Ford’s Flex was conceived as a modern day version of the classic American family hauler. Definitely not a minivan, and not quite an SUV-style crossover, the Flex rides on a platform shared with the Lincoln MKT, Lincoln MKS, Ford Taurus, and Ford Explorer. This unique tall wagon has plenty going for it, including the latest tech features, plus generous passenger and cargo space. It’s well-suited for family use – and for folks who have out-grown their boxy Scion xBs, Kia Souls, and Nissan Cubes.
Very little changes with the Flex for model year 2016 – the big upgrade is the fitment of Ford’s new Sync 3 infotainment system. With all-new graphics, plus tablet-style swipe and pinch functions, it’s a noteworthy improvement over the fussy MyFord Touch system. In addition to offering Siri Eyes-Free integration, all Ford Flexes receive a standard reverse camera – handy given the wagon’s limited rearward visibility .
Also new are a few colours: Shadow Black, Too Good To Be Blue, and Kona Blue. Limited models also receive a new Light Earth and Dark Earth two-tone premium leather colour scheme.
Two 3.5-litre V6s are available to Flex buyers. SE, SEL, and Limited trims receive a naturally aspirated version that develops 287 hp and 254 lb-ft of torque. The SE trim is front-drive only; SEL is available with front or all-wheel drive, while the Limited gets all-wheel drive as standard. Ford’s twin-turbocharged EcoBoost is also available which bumps power up to a V8-like 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. Fitted with this engine, the Flex is a real sleeper, capable of hitting 100 km/h from still in a bit over six seconds. Regardless of which engine is selected, the Flex is rated to tow up to 4,500 lbs when equipped with the Class III Trailer Tow Package.
While the Flex might not offer as much total cargo space as some full-size crossovers or minivans, it makes good use of what’s available. The cabin can comfortably seat six or seven, with range-topping Limited trims offering available second-row reclining and heated captain’s chairs with a refrigerator cooler console. Third row seating accommodations are surprisingly good thanks to the Flex’s level roofline and upright tailgate. On the move the Flex’s cushy suspension, stable handling, and quiet cabin make it an ideal long-distance vehicle.
Limited trim level vehicles come with plenty of technology and creature comforts including second-row heated seats, rear-zone climate control, a 110-volt power outlet, and available radar cruise control with collision warning, blind-spot warning, and lane-departure warning. Ford’s setup doesn’t feature emergency autonomous braking, though.
Pricing for the Oakville, Ontario-built Flex starts at $31,799 and tops out at $45,599. By comparison, traditional crossovers such as the Dodge Durango, Honda Pilot, Chevrolet Traverse, and Ford’s own Explorer sell for upwards of $2,500 more.