PRO’s: Great styling, tons of usable space, comfortable room for 7 adults, above average visibility.
CON’s: Under bolstered seats, standard V6 is underpowered for AWD option, high price when you start adding options.
FINAL THOUGHT: A great vehicle if you’ve got a large family, need space, all weather versatility and high style.
If you were a kid from the mid-1940’s to the mid-1980’s then the odds of you being shuffled around by your parents in a station wagon were pretty damn good. You see before the minivan and the SUV came into the picture, wagons were the shizznit. In fact it hasn’t been until recently that manufacturers are taking a second look and wondering if they should revisit a formula that worked so well for over 40 years. For most people the word “minivan” or “station wagon” are dirty. I mean they’re driven by people who are old, have no fun and are martyrs to their children, right? Well, not really. You see at days end these big behemoths of the open road were people movers and served a purpose that few other vehicles could match. It’s now 2012 and although wagons are few and far between these days, that hasn’t stopped some manufacturers from re-imagining what the wagon should be.
Enter the 2013 Ford Flex. The first vehicle in my opinion that has bridged the gap between minivan, SUV and wagon, and done so with style, functionality and performance. When first introduced in 2009 consumers didn’t really know what to make of the Flex. Was it an SUV, crossover or some kind of new age surf wagon? The answer oddly enough, is all of the above. First and foremost let’s talk about style, something the Flex has in spades. With a long, low cut roof line and stylized panel-type doors, the Flex is quite a looker in stock form. You can however order the roof in a different color than the body which gives you the option of building a ride that definitely stands out from the crowd.
It’s also big, like really big with a 117.9″ wheelbase. That means the ability to seat 7 adults in comfort and still have some room left over for luggage. With the third row seats up you’ll be treated to 20 cu. ft. of cargo space. Fold them down and that bumps to 43.2 cu. ft. Drop down the second row seats and you’ll now end up with a whopping 83.2 cu. ft. of room.
People, that’s A LOT of space. Most people are noticing a trend by manufacturers to move to smaller and lighter vehicles, but the fact is that vehicles with room like the Flex are still very much in need by large families, so I applaud Ford for going big on this one.
All of the seats in the Flex are fairly comfortable, however the fronts could definitely use a bit more bolstering. Around town they’re fine, but take an exit ramp at any type of speed and you’ll swear you’re in an old bench seat Crown Vic.
Being and SEL model means this tester came pretty loaded up with options like 10-way heated power drivers seat (6-way passenger), dual climate controls, SYNC with MyFORD touch (the juries still out on this), as well as leather seats and reverse sensing system with video. Things like the panoramic vista roof, 2nd row seats with auto-fold and rear console were extra and part of option package 202A. At $3,000.00 on top of the SEL’s $35,175 base price, it’s a big option, but live with it for a week and you’ll never want to get rid of it.
Climbing behind the steering wheel is a pretty enjoyable affair. The dash is all digital and uses the latest and greatest in graphic technology to provide you with a look and feel that’s similar to today’s best video games. Readouts like the speedometer and tachometer can be tailored to the drivers mood, and everything from the cruise control, Bluetooth phone and satellite radio can be controlled through nicely laid out steering wheel mounted buttons. A massive touchscreen lies dead center in the dash allowing occupants to adjust climate, vehicle settings and audio.
A fair amount of thought was put into the Flex’s interior as not only was it comfortable, but it’s laid out so that never once was my 6’4″ frame cramped. One feature I wasn’t a massive fan of are the dash buttons, or push pad thingies on the center stack. If I push something I want to feel it move in and out. I get the whole “soft-touch” movement, but I tend to like things a bit old school and I think the majority of drivers would agree with me.
Get the Flex on the open road and you’ll be treated to a driving experience that is neither rewarding or ill-received. Basically the Flex drives like you think a longish family hauler would – decent. Steering feel is firm and nicely weighted and thanks to the vast amount of glass in the Flex, the visibility is some of the best I’ve recently experienced.
Powering the Flex is Ford’s 287 hp 3.9-L V6. It churns out 254 lb.ft of torque which sounds like a decent amount, but since our tester was equipped with the Active All-Wheel Drive System, its weight came in at 4,643 lbs. That makes it one hell of a chubb-chubb in my book. For a front-wheel drive model I think this engine would be fine, but if you’re going with all-wheel-drive, I’d definitely opt for the Ecoboost V6 which delivers 365 hp / 350 lb.ft of torque.
From a mileage perspective I was showing a combined of around 18 mpg. Ford says it will get 17 city and 23 hwy, but I’m not sure if I believe the latter.
Handling and braking were above adequate (as long as you can keep from sliding off the seat in a corner) and as mentioned there is no real drama with the Flex. I mean this is a nice vehicle and one that I’d be proud to own if I had a bunch of kids and stuff to haul around. It offers well above average styling and all-weather capability with room to do pretty much whatever you please. As optioned this 2013 Ford Flex SEL came in at $41,935.00 which, let’s face it, ain’t cheap. However if you opt out of some of the bells and whistles, you can roll out for around $35k which is not bad for a vehicle that offers up all the versatility you could ever need in a family hauler.