2011 Flex New Car Test Drive
The Ford Flex is a full-size crossover utility vehicle that can seat up to seven adults and carry luggage or groceries at the same time. It's the modern-day equivalent of what used to be the family station wagon, but no station wagon can match the comfort, utility, capabilities or driving enjoyment of the Flex.
The Flex has three rows of seats, with a standard 2-3-2 layout or optional 2-2-2 configuration. It's built on a passenger-car platform, as opposed to that of a body-on-frame truck, and thus has the basic stance and friendly driving characteristics of a car.
The Flex is larger and roomier than the Ford Edge, and its three-row seating allows it to carry more people, and in more comfort. Its passenger-car platform makes it lower and more carlike than the Explorer or Expedition, and thus easier to drive and live with in daily use. Competitors for the Flex include the Chevrolet Traverse, GMC Acadia, and Buick Enclave, though they are quite different in a variety of ways.
Fuel economy is an EPA-estimated 17/24 mpg City/Highway for a front-wheel-drive Flex, 16/22 mpg for the base-engine all-wheel-drive model, and that's on Regular 87 octane gasoline.
The Flex offers a choice of V6 engines: the relatively conventional 3.5-liter Duratec, and the more powerful 3.5-liter EcoBoost. EcoBoost utilizes advanced turbocharging technology to deliver the fuel efficiency of a smaller engine with the power and performance of a larger engine. EcoBoost includes two turbochargers and direct fuel injection. The 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engine in the Flex is rated at 355 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque, yet with little penalty in fuel economy compared to the standard non-EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6, which is rated at 262 horsepower. In the Flex, the EcoBoost engine is available only with all-wheel drive.
For 2011, Ford has added the new flagship Titanium model, featuring an abundance of sinister-looking blackout trim (inside and out), relieved by 20-inch, five-spoke Luster-Nickel wheels. The voice-activated navigation package now includes HD radio. Limited and Titanium models offer optional one-touch PowerFold and tumble third-row seating. And some new option packages are available.
Ford Flex SE ($29,075) comes standard with cloth seating surfaces, single-zone air conditioning, seven-passenger capacity (2-3-2 seating), six-way power driver seat, manual tilt steering wheel with audio and cruise controls, fog lights, power door locks with autolock, power mirrors with manual-folding bezels, remote keyless entry, retained power, AM/FM/CD six-speaker audio with MP3 compatibility, center-stack screen display (for audio, compass, temperature), message center with trip computer, front-row center console, 10 cup holders/bottle holders, power windows, carpeted floor mats, rear privacy glass, three 12-volt power outlets, 235/60R17 BSW tires, and alloy wheels.
Flex SEL ($31,875) adds bright exterior trim, 18-inch machined alloy wheels, dual-zone A/C, Sony AM/FM/six-CD/MP3, heated first-row seats, 10-way power driver seat, six-way power passenger seat, universal garage door opener and interior woodgrain trim. The Flex SEL AWD ($33,725) adds all-wheel drive. The SEL Convenience Package 201A ($1,000) adds 110-volt power inverter, power adjustable pedals with memory, power liftgate, memory driver's seat and side mirrors, door-mirror mount puddle lamps, and heated mirrors. Convenience Package 202A ($2,500) includes everything in package 201A, plus leather seating in the first and second rows and a Sony premium 12-speaker sound system. The SEL AWD is also available with the EcoBoost V6 engine ($36,720). It offers Convenience Package 203A ($3,025) which bundles the contents of 202A with 20-inch wheels.
Flex Limited ($37,845) adds HID headlamps, power multi-function door mirrors with puddle illumination, power-opening liftgate, P235/55R19 BSW tires, 19-inch polished alloy wheels, 110-volt power outlet, power-adjustable pedals with memory, ambient lighting, second-row footrests, perforated leather seating surfaces (for first and second rows), first-row memory seats, Microsoft SYNC system, Sony AM/FM/6CD audio with 12 speakers, Sirius satellite radio with six-month subscription, DVD entertainment system, and navigation. The Flex Limited AWD ($39,695) adds all-wheel drive. The Limited AWD with the EcoBoost engine ($42,690) adds, along with the twin-turbocharged engine, dual exhaust, SelectShift automatic transmission with paddle-shifting, and electronic power steering.
The Flex Titanium ($40,340) adds a distinctive beltline molding; black chrome grille and liftgate trim; darkened headlight bezels; black roof, mirror caps, and foglight nacelles; charcoal-colored leather-and-suede seating, and 20-inch wheels with P255/45R20 tires. The Titanium AWD ($42,190) adds all-wheel drive. And again, the Titanium EcoBoost AWD ($45,185) adds, along with the twin-turbocharged engine, dual exhaust, SelectShift automatic transmission with paddle-shifting, and electronic power steering.
Options include a Class III Trailer Towing Prep Package ($570) with receiver hitch, wiring harness with 4/7 pin connector, engine oil cooler, tire mobility kit; second-row 40/40 reclining seats ($650-750); second-row floor console ($100); rear console refrigerator ($795); DVD rear entertainment center ($1,995); deep-tint Vista roof ($1,495); steel roof panel in contrasting White Suede or Brilliant Silver ($395); tri-coat paint ($395-495); Microsoft SYNC system ($395); roof rack side rails ($195); six-CD with satellite radio ($430); remote start system ($345); Active Park Assist ($550); power-folding third-row seats ($495) and 20-inch wheels ($795). Package 301A for SEL and Titanium ($3,600) bundles a refrigerated second-row console with the vista roof, second-row 40/40 seating, and 20-inch wheels.
Safety features include driver and front-passenger dual-stage airbags, side-impact and safety canopy airbags, front passenger airbag sensing system, rear door child-safety locks, perimeter alarm, seatbelt pre-tensioners, reverse sensing, passive anti-theft system and tire pressure monitoring system. Active safety features include anti-lock brakes (ABS), AdvanceTrac electronic traction control, RSC Roll Stability Control, brake assist, and electronic brake force distribution (EBD). Adjustable pedals come on the Limited model. All-wheel drive is available for the SEL and Limited.