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

Review and photos by Jonathan Yarkony

I happened to be driving the 2013 Ford Flex when editing Tom Sedens’ review of Ford’s other seven-seat SUV, the Explorer Sport, and I couldn’t help but think that this is the car he would have wanted.

Transmission with Sport mode? Check. No silly badging or attempt to pander sporting pretensions? Check. Deleting the useless middle second-row seat? Check. Living up to advertised fuel consumption? Er, well, okay, there’s no getting around the Ecoboost V6’s thirst for premium.

Poor, unlucky Tom and his limited Edmonton fleet.

Oh well, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the Flex, as did my wife, who was thrilled at the significant power upgrade over last winter’s long-term tester, the Honda CR-V. Although the Flex can’t match the CR-V for efficiency, few things with three rows and at least six seats will (Toyota Highlander Hybrid and Mazda5 are the only ones I’ve kept under the 10 L/100 km mark). I did manage to keep the Flex in check at 12.5 L/100 km – I was quite pleased as Chris Chase, usually a far more efficient driver than myself, managed only as good as 12.6 in a virtually identical Flex last summer, though likely with fewer highway kilometres – a heavy dose of highway driving influenced my number.

This number is not only good in relation to Chris Chase, it is actually within the range of Natural Resources Canada’s ratings of 13.1 L/100 km city and 8.8 L/100 km highway. The EPA cites 14.7/10.2 and 13.1 combined for the AWD Flex.

2013 Ford Flex Limited AWD2013 Ford Flex Limited AWD
2013 Ford Flex Limited AWD. Click image to enlarge

It is truly rare for me to achieve such positive results in fuel consumption when there is such a powerful engine moving such a heavy vehicle, and it moves well, so we weren’t shy to apply throttle. The turbocharged Ecoboost 3.5L V6 makes 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. Frankly, I would have been satisfied with the motivation of the base V6; even without turbocharging, the naturally aspirated 3.5L V6 makes 287 hp and 254 lb-ft, in line with other competitors’ V6s. The engine does not affect the tow rating of 2,042 kg (4,500 lb) with the $500 Class III Trailer Tow Package. The only transmission available in the Flex is a six-speed auto with manual shifting; apparently my trim had paddle shifters… It also had that Sport mode, which I did use on occasion when I wanted to maintain a more vigourous pace, though most of the time the regular Drive seemed to get it right.

Oh, and that weight? A corpulent 2,226 kg (4,909 lb), when competitors like the Santa Fe XL under 2,000 kg and CX-9 and Pathfinder under 2,100.

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