The Ford Flex three-row crossover SUV is known for its unique styling, but until now, it hasn't always been treated to Ford's latest and greatest features. Happily, the new 2013 Ford Flex gets up to speed, boasting improvements in all the right places while keeping the basic formula intact. Here are five reasons to consider making a 2013 Flex your family's next workhorse.

1. Updated Technology

The Flex used to play second fiddle to the closely related Explorer on the technology front, but for 2013, the latest MyFord Touch system comes standard on every Flex except the base SE. You get a beautiful 8-inch center screen, twin 4.2-inch information screens, Sync voice-recognition, and excellent connectivity options with Bluetooth and two USB ports. MyFord Touch gives the dashboard a much sleeker appearance, too.

2. More Horses in the Stable

We always wondered why the Flex's standard V6 had less power than the similar V6 in the Explorer. Well, for 2013, it's virtually a dead heat. Thanks to a 25-horsepower injection, the Flex's V6 now makes a healthy 287 horsepower, which should be more than enough for most families. Surprisingly, fuel economy also improves, reaching up to 25 mpg highway.

3. Family-Friendly Interior

One thing that hasn't changed is the Flex's excellent passenger space. Every Flex has three rows of seats, and the third row has ample room for two adults to ride in comfort-a rare perk in a crossover. Other than minivans, nothing can touch the Flex for interior versatility. The Limited model can even be equipped with a fridge! And the Flex is also safer for 2013, offering new rear seatbelts that inflate during a collision for enhanced protection.

4. Extra-Funky Styling

The Flex was designed from day one to draw stares, but the 2013 model is the coolest-looking Flex yet. We especially like the restyled front end, which wears a fresh grille and the word "F-L-E-X" instead of a blue oval. If you just can't see yourself driving a dorky minivan, take the super-fly Flex for a spin. It's the best way to add seats without sacrificing your street cred.

5. Available EcoBoost Power

Most people will enjoy the base V6, but it's nice to know there's more if you want it. The available twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 makes an impressive 365 horsepower and comes standard with all-wheel drive. What's more, it gets roughly the same fuel economy as the AWD Flex with the standard V6. And while the Flex EcoBoost might seems pricey, remember that the 2013 Ford Flex gives you most of the performance and luxury of premium German crossovers for many thousands less.

The 2013 Flex gets meaningful improvements but retains the cool vibe that's always made it special. It's one of the best crossovers you can buy.

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Josh Sadlier is an automotive journalist based in Los Angeles and has contributed to such publications as Edmunds.com and DriverSide.com. He holds arguably the most unexpected degree in his profession: a master's in Theological Studies.

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