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STYLING | 9 out of 10
The blue oval grille badge is gone, replaced by extra-width “FLEX” lettering spanning the hood's leading edge.
a Taurus Country Squire sans wood siding
Is boxy beautiful? If your answer is no, you might liken the Flex to a refrigerator and move on to another vehicle. But if you think so--and possibly worship the likes of old Volvo 245 wagons--the 2013 Ford Flex is a good one to put on the list. No matter what, if your next crossover can't be bland or anonymous, the Flex's silhouette is the recipe for a little more excitement.
With a mash-up of styling cues that you could argue are influenced by everything from that old boxy wagon or Country Squire, to Range Rovers or Mini Coopers, the Flex boldly forges its own look--a look that hasn't been imitated in the seven years since the Fairlane Concept's debut at Detroit or the Flex's introduction in 2009.
With slab-sided sheetmetal stretching out into something that's almost a caricature of SUVs and wagons--but at the same time, stamped with details that make it unique--the Flex is essentially the anti-minivan. There are influences aplenty from the MINI playbook, in outfitting some Flex crossovers with white-capped mirrors and two-toning the body with a white roof, while the upscale Titanium version mutes all that down for a nearly monochromatic look. And with some slight changes to the front and rear for 2013, those differences are even more exaggerated. Now Ford has removed any brand badging or even the blue oval from the front, instead adding broadly lettered 'FLEX' label at the leading edge of the hood, a laRange Rover, above an all-new grille—a thick chrome bar running all the way across, working crisp futuristic ways with running lamps and a boxy headlight design, plus unified, straight-across lower air-dam bars. The only Ford mark on the vehicle is a blue-oval badge, on the lower right corner of the hatch.
Inside, the Flex's design essentially carries over, although there have been some subtle changes to the materials--with soft-touch materials now used in the upper door trims as well. The instrument panel sits low, while a round analog clock on the dash of the navigation-equipped Flex clearly pays homage to the MINI--down to the stamped-in ribs that flank it. Also new for 2012 is a redesigned center stack that makes room for the large MyFord screen interface, along with all-new capacitative touch controls for climate control and audio beneath it.
It's classy, bold, and a little weird, all at the same time, and it stands out from the rest of the Ford lineup.