The Ford Flex is offered in SE, SEL and Limited models. Base SE models are front-wheel drive, while SEL and Limited models have a choice between front- and all-wheel drive. At the top of the lineup is the all-wheel-drive-only Limited EcoBoost model.
Most of the Flex lineup is powered by a 3.5L V6 engine that makes 287 hp and 254 pound-feet of torque. The top-of-the-line Limited EcoBoost model instead has a 3.5L turbocharged V6, making 365 horsepower and 350 pound-feet of torque--essentially the output of a V8. Both engines are hooked up to a smooth-shifting and responsive 6-speed automatic transmission. Models with the base engine and front-wheel drive return 18 mpg city, 25 highway, while the top EcoBoost model returns 16/23 mpg.
The Flex shares some of its underpinnings with the Ford Taurus sedan, and it drives more like a car than a truck, even though it does have the somewhat taller seating position of a utility vehicle. A round of improvements last year brought better-responding electric power steering, along with improved braking and brake-pedal feel--as well as improved noise insulation. The Flex also comes with Torque Vectoring Control and Curve Control technology, imitating the effect of a limited-slip differential and making cornering feel more responsive.
The Flex's big and boxy exterior pays off inside, with three rows of seating, including a rearmost row that's doable for adults. The interior features two seats in each row, for a comfortable capacity of six. Additionally, the second and third rows can fold, for a total of 83 cubic feet of space behind the front seats.
Optional features of note include inflatable second-row seat belts, adaptive cruise control with collision warning and brake support, and the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with cross-traffic alert--a system that might help you avoid accidents in the first place.
Also available is MyFord Touch, a touch-screen-based system that helps connect smartphones and media devices and serves as a go-to-point for media, climate controls, navigation, and other vehicle controls. Most tasks can be performed several different ways--by using the screen menus, steering-wheel buttons and voice controls.
Standard equipment on the base SE includes SecuriLock keyless entry, air conditioning, cruise control, tilt/telescopic steering-wheel adjustment, a 6-speaker sound system, steering-wheel audio controls, Bluetooth and Sync, a USB input, back-up camera and multi-purpose MyFord display. SEL models step up to fog lamps, 18-inch painted alloy wheels, black heated folding side mirrors, bright stainless trim, dual-zone climate control, a universal garage-door opener and MyFord Touch. The Limited piles on more luxuries, with 19-inch painted aluminum wheels, HID headlamps, a satin aluminum grille, body-color mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, chrome door handles, a power liftgate, voice-operated navigation, heated perforated leather seats, remote start, power-adjustable pedals and 17-speaker premium Sony sound with HD Radio.
An Appearance Package available on either Limited or SEL models spruces up the look even more, with a 2-tone black roof and black mirrors, plus 20-inch machined alloy wheels, unique door-trim panels, leather seats and other upgrades.
The Ford Flex enters into no significant changes for 2016, save for a standard back-up camera on all trims.