Bold designs are not common in the crossover/utility vehicle space, a vehicle segment favored by drivers who tend to choose cars based on whether it will suit their needs, not excite their sense of style.
For the past decade, however, Ford's Flex has moved against that current with a polarizing look that has found plenty of buyers in the mid-size crossover segment. For 2019, the Flex returns unchanged.
Somehow, the Flex still makes sense even as many of its key competitors have been redesigned twice since Ford first rolled this model into showrooms. Its interior space remains competitive, and you'd be hard-pressed to find another crossover this enjoyable to drive without venturing into luxury territory.
As before, Ford offers the Flex with a pair of 3.5L V6 engines. The base powerplant makes 287 hp and 254 lb-ft of torque, and the option is a turbocharged version that cranks out 365 hp and 350 lb-ft. Both come with a six-speed automatic transmission; All-wheel drive is optional with the lesser engine and standard with the turbo mill.
Trim levels are SE, SEL and Limited. Only the Limited variant can be optioned with the turbo, and that combination creates a downmarket alternative to upscale European crossovers available with V8 power.
The motivation behind Ford's development of its line of Ecoboost V6 turbo engines was to provide V8 power with six-cylinder fuel economy. However, if you like using the boosted V6's prodigious output, be prepared to pay for it at the pump: driven aggressively, this engine will drink gasoline just like a V8. On the plus side, it will happily run on regular gasoline.
Some of the Flex's standard features are four 12-volt power outlets, a six-speaker sound system with USB input, leather-trimmed steering wheel, power windows and Ford's Sync infotainment system accessible through a 4.2-inch touchscreen.
SEL trims adds niceties like the upgraded Sync 3 infotainment setup, along with a larger screen, plus heated and power adjustable front seats, rear climate control and remote engine start. Leather seating is an option, as is a 110-volt power outlet, upgraded stereo, blind spot monitor and a power tailgate.
Limited is where things start to get fancy, with maple wood interior trim, 12-speaker stereo and perforated leather upholstery.
Option packages bring features like hands-free parking, adaptive cruise control, heated steering wheel, three-piece sunroof, power-folding third-row seats and ventilated front seats. Among the niftier extras is a small refrigerator that slots into the rear-seat console.
What Ford doesn't offer is much in the way of advanced safety features like automatic emergency braking, lane keeping assist and collision warning. The only stand-out is second-row seatbelts with airbags built into them.
Ford's fuel consumption estimates are 14.7/10.2 L/100 km (city/highway) for the non-turbo engine with front-wheel drive, and 14.7/10.7 with AWD. Choose the turbo engine and ratings are 15.7/11.2 L/100 km.
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