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Flex Appeal: Utility, Comfort in Large 2013 Ford

By Arv Voss, March 31st, 2012

If you're a fan of Ford's first large Flex, then you'll be an even bigger fan of the 2013 Flex because there's simply more to love. The seven-passenger Flex not only serves up a more captivating styling, it also brings a higher level of consumer-oriented technology, improved fuel economy and modern sophistication.

Manufacturer photo: The new three-row, seven-passenger 2013 Ford Flex offers comfort and advanced technology in a distinctive package, including a sleek new front end, modern interior and six all-new wheel styles
Manufacturer photo: The new three-row, seven-passenger 2013 Ford Flex offers comfort and advanced technology in a distinctive package, including a sleek new front end, modern interior and six all-new wheel styles

The front and rear styling display a bold new look, making the overall appeal of the 2013 Flex even more alluring. When first introduced for sale in 2008, the Flex exercised a new direction in design with a basic form that somewhat resembled a Range Rover. Styling cues were actually taken from early 1940s Art Deco vacuum cleaners, such as the Electrolux, with its ribbed, aluminum sides.

The 2013 Flex is available in three trim levels, all displaying a long, low stance with a low roofline that appears to float above the cabin's extended glass area, thanks to the blacked out A-, B-, C- and D-pillars. The length of the vehicle is exaggerated by the horizontal side grooves. Flex variants include the well-equipped base SE model starting at $31,000; followed by a more upscale SEL model; and topped by the flagship Limited model.

Flex models draw their motive force from either Ford's standard 3.5-liter V-6 or an EcoBoost V-6 with Direct Injection that makes 365 horsepower along with 350 lb.-ft of torque. The standard V-6 develops 285 horsepower while delivering 253 lb.-ft of torque.

My test 2013 Ford Flex was the Limited trim, powered by the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 with intelligent All-Wheel Drive. It sported a Deep Impact Blue metallic exterior lower finish with a Silver roof, complemented by a Charcoal Black leather interior. The base price was set at $41,180.

Manufacturer photo: The new three-row, seven-passenger 2013 Ford Flex offers comfort and advanced technology in a distinctive package, including a sleek new front end, modern interior and six all-new wheel styles

Ford's 2013 Flex comes with upgraded connectivity, featuring SYNC with the new generation of MyFordTouch -- it is the first vehicle in the Ford lineup to come with MyFordTouch as standard fare. There are also inflatable rear seat belts, Electric Power Assist Steering, better braking components, Curve Control, Power Torque Vectoring, retuned suspension and steering response that boasts a 25 percent improvement.

The 2013 Flex EcoBoost Limited AWD not only provides an innovative and refreshing styling execution, it also provides a most enjoyable driving experience. The EcoBoost V-6 delivers a V-8 power equivalent in terms of performance, with responsive acceleration, positive braking and smooth gear changes. Estimated mileage is 16/23 mpg. Maximum tow rating is set at 4,500 pounds.

Ingress and egress into the "Business-Class" seating is comfortable due to the low step-in height. Loading and unloading are ergonomically friendly as well. Technology abounds, enabling users to control most MP3 players and Bluetooth-enabled mobile phones, hands-free, utilizing voice commands. Sony's 7.1 Surround sound system is available rated at 390 watts of power.

An optional Multipanel Vista Roof, available on SEL and Limited models, provides four roof glass panels that allow light through the large interior cabin for all three seating rows. Panels include an operable front-row sunroof/moonroof and a large rear glass panel featuring individual frames in the Flex's headliner for second and third occupants.

The Ford Flex Limited tester with the EcoBoost V-6 and All-Wheel Drive system provides an attractive, comfortable and refreshing mode of family transportation. The interior is loaded with FLEXibility. If there is a downside to the design, the horizontal side groove design, while it looks great, may make washing and waxing more of a chore.

Specifications

Base price $41,180 (as tested: $43,450)
Curb weight 4,828 lbs.
Displacement 3.5-liter
Engine type 24-valve V-6 EcoBoost w/DI
Epa mileage rating 16 mpg city, 23 mpg highway
Fuel capacity 18.6 gal.
Horsepower (net) 365 at 5700 rpm
Overall length 201.8 in.
Torque (lb.-ft.) 350 at 3500 rpm
Transmission 6-speed automatic
Vehicle type 6/7-passenger AWD CUV
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