2010 Ford Flex

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Key Specs

of the 2010 Ford Flex. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • EcoBoost acceleration
  • Well-mannered steering
  • Roomy first and second rows
  • Ride quality
  • Quiet cabin
  • Crash-test ratings

The Bad

  • Maximum cargo room
  • Inconsistent quality of cabin materials
  • Third row sits too low to the floor
  • Mushy brakes
  • Wide turning circle

Notable Features of the 2010 Ford Flex

  • Room for up to seven
  • New 355-hp EcoBoost V-6
  • Optional onboard refrigerator
  • White or silver roof available
  • Available AWD

2010 Ford Flex Road Test

Kelsey Mays
With the addition of a turbocharged engine, the Flex crossover is a rare vehicle: a go-fast people-hauler. The EcoBoost scoots off the line around town and makes quick work of highway passing. The question is, does anyone need this sort of performance from a family car?

Probably not. The non-turbo Flex moves quickly enough, as do most other crossovers. But if you don't mind paying an additional $3,000 for the EcoBoost engine — there's no accompanying gas mileage penalty — it certainly can't hurt. The Flex is far from perfect, but even base versions of the model offer a few compelling reasons to choose it over other three-row crossovers. The EcoBoost Flex adds one more: It's flat-out quick, and that isn't something I can say of other school-to-soccer haulers.

Ford introduced the Flex for 2009. The crossover seats six or seven, depending on seating configuration, and it comes in SE, SEL and Limited trim levels. EcoBoost versions have standard all-wheel drive and come in SEL and Limited trims. This review focuses on the Flex EcoBoost Limited. For a top-to-bottom review of the regular Flex, check out our review of the 2009 model here, and see a comparison of them here.

Flexing its Muscles
Though its passing power falls a bit short of a V-6 Toyota Highlander or Chevy Traverse, the Flex's base 262-horsepower V-6 should prove capable enough for most buyers. The 355-hp EcoBoost is far more than just capable: Even with the added weight of standa...

With the addition of a turbocharged engine, the Flex crossover is a rare vehicle: a go-fast people-hauler. The EcoBoost scoots off the line around town and makes quick work of highway passing. The question is, does anyone need this sort of performance from a family car?

Probably not. The non-turbo Flex moves quickly enough, as do most other crossovers. But if you don't mind paying an additional $3,000 for the EcoBoost engine — there's no accompanying gas mileage penalty — it certainly can't hurt. The Flex is far from perfect, but even base versions of the model offer a few compelling reasons to choose it over other three-row crossovers. The EcoBoost Flex adds one more: It's flat-out quick, and that isn't something I can say of other school-to-soccer haulers.

Ford introduced the Flex for 2009. The crossover seats six or seven, depending on seating configuration, and it comes in SE, SEL and Limited trim levels. EcoBoost versions have standard all-wheel drive and come in SEL and Limited trims. This review focuses on the Flex EcoBoost Limited. For a top-to-bottom review of the regular Flex, check out our review of the 2009 model here, and see a comparison of them here.

Flexing its Muscles
Though its passing power falls a bit short of a V-6 Toyota Highlander or Chevy Traverse, the Flex's base 262-horsepower V-6 should prove capable enough for most buyers. The 355-hp EcoBoost is far more than just capable: Even with the added weight of standard all-wheel drive, it handily steams past both competitors. It's quicker than any other non-luxury crossover I've driven lately. Turbo lag, which used to be the bane of most turbocharged cars, is virtually undetectable. Hit the gas, and power comes right away. I recently experienced an EcoBoost engine in the Lincoln MKS, and I'm more impressed with it in the Flex. Perhaps that's because the MKS faces a number of V-8 competitors, but the Flex doesn't.

A six-speed automatic transmission is standard. Upshifts come smoothly most of the time, though hard acceleration from a stoplight occasionally led to abrupt shifts that came too early. There's also some lag in kickdown under hard acceleration, but the drivetrain is capable enough to make do. In a lot of large crossovers, highway passing requires an automatic that shifts quickly and high engine revving. In the Flex EcoBoost, I was able to squeeze off 60-70 mph spurts without the transmission downshifting at all. And that was with four colleagues and their luggage on board.

Unfortunately, extra passing power doesn't translate to extra towing power. With a maximum towing capacity of 4,500 pounds, the EcoBoost doesn't tow any more than the base Flex. The Chevrolet Traverse can pull 5,200 pounds.

Flex Drivetrains Compared
Base V-6EcoBoost V-6
AvailabilitySE, SEL, LimitedSEL, Limited
Engine3.5-liter V-63.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-6
TransmissionSix-speed automaticSix-speed automatic
Horsepower (@ rpm)262 @ 6,250355 @ 3,500*
Torque (@ rpm)248 @ 4,500350 @ 1,500-5,250*
FuelRegularPremium recommended
DrivelinesFWD or AWDAWD only
EPA gas mileage (city/highway, mpg)17/24 (FWD); 16/22 (AWD)16/22 (AWD)
Towing capacity (lbs.)4,5004,500
*Using premium fuel. With regular fuel, torque remains the same, but Ford says horsepower drops slightly.
Source: EPA and automaker data

Comfortable, Not Athletic
The steering wheel turns with light effort at low speeds, but its 40.7-foot turning circle is wide for this class. At higher speeds, the wheel has a nice, weighty feel.

That said, the Flex EcoBoost is no handling champ. There's plenty of body roll on twisty roads, and the nose dives under hard braking. The standard four-wheel antilock disc brakes suffer from a mushy pedal. As overall handling goes, the Mazda CX-9 feels more planted, but few crossover drivers expect sport-sedan antics. The payoff comes in the Flex's ride comfort, which is quite good, especially considering our test car's optional 20-inch wheels. Eighteen- and 19-inch wheels are also available; both have higher-profile tires, which should provide even better comfort.

Road and wind noise are impressively low, given the Flex's boxy silhouette. On more than one occasion, other editors remarked — at 75 mph — how quiet it was in there.

Cabin Quality, Quantity
Cabin quality is good, but the Flex isn't Ford's best effort. Padded materials with attractive finishes line the dash and doors, but they overlap a number of cheaper, grainier plastics from Ford's not-so-halcyon days of interior quality. (The hellcyon days, if you will.) Things are more consistently high quality in the Taurus and Lincoln MKS sedans, but the Flex is perhaps four-fifths of the way there.

Our 2009 Flex tester had gathered-leather seating inserts that a number of editors called frumpy. This year's test car had perforated leather that didn't look nearly as offensive. They're pretty flat, so you'll slide around a bit in corners, but after more than a dozen hours on the highway I came away impressed with their cushion support. These seats are comfortable for the long haul, and the first two rows offer plenty of room and adequate thigh support. The third row has decent headroom, but the seats are too low to the floor to provide adult-friendly thigh support.

Cargo room depends on whether the folding seats are up or down: There's ample space behind the third row, but when both rows are folded, maximum cargo volume — 83.2 cubic feet — trails most competitors. Ford has one trump card, at least: A fold-flat front passenger seat is standard, allowing objects up to 10 feet long to fit inside the Flex.

Cargo Volume Compared (cu. ft.)
Behind 3rd rowBehind 2nd rowBehind 1st rowFold-flat passenger seat?
Chevrolet Traverse24.468.8116.4Unavailable
Ford Flex20.043.283.2Standard
Honda Pilot18.047.787.0Unavailable
Mazda CX-917.248.3100.7Unavailable
Hyundai Veracruz13.440.086.8Unavailable
Dodge Journey10.737.0*67.6Optional
Toyota Highlander10.342.395.4Unavailable
Source: Automaker data for 2010 models except Highlander (2009 Highlander info shown; 2010 data unavailable)
*37.0 cubic feet for three-row versions. Two-row Journey has 39.6 cubic feet behind second row.

Safety, Features & Pricing
In Insurance Institute for Highway Safety crash tests, the Flex earned top scores of Good in front, side and rear impacts. The 2009 model is an IIHS Top Safety Pick, and the 2010 Flex should fare no differently. Standard safety features include side curtain airbags for all three rows, antilock brakes and an electronic stability system with Ford's Roll Stability Control, which attempts to stop a rollover after it's already started. Other automakers' stability systems attempt to intuit conditions that may lead to a rollover, but Ford's remains the only one with a dedicated sensor to detect when a rollover has begun. Click here to see a full list of the Flex's standard safety features.

The Flex EcoBoost SEL starts at $36,195, which is $2,995 more than a non-EcoBoost all-wheel-drive SEL. Standard features include tri-zone air conditioning, rear parking sensors, heated power front seats and Ford's iPod-compatible Sync stereo with steering-wheel audio controls. Leather upholstery is optional on the SEL and standard on the Limited ($42,065), which also has xenon headlights, a navigation system and a backup camera. Ford's Vista Roof, which includes a power moonroof up front and skylights for the second and third rows, is optional. So is a rear-seat DVD entertainment system and Ford's new self-parking system; we review the latter feature here.

If you're looking to save money and don't need all-wheel drive, avoid EcoBoost altogether. The front-drive Flex SE starts at $28,550.

Flex in the Market
The three-row crossover segment is a crowded one, and if you throw in a few not-so-crossoverlike SUVs — like the Ford Explorer and Kia Borrego — the choices amount to a game of Let's Go Fishin'. EcoBoost makes the Flex an attractive option for SUV shoppers accustomed to V-8 performance, even if they don't need V-8 capabilities. I suspect a lot of those shoppers will settle for a run-of-the-mill V-6 crossover, but for those who still want yesteryear's burly performance, Ford has a solution worth looking into.

Send Kelsey an email 



2010 Flex Video

Joey Lawrence and wife Chandie talk about their Ford Flex and why they love it. Be sure to check back on February 1st for full coverage of our SUV shootout.

Latest 2010 Flex Stories

What Drivers Are Saying

Exterior Styling
(4.6)
Performance
(4.5)
Interior Design
(4.9)
Comfort
(4.9)
Reliability
(4.8)
Value For The Money
(4.7)

Latest Reviews

(4.0)

Great family vehicle

by Jpenn from Williamsport pa on July 10, 2018

Eco boost is a must. More fun to drive than I thought. Interior seems to be from a high end vehicle, very well done. Paddle shifting w twin turbo makes me smile. Read full review

(5.0)

Very comfortable ride

by Gregory F from Canton, Ga on May 20, 2018

Great gas mileage and smooth ride. Plenty of leg room. Sound system is outstanding for factory. Holds its value better than most. All around good family friendly vehicle. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2010 Ford Flex currently has 1 recall

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2010 Ford Flex SE

IIHS rates vehicles good, acceptable, marginal, or poor.

Head Restraints and Seats

Dynamic Rating
good
Overall Rear
good
Seat Head/Restraint Geometry
good

Moderate overlap front

Chest
good
Head/Neck
good
Left Leg/Foot
good
Overall Front
good
Restraints
good
Right Leg/Foot
acceptable
Structure/safety cage
good

Side

Driver Head Protection
good
Driver Head and Neck
good
Driver Pelvis/Leg
good
Driver Torso
good
Overall Side
good
Rear Passenger Head Protection
good
Rear Passenger Head and Neck
good
Rear Passenger Pelvis/Leg
good
Rear Passenger Torso
good
Structure/safety cage
good
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) is a nonprofit research and communications organization funded by auto insurers.

Manufacturer Warranty

  • Bumper-to-Bumper

    36 months / 36,000 miles

  • Powertrain

    60 months / 60,000 miles

  • Roadside Assistance

    60 months / 60,000 miles

CPO Program & Warranty

Certified Pre-Owned by Ford

Program Benefits

24-hour roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement up to $30 per day, full tank of gas, vehicle history report, new wiper blades and fresh oil and filter

  • Limited Warranty

    7 years / 100,000 miles

    7 years from original new vehicle warranty start date or 100,000 miles. Powertrain Limited Warranty from original in-service date. 12- month/12,000-mile comprehensive limited warranty. See dealer for details. $100 deductible per visit.
  • Eligibility

    Under 6 years / 80,000 miles

    Vehicles receive a 172 point inspection and reconditioning.

    See inspection details.

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Cars.com Car Seat Check

Certified child passenger safety technicians conduct hands-on tests of a car’s Latch system and check the vehicle’s ability to accommodate different types of car seats. The Flex received the following grades on a scale of A-F.*
* This score may not apply to all trims, especially for vehicles with multiple body styles that affect the space and design of the seating.

Warranty FAQs

What is a Bumper-to-Bumper warranty?

Often called a basic warranty or new-vehicle warranty, a bumper-to-bumper policy covers components like air conditioning, audio systems, vehicle sensors, fuel systems and major electrical components. Most policies exclude regular maintenance like fluid top offs and oil changes, but a few brands have separate free-maintenance provisions, and those that do offer them is slowly rising. Bumper-to-bumper warranties typically expire faster than powertrain warranties.

What is a Powertrain warranty?

Don't be misled a 10-year or 100,000-mile powertrain warranty doesn't promise a decade of free repairs for your car. It typically covers just the engine and transmission, along with any other moving parts that lead to the wheels, like the driveshaft and constant velocity joints. Some automakers also bundle seat belts and airbags into their powertrain warranties. With a few exceptions, powertrain warranties don't cover regular maintenance like engine tuneups and tire rotations.

What is included in Roadside Assistance?

Some automakers include roadside assistance with their bumper-to-bumper or powertrain warranties, while others have separate policies. These programs cover anything from flat-tire changes and locksmith services to jump-starts and towing. Few reimburse incidental costs like motel rooms (if you have to wait for repairs).

What other services could be included in a warranty?

Some automakers include free scheduled maintenance for items such as oil changes, air filters and tire rotations. Some include consumables including brake pads and windshield wipers; others do not. They are typically for the first couple of years of ownership of a new car.

What does CPO mean?

A certified pre-owned or CPO car has been inspected to meet minimum quality standards and typically includes some type of warranty. While dealers and third parties certify cars, the gold standard is an automaker-certified vehicle that provides a factory-backed warranty, often extending the original coverage. Vehicles must be in excellent condition and have low miles and wear to be certified, which is why off-lease vehicles feed many CPO programs.

See also the latest CPO incentives by automaker