”

        (death glare)

        “Okay, let’s go to the Lexus dealer!”

        • 0 avatar
          VoGo

          Good point, Chris,
          Although that blue is gorgeous!

        • 0 avatar
          319583076

          Right on. At $50k MSRP, I don’t see the value proposition here.

        • 0 avatar
          duffman13

          Part of how we ended up with a newish Santa Fe rather than a Flex – the wife thought it was the best looking car that had the leg room and 3 rows in our price range. She laughed when I showed her what the flex looked like.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          I think the Flex looks far better than the current RX monstrosity.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            You like it for two reasons over the RX:

            1) You’re a man.
            2) You’re interested in cars.

          • 0 avatar

            The RX drives like s**t. I just had in a 2010 350 and a 2012 400h. I don’t understand the suspension setup at all. Its like a well-worn Oldsmobile without the charm.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            I guess I’m a car interested man as well then…

            I always liked the look of the Volvo V70 over the sloping rear hatchwagons everyone else seemed to be pitching, for much the same reason I prefer the look of the Flex.

            Of course, I did at one point drive around in, and sometimes sleep in, a retired Cadillac Hearse, so I may be a bit biased.

          • 0 avatar
            05lgt

            Isn’t the Highlander a more appropriate cross shop?

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          This sums it up. I’m glad that automakers occasionally build something a bit different, but it is surprising that Ford made a business case for a people mover that appeals more to men than women.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          I don’t think the Flex looks like a hearse.

          On the other hand, the MKT only needs a set of landau bars to complete the picture.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      The 2016 Flexes aren’t discounting much at all, which isn’t as bad as it sounds since there are still more 2015s on the lot than new ones.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Having had a couple of these as rentals, I don’t find $45k to be out of line for a loaded AWD one. They are NICE vehicles.

      But that said, I can’t see why I would buy one over an equally loaded van. I have no use for AWD in an on-road vehicle, and the van is more useful.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      Ford just can’t win with the Flex. They built something different, powerful, surprisingly nice, unique, and drives well. In other words, just what enthusiasts claim they want.

      They then get criticized for not pricing it like a minivan? This is why automakers should stop listening to enthusiasts.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        that’s par for the course. Enthusiasts want the car companies to make them their precious unicorn cars with a carefully curated list of options, and don’t want to pay a cent more than $15,000 for it new.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      I love when people complain about pricing. As if the Highlander and the Pilot don’t step well into the $40’s when loaded.

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        Its price competitive with the highlander. The ford will give you more power, legroom (maybe, no standards on these #’s), and a glass roof. The toyota gives you geound clearance, fuel economy (by more than the #’s show), shoulder and hip room, and… resale for a lower total cost to own.

    • 0 avatar
      laserwizard

      The price is not ridiculous for so much product. The problem here is many of you still think Ford should build $20k lousy cars and that Ford is still a low rent brand. What has happened is that Ford has effectively replaced Mercury and the old Ford does not exist. Those who think Ford is low rent are foolish. The brand is now moved upscale so adjust your desires accordingly.

      The Flex is totally profitable and Ford has said it will continue to build it because it is profitable – that is why it is selling at that price and Ford does not have to use incentives to sell the product. This is how Honduh operates – outrageous price but the product is profitable! Eat it, Honduh lovers.

      • 0 avatar
        CoastieLenn

        “The price is not ridiculous for so much product. The problem here is many of you still think Ford should build $20k lousy cars and that Ford is still a low rent brand. What has happened is that Ford has effectively replaced Mercury and the old Ford does not exist. Those who think Ford is low rent are foolish. The brand is now moved upscale so adjust your desires accordingly.”

        Best summary I have found for the current Ford M.O. They’re still working out the remaining few kinks, but they’re definitely headed in the right direction.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I could take it or leave it as far as those wheels are concerned but other wise – DO WANT.

    Good to see that you can get a Limited with the 2nd row bench, too many Flexes I’ve seen on dealer lots have the 2nd row captain’s chairs which limits seating to 6. Cutting the seating from 7 to 6 on the higher trims always made it see like LESS of a minivan alternative.

    • 0 avatar
      mu_redskin

      I got a 2015 with the captains chairs a few months ago. The advantage of the captains chairs is that they move forward/back so there is even more room in the back. I’m 6 ft. and still had generous amount of room with the second row captain chair forward all the way in the 3rd row. The second row with the seat all the way forward still have a lot of room. I appreciate that the flex is lower to the ground vs the competing 3 row suv’s and drives more like a car. Since next year or next will probably be the last year, I hope Ford or another manufacture designs another 3 row suv/cuv that is as low to the ground as this. Something with Lincoln Continental styling perhaps? I like the looks of the Lincoln Navigator concept but wonder if their target audience would want something that is lower and not truck based.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    “Building it outside of the U.S. was a smart move. If it wasn’t successful, they could easily blame Ford’s oversized highway canoe on those crazy Canucks of the north. Seriously, what rational country has a beaver as its national animal?”

    why would anyone blame the assembly plant for a vehicle’s styling?

  • avatar
    Chocolatedeath

    This car is beautiful. Garish is not something that I would say about it. I dont know how tall you are but at 6 foot even and 260 I have no problem getting out of the car every time I have test drove one. I know that Ford will stop making this in about two years but I will get me a nice used one in 2018. I have always loved wagons and dont know why. This is the perfect station wagon.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      I preferred its original face from 2009 and I don’t like the goofy black wheels this tester is equipped with, but otherwise I agree.

      I didn’t realize this vehicle has been out for over 7 years. I’m getting old.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I agree. If I were looking for a big hauler, Flex would be first on my list. Lots of glass, lots of space, the ultimate wagon.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Agreed.

      (As people noted above, it’s polarizing – people either love or hate it.

      I have been in the love camp since the first pictures.

      Takes all kinds, I guess, since people buy current-MY Lexuses, which all have what I find an unbearably ghastly nose.)

  • avatar
    30-mile fetch

    An extended family member is on their second Flex. They like it and the Ecoboost moves this near-5000 lb wagon in a way that would surprise a GTI driver off the line.

    I have no need for a vehicle this large or with this many seats, but if I did this would be first on the list for consideration. In yet another testament to our aversion to wagons, the Flex sells at roughly 1/10 the rate of the Explorer, despite having 3 rows and AWD. A vehicle can’t just work right, it has to look right.

    • 0 avatar

      IIRC, the Flex sold a LOT stronger prior to the 11MY Explorer making its debut.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        That probably didn’t help, the 2011 Explorer seems like a dead ringer for what Americans want out of their big CUVs. Looking at Tim Cain’s site, annual Explorer sales doubled in 2011 and then nearly doubled again by last year. The Flex topped out at 39K in 2009 and have been steadily declining since.

        • 0 avatar
          Kyree S. Williams

          Exactly, especially since the Explorer looks like a Land Rover.

          The 2015 refresh addressed my chief complaint about it, which was the over-styled front-fascia.

          • 0 avatar
            SC5door

            2016 was the U502 refresh.

            Which became ugly with those massive fog lights–halogen reflector fog lamps with LED reflector headlights. It makes for an ugly mess at night.

          • 0 avatar
            tankinbeans

            I read that too quickly and thought it said Lard Rover. I was going to agree; the current Exploder reminds me of the Lard Lad from The Simpsons.

            As to the Flex, I would drive it in a heartbeat if I needed something that big. I sat in one at my local dealer and really appreciated the seating position as it related to the windows.

            A guy at said dealer saw me in it and said, “isn’t that the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen?” To which I replied, “no, I really like it.” My only issue was thay it was white.

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            my biggest complaint with the Explorer is just how “bulky” it feels inside. the pillars are huge, the IP is enormous, the console makes everything cramped, the doors feel like they’re three feet thick, etc.

            Flex is the model of “Airiness” in comparison.

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Makes sense, Flybrian.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        it continues to amaze me that the Flex has done so “meh” while the bulky, claustrophobic Explorer sells like the proverbial hotcakes.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Conservative sells in this segment.

        • 0 avatar
          smartascii

          This is because people persist in believing that what they drive “says” something about them beyond their ability to make a monthly payment. The Explorer allows them to be what they are – suburban parents of multiple children whose most exciting forays into the world are to the local Applebee’s on nights when they have a babysitter – while pretending that they are still young, interesting people who might engage in a swift burst of kayaking or mountain biking at the drop of a hat. And, I mean, fine. But you’re not fooling anyone.

  • avatar

    These things bring HUGE money at the sale and are immensely popular on the pre-owned market (expect the base-est SEs). Owners are downright evangelical and I’ve been subject to Church of Latter Day Saints-Level conversations by middle-aged mothers as gas stations espousing the virtues of their Flex simply because I’m driving one as a demo.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Looking forward to hearing from the Church of Flex, which can congregate with the Church of 3800 and the Archdiocese of Panther.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Which is precisely why the model is going away.

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      That’s what I expected. Something about this car reminds me of the Toyota FJ Cruiser. Maybe it’s the non-matching roof colors, or just the extreme practicality. Either way, it has something that inspires a lot of loyalty among its buyers, that I suspect will lead to high resale values.

    • 0 avatar
      scott25

      The Ford dealer I work at in Ontario can’t give these things away, every used one we get traded in or buy from the auction sits on the lot for months and I might see an elderly couple looking at it once every three weeks before deciding on a 2009 Nissan Rogue or recent Escape.

      I have yet to drive an Ecoboost but I love Flexes like everyone else here. No car makes me feel as “cool” while driving it, and it would definitely be my choice if I had multiple children

    • 0 avatar
      sfvarholy

      This is exactly why a used Flex, which was one of my top choices, got put off the list: the decent ones were beyond my budget.

      I ended up with a 2007 V70, which is essentially the same platform.

      There are precious few choices that need a larger useable cargo area and don’t wan’t a full-size SUV. The Flex and the V70 can swallow portable tables, pop-up tents and dogs. Almost all the mid-sized SUV’s and CUV’s only have a couple of feet in depth behind the back seats.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Ford has gotten to the point that dumba$$es with more access to loans/debt than brains are the ideal candidates for many of their vehicles.

        They think that they’re Audi, or some American variant, now.

        Go forth and look at Exploder, wavy-panel F Series, Mustang, etc., prices of vehicles stocked at your neighborhood Ford store, but brace thyself beforehand.

        Ford is going to see its market share chipped away continuously and perpetually by the new pricing aggressiveness of Honda, and especially, Toyota.

        Ford still rides the tail in CR’s reliability and quality index, and off-lease and 3 y.o. trade-in Fords are going to see some of the steepest depreciation in all of autodom for this reason and many others.

        The F Series IS FORD. Ford wouldn’t even be a viable automaker with a 30% drop in F Series sales.

  • avatar
    Drzhivago138

    Are Flexes sold to any rental fleets? We wanted to rent one once for a road trip just to see what it was like, but couldn’t find one.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    365 hp and AWD, is just enough for -‘holds speed with ease on the highway’
    What the hell are you Americans used to driving? Or at least the Journalists over there. There are no cars here in Europe with anything even resembling such power, at least unless you are really really filthy rich. I’m not even 40 and I can easily remember when this was a lot more than most supercars was able to put to the road…
    Other than that, I really wish there were large cars avalable over here that weren’t necessarily XC90’s Touaregs or Q7’s, but as long as the EU still thinks larga cars are a luxury in the first place, I guess we still have to buy (used and unreliable) premium brands to be allowed to drive large cars.
    (still rarely see more than 250 hp in anything without an ‘M’ or ‘RS’ or ‘AMG’ tag on it though…)

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      when fuel is 1/3 to 1/4th the price, expectations are different.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        Well, offcourse, having the option to get more power in the first place is definitely a nice thing, but you still have tons of CR-V’s on the roads over there with about half the power, and they are a lot more than half as big as a Flex. Do all cars with less than 200 horses get rearended regularly, or are the journos just getting a bit spoiled? I bet it’s just the journos considering Honda and Toyotas status in the privately owned passenger car market…
        As an example, we did (or do?) get the Dodge Journey over here only in FWD trim with a VAG 140hp diesel. And some people even bough it, and think it’s a perfectly decent car…
        Admittedly, most roads here in Norwway are strict 55mph roads, but that is partly a geological restricion, but where we have 70 mph roads my old 150 HP CR-V (same engine as a base RSX) has no problem at all keeping up with the traffic, or even overtaking.
        Does the price of gas affect the laws of physics to?
        Edit: I just want to add that 16 years ago a F-150 lightning had just 360 hp…and that was certainly not a slow truck back then.

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          “Does the price of gas affect the laws of physics to?”

          did I say it does? All I’m saying is that there’s no penalty in this country for buying more power than you need. Gas is cheap, we don’t tax based on vehicle size or engine displacement.

          • 0 avatar
            Zykotec

            No, you didn’t , but I feel like autojournos are implying it does.
            Even in the US 365 hp is more than necessary even for such a heavy vehicle, especially a car primarily built for hauling kids.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            What’s wrong with more power than “necessary”? Who decides what’s necessary anyway?

            So what that you can make do with half the power; it’s nice to be able to pass slower traffic without having to rev the nuts off of a people mover.

          • 0 avatar
            Zykotec

            @burgersandbeer
            There is absolutely nothing wrong with having more power than necessary, I like a fast car as much as anybody, I just completely disagree that a 0-60 time of less than 7 seconds is not more than fast enough for ‘safely’ transporting kids to and from school or soccer practice.
            As much as I’d personally love a Dodge Magnum with a Hellcat engine (and a freeking manual, one armed men can drive CVT’s for all I care), I feel that such accelleration will almost make rear facing child seats more unsafe than front facing ones…
            Edit; ‘having to rev the nuts off’ , you make it sound like it’s a chore to push the right foot down a few mm’s more…

        • 0 avatar
          derekson

          American drivers have an aversion to actually using 100% throttle, so they feel like they need to buy a car with ~2x the power required in order to get “adequate acceleration”. Thus they think they need 300+ HP to go 0-60 MPH in 7-8 seconds or 40-70 in 4-5 seconds.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Americans generally think that if they ever have to rev a car beyond 2500 rpm that means it’s not powerful enough. Europeans, in my experience, are much more willing to actually use the engine’s power.

      The Flex is also massively heavier than almost anything you’ll find on a European road.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        that’s by necessity, though. Consider that the base engine in the North American Fiesta is larger than the biggest engine offered in the European Fiesta. when you only have 60 hp, you need to use every bit of it. That’s largely why manual transmissions are still more common in Europe.

      • 0 avatar
        Zykotec

        It is not massively heavier than its halfsister, the Volvo XC90, which was mostly sold with turbocharged 5-cylinder gas or diesel engines here. I believe they even went as far as to call the 185 hp diesel the XC90 ‘sport’ here in Norway.
        Norway is an extreme country when it comes to lack of horsepower in cars, not to mention market share of manual transmissions, even compared to most of Europe.
        And I ocassinally redline my (manual) CR-V , which I guess is not something that happens often over there…and which is technically not needed to follow the traffic over here :)

      • 0 avatar
        derekson

        “Americans generally think that if they ever have to rev a car beyond 2500 rpm that means it’s not powerful enough. Europeans, in my experience, are much more willing to actually use the engine’s power.”

        This is 100% accurate.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Zykotec,
      Agreed in full. I think this is a common and mild case of auto enthusiast hyperbole. The Flex is a 6 second to 60 vehicle with that turbo six and leaves the line very quickly. If clearing the quarter mile at 100mph in your three row two-and-a-half ton giant AWD wagon isn’t enough, you are indeed spoiled.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Waiting for BTSR to advise the OP that we all drive HELLCATS over here in Murica.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      I completely agree that “just enough to hold speed” is ridiculous hyperbole.

      My *SuperDuty* with less HP, less torque, worse aerodynamics, no AWD, an extra 2000+ pounds of weight, and a truck-programmed transmission … can also, honestly, more than hold its own at 85 (unloaded).

      The idea that the 3.5EB in the Flex is “barely enough” at highway speeds is simply untenable.

      (Heck, the Internet says the Flex 3.5 is faster to 60 than my XC70 … which is *plenty zippy enough*, by God.

      I can’t imagine it’s both faster to 60 and somehow gutless at highway speeds, not with that turbo.)

      • 0 avatar
        tankinbeans

        I drove a 96 manual F150 with the 150ish hp straight six and had no trouble keeping up with traffic. Use your revs and that torque and get on with your bad self.

        I often have to try and figure out who is blowing smoke up my derriere and who is telling the truth about power needs. My first car was a 93 Escort with about 97hp and it was just fine even when full of people.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        Hell, I drove a couple of Chargers with the 2.7 liter (rentals) and even in that tank, the 2.7 was enough. It wasn’t “fast,” but it had no problem getting up to highway speeds reasonably, and had enough in reserve for passing.

    • 0 avatar
      JREwing

      The Flex is a 2.5 ton vehicle, not much lighter than a lot of full-size pickup trucks. 365hp doesn’t exactly turn it into a rocket ship.

      It’s not slow, by any means. But even the slowest modern Mustang is faster than this Flex.

    • 0 avatar
      dwford

      All the power we have here in the US is wasted on Americans who equate hearing the engine rev a little with a lot of power. Most car drivers in the US don’t even realize how much power and speed they are actually driving.

    • 0 avatar
      phreshone

      Every vehicle should have the power off the line to race the cabs in Manhattan, and not break a sweat climbing the Three Sisters on I-80 westbound in Wyoming while doing 80 mph at over 7000 ft of elevation fighting a 45 mph headwind.

  • avatar
    Goatshadow

    It looks like a Scion xB blown up to twice the size. A coworker has a 2015 Flex and he loves it. We have ridden to lunch in it a few times and it is roomy, smooth (important after a big lunch), and decently quick (important after taking too long at lunch).

  • avatar
    pbr

    What are its competitors? Venza? Pacifica? Double-ick, I like the looks of the Flex. Pricing and atrocious fuel mileage keep me from developing the wants. Like the Suburban, there needs to be a pure-white over grey Tupperware work-truck version.

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      Venza is (was) smaller. Assuming you’re talking about the old Pacifica CUV, that never coexisted with the Flex. Making a commercial version doesn’t make as much financial sense when the full-size Transit exists.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    To be a true minivan replacement, it should be able to carry 4 x 8 sheets with the back two rows folded down. This wasn’t mentioned in the review. Can anyone speak to this?

  • avatar
    seth1065

    wow that thing is ugly esp with those wheels , I love wagons but this is not a wagon. Also what is the price of this thing, 50K as tested or 45K, the story says both. If I needed this much space I think I would roll the dice on a FCA minivan and save a boatload of cash.

  • avatar
    mdensch

    I’m not the target market for a vehicle like this but I’ve always liked the Flex and would put it on my short list if I needed all that room.

    I’m convinced, though, that sales would jump 50% if Ford offered a wood-paneled Country Squire option.

  • avatar
    slance66

    I tested a lot of Fords last year, and I hate, hate, hate the gauge cluster in nearly all of them. I thought the giant centered speedometer and absence of a Tach went out in the mid 90’s. Why do they stay with that design? It’s awful.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      I believe that is the same basic cluster on the Fusion, and on the one I drove, the LCD screens can be reconfigured in a lot of different ways, including a full compliment of gauges (the tach is dinky, though).

      http://media.bestofmicro.com/lincoln-mks-ford-focus-2012,B-5-338657-13.jpg

      I think Buick has a better LCD/conventional gauge cluster solution on the LaCrosse.

      http://farm4.staticflickr.com/3283/13027231915_fc1fe83911.jpg

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        It is. It originated with the 2010 Fusion Hybrid, then spread to the Edge and MKX in 2011. It’s also used on the Taurus, Flex, Expedition, Explorer, Edge, MKT, Navigator, and more.

        Aside from the Hybrid version, the MKZ gives you a different cluster that, in my mind, looks better. That’s also the same one that’s used on the MKC and new MKX.

        http://media.caranddriver.com/images/12q4/488202/2013-lincoln-mkz-awd-instrument-cluster-photo-490219-s-1280×782.jpg

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      tachs are pretty much vestigial on 99% of the cars out there.

    • 0 avatar
      brn

      slance66, if you really tested a lot of Fords, you know the instrument cluster is configurable. If you want a tach, just turn on the tach. Start manually forcing shifts and you get a tach, want it or not.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    This and the MKT were truly a strange pair. Big engine, weird styling.

    I did drive an Ecoboost MKT, though, and it was darn entertaining for a people mover.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Jeez, I forgot Ford still made this. So did Ford, apparently. The interior and fuel economy are soooooo 2000-and-late.

  • avatar
    Mikein08

    The Feds buy a lot of these, and I drive one as a VA volunteer on a
    regular basis. Yes, they’re kinda ugly, but they are comfortable and
    competent on 2 lane roads, and they will go in the snow so long as it’s
    not too deep. I think it’s a great utility vehicle – I’d certainly never
    buy one with luxo trim, but I would buy one.

  • avatar
    Steve_S

    I’ve always liked the Flex at least from the outside and the Ecoboost engine. The interior for me is where it falls apart, it’s severely dated and the Flex isn’t cheap, easily topping $50k. Compared to current mini-van’s its less practical, has older tech and costs more.

  • avatar
    azinck

    I was surprised by this comment:

    “Storage is never an issue with the Ford Flex and this is one of the main reasons why you may want to consider it instead of a minivan.”

    The photo showing the storage space behind the rear seats makes that area look *far* smaller than the same area in my 2014 Odyssey.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    This is my favorite people-mover, period. I love the styling.

    It’s my wife’s least favorite people-mover, period, and the styling is the only reason why. She thinks it’s the ugliest thing sold today.

    I think she’s closer to the feelings of the average consumer.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I really like the Flex too. But women by and large do_not_like the Flex. The color scheme on this one, with teal + black + black wheels is just fracking atrocious. I’ve never seen one in a worse color combo.

      And $50,000 is another problem when it says Ford on the front. That’s the starting price of the GLE (ML), or a well-equipped MDX or RX. It’s also past where the Tahoe and Suburban are!

      • 0 avatar

        Again, I find the opposite. Or maybe its a case of extremes. If you’re a woman and you like the Flex, you don’t like it, you absolutely LOVE it.

        • 0 avatar
          Jeff Semenak

          So true, my wife did not like it until she drove one. She fell in love with it; base SE with some options. Out the door for $30k. Her girl-friends from work love it although, they don’t think it’s cool to say so to others! LOL BTW, they always beg her to drive to lunch in it. It has more than enough unboosted power to pull the grade from Phoenix to Flagstaff or the Rim ( Alt. 7000+ ft.) At 80 mph fully loaded with passengers and luggage!

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    This is part of what bugs me about Ford and GM. They are constantly creating new names and vehicles, and killing off old ones, as if giving your turd the right name will make the masses eat it up. I’m sure there are examples, but Honda and Toyota rarely feel the need to do this.
    .
    .

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      Not really. That stopped when they started building competent cars. Think about it: for the first time in a long time, GM has a compact nameplate that it can now re-use, the Cruze. Aside from SS, GM really hasn’t released any new nameplates in a while. Ditto for Ford. The Focus is now in its third generation and has built plenty of name-equity. Even at FCA, the 200 and Dart might be the most recent name changes. Other than that, nameplates have either been resurrected (Pacifica, Cherokee) or only introduced because they’re all-new segments (Renegade).

      • 0 avatar
        Master Baiter

        “Not really. That stopped when they started building competent cars.”

        Buick Cascada
        Cadillac CT6
        Chevrolet Trax
        Buick Envision
        Buick Verano
        Buick Encore

        • 0 avatar
          Russycle

          The Verano and Encore didn’t really replace anything, they represent new market segments for Buick. I won’t even try to defend Cadillac’s naming “strategy”.

          • 0 avatar
            Kyree S. Williams

            I did forget about Cadillac’s renaming strategy. But there was no reason to do that. They weren’t covering up crappy product.

            All of the rest of those are entirely new products. I suppose you could say that the Envision replaces the Rendezvous or the Rainier from way back…but really, that’s what the Enclave did.

        • 0 avatar
          Sigivald

          GM, sort of true.

          Ford hasn’t done all that much nameplate-churn in a while, has it?

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            yes. early 2000s some genius decided that all Ford car nameplates (save the Mustang) would start with “F”. Focus, Fusion, Five Hundred, Freestar, Flex (originally Fairlane) and all Mercurys would start with “M.” Montego, Milan, Monterey, Mariner, Mountaineer.

            that was one of the first things Mulally told them to ditch when he arrived and asked where the Taurus was in the lineup.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            “save the Mustang *and the Crown Vic*”

            FTFY. Also, all SUVs would start with E. Escape (which was marketed as a mini SUV rather than a CUV), Explorer (which was still an SUV then), Expedition, Excursion. The 2007 Edge was Ford’s first CUV to not look like a boxy SUV (Escape) or a tall wagon (Freestyle).

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            I don’t think they cared to bother with the Panthers since they were well past their “best by” date by then. IIRC they were slated for the chopping block more than once (like the Ranger) but strong fleet sales kept them going. Besides, by 2007 you couldn’t buy the Crown Vic retail anyway. And I rode in a 2010 Grand Marquis rental and I noticed how bad the plastic interior trim parts were molded. Those tools were worn the f*** out.

          • 0 avatar
            zipper69

            So, they passed on “Faurus” ?

          • 0 avatar
            derekson

            It was supposed to be the Futura until they realized that Pep Boys owned the trademark. Thus it became the Five Hundred.

          • 0 avatar
            zipper69

            Talking of model names reminded me that back in the UK when Russian Ladas were a popular import (sorry, I have no explanation)one model was the RIVA.
            The badging on the trunk. as cheap as the rest of the car was pushed into a continuous line, thus a Lada Riva 1300 GL was always know to us street oiks as a Lada RivaBoogl, giving it a touch of New Orleans is surely never deserved.

            Sorry, just had to share – I’ll get me coat…. :(

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    Honestly, the Flex is the only one of the D3 / D4 vehicles that does’t feel cramped. And that’s a beautiful color.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Other than the center stack, the switches and trim in there are really showing their age these days. They’ve simply not changed since this was introduced.

      • 0 avatar
        Kyree S. Williams

        That is true. It’s a mix of Ford’s pre-renaissance stuff (pre-2013 for most models) and the modern interfaces.

      • 0 avatar
        SC5door

        The part that shows its age is the power lift gate strut that comes out of the C pillar trim in the back. Everyone has moved to having the motor integrated into the strut assembly. The Flex, Navigator and Expedition are the only ones that still use it—-and they take up cargo room.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Kyree: the color is beautiful.
      Corey: the color is atrocious.

      GRUDGE MATCH

  • avatar
    david42

    I believe these sell for near-list price, and they certainly hold their value. I remember reading somewhere that Flex buyers have unusually high incomes.

    This car is today’s Grand Wagoneer. It’s extremely capable, visually distinctive, luxurious, and the badge is unpretentious. It’s not a legit off-roader, but for most GW buyers that didn’t matter anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      jim brewer

      I think you may have hit on something here. Old money.That would explain a few things. Steady sales at an undiscounted price…..Ford very closed-mouth about their little bird’s nest on the ground…. The only person on the thread admitting to own one bought it for the “babysitter” I.e. full time nanny…

  • avatar
    cbrworm

    I have always liked these, but it appears that universally, the wife approval factor is low.

    A few years ago we were looking for a safe third vehicle for the babysitter (who’s car was not safe) to use to haul the kids around. I wanted to get a sporty SUV or CUV that I would enjoy driving if possible and, despite my wife’s wishes, we weren’t going to get a used X5 M or Cayenne Turbo. We knew the extra vehicle would get a hard 20K a year put on it so it had to be reliable. My wife took one look at the Flex and said, “No way!” I tried to get her to look inside, she wouldn’t even consider it.

    I used to rent them frequently and found them to be more interesting (but less useful) than a Chrysler minivan, to which she also said no – but that was more of a “I don’t want to have a minivan” thing than outright disdain.

    I don’t understand the strong dislike that these evoke in women.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      My wife got over it by riding in one. Although the ride was accidental – we were staying in a Chicago hotel that her sister worked in as an event planner. When it came time to go back to the airport, her sister called us a black car that happened to be a Flex. The serene ride over potholed streets got my wife passed the styling.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      One counterpoint: My parents recently bought an Outback. During the shopping process I mentioned (based on their criteria) that they might want to look at the Flex.

      My mom liked it; my dad thought it was too slab-sided.

    • 0 avatar
      Sjalabais

      Why is still so important for something as decadent as a babysitter’s / third car?

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “We knew the extra vehicle would get a hard 20K a year put on it so it had to be reliable.”

      Your baby sitter puts 20k a year on a vehicle taking the kids to and fro?

      Are you sure she’s not an expedition leader?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    “$1,790 freight fee and A/C tax (Canada)”

    Nice. Explain to me, again, why it’s more than twice as expensive to ship it around domestically?

    Canadian FPDI charges have gone completely around the bend. If the OEMs would be be honest and use FPDI to extenalize exchange-rate that would make this at least moderately acceptable, but they backed themselves into a corner by raising MSRP and FPDI as much as they possibly could, and then refusing to lower either until the public screams, because they’re addicted to easy margin.

    It’s gouging, plain and simple.

    Ford isn’t the only one guilty of this, either. Toyota will nail you for even more on a RAV/4, as will Honda on the Civic. Both are built in Ontario.

    • 0 avatar
      86er

      “Tax me, I’m Canadian”.

    • 0 avatar
      Sjalabais

      Importing a new Flex to Norway, with its giant engine and unflattering weighy, would trigger new car taxes of about 240000$. Yes, that’s US-dollars. Just so you know there are worse places to buy new cars…

      • 0 avatar
        baggins

        Here I thought my 9% California sales tax was bad.

        What is the rationale for such an onerous, essentially prohibitive tax?

        • 0 avatar
          Sjalabais

          First, taxing “luxury”. In the later decades, ecology has become a great excuse. You might know that electric cars are sold without tax and including some great benefits in Norway. A Tesla S is therefore a middle class car, priced like a Volvo XC70. Taxation happens based on weight, CO2 pollution and some such things. That makes American cars impossibly expensive. The cheapest cars in Norway are 0.8l gasoline small cars starting at about 20000$, a Volvo XC90 starts at 120000$ (40000 sold in the first year).

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I might one day visit Oslo, is this advisable for an American who isn’t familiar at all with the Norwegian language?

          • 0 avatar
            Sjalabais

            @28-Cars-Later, not a problem at all with English in Oslo – people in Scandinavia are fluent in English.

  • avatar
    maxxcool7421

    …32k still makes rattles and squeaks? that’s disappointing. But then again go visit unleashed tuning and talk to Torrie. For the cost of a 3 bar sensor, spark plugs and a tune you have can take this tub of bricks to 12.8-12.9 1/4 mile and beat stock v8 stangs and cameros at the stoplight all day long.

  • avatar
    Storz

    I dig em, its like a modern version of the family wagon truckster

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      More so with that woody option linked above. If it comes in green you are all set.

      I know they avoided the whole mini-van thing by not fitting sliding doors but on something this slab-sided regular doors seem like a waste. In the race to look like a box this and the Nissan Quest are in tie for 2nd with the original Scion Xb in first and the Kia Soul in 3rd.

  • avatar

    I’ll be honest: we love our 2011 Flex Limited Ecoboost. It replaced a 2004 V70R which we outgrew (both in size, and in repair bills). We shopped every luxury 3-row crossover around, as my wife would NOT drive a minivan. I liked the Q7 best, but its reliability ratings weren’t good and it cost 50% more than the Flex when equipped the way I wanted it.

    The Flex was the the most spacious and (at least in the Northwest US) least-common crossover… the distinctive looks of our blue-body, silver-roof Flex were part of what sold us. The biggol 365 HP Ecoboost V6 was another selling point.

    Are there some questionable material and build choices? Sure. But the Flex hasn’t needed any unscheduled service stops, which is something I can’t say for the Volvo and all the Saabs that came before it in our family.

  • avatar
    madman2k

    My wife wants one of these. I think they’re pretty cool too, although I’d rather get an Odyssey for a family hauler.

    I told her the Flex looks like her Kia Soul, but on Viagra.

  • avatar
    NeilM

    “Ford tries really hard to add some flash to the outer shell with character body-side groves”

    Are they fully fledged trees, or just large bushes?

  • avatar
    06V66speed

    I just might bite if it had seating for 3 in the third row.

    Just sayin’.

    Can we please have seating for THREE in the third row?

    Thanks.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    If I’m honest, I didn’t even know they still made these. The handful I actually are the older 2009 style ones.

  • avatar
    Sjalabais

    It’s a shame they don’t sell it in Europe with some more sensible engines. 365hp is pretty extreme. The Flex is such a wonderful concept…and Ford missed an epic chance back then:
    http://s26.postimg.org/bm7h8in6w/Flex_Volvo2.jpg

  • avatar
    05lgt

    I’m confused, In the story it says 45k as equipped, but the data panel up top says 50k (58 CAN). Which is it?

    I’d never buy one, so I’m not looking it up; just can’t stop proofing.

  • avatar
    zipper69

    Anybody else notice that the Flex is the only model in the Ford lineup that does NOT feature the Blue Oval on it’s front?

    Has this ever happened to another Ford model in the past? And what exactly was the rationale for deleting it?

    Inquiring minds want to know !

    • 0 avatar
      derekson

      The Mustang doesn’t either, having its own logo on the grille.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      it had one when it first came out in 2008, but the 2013 MY refresh got rid of it. AFAIK it just didn’t “fit” with the new grille design.

      Mustang is more or less its own brand now; the only blue ovals you’ll see on it are the center caps for the wheels.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      The Blue Oval on the front of the Fusion was scaled way down as well. It is barely noticeable on dark colored Fusions.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        “Has this ever happened to another Ford model in the past?”

        Yes, there was a 20-year span or so, ending around 1982 IIRC, where there was no Blue Oval at all, just FORD capital lettering. The only emblems were brougham heraldry.

  • avatar
    KixStart

    From the article: “And then there is that one key point why you may want to consider the Ford Flex for your family: at least it’s not a minivan.”

    It isn’t, for sure. The Toyota and Honda minivans both have more cargo room, better fuel economy and sliding doors for the kids that won’t ding the next car over. Who could possibly want those things in a family hauler?

    • 0 avatar
      Elliot

      Those not resigned to wearing sweatpants and ponytails everywhere.

      • 0 avatar
        CoastieLenn

        I recently used a MY2014 Oddyssey for almost a week while my 2012 Pilot was down. That van got just as bad fuel economy as the Pilot at 19mpg mixed. I was a bit surprised. I’d gladly suffer the 1 mpg difference to NOT have to drive a minivan.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      The Flex is a MUCH better freeway crusier for the family that has 2-3 kids. If you are going to be knocking down significant freeway miles and possibly towing a sub-20′ boat, the Flex is almost perfect.

  • avatar
    ericb91

    You must be in Canada; the EcoBoost is no longer available in 2016 U.S. Flex models. It’s a shame because that motor rocks.

  • avatar
    WildcatMatt

    I’m not sold on how the car looks aft of the C pillar. The wraparound/blackout rear glass/D pillar combo looks unfinished and makes the vehicle look stretched out like the Enterprise-D going into warp.

    We need to start looking for a replacement for the wife’s Elantra Touring. Rented a Caravan last fall and she absolutely hated it. She says she wants a wagon but she took one look at the Flex and declared it “too big”.

    I wonder, do the people who hate the “lines” on the doors also hate the Cerberus-era Chrysler hoods?

  • avatar
    greytraveler

    Man, there are a LOT of posts and opinions. Gave up reading them not even half way through.

    We have owned many Fords with no problems and many miles. The Flex appeals to my wife so we must be the odd couple. I like the idea of plenty of room for dogs and stuff. The AWD is a must where we live, winter can be a trial getting to the house the last half mile of unplowed road.

    My choice would be the SEL with very few options. Forget the large (oversized) wheels. Will be buying the end of the year. Something AWD and Flex is on the short list.

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