Used Car Review

2012 Ford Flex: Used Car Review

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author photo by Ron Sessions May 2015

Love it or loathe it, the 2012 Ford Flex brings a unique rectilinear design to the 3-row crossover segment. It uses conventional rear doors instead of sliding doors but is nearly as roomy and flexible as any minivan. The Flex carries seven passengers with the standard second-row split bench or six passengers with captain's chairs. A deep well behind the fold-flat third-row seat swallows 20 cu ft. of cargo, and maximum cargo capacity is 83.2 cu ft. The front passenger seat also folds flat to enable carrying long objects.

The Flex is available with Ford's excellent SYNC infotainment system for hands-free connectivity with smartphones and MP3 players. It comes standard with eight airbags, anti-lock brakes, adjustable head restraints and stability and traction control that incorporates Roll Stability Control, which senses the onset of a rollover and takes action to avoid it. For 2012, Limited and Titanium models have a fold-down rear armrest and optional roof rails.

What We Like

EcoBoost V6 power; SYNC voice-activated infotainment controls; retro wagon looks; roomy second-row seat; fold-into-floor third-row seat; quiet inside; easy ingress and egress

What We Don't

Large turning circle; impact harshness with 20-inch wheels; no telescopic steering wheel; crosswind sensitivity; drives as big as a minivan

Fuel Economy & Engine Specs

The Flex comes standard with a double-overhead-camshaft 3.5-liter V6 with variable valve timing, which uses regular unleaded fuel. The 3.5-liter V6 generates 262 horsepower and 248 lb-ft of torque. It's teamed solely with a smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission. Equipped with front-wheel drive, the V6 has an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rating of 17 miles per gallon in the city and 24 mpg on the highway, while all-wheel-drive versions are rated at 16 mpg city/23 mpg hwy. Its maximum tow rating is 4,500 pounds.

Optional on the Flex SEL, Limited and Titanium trims is a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6. This twin-turbocharged V6 develops 355 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque, mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. EPA ratings are 16 mpg city/22 mpg hwy, and premium fuel is recommended but not required. The EcoBoost V6 also tows 4,500 pounds.

Standard Features & Options

The 2012 Ford Flex is available in SE, SEL, Limited and Titanium trims.

The SE offers 7-passenger seating and includes standard front and rear air conditioning, tweed cloth upholstery, a power driver's seat, a leather shift knob, a front center armrest, cruise control, a tilt steering wheel with remote audio controls, remote keyless entry, a 6-speaker AM/FM/CD stereo with an MP3 decoder, auto headlamps, fog lamps, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, intermittent wipers, a trip computer, backup sensors, 17-in alloy wheels, a rear-window washer/wiper, split fold-down second- and third-row bench seats, a panic alarm, and power doors, windows and mirrors.

SEL models gain automatic air conditioning, heated front seats, a power passenger's seat, heated door mirrors, a garage-door opener and 18-in alloy wheels. SEL options that aren't available on the SE include leather seating, driver's seat memory, a power Vista Roof sunroof, a power lift gate, adjustable pedals, a 12-speaker premium audio system with DVD audio, all-wheel drive, rear entertainment and 20-in alloy wheels.

The Limited adds leather seats, a backup camera, a navigation system with an 8-in touchscreen, a 12-speaker DVD audio system, a memory driver's seat, a leather-and-wood steering wheel, a power lift gate, 19-in alloy wheels, adjustable pedals and a center armrest with cupholders. Heated rear seats are optional, along with rear entertainment, a Vista Roof sunroof, roof rails and all-wheel drive.

Titanium trim upgrades to 255/45 tires on 20-in alloy wheels, a Range Rover-like blackout grille, a metallic-look dash trim and suede seat inserts.

All Flex trims are available in a 6-passenger configuration with optional second-row captain's chairs. A small second-row electric refrigerator/cooler and a self-parking system are also available.


Because the Flex is a roomy, family-type vehicle, it's often used for long road trips, and finding a low-mileage used example won't be easy. There's constant demand for pre-owned midsize crossover wagons such as the Flex, provided that they are clean and have the right equipment.

To get a good idea of the 2012 Flex's price range, investigate the used-car values at You can also search the Autotrader listings to see what models are for sale in your area.


As was the case with previous versions, the 2012 Flex is one of those rare cars for which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued no safety recalls.

Recall repairs are required by law, even if the vehicle is out of warranty. Your dealer can check to see if the repairs were performed, and if not, will fix the car at no charge to you.

Safety Ratings & Warranties

Like the 2009, 2010 and 2011 models, NHTSA didn't rate the 2012 Flex overall or for frontal and side impacts, but gave it a 4-star rating for rollover performance.

The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2012 Flex an Acceptable rating for small-overlap front impacts and Good ratings for moderate-overlap front and side impacts, as well as for head-restraint and seat performance. IIHS once again named the 2012 Flex a Top Safety Pick.

Ford Motor Company sold the 2012 Flex with a 3-year/36,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, a 5-year/60,000-mile powertrain warranty, a 5-year/unlimited-distance corrosion-perforation warranty and 5 years/60,000 miles of roadside-assistance coverage.

Ford certified pre-owned (CPO) vehicles can't be more than 5 years old or show more than 80,000 miles on the odometer. Each CPO model undergoes a 172-point inspection. Those that pass receive a 12-month/12,000-mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, and powertrain coverage extends 7 years from when the vehicle was first sold or until it reaches 100,000 miles, whichever occurs first. A vehicle-history report and roadside assistance are also included.

Other Cars to Consider

2012 Toyota Highlander -- Toyota's 7-passenger midsize crossover is available with a 187-hp 2.7-liter 4-cylinder, a peppy 270-hp 3.5-liter V6 or as a hybrid that's EPA-rated at 22 mpg city/28 mpg hwy. The third-row seat folds flat into the floor, but its cramped design is for children only, as access to the third row is difficult. A Center Stow second-row seat provides a small center seat for a child or can be stowed away.

2012 Chevrolet Traverse -- Chevy's 7- or 8-passenger Traverse crossover is longer, wider and taller than the Flex, and boasts more cargo capacity. But it has less legroom in the second-row seat and lacks the Flex's fold-into-the-floor third-row seat, while much of the interior trim is cheap-looking hard plastic. Maximum tow capacity with the dual-exhaust 288-hp 3.6-liter V6 is 5,200 pounds.

Autotrader's Advice

Because Ford recommends more expensive premium fuel be used in the EcoBoost V6, we recommend the base V6, which has ample power and runs on regular fuel. Go with a reasonably well-equipped SEL or Limited with long-wearing, easy-to-clean leather upholstery. The Titanium looks great, but its 20-in tires ride harshly over bumps. All-wheel drive is a plus in northern climes, but with all-season tires, front-wheel drive offers ample traction and returns better fuel economy. Look for a certified pre-owned Flex or a low-mileage example that's seen obvious care and maintenance. There are no safety recalls for the 2012 Flex as of this writing, but check with the dealer to make sure.

Find a Ford Flex for sale

This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
2012 Ford Flex: Used Car Review - Autotrader