By on April 18, 2019

Yep, they still sell this thing. Betcha forgot all about it.

Or perhaps not. The “styled with a t-square” profile of the Flex has always appealed to the funkier side of the crossover/SUV customer base and, if my eight years of toiling for this publication has taught me anything, the B&B is nothing if not funky. Let’s see what this coffin-shaped crossover offers in base form.

Since the last time we checked in on the base Flex, its sticker price marched northward by $275, unsurprising given that manufacturers generally pad their Monroneys with each passing year. At $30,575, the Flex is a front-drive affair, powered by a traditional 3.5-liter V6 and six-speed automatic — the way that nature and Henry Ford intended. No huffing EcoBoost mills here! In fact, the base Flex is probably one of the last bastions of affordably priced, naturally aspirated family crossovers.

This should be viewed as good news. Your humble author piloted an ’09 Edge with the same powertrain for years, finding it to be robust and cheap to service. That’s a winning combination, at least until the Edge’s untimely demise in a tangle with a Toyota Tacoma.

What other arrows does the Flex SE have in its quiver? Family friendly backup beepers, rear-seat climate system, a bevy of power outlets, smart folding second and third rows, and heated side mirrors turn this thing into a dandy box in which to ferry the brood to Disney. SYNC, Bluetooth, a yaffle of airbags – it’s all present and accounted for.

I may be in the minority, but it is this guy’s belief that the Flex is a good looking machine, especially when so many other crossovers blend into the scenery like butter melting into toast. The F L E X billboard badge on the hood’s leading edge is a superb throwback that is very enjoyable. Bright dual exhaust tips don’t give away your cheapo status but the black mirror caps might, as will the lack of fog lamps.

Ford choses to offer this blue shade in addition to the normal array of base greyscale colors. Interior cloth can be beige or black, mercifully. The mass of buttons flanking the too-small infotainment screen looks like Worf’s forehead by there are worse designs out there. I would pop for the $185 satellite radio addition, if for no other reason than to keep my sanity on long drives. Random AM radio in the heartland is entertaining but mind-bending at times.

It’s unlikely the Flex will see another iteration, given that Ford has refurbished the Edge and three-row Explorer but not touched the Big Rectangle Box. Bronco development must be hoovering up cash, too, while the leaked Baby Bronco shares the Flex’s boxy profile. Get one while you can.

[Images: Ford]

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65 Comments on “Ace of Base: 2019 Ford Flex SE...”


  • avatar
    Lie2me

    $30,575? Wow, I never realized these had such a reasonable starting price. I also didn’t realize they were still available. Do they still sell that weird Lincoln version of this, the MKT?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I noticed it yesterday on dealer sites so yes (although they may have been ’18s).

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      There isn’t a $30,575 Flex, thats a collaboration between the liars in the marketing department pretending that the destination fee isn’t part of the price and the copy and paste auto press that passes those lies on. As they actually exist the base model stickers 32.

      Which still isn’t much, and they’re dated enough by now to get an honest 6,000 off of that number too.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        I just checked with my local Ford dealer, they have one brand new SE, window sticker is $31,755 (includes destination costs) on sale for $27,777. Good deal, I just wish I wanted one

        • 0 avatar
          redgolf

          I would of guessed the price would have been north of $40K being that it has the 3rd row seating, I’ve always liked this box, especially with a white roof and bottom color.

          • 0 avatar
            PrincipalDan

            2 tone will cost you…

            Get a woody kit instead.

            http://www.ptwoody.com/fordflex_01.html

            (☞゚∀゚)☞

    • 0 avatar
      MRF 95 T-Bird

      The MKT is still available though it’s mostly a fleet purchase. I happen to like it’s retro tapered rear and full width taillight.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      @Lie2Me – they are going to be in production until 2020.

      Most of the higher volume Ford dealers will stock at least one SE.

      The easiest place to find them in the SW seems to be Utah… LOL Draw what conclusions you will…

  • avatar
    EquipmentJunkie

    I’ve always heard that people who rent/drive them or buy them tend to fall in love with Ford’s magical hearse.

    I just assumed that most of these were in the $40-50K range. Hard to argue with its value at $30K.

  • avatar
    kamiller42

    Ford Flex is one vehicle which really improved in looks as it aged. I thought about buying one, but the price ramps up when adding the options you want and I believe the MPG was not where I wanted. An F-150 SuperCrew gets better gas mileage. So maybe Ford should have consider putting an EcoBoost on it.

    Satellite radio? Extra expense. Plenty of options via mobile data or download podcasts.

  • avatar
    spookiness

    I live these. Country Squire would be a more accurate appellation.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    To me the Flex is the best looking Ford “truck” on the market.

  • avatar
    gtem

    I had one as a rental recently, an SEL. I came away satisfied for the most part, though I can’t think of a single thing the Flex does better than my Town and Country except slightly better on-ramp handling owing to a lower center of gravity. MPG is a wash, I have notably more space and utility. Flex interior has some high points and low points, again a wash against the old Chrysler. I thought the Flex ride was a bit stiff around town. I had an Acadia SLT V6 last week that I liked much more. More modern and handsome interior, VERY cushy ride, just superb ride/handling balance, tomb-quiet on the highway. A vastly better impression than a base SLE with the gutless 2.5L NA I had last year.

    Ford’s prematurely failing waterpumps on the 3.5L Duratec are something to keep in mind (not sure of failure rate, it’s by no means all of them). 12 hr book time, contaminated oil and ruined bearings if not caught in time…

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      “though I can’t think of a single thing the Flex does better than my Town and Country”

      Have a 365 horse turbo edition. Three real rows and can get out of its own way for low 40s real world is a field of one.

      • 0 avatar
        gtem

        True. I’m talking about the more plebian FWD ones though. That’s another point, if you want AWD the Flex has you covered. But in an “ace of base” sense, for maximum utility per dollar the Caravan is still champ IMO, warts and all.

        • 0 avatar
          Dan

          Completely agree with you there, trying to out van the vans is a losing battle. The Caravan is an amazing amount of car for the money even by van standards.

  • avatar
    Eric the Red

    Have a 2012 Flex SE. Great vehicle. Not a single problem since new. Had a Buick Enclave before and not comparable in reliability. Had to trade the Buick after 4 years due to rust, a/c problems, and multitude of other items. The Flex holds a legit 7 people. You may not want to drive cross country with 7 but you could. Decent power and MPG. Have $130k on it now and looking to the next vehicle. Will be empty nesters soon and looking to downsize into gasp “a sedan”. I guess buying and Flex and soon a sedan makes us avante garde (or just not in style) in our vehicle choices.

  • avatar
    kosmo

    This thing IS the modern day Wagon Queen Family Truckster!

    Though it has teeny, tiny footwells.

  • avatar
    TS020

    Too bad these never came to my neck of the woods; they’re so much more characterful and easier to see around than some dopey SUV

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I want an SEL with center bench. (Does anyone know if you can get this with a WiFi hotspot, the father of 2 asks?)

    I know that Ford considers this a “crossover” and of course it is a substitute for Ford building a competent competitive minivan, but to me this is the last Great American Station Wagon. If only it had the Magic Door-Gate of wagons of yore.

    This is what Clark Griswold would drive if he was as cool and smooth as he thinks he is.

    My only issue is fuel economy. 23 mpg highway is basically tied with my 2010 Highlander which has a V6 but one fewer gear in the transmission and a 4wd system that is constantly engaged. Although the Flex does run on regular gas and many of the other vehicles I’m looking at are turbos that require premium.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      The only reason they call it a crossover is because “minivan” and “station wagon” are the two auto designations whose names shall not be spoken, but it is a classic, card carrying station wagon

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      “I want an SEL with center bench. (Does anyone know if you can get this with a WiFi hotspot, the father of 2 asks?)”

      yes, the SEL comes with 2nd row bench and SYNC 3 standard.

  • avatar
    MoparRocker74

    This (along with the Dodge Journey) is a perfect example of everything a modern straight up family vehicle SHOULD be. Somehow this manages to blend the best attributes of a minivan, SUV and station wagon without clearly being any of those things. It avoids the worst attributes of those also. Particularly, it manages to be handsome in a no nonsense kind of way. No fake SUV styling proming capability that’s not there, swoopy rooflines that impede cargo space and ingress/egress and its also not a dorky looking minivan. An all around clean functional design.

    • 0 avatar
      gtem

      I dunno, seems like it still fits in the dorky category, per every single woman that’s ever seen one anyways. I don’t care either way, as stated above this strikes me as a minivan that’s missing a bit of utility for decreased center of gravity. Same story for Journey, except it at least has a smaller handier footprint, at a cost of a notably smaller third row+cargo space.

      • 0 avatar
        jack4x

        The best attribute of a minivan bar none is the sliding doors. Nothing comes close to that kind of convenience when loading kids or their stuff. No CUV can match it, even though I do really have a soft spot for the Flex.

      • 0 avatar
        Scoutdude

        My wife is one that actually likes the looks and we considered them when they came out but being in the tail end of our kid years we decided that we would stick with what we had. Considered a used one later but around here they are like gold unless they have a ton of miles.

  • avatar
    mjg82

    There isn’t another vehicle on the market today that I find more endearing. I just wish they would just do one more update to it before killing it off. I’m only now getting to the financial position to afford one with the specs I want (i.e. the opposite of Ace of Base) but for the high $50k CDN tag it’s just not competitive. I’d happily go used if I could find one with decent mileage, but most of them are former rentals.

    A couple years ago when reports first came out that it’d be cancelled in a few years, I had a plan to 2 for 1 swap my ’95 RMW and ’15 Optima Turbo in exchange for a final year Flex. Now that the end is drawing near I find myself leaning towards a Pacifica or Telluride. But at the end of the day if I let my Roadmaster go, I feel like the Flex will do a better job at easing the mourning period.

  • avatar
    mzr

    I almost purchased one of these, as I thought the Transit Connect was a little too underpowered and I get Ford A Plan. Tben I found out the second row is locked in place, no fore or aft sliders. Sitting in the third row, my knees hit the second row seatback.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    and yet the Flex still outsells the Kia Stinger as well as the entire Genesis brand.

  • avatar
    IBx1

    I like these, and the FWD 3.5/6AT has proven to be pretty reliable, but for all the design focus on the exterior, the interior is quite depressingly bland.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    I have never heard one disparaging word about the Flex from an owner of one. The world’s largest Scion xB gets a lot of love.

  • avatar
    brettc

    Thanks for running this. One of our HR people drives a Flex. I saw it the other day and couldn’t remember if Ford still made them so I was going to look it up, but then never remembered to.

    You did the Googling for me, and I appreciates that.

  • avatar
    tankinbeans

    I’ve always had a soft spot for this, but have never had a need for anything so large.

    Weren’t they offered with the 2.0T for awhile or am I misremembering?

  • avatar
    geo

    I’d like to buy a Flex, but I had the dreaded water pump issue with a Taurus X. Also a driveshaft issue, tranny cooler leak, wheel bearings worn early, and other issues. Same drivetrain, same basic design. Sad about this.

  • avatar
    David Mc Lean

    If my Scion XB ever were to grow up and become semi-corrugated, it would want to be one of these.
    I like ’em.

  • avatar
    infinitime

    Aside from the Geek-Chic factor of driving a box, I would deem a FWD Flex with the 3.5L to be functionally indistinguishable from a base-model Dodge Caravan (either the AVP or equivalent Canadian trim “Canada Value Package”).

    However, the Caravan is out the door for $23,000 in Canada, which is a heck-of-a-deal!

    I would also expect the 3.6L Pentastar to be more reliable in the long run than the 3.5L Ford engine….

    • 0 avatar
      mburm201

      The Ford promises to be far more reliable than the Dodge over time. If you look at the Dashboard Light auto reliability study, the Dodge is sitting at about 16/100 overall, with chronic reliability issues for the 2008 – 20015 models. The Ford Flex is at 45/100, which is in the average range. I have four Ford vehicles with a total of 1,069,000 miles on them. I used to mostly buy GM, but I don’t have confidence in many of their products from the past 20 years, and I have always been very skeptical of Chrysler’s quality.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Skeptical, however, means you have no first-hand experience–which invalidates any conclusions you may make about their reliability. Personally, I have never–not once–had a truly reliable Ford in almost 45 years of automobile ownership. My Chrysler products have been reasonably reliable with any issues being of the nuisance class that would by no means cripple the vehicle and prevent its use; unlike those Fords. My GMs have been reasonably reliable too, though one in particular did cripple the vehicle and forced an engine swap.

        As such, while anecdotal, I consider Chryslers (FCA) more reliable than GM or Ford and GM better than Ford.

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “I would also expect the 3.6L Pentastar to be more reliable in the long run than the 3.5L Ford engine….”

      Why would you think that? Also, what good is a good engine if the vehicle surrounding that engine gives out before the engine? Caravans have good reputations, but over time either car becomes a crap shoot. Lately I’ve had good experiences with Fords, so I’m sticking with them. The minute that changes I’ll be on to something else. Loyalty only goes so far

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    A Scion xB for Mormon parents!

    I love the Flex. It’s a terrible value compared to a Grand Caravan. Its MPG is poor. The ride is jarringly stiff around town. It’s 20% too big yet its footwells are 20% too small. It’s pricey in all but base trim, but it’s got a $16k car’s interior from the second row back. It’s certified female repellent. It’s a Ford, so it’s probably a bad idea to own out of warranty, if at all. And yet.

    And yet I have lusted after this goofy brick from day one. It’s a gigantic modern Volvo station wagon, with room for the biggest of dogs to stand up anywhere inside. I’d like it in one of those cool color combos they don’t make anymore, like midnight blue with a white roof…and a beige interior to match my dog, who’s going to shed all over it, as will the second identical dog that I’m going to have to get to justify owning a mammoth wagon.

  • avatar
    carcurmudgeon

    I drive a 2016 SEL and really like it. Great family hauler, lots of space. Smooth ride. Mine has all the sun roofs, and I think that’s a real asset in a car so big. Bring slots of light into the tan interior. Engine sounds sort of crude, but it’s got plenty of power and does the job. I suspect its lack of sophistication might be a plus if I ever needed to repair it. And yes, I like the look of the car. By the way, in the past three years there have been zero mechanical issues other than needing to replace a turn signal bulb. I think I might have put in new break pads, but I don’t remember. Negatives: The interior is rough around the edges; compared to our previous car, a Honda CR-V, I see evidence of inattention to detail that is the norm with Honda, but alas not Ford. The middle row can’t be moved back and forth, something that’s common in other mid-sized SUVs. Still, nothing I’d describe as a deal breaker. Mileage is crap: I’m averaging 17 mpg. Also, the infotainment system is terrible, and all the radio climate controls awful. I can’t do anything without having to look, and mostly I have to navigate the touch screen. My 1991 Corolla was more ergonomic. The Sync 3 is crap; I suspect it needs to be updated, but the dealer won’t can’t, and my efforts to do it myself have failed. That said, the lease is up, and although my wife wants something new for the sake of something new, I wouldn’t mind another Flex or even buying out the lease of mine. It helps that I feel confident I can get a good deal on one.

  • avatar
    carcurmudgeon

    Closing thought: perhaps the worst thing about the car is the fact that Ford so clearly isn’t trying. The Flex has all the makings for a real winner. A little bit of investment might go a long way.


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