2013 Ford Flex Extended Review
Spending a week with Ford's tall wagon.
Web2Carz Contributing Writer
Published: March 13th, 2013
If you miss station wagons, then Ford has a crossover SUV for you.
Ford's boxy Flex has been on the market since 2008 as a 2009 model, which meant it was time for it to go under the knife for a mid-cycle refresh in 2012, emerging as a 2013 model.
Ford kept the changes to a minimum, opting for minor revisions to the front and rear styling and a horsepower boost for the base engine, a 3.5-liter V-6.
There are two 3.5-liter V-6 engines available on the Flex--the base 285 horsepower unit and a turbocharged 355 horsepower mill that is standard in Limited EcoBoost models. Our Limited tester came equipped with the base V-6, which gained 23 horsepower and five lb-ft of torque (from 248 to 253) for 2013.
At 4,683 lbs, the Flex isn't light--the V-6 has plenty of weight to lug around. It does so adequately for around-town driving and freeway merging, but you never forget how heavy this boxy wagon-like crossover is.
That weight issue applies to ride and handling as well. The long wheelbase leads to a smooth ride, and while the Flex handles better than one might expect, it's not particularly satisfying. It's competent, but not the most fun crossover out there.
That doesn't mean it's totally boring--the Flex works well as a quirky family hauler that isn't totally boring to drive.
The boxy profile will probably bring back fond memories to the fore for those who are old enough to remember when station wagons prowled the streets in greater numbers than they do now.
The subtle changes--a new grille up front is the most noticeable--give the Flex a refreshed look that comes across as a little sportier. That's about it for styling updates, the overall rectangular profile mostly remains. Love it or hate it, it sure does stand out.
Interior changes are limited to a new steering wheel and gauge clusters along with new panels for the electronics and new seat trim and foam.
One plus of such a long and boxy vehicle is room--there is plenty of it, even in the third row (well, relative to other third rows, anyway). A refrigerated second-row console also remains available, emphasizing the Flex's mission as a "cool" family vehicle.
The MyFordTouch infotainment system is also available, and as usual, it falters due to bugs and a user interface that isn't always as intuitive as it should be.
Interior materials are generally class-appropriate, but we wouldn't go so far as to call the Flex's cabin upscale.
Ford doesn't need to offer the Flex, it already has the more traditional Explorer crossover. Yes, Ford launched the Flex before redesigning the venerable Explorer, changing it from a truck-based SUV to its current crossover layout, but the brand could've killed the Flex when the Explorer launched. It didn't, presumably to keep offering customers the choice between traditional and oddball. The Flex works for those who want utility and comfort while also marching to the beat of a different drum.
The question is, how many folks are willing to march to that beat, especially at a price of more than $40K? Ford seems to think the answer is more than enough.
Those who do go that route will find a big, boxy SUV that offers a pinch of sport, a comfy ride, and lots of room. That's not a bad deal, even at this cost.
Specs, Features, and Prices
Engine: 3.5-liter V-6
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Drive Wheels: All-wheel-drive
Fuel Economy: 17 mpg city/23 mpg highway
Base Price: $41,180
As-tested price: $42,570 (includes $825 destination fee)
Available Features: MyFordTouch infotainment system, 20-inch wheels, ambient lighting system, fog lamps, two-tone roof, heated front seats, push button start, remote keyless entry, remote start, Sync voice recognition, satellite radio, power liftgate, navigation, blind-spot monitoring system, rearview camera.
• For more information such as specs, prices, and photos of the 2013 Ford Flex, click here: 2013 Ford Flex.