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2015 Ford Flex: New Car Review

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ADDITIONAL MODEL INFORMATION

author photo by Autotrader March 2015

Plenty of 3-row crossovers are on the market, all of them with pluses and minuses. But if you're looking for something funky and unique, a vehicle more like that big station wagon you grew up with, the 2015 Ford Flex may be the car for you. The Flex's boxy shape and low-to-the-ground profile are the first hints that this SUV is different. If you look closer at the grooved side panels, the broad aluminum panel covering the rear lift gate's lower half and the available white-capped roof, you'll see why the Flex is in a class of its own.

Ford offers two V6 engine choices in the Flex, including a powerful twin-turbo version. Both are reasonably fuel efficient on the highway, though city economy is nothing to write home about. All-wheel drive is available for those who regularly deal with winter's worst. What the Flex lacks in off-road and towing ability (it's rated at a max of 4,500 pounds), it more than makes up for in ordinary driving. This Ford offers seating for seven people and enough maximum cargo capacity to haul home just about anything you buy.

What's New for 2015?

The 2015 Flex carries over unchanged but receives a price cut across the board.

What We Like

Offbeat good looks; elegant interior; upscale options and electronics; adult-sized space in all three rows

What We Don't

Small cargo area behind third-row seat; low ground clearance

How Much?

$29,995-$43,795

Fuel Economy

Ford offers the Flex with two V6 engine choices, both of which are hooked to a 6-speed automatic transmission. The standard motor is a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 287 horsepower and 254 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy estimates for this engine are 18 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway (front-wheel drive) and 17 mpg city/23 mpg hwy (all-wheel drive).

Available on the top-of-the-line all-wheel-drive Limited model is the EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6, a twin-turbocharged powerhouse rated at 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. Paddle shifters are standard with the twin-turbo engine. Fuel economy is barely affected relative to the regular all-wheel-drive Flex, dropping to 16 mpg city/23 mpg hwy.

Standard Features & Options

The Flex is available in either 6- or 7-passenger form in three trim levels: SE, SEL and Limited.

The SE ($29,995) comes with niceties such as 17-inch painted aluminum wheels, air conditioning with rear auxiliary controls, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, reverse parking sensors, the SYNC voice-command system with Bluetooth, a power driver's seat, cruise control and a 6-speaker audio system with an auxiliary audio input.

The SEL ($32,995) steps up to 18-in wheels, fog lights, the MyFord Touch infotainment system (including a large touchscreen, a unique high-tech gauge cluster and USB connectivity), a power driver's seat with additional adjustments, a power passenger seat, heated front seats, heated mirrors, brighter exterior trim, a universal garage-door opener, faux-wood dashboard trim, dual-zone automatic climate control and satellite radio.

The Limited ($38,595) boasts 19-in wheels, keyless entry/ignition, leather upholstery, a 12-speaker Sony audio system, power-folding mirrors with puddle lamps, a voice-activated navigation system with real-time traffic, xenon headlights, ambient interior lighting and a wood-and-leather steering wheel, among other luxuries. The optional EcoBoost V6 comes with sharp-looking 20-in wheels but bumps the price to $43,795.

Some of these fancier standard features are available on lesser trims as options. Other options, depending on trim, include two second-row captain's chairs in place of the standard 3-person bench seat, a multipane Vista sunroof, a refrigerated rear console box, a self-parallel-parking system, a power-folding third-row seat and a power-adjustable steering wheel.

Safety

Stability control and 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes are standard on every Flex. Airbags guard the Flex's front passengers from both the front and the sides, while side-curtain airbags cover all three rows. Available inflatable second-row safety belts are offered on all trims.

The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the Flex top marks in crash tests, awarding it the best rating of Good across the board.

Behind the Wheel

The 2015 Ford Flex outshines the competition with an interior that's unquestionably unique. Its elegant diamond-pattern leather seating, handsome dash and sculpted door inserts make the Flex look and feel like a premium crossover. While we can't say we're thrilled about the small knobs and buttons used to control the standard audio and ventilation, we generally like the layout and features on the Flex's instrument panel. When the MyFord Touch system is specified, the Flex turns into a veritable spaceship inside, for better or worse. In terms of seating comfort, both the second and third rows have plenty of room for 6-footers.

On the road, the Flex is one of our favorite vehicles. It's easy to drive, can haul lots of people and stuff, and gets pretty good fuel economy on the highway. The Flex delivers a supple ride and a quiet cabin. In congested urban settings, the car is surprisingly easy to maneuver, despite its long body and wheelbase. The base 3.5-liter V6 is satisfyingly strong and linear when passing and merging, but if you're looking for thrilling acceleration, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine is the obvious choice. Not many crossovers can keep up with the twin-turbo Flex.

Other Cars to Consider

2015 Chevrolet Traverse -- The Traverse has more cargo space, though the Flex's third-row seat is more accommodating.

2015 Toyota Highlander -- The Highlander holds its value better than the Flex, and it comes in a hybrid version.

2015 Dodge Durango -- The Durango's V6 is impressively powerful, and there's the option of a HEMI V8. Also, the Dodge's towing capacity is superior.

Used Mercedes-Benz GL-Class -- You can find a certified pre-owned GL for the price of a well-equipped Flex. Just make sure you have warranty coverage for as long as you own the vehicle.

Autotrader's Advice

If cost is no object, the EcoBoost V6 is the way to go. Here, power and luxury intermingle in a unique package that looks fantastic on its 20-in wheels.

Find a Ford Flex for sale

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Used 2015 Ford Flex FWD SEL
Used 2015 Ford Flex
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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.
2015 Ford Flex: New Car Review - Autotrader