2010 Ford Flex — Review
This 2010 review is representative of model years 2009 to 2012.
By Tom Wilson of MSN Autos
Ford hates it when you call the Flex a station wagon, so let's call it a full-size crossover. (That is, it's a modern station wagon.) Already pampering occupants with a quiet, extra-roomy cabin stuffed with nifty features and uptown styling, the Flex now offers generous power for any hauling or towing need, or for simply whipping traffic when required. Still a relatively new vehicle — it was introduced just last summer — the unique Flex is built for people on the go.
The Flex SE is offered strictly with a base V6 engine, 6-speed automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. Seating is cloth; the signature two-tone exterior paint scheme is optional; and climate control is single-zone. Wheels are 17-inch aluminum with 235/50R-17 black sidewall tires.
The SEL trim comprises the bulk of Flex sales. Here, the exciting EcoBoost (turbo and direct fuel injection) version of the V6 is optional, which automatically has all-wheel drive. Leather seating is optional, and dual-zone climate control is standard, as are a 6-disc CD player and satellite radio, Ford's Sync connectivity software, fog lights, chrome door handles and beltline trim. Expect Flex SELs on dealer lots to load up with fun options such as the two-tone roof ($395), the big Vista Moonroof ($1,495) and maybe the Class III tow package ($570). A self-parking option is also available ($550). Standard issue are 235/60R-18 tires on 18-inch machined aluminum wheels.
Buyers of the Limited get it all, with standard perforated leather seats, dual-zone climate control, ambient lighting, wood inlay on the steering wheel, voice-activated navigation and entertainment, HID headlights, power liftgate, chrome mirrors, plus the EcoBoost V6 and AWD. The major options are a dual-headrest DVD system ($1,995), refrigerated center console ($795) for keeping drinks cool, and self-parking. Limiteds roll on 235/55R-19 rubber and 19-inch polished aluminum wheels; a 20-inch option is available.
Under the Hood
EcoBoost — Ford's new combination of twin turbocharging and direct fuel injection — is definitely a more capable option on the same 3.5-liter V6. It transforms the Flex from OK to zoomy. It produces 355 horsepower at 5700 rpm and 350 lb-ft of torque seemingly from just off idle to near redline; Ford calls the torque peak at 3500 rpm.
All Flexes use the same 6-speed automatic, and all Flexes with EcoBoost have AWD. However, non-EcoBoost engines can be paired with AWD for winter traction. Furthermore, the EcoBoost combos employ paddle shifting in addition to the center console shifter. The paddles are handy for holding gears in the mountains but normally you'll just let the automatic gearbox shift itself.
Ford also increased suspension stiffness a bit to better match the increased power from the EcoBoost engine.
Features abound, from the optional power liftgate to a bevy of electronics such as voice-activated navigation and Ford's popular Sync infotainment system. People and their luggage are always the emphasis, hence the optional refrigerated center console — think a soda cellar on wheels.
Safety is another Flex selling point. Hidden in the chassis is steel-tube reinforcement against side impacts, plus extensive airbag and seat belt technologies. Ford's MyKey system is provided as an adjustable speed- and sound-system-limiting valet for when the kids are driving.
On the Road
With the EcoBoost under the hood there's definitely power on tap, and with essentially no turbo lag. The flat torque curve launches the EcoBoost Flex eagerly either from the stoplight or from highway speeds — a major improvement over the standard engine.
As a hauler, the Flex offers a large liftgate in the rear and 4-door practicality. It's handy enough around town, but as a full-size crossover it requires a bit of care in tight traffic or parking. A reverse camera included with the optional navigation system display is especially helpful then.
Right for You?
That most popular combination — SEL with EcoBoost — starts at $36,890, which is close to the naturally aspirated, FWD Limited at $37,940. The EcoBoost Limited is a hefty $42,785, but the Vista Moonroof and refrigerated center console are about the only large options left at that point.
Longtime Road & Track contributor Tom Wilson's credits include local racing championships, three technicalengine books and hundreds of freelance articles.