- Competes with: Chevrolet Traverse, Honda Pilot, Mazda CX-9
- Looks like: The Flex is embarrassed to wear the Ford logo
- Drivetrain: 285-hp, 3.5-liter V-6 or 355-hp, 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 with six-speed automatic transmission; front- or all-wheel drive
- Hits dealerships: 2012
For the 2013 model year, the Ford Flex undergoes a mild refresh, adopting a new front end as well as getting some interior and performance upgrades.
In a bizarre move, Ford has removed its logo from the Flex’s grille. There’s now broad “Flex” badging along the hood’s leading edge. On the back, the decal again takes dominance with the (only) exterior Ford emblem pushed to the far right of the tailgate. Dual chrome exhaust tips are now standard out back, too.Similar aesthetic changes were first shown on the Flex Titanium trim, which apparently proved to be popular with Flex buyers. On the Titanium, the look was more chiseled and brutish. Other changes to the headlights and grille give the 2013 Flex a softer, cleaner but somewhat anonymous demeanor. A new Appearance Package offers two-toned exterior colors, leather seats, unique door trim panels and other upgrades (available on the Limited and SEL trims).
Underneath the hood, the base Flex gets an additional horsepower boost, now estimated at 285 hp for the 3.5-liter V-6; that’s likely the same engine found in the revamped Ford Edge. The engine is supposed to eke out better mileage, too: projected at 18/25 mpg city/highway, which is 1 mpg better compared with the current Flex. A 355-hp EcoBoost V-6 engine with standard all-wheel drive remains an option.
In the cabin, the Flex now has an available MyFord Touch system, a new steering wheel, gauge cluster, and new seat trim and cushioning. The MyFord Touch system features similar touch-sensitive buttons that are currently found on the Edge and Explorer. The multimedia system also comes with two 4.2-inch screens, flanked on either side of the center speedometer within the gauge cluster (like the Ford Explorer, Edge and Focus). The screens are controlled by five-way switches on either side of the steering wheel. The MyFord Touch interface is the speedier, supposedly simpler-to-use system Ford introduced yesterday. The center console features an 8-inch touch-screen.
Other new features include available second-row inflatable seat belts, power-folding side mirrors, rain-sensing wipers, radar-enabled adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring and a passive entry system with remote start.
With a new Ford Escape coming and a new Explorer and Edge already available, the Flex was beginning to look like the odd crossover out. These updates should help tide over the niche family hauler long enough for the automaker to figure whether there should be a second-generation model. The absence of most Ford badging could portend a move to make the Flex more of a premium product, akin to the badgeless Hyundai Genesis and Equus for that carmaker. Pricing and trim information wasn’t made available yet. We’ll have more info at the 2011 L.A. Auto Show.
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