2013 Ford Flex Limited AWD EcoBoost
2013 Ford Flex Limited AWD EcoBoost. Click image to enlarge
First Drive: 2010 Ford Flex EcoBoost

Test Drive: 2009 Ford Flex Limited AWD

Manufacturer’s web site
Ford Motor Company of Canada

Review and photos by Chris Chase

Photo Gallery:
2013 Ford Flex

When we think of a car we usually associate it with its maker – Chevrolet, Honda, and so on – but there are certain individual cars that have developed brand identities of their own. Obvious examples include the Corvette and Mustang, cars so iconic that they have become known apart from the companies that build them.

You could make a case for the Ford Flex achieving a similar “brand-apart” status. Crossovers aren’t universally adored in the same way as sports cars are, but the Flex could get there on the merit of its standout looks – boxy lines that are distinctive in a group of competitors that tend toward the shapeless blob end of the automotive design spectrum.

It could be the Flex’s conspicuousness that influenced Ford’s 2013 styling refresh for its biggest crossover. The changes aren’t extraordinary, but if the decision to remove its blue oval logo from the front end and replace with it with the letters F-L-E-X stretched across the leading edge of the hood isn’t recognition of this car’s having achieved notoriety, I don’t know what is.

2013 Ford Flex Limited AWD EcoBoost
2013 Ford Flex Limited AWD EcoBoost
2013 Ford Flex Limited AWD EcoBoost
2013 Ford Flex Limited AWD EcoBoost. Click image to enlarge

Also new for 2013, stylistically, is the brushed metal-look bar running the width of the grille, and redesigned head- and taillights. For the record, the only blue oval badge with any prominence of place is the one on the tailgate. Note that this “new” look isn’t that far off from what you got in a Flex Limited in previous model years. It’s part of what you do, if you are an auto manufacturer with a vehicle entering its fourth model year: make standard something that you used to have to pay extra for.

Not much changes where the Flex’s running gear is concerned. As before, there’s a choice of two 3.5 L V6 engines, making 285 hp/255 lb-ft of torque in SE and SEL models, and a turbocharged (EcoBoost) version good for 355 hp/350 lb-ft that’s an option in the Limited trim. The SE is front-wheel drive only; the SEL can be had that way or with all-wheel drive, and the Limited is only sold as an all-wheeler. The sole transmission is a six-speed automatic with a manual shift function.

Ford sells the Flex SE for $30,499, but naturally it’s not hard to drive that number up with the addition of options. My tester was a Limited AWD EcoBoost model with what seemed like every conceivable extra: heated second row seats, second-row console with refrigerator, power-folding third-row seat, Titanium Appearance Package (black 20-inch wheels, black roof and mirror caps, brushed metal exterior trim, grey seat inserts and leather-wrapped steering wheel). The Limited is a $48,299 proposition with the turbocharged engine, but that motor can only be had along with one of a pair of packages; in the case of my tester, this was a $6,800 option group that included cooled front seats, paddle shifters, power-adjustable steering column, power-folding third row, active park assist and adaptive cruise control. All of those goodies boosted the bottom line to nearly $55,000. Ouch.

Mitigating that financial discomfort is the fact that the Flex is a lovely vehicle to drive. The front seats are huge – especially in width – but are also surprisingly supportive and very comfortable. The updated interior looks good (even if it’s a step back in terms of user-friendliness; more on that in a moment) and the restyled exterior presents an upscale look that makes base models look more expensive.

This year, the Flex is blessed(?) with Ford’s touch-sensitive centre stack controls for the climate and entertainment systems, and also gets the revised MyFord Touch system.

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