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- A singular shape
- Rowdy turbo V-6
- Excellent front seats
- Very good second-row room
- Cargo, uh, flexibility
- Priced like a Lincoln
- If you didn’t like the style in 2009...
- Small, standard 4.3-inch infotainment screen
- Pricey high-tech safety, only on Limited
The 2018 Ford Flex still stamps a unique silhouette on the crossover world.
We loved the Ford Flex when it was new. Then again, we also loved the iPhone’s 2G connectivity, the Atlanta Thrashers, and Chicago’s Summer Olympic bid in the same year. We’re not fickle, we’ve just outlived most of those things.
The Flex–still sold in SE, SEL, and Limited trims–is the lone survivor in that bunch. It’s old, yes, but we still harbor some feelings for it. It no longer feels as counter-trendy as it once did, but the shape still is singular, the family-wagon bona fides still solid. On the balance we’d rather have a Chrysler Pacifica or a Honda Pilot.
We give the Flex a still-respectable 6.2 out of 10. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
A space-age surf wagon, the Ford Flex bundles up all the straight lines unused by eggy crossovers and minivans. It wouldn’t look half-bad with wood side panels, would it? The ribs down its side, the flat body-color or blacked-out roof, the USB-port front end all coalesce into a shape that mashes up looks from companies Ford used to own: Volvo and Range Rover. The cabin’s lost some charm in its recent redo, but the big touchscreen and simple layout work well.
The base 288-horsepower V-6 could use more grunt, but it’s joined to a workhorse of a 6-speed automatic. Front-wheel drive makes the most of the combination, but add on all-wheel drive, and the hefty wagon drains all the juice out of the powertrain. The twin-turbo V-6 on Limited versions has brisk punch and a gutsy roar, but adds $8,200 to the price, bundled as it is with all-wheel drive, big wheels, and anything else Ford wants you to have. In either configuration, the Flex borders on nearly fun to drive, but it's a trick: both engines are appropriately handling the Flex's mighty girth.
The Flex still comports itself like a classic family wagon. Were it more popular we’d say it stole Volvo’s thunder, if Subaru hadn’t already gotten there. It rides high, and makes it easy for adults to slide into its cozy front seats. Headroom soars as it should in a vehicle shaped like an Amazon warehouse. The second-row bench or buckets suit all the adults we know, and even the tall ones will fit for short stints in the third-row seat.
Crash test data is incomplete, and you’ll have to spend more than $47,000 to get a Flex with forward-collision warnings and automatic emergency braking. Base models have a disappointingly small infotainment screen, but plusher versions get leather seat surfaces in the front two rows, big wheels and tires, a power tailgate, and Sony audio.