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2017 Ford Flex

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2017 Ford Flex Expert Review

By

KBB Expert Rating: 7.7

The 2017 Ford Flex is part station wagon, part SUV and part minivan. It’s a unique 7-passenger crossover SUV that offers all the space and versatility large families need along with available sure-footed all-wheel drive and decent fuel economy. But it’s the Flex’s distinctive long-and-low styling that really sets it apart from its competitors including the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander, Chevrolet Traverse and Ford Explorer. Unlike some SUVs, the new Flex is low to the ground and makes no pretense of being off-road capable. That lower ride height makes for a smooth ride, easy step-in and cargo loading. The Flex is offered in three trim levels, SE, SEL and Limited, and there’s a choice of two V6 engines along with numerous electronic and convenience features.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you need minivan-like room and versatility but won’t be caught dead driving a minivan, you’ll like the new Ford Flex. Its boxy styling maximizes interior space, while its car-like ride and numerous options, including all-wheel drive and a 365-horsepower turbocharged engine, make it the perfect all-weather family truckster.

You May Not Like This Car If...

If off-roading is your thing and you need significant ground clearance, an advanced AWD system or the ability to tow more than 4,500 pounds, scratch the Flex off your list. The Ford Explorer, or a full-framed SUV like the Ford Expedition or Chevrolet Tahoe, might be more to your liking.

KBB Expert Ratings

  • 7.7
  • 8.6
  • 8.8
  • 7.9
  • 6.1
  • N/A
How It Ranks

#32

out of 35

Fuel Economy

#7

out of 36

Horsepower
View all rankings
2017 Ford Flex Low/wide front photo What's New for 2017

For 2017, the Ford Flex no longer offers optional heated, 2nd-row captain’s chairs with a refrigerator in the center console. The unique but unpopular option has been discontinued. Otherwise the Flex is essentially unchanged from last year’s model.

Driving the Flex
2017 Ford Flex Front angle view photo
Driving Impressions

Its size might suggest a truck-like driving experience, but the 2017 Ford Flex is actually quite maneuverable and car-like in the city. In sharp turns, the Flex’s steering is precise...

... and responsive, and its suspension does a great job of keeping the car level during high-speed cornering, with good control over body sway and pitching. It also provides one of the most comfortable rides in the segment. If you’re going to take the tribe cross-country, this is your automobile. Ford has done an excellent job keeping outside noise outside, although the larger wheel-and-tire packages vary the amount of road noise that sneaks inside the interior. The base 3.5-liter V6 is more than adequate, but we prefer the surge of power delivered by the available 365-horsepower EcoBoost engine (that’s more horsepower than the V8-powered Dodge Durango). The optional all-wheel drive operates seamlessly and adds a measure of safety in nasty weather.

ECOBOOST V6 ENGINE
Although the Flex’s standard 287-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 is strong enough for most, check out the optional 365-horsepower twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6, which is only available on the top Limited trim level and only with all-wheel drive. Zero to 60 takes just about 6.2 seconds, which is sports-sedan territory.

SYNC 3
Ford consistently improves its Sync infotainment system, and the 2017 Flex is equipped with the latest and greatest version that is also now one of the easiest to use. The new system’s screen allows for phone-style navigation gestures like pinch and swipe, plus there’s faster performance and improved voice recognition.

2017 Ford Flex Details
2017 Ford Flex Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

The interior of the 2017 Ford Flex is inviting, functional, elegantly appointed and meticulously assembled. The Flex’s instrument panel is clean and functional, with large air conditioning vents and three screens for the Sync 3 system. A massive 4-panel Vista skylight is one of the noteworthy features. The 2nd-row and 3rd-row seats fold flat, as does the right-front passenger seat, for hauling extra-long cargo like your long board or an 8-foot ladder. The front and middle rows provide spacious and comfortable accommodations for five. Third-row occupants will find legroom a little tight, but full-size adults can ride back there comfortably.

Exterior
2017 Ford Flex photo

In a world of automotive sameness, the 2017 Ford Flex brings a style all its own. It looks like nothing else on the road and there aren’t many cars or trucks you can say that about these days. It’s a box, for sure, but an elegantly detailed box, with aero-friendly contours, soft edges and a large greenhouse. The Flex’s face is quite modernistic, with a strong horizontal character and unconventional treatments in its shapely headlights and prominent Flex name in chrome across the nose. A liftgate clad in brushed-aluminum and the optional contrasting-color roof are also strong visual elements.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The 2017 Ford Flex comes in three trim levels: SE, SEL and Limited. All come standard with a stout 287-horsepower V6, a 6-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. Standard equipment includes keyless entry, a 6-way-power driver’s seat, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, Reverse Sensing System, front and rear air conditioning, rearview camera, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. The Limited trim adds heated front seats, a 10-way-power driver’s seat, Sony Premium audio, Ford Sync 3, a heated steering wheel, navigation, leather upholstery, a power-folding 3rd-row seat and 19-inch alloy wheels. Safety equipment includes 3-row side-curtain airbags and inflatable 2nd-row safety belts.

Optional Equipment

Options for the 2017 Ford Flex vary by trim and include the 365-horsepower EcoBoost V6 (Limited only), all-wheel drive (SEL and Limited), a power rear liftgate, heated 2nd-row seats with power Autofold mode, a 4-panel Vista roof, a contrasting-color painted roof panel, adaptive cruise control with Collision Warning and Brake Support, remote start, and a rear-seat DVD entertainment system. Also optional is Ford’s active Park Assist, which gives the Flex the capability to parallel-park itself. The system steers the Flex into place with the driver controlling the gearshift, gas and brake pedals.

Under the Hood
2017 Ford Flex Engine photo

Across its trim levels, the 2017 Ford Flex offers a choice of two V6 engines both with a 6-speed automatic transmission and either front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). The standard engine is a smooth and efficient 3.5-liter V6 with variable valve timing. It makes 287 horsepower and is certainly adequate if not class-leading. Fuel economy is below average for the vehicle’s size with an estimated 16-mpg city and 23 highway. AWD models earn slightly lower estimates. The Limited trim offers the option of the EcoBoost V6, which has twin turbochargers and direct injection to produce an impressive 365 horsepower. This EcoBoost engine is offered only with AWD and has an EPA fuel-economy rating of 15-mpg city and 21 highway.

3.5-liter V6
287 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm
254 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpm
EPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23 mpg (FWD), 16/22 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: 15/21 mpg

Note: Due to changes in EPA testing to more effectively reflect real-world conditions, some 2017 models show slightly lower fuel-economy scores than their 2016 versions.

The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a 2017 front-wheel-drive Ford Flex SE starts just under $31,000. For the mid-level SEL, prices start around $33,500 (FWD) and $35,550 (AWD). A top-of-the-line Limited begins just over $39,000 with the base engine and FWD and bumps up against $44,000 with the EcoBoost V6 and AWD. Heavily optioned, a Flex Limited can easily exceed $50,000. That pricing is in line with such competitors as the Chevrolet Traverse, Mazda CX-9, Dodge Durango and Honda Pilot, but more expensive than the Kia Sorento. To make your best deal, be sure to check our Fair Purchase Price and see what typical Flex transaction prices are in your area. Considering resale value, Kelley Blue Book expects the Flex to hold a good portion of its original purchase price, on par with the Chevy Traverse, but falling slightly behind the Honda Pilot.

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