• Flex receives a refreshed front-end and updated interior
  • New technologies improve safety, power and fuel economy

The Ford Flex has always been the vehicle of choice for those who look to make a statement. The design has always been polarizing and for 2013, Ford has upped the ante. With a freshened look outside, more power and economy under the hood, and updated technology inside, Ford continues to improve an already impressive platform.

New Technology and Updated Design

The 2013 Ford Flex is now the only vehicle to offer Ford's popular SYNC infotainment system standard on all trim levels. The display of the new generation of MyFord Touch is cleaner and clearer. The words on the display are now easier to read, thanks to larger fonts. Navigation throughout the system is also vastly improved through a more intuitive interface.

Safety is a major theme for 2013's upgrades. Larger front rotors help to improve brake feel and shorten stopping distances. An advanced rear seat inflatable seat belt restraint system is available and helps to reduce head and neck injuries for rear passengers in the event of an accident. Available blind spot monitoring and radar-enabled adaptive cruise control with collision warning look to keep you from getting into accidents in the first place. The "Curve Control" technology is standard and can apply the brakes if the system detects that the vehicle has entered a curve too quickly.

Outside, the previously box-like front end has updated with a more rounded design. New headlamps anchor a freshened grille which removes the popular "blue oval" Ford emblem. "FLEX" badging now stretches across the hood. All new wheel designs and standard dual exhausts complete the upgrades.

On the inside, a new pushbutton starter is standard across the entire lineup. The environmentally friendly soy based seat foam is covered with freshened seat trim. Also introduced in the 2013 Mustang, the 6-speed SelectShift automatic transmission is now available on all trims of the Flex. When stepping up to the Ecoboost engine, shifting is achieved via steering wheel paddle shifters; while the standard engine receives a shifter mounted button. Both engines have been recalibrated to each achieve one MPG more on the EPA cycle.

A Comfortable Cruiser

On the road, our top-of-the-line Limited AWD was noticeably quieter than previous versions thanks to added sound absorbers under the hood an on the firewall. Both the front and second row seats are comfortable even on long distance trips, while the third row is more suitable for shorter jaunts across town. Even in the twisting curves of Portland's back roads, the Flex feel more like a midsize sedan instead of a fullsize wagon.

Our tester's Ecoboost has more than enough power and is definitely the more entertaining engine choice. The twin-turbocharged Ecoboost churns out 365hp while the base 3.5L V6 is no slouch, having recently being updated to 287hp. The new EPAS (electronic power-assisted steering) helps to improve fuel economy, but at times can feel vague and artificial. The all-new brake system helped to keep us in line with improved brake pedal feel and fade-free braking.

What this means to you: Ford's best conquest model has been freshened and updated into possibly the perfect competitor to the usual minivan or large crossover. For those who need all of the flexibility and room that those others provide, but are looking for a way to stand out in the crowd, the 2013 Ford Flex should be at the top of your shopping list.

author photo

Kristopher Affayroux is a car data analyst with the AutoTrader content team. He's a long-time car buff whose background stretches from vehicle appraisals and auctions to automotive insurance and mechanical upgrades and personalization. When he's not tinkering with his personal rides, Kristopher spends his time rooting for his favorite MLB and NFL teams.

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