Test Drive: 2013 Ford Flex Limited AWD

?Ford Flex for 2013: More to love?

If you happened to be a fan of the first iteration Ford Flex, then you?ll likely be an even bigger fan of the 2013 model, because there?s simply more to love. First off, both the front and rear styling display a bold new look, making the overall appeal of the vehicle even more alluring. The new 7 passenger Flex not only serves up a more captivating styling, it brings to the table a higher level of consumer oriented technology and improved fuel economy, but it delivers modern sophistication as well.

The first Ford Flex exercised a totally new direction in design with a basic form that somewhat resembled a chopped and channeled Range Rover with styling cues that were actually taken from early ?40?s Art Deco vacuum cleaners such as the Electrolux, with its ribbed, aluminum sides. The result, believe it or not, is very appealing. Even if it may be a body man?s nightmare, should repair become necessary, it exudes coolness.

The 2013 Flex is available in three trim levels, all displaying a long, low stance with a low roofline that appears to float above the cabin?s extended glass area, thanks to the blacked out ?A?, ?B?, ?C? and ?D? pillars. The length of the vehicle is exaggerated by the horizontal side grooves. The grille takes on a bold new look that seems to take its cue from earlier Range Rovers. Flex variants will include the well-equipped base SE model; followed by a more upscale SEL model; and topped by the flagship Limited model.

All four-door Flex models draw their motive force from either Ford?s 3.5-liter TiVCT V6; or a 3.5-liter Ecoboost? DOHC, 24-valve V6 with iVCT and Direct Injection. that makes 365 horsepower at 5,700 rpm along with 350 pound feet of torque at 3,500 rpm. The normally aspirated engine now develops 285 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm, while delivering 253 pound feet of torque @ 4,000 rpm. While the EcoBoost engine delivers 355 horses at 5,700 rpm while generating 350 pound feet of torque at 3,500 rpm. Both engine variants sit sideways up front driving the front wheels through a six-speed automatic overdrive transmission, or all four wheels through Ford?s intelligent all-wheel drive system.

The EcoBoost engine literally provides the power of a V-8 engine, but with the economy and efficiency of a V-6. EcoBoost technology combines turbocharging?and direct gasoline injection to improve fuel efficiency and lower CO2 emissions. Conventional powertrains continue to benefit from refinements such as Advanced Deceleration Fuel Shut-Off and Cam Torque Actuated Intake Variable Cam Timing.

The intelligent all-wheel drive system constantly monitors and predicts traction, delivering torque to all four wheels, even before wheels begin to slip. The active, on-demand electronic center coupler is capable of allocating precise torque?levels from front to rear (up to 100 percent to either axle), and when paired with standard AdvanceTrac? with Roll Stability Control?. The intelligent system is able to transfer torque not only from front to rear, but from side to side as well.

Flex is capable of seating six or seven passengers, depending upon the third row configuration selected ? either a 50/50 split bench or single bench is available. Seating versatility is key in providing Flexibility for passengers and cargo solutions, with infinite stowage combinations that offer flat surfaces in partial or full doses. Third row access is made easy by the fold and tumble second row seats. The interior appointments and execution in terms of fit and finish are very impressive, with great attention to detail in craftsmanship. It is truly more Range Rover-like, than Ford-like. It is not only posh and comfortable, but there is a fun to use, ambient lighting treatment in the center console?s cupholders and footwells, with programmable controls to change the ringed color to any of seven neon-like hues including blue, red, orange, purple and pink.

My test 2013 Ford Flex was in Limited trim, powered by the 3.5-liter EcoBoost? V-6 with intelligent All-Wheel Drive. It sported a Deep Impact Blue metallic exterior lower finish with a Silver roof, complemented by a Charcoal Black leather interior. The MSRP was set at $41,180 while options bumped the final tally to $43,450. Extra costs incurred were for: the Rapid Spec 302A packaging; Class III Trailer Tow Package; and Destination and Delivery charge.

The new Flex comes with upgraded connectivity, featuring SYNC? with the new generation of MyFordTouch? – it is the first vehicle in the Ford lineup to come with MyFordTouch? as standard fare. There are also inflatable rear seat belts, Electric Power Assist Steering, better braking components, Curve Control, Power Torque Vectoring, retuned suspension and steering response that boasts a 25 percent improvement.

 

SUMMARY:? The 2013 Flex EcoBoost Limited AWD not only provides an innovative and refreshing styling execution, it provides a most enjoyable driving?experience as well. As already stated, the 3.5-liter EcoBoostV6 delivers a V-8 power equivalent in terms of performance, with responsive acceleration, positive braking and smooth gear changes, but with the economy and efficiency of a V6.

Ingress and egress into the ?Business-Class? seating is comfortable due to the low step-in height. Loading and unloading is ergonomically friendly as well. Technology abounds, enabling users to control most MP3 players and Bluetooh? enabled mobile phones, hands-free, utilizing voice commands. Sony?s 7.1 Surround sound system is available for audiophiles, rated at 390 watts of power. The nav system comes with SIRIUS? Travel Link? (requires SIRIUS subscription).

 

The Keyless Entry keypad is housed within Flex?s black ?B? pillars, featuring backlighting when activated, but practically invisible otherwise ? a nice touch, certainly better looking than the old numeric keypad on the door as with earlier?examples. An optional Multipanel Vista Roof, is available on Flex SEL and Limited models that provides four roof glass panels that allow light through for all three seating rows. Panels include an operable front-row sunroof/moonroof and a large rear glass panel featuring individual frames in the Flex?s headliner for second and third occupants.

Another really ?cool? feature is the refrigerated console storage unit that can keep your Sushi, soft drinks or ice cream cold for nearly two hours after it is switched off.

Bottom-line, the Ford Flex Limited with the EcoBoost V6 and All-Wheel Drive system provides an attractive, comfortable and refreshing mode of family transportation from the Blue Oval team. The interior is loaded with FLEXibility. If there is a downside to the design, the horizontal side groove design, while it looks great, may make washing and waxing more of a chore.? That having been said, this latest iteration Ford Flex rides and handles better than ever with more features and improved economy.

SPECIFICATIONS:

Ford Flex Limited AWD ??13

Base Price:?????????????? ??????????? $41,180.

Price as Tested: ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?$43,450.

Engine Type and Size:??????????? 3.5-liter Ecoboost? DOHC, 24-valve V6 with iVCT and Direct Injection

Horsepower (bhp):??????????? ??????????? 365??????????? @ 5,700??????????? rpm

Torque (ft./ lbs.):??????????? ??????????? 350??????????? @ 3,500??????????? rpm Premium fuel ? 1,500-5,250 ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? rpm.

Transmission:??????????? ??????????? Electronically controlled six-speed automatic ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? overdrive.

Drive Train:??????????? Transversely-mounted front engine / All-wheel Drive.

Suspension:??????????? ??????????? ??????????? Front ? Gas-pressurized MacPherson strut, rear-??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? facing L-shaped lower control arm with hydro-??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? bushings with isolated subframe and stabilizer bar.

??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? Rear –? multilink, fully independent with upper and ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? lower control arms, fully isolated subframe and ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? stabilizer bar.

Brakes:??????????? ??????????? ??????????? Vacuum Power-assisted four-wheel discs (vented ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? front) with four channel ABS, AdvanceTrac? with Roll ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? Stability Control.

Tires:??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? Hankook Optimo 255/45 R20? 101V mounted on 10-??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? spoke alloy wheels.

Wheelbase:??????????? ??????????? ??????????? 117.9??????????? inches

Length Overall:??????????? ??????????? 201.8??????????? inches

Width:??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ? 88.8??????????? inches

Height:??????????? ??????????? ??????????? ? 68.0??????????? inches

Curb Weight:??????????? ??????????? ??????????? 4,828??????????? lbs.

Fuel Capacity:??????????? ??????????? 18.6??????????? gallons

EPA Mileage Estimates:??????????? 16??????????? mpg city /23??????????? mpg highway

Drag Coefficient:??????????? ??????????? Not listed.

0 – 60 mph:??????????? ??????????? ??????????? Not tested.