2018 Flex New Car Test Drive
Introduced for the 2009 model year and facelifted for 2013, Ford's sizable, defiantly squared-off crossover continues to stand apart from the crowd. The futuristic, space-age design isn't quite as distinctive as it used to be, but the Ford Flex remains a practical, family-friendly utility vehicle.
The 2018 Ford Flex is a carryover, with little change evident from 2017.
2018 Flex SE, SEL, and Limited trim levels offer a choice of two V6 engines:
Standard is the long-lived 3.5-liter V6, rated at 287 horsepower and 254 pound-feet of torque and paired with Ford's familiar 6-speed automatic transmission. With front-wheel drive, the base engine serves well enough. Because the Flex is no lightweight, optional all-wheel drive extracts quite a bit of its performance potential.
Optional is an Ecoboost twin-turbo 3.5-liter V6 that develops 365 horsepower and 350 pound-feet, also working with a 6-speed automatic. All-wheel drive is standard on a Limited with the optional EcoBoost engine, adding $8,200 to the retail price of a regular front-wheel-drive Limited with the standard engine.
Three-row seating is standard, providing seven-passenger capacity. At 117.9 inches, the Flex wheelbase is almost 7 inches longer than that of a Honda Pilot.
Ford offers some valuable active-safety technology for the Flex, but most features are optional, and only for the most costly trim levels. The Limited model, for instance, comes with blind-spot monitoring. Adding forward collision warning with automatic emergency braking, coupled with adaptive cruise control and a power-folding third-row seat, means paying $2,900 additional.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave Flex Good scores for most crash-tests, with an Acceptable rating in the challenging small-overlap frontal-impact test.
All Flex crossovers have a rearview camera. Also standard is a system that can apply front braking to the outside wheel, intended to provide a more secure feeling when zipping through corners.
Ford's optional MyKey system lets parents set limits on a youngster's driving habits. MyKey can restrict vehicle speed, stereo volume, and various entertainment features. Additional Flex options include a panoramic sunroof, second-row captain's chairs, a power-folding third-row seat, a heated steering wheel, and a towing package.
Flex SE ($30,300) has a 3.5-liter V6, 6-speed automatic, front-drive, three rows of seats, a second-row bench, Bluetooth-enabled and voice-controlled SYNC infotainment, 17-inch wheels, CD player, cloth seats, heated power mirrors, rear parking sensors, and a rearview camera. All-wheel drive is not available on the base model. (Prices do not include $895 destination charge.)
Flex SEL ($33,000) adds an 8.0-inch touchscreen, SYNC 3 infotainment, remote start, keyless ignition, heated power front seats, 18-inch wheels, woodgrain trim, and dual-zone automatic climate control. All-wheel drive adds $1,950.
Flex Limited ($38,510) gets 12-speaker Sony audio, perforated leather seat trim, power front seats with driver's memory, navigation, power liftgate, 19-inch wheels, and blind-spot monitoring with rear cross-traffic alert.
Only the Limited is available with the optional twin-turbo, 365-horsepower EcoBoost V6 engine. Priced at $8,200 including all-wheel drive, the EcoBoost version has an MSRP of $45,105.
A $1,495 Limited appearance package adds Shadow Black exterior details, deluxe leather-trimmed seats, and 20-inch wheels.