The Ford Flex has some of the loyalest fans in the automotive industry. Flex owners, when they replace their Flex, purchase another Flex over 40% of the time. That far exceeds the Explorer, which is the SUV sales king for Ford, and even the almighty Ford F-150. But what makes this vehicle so great, and why don’t more people buy it? We spent a week in one to find out!
(Full Disclosure: After telling someone at Ford that I hadn’t driven a Flex, that seemed like an outrage. So they sent me one to review, with a full tank of gas.)
The most polarizing aspect of the Flex is the styling. At first glance, it’s just a big station wagon, which should be popular. But it doesn’t really look like a normal wagon. In fact, when I first saw one it kind of reminded me of a really, really big Mini Cooper. The white contrasting roof definitely adds some character.
When I initially shared the car online, many people like the way it looked. But over the course of the week I had the car, everyone who saw it in person didn’t care for it. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, I suppose. I like the looks when it’s matched to the Sport Appearance Package, which our review unit didn’t have. As it sits, it looks fine. But I’ve seen it look better.
There is an insane amount of room inside, with plenty of space for second-row passengers. The third-row has PowerFold and will fold flat for increased storage. It’s basically the same amount of room that’s in the new 2016 Explorer, but perhaps even just a bit more.
But one advantage to the Flex over the Explorer in versatility is that the Flex sits lower to the ground. That makes it easier to load things in and out of the back, and also makes it a bit easier to climb in and out of. No, it won’t off-road like the Explorer, but I don’t think that’s the number one priority for people looking at these vehicles.
Like the bigger Explorer, the Flex Limited has the 3.5L EcoBoost V6 and all-wheel drive. While it looks like a big, heavy car (it is), it’s still capable of accelerating more than fast enough. At no point did I think, “I wish it had more power.”
Over 360 horsepower means you don’t get the greatest fuel economy in the world. The EPA has the Flex all-wheel drive rated at 16 mpg in the city, 23 mpg on the highway, or 18 mpg combined. During my week of testing, I saw numbers all over that spectrum. On the highway 23 is totally do-able, but you just have to keep your foot out of the boost. The power is great, but it costs you in fuel economy.
The only thing really missing from our 7-passenger flex was second-row captain’s chairs. Obviously, that’d make it a 6-passenger vehicle, but if you opt for the chairs you can also get a second-row refrigerated console, which is awesome. It even has a freezer mode. That might be important in the event of the zombie apocalypse.
The Limited is the premium model Flex, and ours came with most of the options checked. The one option you might be interested in is the towing package at $570. It can tow 4,500 pounds, which is as good as the 2015 Ford Explorer. You don’t lose any capability there.
The Flex is getting a little long in the tooth by Ford standards. While it’s definitely not out-of-date, if you sit a new vehicle like the new Ford Explorer you can see that the Flex is still using the old school Ford design elements. It shouldn’t be a reason to not buy it, but just something that should be pointed out.
All in, our review unit rang the cash register at $49,450. It has many of the options that you’d get out of the 2016 Ford Explorer Platinum for a few grand less, but the Explorer Platinum’s interior is worth the small upgrade. However, if you don’t want an Explorer or want to save the few bucks and still get loads of technology, the 2015 Ford Flex Limited is worth a look.
- Super practical.
- Quick performance.
- Unique styling.
- 2015 IIHS Top Safety Pick.
- Average fuel economy.
- Slightly dated interior.