2016 Ford Flex Limited
A one-of-a-kind vehicle with muscle to Flex.
What is this thing?
On Ford’s website, you’ll find the Flex grouped into the CUV’s and SUV’s heading- it’s closely related to the Explorer within the family bloodline. We’re not so sure about that designation as the Flex more closely resembles a station wagon, albeit one with cool styling and even more utility, thanks to its car based running gear. Stylistically, it looks as if it’s the offspring of a first generation Scion xB and a 2009 Range Rover Sport. It exudes a sort of California Cool vibe with its contrasting colours, embellishments stamped into the door panels and super cool Too Good To Be Blue paint (we didn’t make that up.)
365 horsepower!? It must really pile on the speed…
With a 0-100km/h time of less than six seconds, the Flex hauls ass as proficiently as it hauls stuff. Whether you’re comparing it to a station wagon or SUV doesn’t matter- it’ll smoke pretty much everything in its class, and elicit more than few looks of surprise from your fellow motorists when it charges off the line. Our Limited test car had the 3.5 litre Ecoboost turbo V6 from the F150 and although its down 70 lbs/ft. of torque from what you’d get in the truck, it’s plenty powerful and never feels stressed. It’ll also tow 2,141 kilos worth of boat or whatever toys you plan on bringing from your garage, in case you’re interested.
It’s got the makings of a fine road trip vehicle.
Check out the interior- it’s positively cavernous. I sat ‘behind’ myself in the rear seat and had an almost limo-like amount of legroom back there. It’s the same story wherever you sit in the Flex, although those relegated to the third row may find it ever so slightly cramped. Fold down that third row and the Flex’s box-on-wheels design and the flat load floor mean you can cram a startling amount of whatever inside. The seats look underwhelmingly flat but offer good comfort and those up front have a choice of whether to heat or cool their butts- those in the middle seat have the option of heat only. It’s nicely hushed at speed and the suspension does an admirable job of taking the edge of nasty stretches of pavement. With MyFord Touch being turfed in favor of SYNC3 connectivity and navigation functions are a breeze. We’d certainly reach for the keys to the Flex over a good majority of CUV’s if the open road beckoned.
Will it dance?
The Flex isn’t afraid to boogie when you want to have some fun, but anything weighing in at 2,226 kilos isn’t going to rival a ballerina for grace. V-rated rubber and black 20” rolling stock won’t embarrass the Flex if the road gets twisty, but they won’t make you think about selling your Mazda MX-5, either. The suspension is set up more for comfort than slicing and dicing, and the AWD is heavily front-drive biased, so no hooning here. The only weak link here is the steering, which is one of the vaguer units completely devoid of feel that we’ve encountered recently.
Why does nobody buy this?
Nobody is a bit of an understatement, but when you move 1,789 Canadian units (in 2015) there won’t be any celebratory champagne showers in Dearborn. This is a bit of a head scratcher because the Flex is a compelling alternative to the usual riff-raff and to us, a better bet than the closely related Explorer. We sense that the Flex’s days are numbered, and when it does eventually cease production people will lament the loss of one of the quirkier vehicles you can buy today. Our Limited model had so much kit that even those shopping more prestigious but comparable vehicles really should give the Flex a good look; self-parking, flawless infotainment, power everything and that high zoot engine make a good case for that.
We just praised the Flex for offering an exhaustive list of features, but you’ll pay for them- to the tune of $57,989 which isn’t cheap by any standard. Nor will you be boasting about how much you’ll save at the pumps, because this is a thirsty girl- all we could manage during our week with the Flex was 15.8L/100km in mixed driving, and that was while exercising as much restraint as possible. The throttle calibration is a bit too sensitive for our tastes- you really have to concentrate when leaving the line not to lurch forward. And the turbocharged V6 with all of its addictive muscle has all the aural delights of a backup generator. Nothing major, but certainly areas to address if the Flex makes it to its next generation. We certainly hope it does.
2016 Ford Flex Limited- Specifications
- Price as tested: $57,989
- Body Type: 4-door, 7 passenger CUV
- Powertrain Layout: Front engine/all-wheel drive
- Transmission: 6-speed automatic
- Engine: 3.5-litre turbocharged V6, DOHC, 24 valves
- Horsepower: 365 @ 5,500 rpm
- Torque (lbs-ft.): 350 @ 3,500 rpm
- Curb weight: 2,226 kg (4,909 lbs)
- Observed Fuel Consumption: 15.8L/100km (15 mpg)