I thought I would not like the Ford Flex. Mr. HBWT said how well-reviewed it was, and really I did not believe him. Now, I share his thoughts pretty much exactly. I will say that this whole car review process has really opened up my mind to different car possibilities. The Flex totally grew on me, and if you’re really trying to avoid the dreaded minivan, but REALLY need 7 full seats AND lots of space, the Flex is totally it.
Read on for Mr. HBWT’s full review!
Review and Test Drive of the 2013 Ford Flex:
-Interior space including 3rd row
-Bells and whistles
As I sit here and ponder what to write about our time with the 2013 Ford Flex there is just no way around the 800 lb gorilla in the room so I am just going to get it out of the way: styling. Ford gets points right out of the gate for doing something unusual with the Flex styling – it certainly does not look like anything in its class of crossovers or pretty much anything else on the road for that matter. I’m not even quite sure how to describe it… a classic woodie surf wagon meets the Fast and Furious? A glimpse into a possible future – from 1985? Unique points aside, the real question is if you like it or not. Many people I asked about it surprisingly did like it, and I say “surprisingly” because I am in the opposing camp. When I wear something that may not be particularly flattering in fit or styling my wife refers to it as a “bold choice” which tranlates into “I would change if I were you.” I can’t help but relate that experience to the styling of the Flex. It is BOLD.
Whew… now that that is out of the way I can get to the rest of my experience with the Flex. This is a highly rated 3rdrow crossover – with main competition coming in the form of the Chevy Traverse, the Honda Pilot, the Toyota Highlander, and the Mazda CX-9. Reviewers seem to like it and it appears to score universally high numbers (styling being a caveat of course) in both utility and reliability. Inside there is plenty of room in all 3 rows with no significant loss of 2nd row space with the front seats all the way back (as I often have my seat). The 3rd row is a full fledged row though storage behind said 3rd row is quite limited (not uncommon in this class). A nice touch as well (though ours was not so equipped) is the option for 2nd row captain’s chairs which do negate one seating position but apparently greatly enhances the comfort of the 3rd row. Visibility was quite good for a vehicle of this size and the collision mitigation system (similar to that of the CX-9) is handy (though I wouldn’t rely on it).
The Flex we had – a 2013 Limited – spared no option, and I have to admit that while I often scoff at all of these bells and whistles, a brief taste of what life is like when you have them is not altogether unpleasant. To name but a few: power seats both heated and cooled, an excellent Sony sound system with Sirius behind a display and control panel delivered in a very aesthetically pleasing ipod-esque arrangement, auto folding mirrors, one-touch auto-folding 3rd row, automatic tailgate, navigation and backup camera, and, certainly not last nor least, active park assist. For those unfamiliar with active park assist feature the basic premise is that, when activated by a button in the dash, the car scans spaces to the right and, upon detecting a space big enough for the car to fit, will take control of the steering (with you still working gas and brake) and slide you in for a perfect parallel park job.
I’m not sure how functional this final option may be when trying to park on a busy city street with a row of cars honking behind you, but my test runs on our quiet street was… sweet. The skeptic in me always fears this automation and the possible issues you may have with down the road (my mind reels to think how much the active park assist would cost to fix) but when it is brand new it is, and there is no other word for it, sweet.
Performance and driving experience were also very positive – the 3.5l V6 in our AWD Flex had no shortage of oomph and is downright quick when it comes to navigating traffic in that size of vehicle. Fuel consumption was also right on target, if not a tad below, its like-sized and equipped AWD competitors and we got a very decent 14L/100km in the city and around 10.5L/100km on the highway. The one thing to keep in mind for economy is that the fancy-pants high end engine option does recommend premium (though the others do not). While it does feel like a larger vehicle, and parking assist aside, some downtown parkades may feel a tad cramped, you also sit closer to the ground than some of the SUVs in this class.
There is one other observation about the Flex that you need to know. While reasonably competitively priced in its class (the base starts at around 29k in Canada) the fully loaded Flex we had ran about 60k. Those bells and whistles do not come cheap.
The Ford Flex impressed me. So, if you are looking for a very versatile 3rd row crossover and also love the styling of the Flex then you just found your next vehicle. If you are looking for a very versatile 3rd row vehicle and like the Flex styling more than any of the the dowdy mini-van styled competitors (a sentiment I have to presume the majority of Flex owners share and rightly so) then it is definitely worth your while to check out. It is… bold.
I feel like this is a cereal commercial of the days of yore – “We liked it! We really liked it! Hey!” And the styling grew on me because I liked driving it so much. My only complaint is that there was so much room in the Flex, that if I was driving, I couldn’t reach the kids in the back seat for a nose wipe or retrieved thingamajig (stopped at a light, of course). Installing the car seats was a breeze, and the kids also enjoyed the fancy schmancy inflatable seat belts – “they’re chubby!” Also – neighbours and strangers alike all seemed really interested in it. The only other time that’s happened was with the brand new Honda CR-V.
Coming up, we’ll wrap up our car review process, and reveal what we actually ended up buying!
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