2013 Ford Flex; photo by Paul Williams. Click image to enlarge
Manufacturer’s web site
By Paul Williams
2013 Ford Flex
Portland, Oregon – The Canadian-built Ford Flex seven-passenger crossover continues into 2013 with exterior and interior enhancements, more power from the standard engine and additional standard equipment. Its distinctive design is made a little more aerodynamic, while retaining its polarizing appearance. It’s not an “all-new” Flex, but is refreshed and revised.
Most obvious are differences to the grille and front fascia compared with the outgoing model. Rounder and smoother, these changes soften the lines of the Flex but do away with the signature blue oval badge, replacing “Ford” with “Flex” applied across the leading edge of the hood. Why lose the Ford oval? Aesthetics, apparently. “It just doesn’t match the look of the revised grille,” said one Ford executive. The blue oval now resides on the rear liftgate.
There are six new wheel styles, including three all-new 20-inch wheels, and three new exterior colours. At the rear, a dual exhaust is now standard. Optional on the Limited models (which are only available with all-wheel-drive in Canada), a Titanium appearance package includes a two-tone black roof and black mirrors, 20-inch machined aluminum rims with painted pockets, leather seats, and unique door trim panels. With tinted windows, this would create something of a stealth Flex.
2013 Ford Flex; photos courtesy Ford. Click image to enlarge
Under the hood, the standard 3.5-litre V6 engine receives dual variable camshaft timing and delivers 285 horsepower, up by 20 in comparison with last year’s model. Torque is increased by six to 254 lb.-ft., and fuel consumption is marginally reduced by approximately 0.5 L/100 km combined city/highway. The optional EcoBoost V6 engine — available only with all-wheel drive — now makes 365 hp and 350 lb.-ft. torque.
Inside, new trim and standard Sync with the latest generation of MyFordTouch provide improved connectivity and simpler operation. Two 4.2-inch screens in the instrument cluster and an eight-inch screen in the centre stack build on the already comprehensive Sync system. New steering wheel, seat trim and foam and interior panels also debut.
All MyFordTouch customers, by the way, will receive an update to their system via USB flash drive in April, 2012. It is designed to make the system easier and faster to use.
The 2013 Ford Flex also receives enhanced chassis dynamics, including Electronic Power Assisted Steering (EPAS) with a quicker steering ratio and revised damper rates for a nimbler ride. An all-new brake system with a larger master cylinder is designed to provide improved brake pedal feel and increased resistance to fade. Additional sound insulation throughout the vehicle reduces road, wind and powertrain noise.
A range of new standard and optional safety technologies are available for the 2013 Flex, starting with the available inflatable rear seatbelts, a world first for this system. These are designed to help prevent head, neck and chest injuries for rear-seat passengers, often children and the elderly, according to Ford, who may be more susceptible to injuries in the event of a crash.