The Flex ranks as one of our top picks for a long-distance road trip for four adults (and even more kids or cargo), and it takes just a quick look inside to see why. Nothing carries seven passengers quite like it--except for maybe the (now discontinued) Mercedes-Benz R-Class, and the its own sibling, the Lincoln MKT. Otherwise it's hard to find six seats for adults this accommodating.
You can thank the Flex's Volvo roots and its emphasis on second-row comfort. While other SUVs like the Traverse and Pilot have better third-row accommodations or overall interior space, the Flex is organized to make the front and middle seats as spacious as possible for everyone, not just the under-13 set. At 5 inches shorter overall than the 205-inch-long Chevy Traverse with a wheelbase just as long, the Flex is conversely 10 inches longer than the Honda Pilot.
Both in front and in the second row, the Flex includes wide, well-cushioned seats that cosset for long distances yet provide enough support for a mountain road. And for 2013 one of our previous complaints--oddly positioned headrests--has been completely remedied with a new four-position design. In the seoncd row; you'll feel regal, there's so much head and leg room.
The third-row seats are thinly padded, but it's impressive that even this 6'-6” editor could fit acceptably in the third row, with a slight hunch and knees slightly elevated; it would be fine for a jaunt across town, and it's relatively easy to get back there thanks to the roofline.
With 83 cubic feet of space behind the front seats, the Flex has marginally less interior room than the Honda Pilot, and 20 cubic feet less than the Traverse. However, both its second- and third-row seats can be power-folded out of the way, and behind the third row, it can tote more cargo than the Pilot.
Fit and finish look better than ever in the 2013 model, based on an early drive. Ford has done a good job in placing soft-touch materials up where the driver and front passenger most often put their hands, while upholsteries and materials feel luxury-grade.
On coarse surfaces and over choppy sections of road, it's readily apparent that the Flex is much quieter inside for 2013; Ford has added a host of improvements to lower noise and harshness in the vehicle—like wrapping shock towers with sound absorbers, adding insulation behind the dash and under pass-throughs, and adding wheel liners.