- Passenger and cargo room
- Acceleration with EcoBoost
- Modest engine noise during accleration
- Multi-step procedure to fold rear seats
No powerhouse with the 262-horsepower V6, but Flex has adequate muscle to cope with most passing and merging needs, even with a full load of passengers. With the EcoBoost V6, Flex is strong and smooth with noticeably more power for nearly any situation. Turbo lag is well mitigated.
In Consumer Guide testing a 2WD Flex averaged 16.1 mpg in mostly city driving. A test AWD model with the 262-horsepower V6 averaged 19.8 in mostly highway driving. EcoBoost models averaged 15.8-16.6 mpg in mostly city driving. These results are fairly impressive given Flex's size, heft, and overall performance, especially in comparison to similar V8-powered midsize and large SUVs. The 262-horsepower V6 uses regular-grade gas. Ford says the EcoBoost V6 is designed to run on regular as well, though the company recommends premium for best performance.
Major road irregularities are easily absorbed, and Flex is compliant over most road imperfections. EcoBoost models come with specific suspension tuning and low-profile 20-inch tires; these changes have little effect on Flex's ride characteristics.
Direct steering and controlled body lean in corners give Flex a fairly nimble feel. EcoBoost-equipped models have a specific steering system that is accurate and well weighted. But, some testers find the steering too light in models equipped with the base engine. Brakes feel strong and are generally responsive, but Flex tends to nose dive during aggressive stops. For a vehicle with such large dimensions, Flex has a surprisingly tidy turning radius.
The overall sense of refinement is compromised only by modest noise from either engine during acceleration. Any Flex is otherwise quiet, with little wind or road noise penetrating into the cabin.
Big gauges are clearly marked and easy to read. Most controls are handy, large, and easy to find. The available navigation system absorbs only a few audio and climate functions.
The cabin presents well, with most hard-plastic surfaces hidden from view. Some testers find the mixture of textures and colors less than tasteful.
Room/Comfort/Driver Seating (Front)
A defining asset. Ample space for drivers of any size on very supportive seats. Large door openings and a low step-in height make for easy entry and exit. Narrow roof pillars allow for decent visibility in all directions. Kudos to Ford for adding a telescopic adjustment to the steering column.
With bench or bucket seats, Flex is generally adult friendly in back, as well. Larger riders in the 2nd row will have limited knee clearance behind a front passenger of similar size. Headroom is ample, though center passengers on the standard bench seat will have to contend with an awkward floor hump. The 3rd row is no penalty box for adults under 5-foot-8.
The cargo area is vast. The load floor is completely flat with the seat backs folded, but collapsing the seats requires more steps and stretching than in most SUVs. In-cabin storage includes a roomy center console and small glove box.
Value Within Class
Unlike recently introduced Fords that were long on function and short on style, Flex has both, in spades. While styling is subjective, Flex's spacious cabin and cargo area meet high objective standards. In addition to added muscle, EcoBoost models include other worthwhile mechanical enhancements that only improve Flex's already solid package. Add to the mix good handling and refined behavior and you have a people mover that merits our Recommended approval.
The 2010 Ford Flex lineup gains a telescoping function for its steering wheel and a new engine with more available power. Introduced for the 2009 model year, this boxy 4-door wagon shares some of its basic design with Ford's Edge crossover SUV. Flex comes in three trim levels: base SE, mid-level SEL, and top-line Limited. All offer front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is available on the SEL and Limited. Flex is distinguished, not only by its squared-off shape, but also by contrasting roof and body colors and use of exterior chrome accents. Flex seats either 6 or 7 on three rows of seats. A 262-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 engine is standard on all Flex models. The AWD SEL and Limited are available with a 355-horsepower turbocharged 3.5-liter V6. Versions so equipped are called "EcoBoost" and are priced as separate models. EcoBoost-equipped Flex models also include several specific features including steering-wheel shift paddles and a grade assist function for the transmission, electric power steering with "Pull-Drift Compensation," and a self-parking feature. Both engines pair with a 6-speed automatic transmission. Maximum towing capacity is 4,500 pounds, and when equipped with the optional tow package, a trailer sway control system is included. Available safety features include ABS, traction control, antiskid system, front-side airbags, and curtain-side airbags. A rearview camera, power liftgate, voice-activated navigation system with real-time traffic and weather updates, four-panel glass roof, and refrigerated center console are available. Other available features include Ford's Sync voice-activated control for some cell phones and MP3 players and a capless fuel filler.
Consumer Guide Automotive places each vehicle into one of 18 classes based on size, price, and market position. Larger than Compact SUVs, Midsize SUVs offer a mix of car- and truck-type construction, V6 and V8 power, and up to 8-passenger seating. This class also includes crossover vehicles.
Our Best Buy choices are the Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot, GMC Acadia, and Mazda CX-9. Our Recommended picks are the Chevrolet Equinox, Dodge Journey, Ford Flex, GMC Terrain, and Toyota Highlander.
New or significantly redesigned models include the Chevrolet Equinox, GMC Terrain, Hyundai Santa Fe, Mazda CX-7, Mazda CX-9, and Toyota 4Runner.