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Actual rating will vary with options, driving conditions, habits and vehicle condition.
The standard features of the Ford Flex SE include 3.5L V-6 287hp engine, 6-speed automatic transmission with overdrive, 4-wheel anti-lock brakes (ABS), side seat mounted airbags, Safety Canopy System curtain 1st, 2nd and 3rd row overhead airbag, airbag occupancy sensor, air conditioning, 17" aluminum wheels, cruise control, ABS and driveline traction control, AdvanceTrac w/Roll Stability Control electronic stability.
Starting at: $29,710
|SE Search New||$29,710||287-hp 3.5L 6-cyl||6-spd auto||16 / 23|
|SEL Search New||$32,410||287-hp 3.5L 6-cyl||6-spd auto||16 / 23|
|SEL Search New||$34,360||287-hp 3.5L 6-cyl||6-spd auto||16 / 22|
|Limited Search New||$37,910||287-hp 3.5L 6-cyl||6-spd auto||16 / 23|
|Limited Search New||$39,860||287-hp 3.5L 6-cyl||6-spd auto||16 / 22|
|Limited w/EcoBoost Search New||$42,710||365-hp 3.5L 6-cyl||6-spd auto||15 / 21|
Pleasant to drive, the Flex feels like a step up from a Chevrolet Traverse or Toyota Highlander, due largely to its superior ride. Even the base model comes across like a smaller wagon, helped by relatively crisp steering feel and the long (118-inch) wheelbase. Even when pushed harder than most drivers ever will, body motions are adeptly controlled. Despite its dimensions, the Flex is surprisingly easy to park and maneuver through urban settings, and feels no more ponderous than a midsize sedan.
Both drivetrains deliver plenty of power. Even with several passengers, a base-engine Flex responds strongly to pass. Still, the EcoBoost turbocharged Flex approaches the level of some sport sedans. We prefer EcoBoost, though it does exact a gas-mileage penalty. Specifically, the front-drive base Flex is EPA-rated at 18/25 mpg (City-Highway), versus 17/23 mpg with all-wheel drive. With the EcoBoost turbo, mileage dips to 16/23 mpg. Flex simply isn’t as frugal as some newer three-row models.
Ford’s 6-speed automatic transmission shifts smoothly. As the transmission upshifts, the EcoBoost edition cranks out torque in a seamless wave. Tapping one of the paddle shifters triggers a manual-control mode. The system considers steering-angle and yaw sensors, as well as throttle position. While climbing a hill or rounding a quick corner, for instance, it will stick in lower gear. Only when pushing excessively hard in such a corner is the otherwise compliant ride likely to become jittery.
All-wheel drive makes sense in the snowbelt region; but otherwise, note that it adds heft to a vehicle that already weighs 4,600 pounds.
The Flex exudes an effortlessly cool aura, despite being unabashedly boxy. Defiantly forging its own style, square yet sleek, Flex handily evades the stigma faced by minivans. Curiously, the only Ford identification is a blue-oval badge at the corner of the rear hatch.
Instead of playing down its body’s corners, Flex amplifies them. Designers even carved grooves into the bodysides to highlight the long, glassy greenhouse. Right down to the rectangular grille, which reminds some observers of a USB port, Flex’s fusion of retro with modernity works just right in today’s crossover SUV marketplace.
Simply put, the Flex cabin is one of Ford’s finest, blending touch controls with LCD screens in a layout that suggests serenity. Some subtle changes have occurred, making materials feel luxury-grade, especially the soft-touch panels.
SEL and Limited trims get the latest Ford infotainment system, which replaces the troubled MyFord Touch. New Sync 3 responds quicker and its screens look less cluttered. Flex has restored some console controls, but almost every action relies on touch.
In the first and second rows, wide, well-cushioned chairs promise a satisfying melding of supple, soft-touch cushioning and long-journey support. Headrests have improved mightily, thanks to a four-position design.
Second row occupants can savor abundant head/leg room. Back seats are fairly easy to reach, thanks to the horizontal roofline, but thinly padded when you get there. Still, riders well over six feet tall can manage the third row.
Fit and finish are better than ever, and the interior is quiet. With 83 cubic feet of cargo space behind the front seats, Flex has 20 fewer cubic feet than a Chevrolet Traverse. However, second- and third-row seats can be power-folded out of the way.
Despite its size and utility, the Flex almost slips into fun-to-drive category. Highly comfortable seats, easy entry/exit, and expansive cargo space place it among our top-rated family SUVs. Platinum and Limited models are costly, but they affirm that a Flex can be quite luxurious, if you’re willing to pay.
Driving impressions by Marty Padgett, The Car Connection. James M. Flammang contributed to this report.
Volvo XC70 SE ($29,600) comes with front-wheel drive, three-row seating, AM/FM/CD, rearview camera, reverse sensing, MyFord Touch, Bluetooth, 17-inch alloy wheels. XC70 SEL ($32,300) upgrades with dual-zone climate control, pushbutton start, Sync 3. XC70 SEL AWD ($34,250) adds all-wheel drive.
XC70 Limited ($37,800) and Limited AWD ($39,750) feature perforated leather-trimmed seats, rearview camera with guidelines, 12-speaker Sony audio, power liftgate, and blind-spot monitoring with cross-traffic alert. AWD Limited can have EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 ($42,600).
Safety features include six airbags, traction and stability control, with anti-rollover technology. Optional all-wheel drive enhances stability in slippery conditions.
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