The Ford Flex is another one of those cars that seems to grow on you.
I didn’t like it when it was introduced three years ago; however, my like for the SUV has evolved as I became more familiar with it and subtle design changes were made.
For 2013, Flex has a new look inside and out. The front end now is slightly rounded, somewhat reducing the overall boxy look, and the Ford blue oval has been removed from the front, leaving only the Flex badge. There also are six all-new wheel styles, including three all-new 20-inch selections. To the rear, Flex now has standard dual exhaust and a new integrated rear view camera.
Inside there are new and improved instrument clusters, new steering wheel and electronic finish panels, and new seat trim. There also is an available secondrow refrigerated console and the latest generation of MyFord Touch with SYNC for your Smart phone.
Also new is an Appearance Package, available on Limited and SEL models, that includes a two-tone black roof and black mirrors, 20-inch machined aluminum wheels with painted pockets, leather seats, unique door trim panels and other interior upgrades for a distinctive premium look and feel.
The new Flex comes in nine exterior colors, including three new colors for 2013 — Ruby Red tinted clearcoat, Deep Impact Blue and Kodiak Brown — and you can choose from body-color roofs or two-tone with white, silver or black.
The three-row, seven-passenger Flex also has new safety and driver aid features such as adaptive cruise control with collision warning and brake support; Ford’s Blind Spot Information System (BLIS); Intelligent Access with push-button start and remote start technology; rain sensing wipers, power-fold mirrors, power tilt and telescoping steering column and new rear inflatable seat belts. The inflatable seat belts are designed to deploy over a person’s torso and shoulder in 40 milliseconds.
As for power, Flex comes standard with a new 3.5-liter 287 hp Ti-VCT V-6 engine that delivers and additional 25 hp and one mpg better fuel economy. The fuel-efficient EcoBoost 3.5-liter 365 hp V-6 also remains available. Both engines are mated to a sixspeed SelectShift Automatic transmission.
Flex also comes with Torque Vectoring Control and Curve Control technology, systems usually found on high-performance cars. Torque Vectoring Control uses the car’s brakes to balance distribution of engine torque between the front wheels during cornering for improved road grip and steering. The system operates using the car’s stability control module and monitors the vehicle 100 times per second. Curve Control senses when the vehicle is entering a curve too fast and can apply four-wheel smart braking to reduce vehicle speed by up to 10 mph in about one second and help you steer the car on its intended path.
Pricing on the 2013 Ford Flex starts at $31,710.
Ron Beasley is the automotive editor for Miami’s Community Newspapers. He may be contacted by calling 305-662-2277, ext. 261, or by addressing email correspondence to LetsTalkCars@aol.com