The 2010 Ford Flex has crisp styling and a strong powertrain, but its killer application is its ability to haul seven passengers in comfort.
While the Honda Pilot seems configured to seat eight passengers, and the Chevy Traverse packaged to hold the most stuff, the Ford Flex is clearly organized to carry adults in maximum comfort, with a bit less room for kids and cargo. The Flex is 5 inches shorter than the 205-inch-long Traverse and 10 inches longer than the Honda Pilot—but its wheelbase is just about as long as that of the Traverse.
That wheelbase translates into lots of legroom for the front two rows of passengers—more than in the Pilot, more than in the Traverse. Up front, wide and cozy chairs are nearly perfect, with just Ford’s obtrusive active headrests spoiling perfect posture. (Ford’s working on a better solution, but shifts the headrests slightly forward to preserve crash-test scores.) The second-row seats are the real thrones here, with so much legroom and headroom, you could knight a peasant at your feet—or just flip out some handy footrests for an aircraft-style seating position.
In the third-row seat, the Flex’s passengers will be a little less comfortable. It outpoints other three-row crossovers on legroom, but the Flex is much narrower than either the Pilot or the Traverse here. Still, two adults will find enough room to sit in the wayback for surprising amounts of time.
As for cargo, the Flex isn’t quite the hauler the Traverse is—its 83 cubic feet of space behind the front-row seats are 4 fewer than the Pilot, and 20 fewer than the Traverse. It does have more room behind its third-row seat than the Pilot, though—and the Flex’s second- and third-row seats are offered with power-folding controls.
Bucket seats are its forte, but the Flex’s fit and finish are its secret trump card. The materials, and the way they work together, are a step up for Ford—the door panels have faux-wood trim, metallic bands, leather, and plastic all next to each other, and they come off as high-quality pieces, rather than cheesy imitations. There is some hard gray plastic, banished to places where hands don’t usually touch, but the Flex’s cabin is so much richer than either the Traverse or Pilot, you’ll probably want to compare it against a Range Rover Sport to spot its few flaws.