We were a bit surprised when the 2019 Ford Flex returned to showrooms. Rumors of its demise have circulated the auto world for a couple of years. Apparently Ford’s focus on SUVs and trucks has motivated it to hang on to the Flex like a rocky relationship it can’t quite bring itself to finally end.
Flex sales may not be robust, but because Ford hasn’t made much additional investment in it since introducing it more than a decade ago, start-up costs have been paid off for years. Why not continue building and marketing this practical mover of people and cargo? Moreover, its styling sets it apart from the current crop of crossovers. And, quite frankly, it’s a pleasure to drive.
What’s New for 2019?
Almost nothing. Ford makes Active Park available on SEL grade. Stone Gray and Agate Black are new exterior colors. See the 2019 Ford Flex models for sale near you
What We Like
Smooth ride; excellent outward vision; elegant interior; adult-sized space in all three rows
What We Don’t
Small cargo area behind third-row seat; no sliding facility for the standard second-row bench
The standard motor is a 3.5-liter V6 rated at 287 horsepower and 254 lb-ft of torque. Fuel economy estimates are 16 miles per gallon in the city, 23 mpg on the highway and 19 mpg in combined driving (for FWD models), or 16 mpg city/22 mpg hwy/18 mpg combined with AWD.
The top-of-the-line Limited model offers the option of the EcoBoost 3.5-liter V6, a twin-turbocharged unit making 365 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. Steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters and AWD are standard with this engine. This setup achieves 15 mpg city/21 mpg hwy/17 mpg combined.
Either engine is capable of towing up to 4,500 pounds.
Standard Features & Options
The 2018 Ford Flex is available in either 6- or 7-passenger form, and in SE, SEL and Limited trim levels. Prices reflect the factory delivery fee.
The SE ($31,670) comes with 17-in alloy wheels, keyless entry, air conditioning with rear controls, a leather-wrapped steering wheel and shift knob, rear parking sensors, SYNC voice-command system with Bluetooth and a 4.2-in touchscreen, a power-adjustable driver’s seat (manual recline and lumbar, though), cruise control, automatic headlights, a self-dimming rearview mirror, a rearview camera and a 6-speaker audio system with an auxiliary input and a USB port.
The SEL ($34,385) steps up to 18-in alloys, remote start, fog lights, SYNC 3 infotainment system (including an 8-in touchscreen, high-tech gauge cluster and two USB ports), additional powered adjustments for the driver’s seat (making it 10-way), a power-adjustable passenger seat, heated front seats, heated mirrors, brighter exterior trim, a universal garage door opener, wood-effect dashboard trim, dual-zone automatic climate control, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone integration and satellite radio.
The Limited ($39,885) has 19-in wheels, keyless entry/ignition, leather upholstery, a 12-speaker Sony audio system, power-folding mirrors with puddle lamps, voice-activated navigation with real-time traffic, xenon headlights/LED taillights, ambient cabin lighting, a powered lift gate, a 110-volt outlet, adjustable pedals and a wood/leather steering wheel.
Some higher-spec standard features are available on lesser trims as options. Other extras (depending on trim) include two second-row captain’s chairs in place of the standard 3-person bench seat, a multi-pane sunroof, an automated parallel-parking system, adaptive cruise control, cooled front seats, a power-folding third-row seat, 20-in wheels and a power-adjustable steering wheel.
Behind the third row of seats, cargo space measures 20 cu ft. Behind the second row, volume expands to 43.2 cu ft. With both rows down, there’s 83.2 cu ft above a flat load floor.
Traction/stability control and 4-wheel anti-lock disc brakes are standard on every Flex. There are the usual airbags positioned front and side, while side-curtain airbags cover all three rows. Inflatable second-row safety belts are offered on all trims.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the Flex its top score of Good in the moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side impact, roof strength and head restraint tests. In the small-overlap frontal-offset impact test, the Flex earned a second-best score of Acceptable.
Behind the Wheel
The Flex’s elegant interior looks and feels like a premium crossover, with diamond pattern-stitched leather seating, a handsome dashboard and sculpted door inserts. The audio and ventilation controls seem a tad under-sized, but the overall layout and features are pleasing enough.
A delight to drive, the 2019 Ford Flex delivers a supple ride and quiet cabin. It’s also surprisingly easy to maneuver in tight situations, despite its long body and wheelbase. The base 3.5-liter V6 is strong enough for passing and merging. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine is a fine choice for those who want more power. And it gets pretty good fuel economy on the highway.
Both the second and third rows have plenty of room for adults. Some rivals have more cargo space, but the Flex’s squared-off shape is especially practical.
Other Cars to Consider
2019 GMC Acadia — Better cargo space, but the Flex’s third-row seat is more accommodating.
2019 Toyota Highlander — Holds its value better than the Flex and comes in a hybrid version.
2019 Mazda CX-9 — Does almost everything right. Try to get a model without the base engine and entry level stereo system, though.
Used Chevrolet Suburban — Big power, big space. As long as the big fuel bills aren’t an issue.
In a world of crossovers, the Flex may not appear fashionable enough. But for those adventurous few who still want to take a chance, it boils down to price. And bear in mind, the demand for crossovers has a beneficial impact on their resale values, but don’t expect that benefit to carry over to the Flex. Find a Ford Flex for sale