Exterior view of 2015 Ford Flex.
Parents shopping for a car that is loaded with safety features and lots of seatbelts may think their only options are minivans or trucks with crew cabs. Ford has a unique vehicle in its lineup that is definitely not a minivan or a truck, but more like a totally upgraded station wagon, and it could be a good choice for families who just don’t fit the truck or minivan mold, writes Sally Miller Wyatt. (#2015FordFlex, #Ford)
The 2013 Ford Flex is a vehicle loaded with functionality, seating for a family of seven, and all the latest in safety features.
Dubbed an urban truck, the Flex is part truck and part minivan. It’s an edgy-looking ride that is large enough to haul about furniture, fence posts, or just about anything of any size, thanks to a versatile and flexible seating arrangement and a roomy interior.
The Flex is distinctive for its unusual exterior. It has a flat roof with multi-panel vista windows over the rear seats. That roof is colored in either white or silver, and it contrasts sharply with the car’s all-black greenhouse windows. The body structure itself is low-ish to the ground and somewhat boxy, but when you peer inside, you see a spacious interior cabin. All that space is perfect for a growing family, not only within the three rows of seats, but also with the generously sized rear cargo area. And, these seats fold flat, so you can carry large items. On our test car, the seats were powered and they folded down in mere seconds with only the touch of a button.
On the interior, the Flex has thoughtful details that are contemporary in look, as well as all the most desirable new technologies, such as MyFord Touch, adaptive cruise control with collision warning and brake support, Ford’s Blind Spot Information System, as well as Intelligent Access with push-button start and remote start technology, heated and cooled front seats, rain-sensing wipers, a power tilt and telescoping steering wheel, power folding side mirrors. Most notable, however, are the rear inflatable seat belts. This advanced restraint system is designed to deploy over an occupant’s torso and shoulder in 40 milliseconds, in the event of a crash, helping to reduce head, neck and chest injuries for rear seat passengers, who are most often children or older adults and more vulnerable to these kinds of injuries.
Parents will appreciate the Flex’s safety rating. For 2013, it earns “good” ratings from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for its performance in frontal and for side-impact crash tests. The vehicle has an advanced structural safety system that includes frame supports to absorb and direct crash forces away from the passenger cabin. Other standard and available safety features include AdvancTrac with Roll Stability Control, a rear-view camera system, side-impact air bags, a Safety Canopy System, and the SOS Post Crash Alert System.
On the road, I was impressed with the way the Flex maneuvered through tight parking garages and packed highways. For a large-sized car, it handled very well, almost without effort. Tight turns are easily managed and it’s no problem getting into and out of tight parking spaces. The Flex’s powerful 3.5-liter, V6 engine provides 287 horsepower—an increase of 25 over previous models—and it is smooth and swiftly responsive. The popular 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine remains available, and both engines are paired with a six-speed SelectShift Automatic Transmission.
Overall, I was intrigued and impressed with the Flex. It was large and accommodating, fun to drive, and had an edgy appearance. For those parents who need the space to carry kids and cargo, but just can’t bring themselves to consider a minivan, the Flex is a viable alternative.