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2018 Ford Flex

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2018 Ford Flex Expert Review

By Matt Degen

KBB Expert Rating: 7.6

Part SUV, part station wagon, part minivan, the 2018 Ford Flex could truly be called a “crossover” SUV. And to get the inventible pun out of the way early, it really is flexible. This 3-row utility vehicle can be configured to seat six or seven passengers, and even those in the last row enjoy decent room. As with potential rivals such as the Honda Pilot, Toyota Highlander and its own sibling the Explorer, the Flex has plenty of amenities to keep families occupied and comfortable, and is available with all-wheel drive to better contend with inclement weather. What really separates the Flex is its design. Boxy and lower-riding than other SUVs, it has laudable room inside while making its own statement outside.

You'll Like This Car If...

If you want the roominess and ease of entry of a minivan and the utility of an SUV -- but seek an alternative to both -- the 2018 Flex deftly splits the difference. While standing out with its style, the Flex can also be a sleeper with the optional, potent twin-turbo V6.

You May Not Like This Car If...

The Flex's long and boxy shape isn't for everyone, and your eyes will tell you which camp you fall in. The Flex doesn't offer the more advanced active-safety features like lane-keep assistance or automatic emergency braking, and it lags rivals in fuel efficiency.

KBB Expert Ratings

  • 7.6
  • 8.5
  • 8.7
  • 7.8
  • 6.0
  • N/A
How It Ranks

#16

out of 17

Fuel Economy

#6

out of 17

Horsepower
View all rankings
2018 Ford Flex Low/wide front photo What's New for 2018

Aside from a minor exterior color change ("Blue" is added, "Blue Jeans" is gone), the Ford Flex carries over mostly unchanged for 2018. Filed under notable recent improvement, however, is the updated Sync 3 infotainment system that's compatible with phones running Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Driving the Flex
2018 Ford Flex Front angle view photo
Driving Impressions

The Ford Flex crossover SUV has a plush ride that belies its car-as-rectangle appearance. It’s quite maneuverable in the city, though you'll definitely want to use the mirrors,...

... standard rearview camera and good sense when backing up. We found the steering precise and the suspension supple in both higher-speed cornering and highway cruising. The Flex is at its best in the latter thanks to its plush ride, but road noise can intrude with the larger wheel-and-tire packages. The standard, 287-horsepower 3.5-liter V6 is more than adequate for most tasks, but the real honey is the optional 3.5-liter EcoBoost twin-turbo. With 365 horsepower and standard all-wheel drive, the turbocharged Flex is surprisingly fast. With either engine, the Ford Flex can tow up to 4,500 pounds with the Class III tow package. The Flex offers some driver-assist features like adaptive cruise control, but lacks more sophisticated features like lane-keep assist and automatic emergency braking.

MULTIPANEL VISTA ROOF
With this option, everyone in the Flex gets a sky view and prevents even rear passengers from feeling closed-in. The glass panels consist of a moonroof in front, twin skylights over the second row, and a large single skylight over the third row.

SYNC 3
Ford's audio and information system keeps improving, and Sync 3 is its best yet. Along with being easier to see and use, this touch-screen system is now compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, systems that seamlessly link with your smartphone. Sync 3 is standard on SEL and Limited trims.

2018 Ford Flex Details
2018 Ford Flex Dashboard, center console, gear shifter view photo Interior

All 2018 Flex crossover SUVs have three rows and standard seating for seven. In SEL or Limited trims, you can swap the 2nd-row bench for a pair of bucket seats. This reduces total passenger count to six, but provides premium accommodations for those in the second row, along with easy pass-through access to the third row. Among the Flex's biggest appeal is the ease of getting in and out, making it convenient for kids and adults alike. Additionally, the rear rows fold flat, as does the front passenger seat, enabling you to haul gear like a long board or 8-foot ladder.

Exterior
2018 Ford Flex photo

The Flex continues to stand out from almost every other vehicle on the road. Blocky and slab-sided, this box-on-wheels has a charisma all its own. As with any other unique design, some folks will love it, others won't. Less subjective is the Flex's ride height, which nicely splits the different between sedan and SUV. This provides good visibility while not making you feel like you need a ladder to get in and out. A power tailgate is optional on SEL models and standard on the Limited, but it doesn't offer the snazzy foot-gesture opening that you can get on a Ford Explorer.

Notable Equipment
Standard Equipment

The 2018 Flex comes in three trims: SE, SEL and Limited. The least expensive Ford Flex comes with cloth seats, 6-way power-adjustable driver's seat, rearview camera with reverse-sensing system, and climate control with rear auxiliary system. Standard audio/infotainment is an AM/FM/CD player with Bluetooth phone connectivity, USB/aux inputs and a basic version of Sync, Ford's hub that connects it all. For $2,700 more, we recommend the Flex SEL, which adds dual-zone climate control, universal garage-door opener, heated front seats, push-button start, 10-way-power driver's seat and -- importantly -- the Sync 3 infotainment system that's ready for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

Optional Equipment

The top-line Flex Limited model comes with a power tailgate, leather seats, blind-spot monitoring, navigation and Sony premium audio system. Except on base models, all-wheel drive (AWD) can be had in lieu of the standard front-wheel drive (FWD), while Ford's inflatable rear seatbelts are available on all trims. SEL and Limited trims offer options like power-folding rear seats, the Multipanel Vista Roof, heated steering wheel and ventilated front seats. The Limited model is also your only choice if you want the powerful 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine or the active park-assist feature to assist with parallel parking.

Under the Hood
2018 Ford Flex Engine photo

Two V6 engines are offered in the 2018 Flex. Standard across all trims is a naturally aspirated (non-turbo) 3.5-liter that is perfectly adequate for most tasks. Front-wheel drive (FWD) is standard, and all-wheel drive (AWD) is optional. Limited trims have the option of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, which has twin turbochargers, standard all-wheel drive and a noticeably more powerful attitude. All Flex models use a 6-speed automatic transmission with manual shift mode, and the Flex Limited with the turbo engine also has steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters. With the optional Class III trailering package, the Ford Flex can tow up to 4,500 pounds. The Flex can run on regular unleaded gasoline with either engine, but fuel economy lags rival crossover SUVs like the Toyota Highlander and Honda Pilot.

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

The 2018 Ford Flex has a Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) starting at $31,195 for a base SE model. A better proposition is the SEL model, which starts at $33,905 and includes more features and allows for options like all-wheel drive. The top-line Flex Limited starts several thousands higher, at $39,405. Loaded up with the turbo engine and other features, the Flex can pass the $48,000 mark. At these prices, the Flex starts just below its Explorer SUV brother and is in line with other traditional 3-row crossover SUVs like the Highlander and Honda Pilot. Competitors such as the Kia Sorento can be had for less. Before buying, check the KBB.com Fair Purchase Price to see what others in your area are paying. In terms of residual value, the Ford Flex is expected to lag rivals.

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