By KBB.com Editors
KBB Expert Rating: 7.8
The 2013 Ford Flex is not your typical 7-passenger family vehicle, at least not if looks count for anything. Its long and boxy silhouette is reminiscent of the big station wagons of the 1960s and 1970s, plus it's lower to the ground than an SUV. And, while competitors like the Honda Pilot, Dodge Durango and Chevrolet Tahoe may tout their max towing or off-road ability, the Flex focusses on transporting people on paved surfaces. It's striking and stylish as well as functional and useful – a fine combination similar to minivans and SUVs in capabilities, but clearly different from both.
If you're looking for a family vehicle that is a modern equivalent of the classic American station wagon, the 2013 Ford Flex could be the one. It offers seating for six or seven, a range of models and prices, available all-wheel drive, and a turbocharged V6 EcoBoost engine.
If you need to tow more than 4,500 pounds or go venturing over rugged dirt tracks, the 2013 Ford Flex is not the best choice. The big V8-powered SUVs such as the Dodge Durango or Ford Expedition are better geared to these tasks, and may also offer more space inside.
For 2013, the Ford Flex gets a significant facelift with restyled front end, instrument panel and seats. There is a little more power in the base engine, manual shifting for the 6-speed automatic, new MyFord Touch, and several new available systems including parallel-parking assist and adaptive cruise control.
Driving Impressions Despite its wide body and long wheelbase, the 2013 Ford Flex feels pleasingly maneuverable and responsive. Its poise through tight turns is really quite impressive, and its smooth ride and...quiet interior add to the pleasant driving experience. Sway and body roll are kept in check by a taut suspension, big wheel and tire packages and the Flex's low-to-the-ground stance. The electric power steering has unusually good feel for such systems. Despite is boxy appearance, the Flex seems to slip through the air easily at freeway speeds, creating very little wind noise. The base 287-horsepower engine gives adequate acceleration but the EcoBoost's 365 horsepower is clearly quicker and adds an element of sportiness to the drive. And the 2013 Ford Flex's available all-wheel drive adds another level of assurance on slippery roads.
When fitted with the middle-row captain's chairs instead of the bench, the console between can be equipped with a built-in refrigerator that holds up to seven 12-ounce cans. And, with a low temperature of 23 degrees Fahrenheit, it can double as a mini ice cream cart.
SYNC COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM
Ford's SYNC communications system features a voice-activated command center that can access music from an attached MP3 player, answer and place calls from a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone, and even read aloud incoming text messages.
Ford took pains to make the 2013 Flex someplace special. The inviting interior is functional, elegantly appointed and meticulously assembled. The restyle this year gives the instrument panel a clean and functional high-tech look, with the three screens for the new MyFord Touch system. Noteworthy features include the massive 4-panel Vista skylight. The 2nd-row and 3rd-row seats fold flat, but so does the right-front passenger seat, creating acres of cargo room. For hauling people, the front and middle rows provide spacious and comfy accommodations for four full-size adults, five in a pinch. Third-row occupants will find legroom snug.
The 2013 Ford Flex looks both functional and quirky, both edgy and timeless: Ford Country Squire wagon meets Mini Cooper. It's a box, for sure, but an elegantly detailed box, with aero-friendly contours around the edges and lower body. The new-this-year face is quite modernistic, with a strong horizontal character and the unusual decisions to downplay the headlights and put the Flex name in chrome across the nose. The aluminum-clad liftgate and optional contrasting-color roof are also strong visual elements. The Flex's flat, brick-like contours won't thrill everyone, but it's a distinctive and functional way to build a family hauler.
The 2013 Ford Flex comes in three trim levels: SE, SEL and Limited. Standard equipment includes keyless entry, a 6-way power driver's seat, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, Reverse Sensing System, fog lights, front and rear air conditioning, an MP3-compatible CD player, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Moving up to the top-of-the-line Limited trim brings heated front seats, a 10-way power driver's seat with memory, Sony Premium audio with Ford SYNC communications system, voice-activated navigation, leather interior, a power-folding 3rd-row seat, and 19-inch aluminum wheels. Standard safety equipment on all models includes inflatable 2nd-row safety belts and 3-row side-curtain airbags.
Options for the Ford Flex vary by trim and include a 365-horsepower EcoBoost V6 (Limited), all-wheel drive (SEL and Limited), rearview camera, power rear liftgate, heated 2nd-row seats with power Autofold mode, 2nd-row captain's-chair seating with center-console refrigerator, 4-panel Vista roof, a contrasting painted top, remote start, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, and Park Assist active parallel parking aid.
Depending on trim, Ford offers two engines and the choice of front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD) on the 2013 Flex. The standard engine on all trims is a smooth and efficient 3.5-liter V6 with variable valve timing. Its 287 horsepower (modestly increased for 2013) is certainly adequate if not class-leading. Fuel economy is quite good with an estimated 17 mpg city and 24 highway. All-wheel-drive models earn slightly lower estimates. Optional on the Limited trim is the EcoBoost V6, which uses gasoline direct injection and twin turbochargers to produce an impressive 365 horsepower. A 6-speed automatic transmission is used throughout, and the EcoBoost engine is offered only with AWD.
287 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
254 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 18/25 mpg (FWD), 17/23 mpg (AWD)
3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6
365 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm
350 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500–5,250 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23 mpg
By Joeker on Friday, July 11, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 66,000overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have taken trips to Tennesse, Florida, Maryland, etc. Fuel mileage has been slightly lower than anticipated. However, the comfort and room this vehicles provides more than makes up for it. Low maintenance, efficient, plan for new one to be the replacement for it."
1 person out of 2 found this review helpful
By rofl on Monday, July 07, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 10,857overall rating 9 of 10rating details
Pros: "practical, solid, dependable, affordable"
Cons: "noisy drive with windows down at Hwy speeds"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"People always ask what it is and if I like it, some mistake it for a Range Rover Mileage is a solid 25 MPG on the highwas at 70 mph or less, mixed around town is about 22 mpg Adaptive cruise control make highway driving a pleasure. It's a must have Self parallel parking system is cool but never used Didn't think I'd like the auto hydrolic rear hatch but find it very convenient. Same for the AC in the front seats thought it was odd at first but after the first 90 degree day I was a convert. Low compression engine with front wheel drive has more than enough torque and pickup for most unless you want to spend $1500 for twin turbo which uses premium gas and get lower mileage Handling and ride is great with tow package/ anti-sway no - SUV/minivan porpoising, not quite my BMW 7 but close. Drives smaller than it looks Interior is clean and functional, rear passenger's luv the 2 buckets which have heat and seporate climate control for the back row and skylights above all rows Driver seating is very comfortable for 6'3" but vertical and transverse engine limits stretchout legroom Sunroof / Panoramic roof makes the whole truck light and airy front to back.... this should be offered with lower trim levels, can only add if you have virtuall evey other option. Active road sensing technology is very helpful and gets you spoiled when you drive acar without it Synch is solid technology but can be quircky intermittantly Lots of airbags and very good safety rating... spend the $190 for the rear passenger seatbelt airbags"
By hidelite on Sunday, July 06, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 71,000overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "Great car all around"
Cons: "Seats might be a little more "cushy""
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I have owned over 80 vehicles in my life and this is one of the most adaptable cars I have ever owned. It has about everything. Handles reasonably, comfortable to drive, can carry just about anything up to a small horse and gets pretty fair mileage to boot. We have towed small trailers with it and have used the Flex as a dinghy behind our motorhome. It has more electronics than the Space Shuttle and they all work very well. I have people walk up to me in parking lots and ask lots of questions about it. How many other production cars get that? I'd buy another in a minute."
By Less than I hoped for on Tuesday, June 03, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 5,200overall rating 5 of 10rating details
Pros: "comfy, spacious, flexible seating"
Cons: "small gas tank, touch controls, DVD, poor keypad"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 3
"This offered, I thought better gas mileage than the old van but, NO. I only avg 19MPG. In fact, took a 3000 mile trip and only averaged 19 MPG all highway miles, driving at 72MPH with my cruise on. My 2007 van got better than this. Ford should be ashamed for not getting better gas mileage for a similar sized vehicle 7 years newer! Also, I have to stop every 300 miles to gas up - the tank is ridiculously small for a mom's taxi. I'm always on empty and looking for the next gas station, I feel. Lots of wind noise. Touch controls are a pain - a lot of touching and scrolling (while driving) to do a simple adjustment of the temperature or radio. The navigation won't allow setting when driving so even the passenger can't enter a destination while the car's in drive. It won't even work when stopped, it has to be in park! The only way to do it while driving is by voice command which is never able to hear me correctly and takes an agonizing amount of time and yelling to do. The technology is old - it's like using the first generation GPS units we had 5 years ago. The Built-in DVD player which was a $2000 option, doesn't even play sound through the car's speakers! The kids have to use headphones. The keyless entry pad malfunctioned within 14 days of purchasing the car and I had to call a tow truck to break into my new car. Ford acknowledges they have a problem with these pads. The dealer kept my car for 5 days to replace it. It's still a pain - the keys are very insensitive and I have to hold them for longer than should be necessary. Also, if you try and leave your keys in the car, which is why I have the keyless pad option to begin with, it UNLOCKS after you walk away from the car. It took me a month to realize that I had to lock it, wait for it to unlock and lock it again anytime I want to leave my keys in the car. The car doesn't handle well - it floats and responds slowly. It doesn't accelerate very fast either. I regret this purchase and I've only had it 3 months."
5 people out of 10 found this review helpful
By Sunshine on Wednesday, May 21, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 21overall rating 10 of 10rating details
Pros: "THEY RIDE SO SMOOTH AND THEY SIT AMAZING"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"CAR RIDES LIKE A DREAM. WE NEEDED A CAR DUE TO BACK PROBLEMS THIS IS THE ONLY VEHICLE WE SAT IN THAT GIVES U THE RIGHT SUPPORT. HEATED SEATS ARE WONDERFUL IN THE WINTER. REAL FAMILY CAR!!!! DEFINITELY WOULD BUY ANOTHER FLEX. MY DAUGHTER AND SON-INLAW JUST WENT OUT AN BOUGHT A NEW ONE THEY LIKED OURS SO WELL. GREAT VEHICLE."
7 people out of 12 found this review helpful
By cj on Thursday, May 01, 2014
I own this car - My approximate mileage is 45,000overall rating 8 of 10rating details
Pros: "Roomy and luxurious. Handles well."
Cons: "Fuel economy and blindspots"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"Would buy another Ford. Loved all the amenities this car offers. Keyless entry a favorite. Cooler console a waste. Gas mileage only 13/14 around town, and barely 20 hwy. Very cool car. Handles well at higher speeds on highway...hills and curves good performance. Blind spot to be aware of. Not comfortable letting my kids, as newer drivers, drive it a lot."
4 people out of 7 found this review helpful