The Ford Flex is offered in SE, SEL and Limited models. Base SE models are front-wheel drive, while SEL and Limited models have a choice between front- and all-wheel drive. At the top of the lineup is the all-wheel-drive-only Limited EcoBoost model.
Most of the Flex lineup is powered by a 3.5L V6 engine that makes 287 hp and 254 lb-feet of torque. The top-of-the-line Limited EcoBoost model instead has a 3.5L turbocharged V6, making 365 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque--essentially the output of a V8. Both engines are hooked up to a smooth-shifting and responsive 6-speed automatic transmission. Models with the base engine and front-wheel drive return 18 mpg city, 25 highway, while the top EcoBoost model returns 16 city/23 highway mpg.
The Flex shares some of its underpinnings with the Ford Taurus sedan, and as such, it drives more like a car than a truck, even with its somewhat taller seating position of a utility vehicle. The Flex comes with Torque Vectoring Control and Curve Control technology, imitating the effect of a limited-slip differential and making cornering feel more responsive. Continuous improvements over the Flex's production run have brought improved electric power steering, better braking and brake-pedal feel, and better noise insulation.
The Flex's big and boxy exterior pays off inside, with three rows of seating, with a third row that's usable for adults. The interior features two seats in each row, for a comfortable capacity of six. Additionally, the second and third rows can fold, for a total of 83 cubic feet of space behind the front seats.
Optional features of note include inflatable second-row seat belts, adaptive cruise control with collision warning and brake support, and the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with cross-traffic alert--a system that might help you avoid accidents in the first place.
MyFord Touch is also available--a touch-screen-based system that helps connect smartphones and media devices and serves as a go-to point for media, climate controls, navigation, and other vehicle controls. Most tasks can be performed several different ways--by using the screen menus, the steering-wheel buttons and voice controls.
Standard equipment on the base SE includes SecuriLock keyless entry, air conditioning, cruise control, tilt/telescopic steering-wheel adjustment, a 6-speaker sound system, steering-wheel audio controls, Bluetooth and Sync, a USB input, back-up camera and multi-purpose MyFord display. SEL models step up to fog lamps, 18-inch painted alloy wheels, black heated folding side mirrors, bright stainless trim, dual-zone climate control, a universal garage-door opener and MyFord Touch. The Limited piles on more luxuries, with 19-inch painted aluminum wheels, HID headlamps, a satin aluminum grille, body-color mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, chrome door handles, a power liftgate, voice-operated navigation, heated perforated leather seats, remote start, power-adjustable pedals and 17-speaker premium Sony sound with HD Radio.
An Appearance Package available on either Limited or SEL models spruces up the look even more, with a two-tone black roof and black mirrors, plus 20-inch machined alloy wheels, unique door-trim panels, leather seats and other upgrades.
Ford must install standard cloaking devices on its Flex large crossovers. A week ago, I was commenting that I never see them on the road. Now, they're everywhere I look. Selective perception aside, you'd think I'd have a hard time missing something as large and monolithic as the boxy Flex.
The 2015 Ford Flex Limited's design is highly geometric. The crossover's long and upright silhouette is further accentuated by horizontal character lines that stretch down its flanks and across the grille and tailgates. The Flex looks, simply put, like a shoebox on wheels. Some people dig it, some find it endlessly bland. Personally, I think it looks like someone at Ford stretched a first-generationto seat 7-passengers. With its optional contrasting roof, it looks like the world's largest .
Personally, I'm a fan of the rectangular style, but I must admit that the looks had to grow on me over the course of a week's testing. Even if it's not your box of tea, there's little denying that the upright and crate-like Flex's boasts plenty of room on the inside for people and their things.
The Good With the 3.5-liter Ecoboost engine under the hood, the 2015 Ford Flex boasts excellent acceleration without much of a fuel-efficiency penalty. Optional semi-autonomous parallel parking, a standard rear camera and proximity sensors makes short work of maneuvering and parking with the long 7-seater. Optional power third row seats stow and flip at the touch of a button.
The Bad MyFord Touch feels like eight-year old tech, with sluggish performance for touchscreen response, trip planning and map rendering. The fully loaded, the Flex commands a premium price but doesn't deliver a premium feel.
The Bottom Line The 2015 Ford Flex is the missing link between wagons and SUVs, with loads of volume and a car-like ride. Aging tech, however, makes the upper reaches of its price range feel like a big pill to swallow.
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