The Ford Flex is a 6 or 7-passenger cross-over that occupies a unique place in the automotive landscape.
It reminds me of the old station wagons that were the only choice for larger families back in the 70’s and 80’s.
The shape, the size, even the flip up back row seats; are all reminiscent of the station wagon.
What isn’t reminiscent is the style and performance.
The 2016 Flex Limited AWD I was given to test had the most powerful engine available.
A 3.5L V6 with turbocharging that develops a healthy 365 horsepower and a strong 350 lb-ft of torque.
This engine makes the Flex the ultimate sleeper because if you bury your right foot off the line few vehicles in its class can keep pace. It is a very gratifying experience, and one that will shock your passengers and other motorists alike.
Directing all that power to the either the front or all 4 wheels is a 6-speed automatic transmission that works smoothly and quietly for the most part.
The week of my test saw some snow and the AWD system gave me a controlled and confident ride on the slickest of surfaces.
The ride and handling have been firmed up a bit over the previous model in an attempt to reign in unwanted body roll. It seems the changes have worked.
The Flex provides a comfortable ride with neutral handling and will even handle a spirited twisty road better than its girth would suggest.
The steering is well weighted but becomes very light in parking lots making the Flex feel smaller than it is and a breeze to park.
The size and shape of this CUV give boxy proportions that may not appeal to all, but the advantage to this shape is impressive room for passengers and cargo. Being very square the cargo bay is easy to load and will swallow most anything you will need to transport.
Adding to the ease of utility in the cargo bay are the power operated third row seats that pop up or fold away at the press of a button located in the cargo area.
Inside the Flex is a very comfortable and extremely easy vehicle to use.
The seats in my tester were all leather and the two front seats could be heated and cooled, even the steering wheel was heated; something that proved to be essential during our time together.
Perhaps the biggest and most needed change made for 2016 was the upgrade to the Sync3 infotainment system. The system works seamlessly and is very simple to navigate.
The dash is clean and the limited use of switches and buttons makes the interior feel uncluttered.
According to the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) the 2016 Flex scored the highest Good rating in all but the small overlap front test in which it scored an Acceptable.
The standard rear-view camera and numerous two-stage airbags are supplemented by the optional park assist, adaptive cruise control and collision warning; blind-spot and cross traffic alerts.
One innovative new option is the inflatable rear seat safety belts which were designed to distribute the force of a crash across more of the passenger’s body which will help lessen the severity of some injuries.
The 2016 Ford Flex is a great tool for every family and a welcome alternative to the SUV/CUV we see everywhere.
If you want something that stands out in a crowd and can handle anything life throws its way, the Flex is worth a closer look.
Base Price: $29,600 (USD)
Price as tested: $45,280
Standard – naturally aspirated 3.5L V6 developing 287 hp and 254 lb-ft
Optional – EcoBoost 3.5L V6 developing 365 hp and 350 lb-ft.
23 mpg Highway/ 16 mpg city/ 19 mpg combined (base engine)
21 mpg Highway/ 15 mpg city/ 17 mpg combined (EcoBoost with AWD)