2011 Ford Flex

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$6,601–$17,065 Inventory Prices
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Key Specs

of the 2011 Ford Flex. Base trim shown.

Our Take

From the Cars.com Vehicle Test Team

The Good

  • EcoBoost acceleration
  • Quiet cabin
  • Roomy second row
  • Settled highway ride
  • Distinctive styling

The Bad

  • Wide turning circle
  • Mushy brakes
  • Cargo area not very tall
  • Inconsistent quality of cabin materials

Notable Features of the 2011 Ford Flex

  • New Titanium Edition
  • Front- or all-wheel drive
  • Available twin-turbo (EcoBoost) V-6
  • Seats up to seven
  • Optional onboard refrigerator

2011 Ford Flex Road Test

Kelsey Mays

To me, the Ford Flex is still the sharpest-looking minivan alternative on the market, but its boxy, ground-hugging appearance isn't for everyone — and the low roofline sacrifices utility.

New this year is a top-of-the-line Titanium version that adds some interesting visual cues without changing the three-row Flex's basic formula. It's visually closer to a Land Rover Range Rover luxury SUV (which costs nearly three times as much as a base Flex) than it is to the SE, SEL and Limited trim levels below it. All-wheel drive is optional on all but the SE, as is Ford's turbocharged EcoBoost V-6, which you can read about in my review of the 2010 EcoBoost Flex. You can also compare the 2010 and 2011 Flex here. We tested a front-wheel-drive Flex Titanium with a standard 3.5-liter V-6.

Titanium Cues
Since it arrived in late 2009, the Flex held an incidental resemblance to the Range Rover. With unique 20-inch wheels and a darkened, emblem-free grille with "FLEX" mounted in all caps above it — similar to Land Rover's grille-top lettering — any notion of accidental resemblance will disappear. Applaud the effort or scoff it, this is the Flex doing its best Rover impression.

Changes inside include Alcantara seat inserts and new faux-metal dashboard trim. Still, no one will mistake the Flex Titanium's interior for a luxury SUV. The materials are excellent in some areas and conspicuously low-rent in others; it's not the most consistent job. Ma...

To me, the Ford Flex is still the sharpest-looking minivan alternative on the market, but its boxy, ground-hugging appearance isn't for everyone — and the low roofline sacrifices utility.

New this year is a top-of-the-line Titanium version that adds some interesting visual cues without changing the three-row Flex's basic formula. It's visually closer to a Land Rover Range Rover luxury SUV (which costs nearly three times as much as a base Flex) than it is to the SE, SEL and Limited trim levels below it. All-wheel drive is optional on all but the SE, as is Ford's turbocharged EcoBoost V-6, which you can read about in my review of the 2010 EcoBoost Flex. You can also compare the 2010 and 2011 Flex here. We tested a front-wheel-drive Flex Titanium with a standard 3.5-liter V-6.

Titanium Cues
Since it arrived in late 2009, the Flex held an incidental resemblance to the Range Rover. With unique 20-inch wheels and a darkened, emblem-free grille with "FLEX" mounted in all caps above it — similar to Land Rover's grille-top lettering — any notion of accidental resemblance will disappear. Applaud the effort or scoff it, this is the Flex doing its best Rover impression.

Changes inside include Alcantara seat inserts and new faux-metal dashboard trim. Still, no one will mistake the Flex Titanium's interior for a luxury SUV. The materials are excellent in some areas and conspicuously low-rent in others; it's not the most consistent job. Major controls are easy to operate — and far simpler to use than Ford's button-free MyFord Touch panels, which will probably make their way into the Flex not too far down the road. Get one now before it's too late.

Interior Space
The Flex's modest height — at 68 inches, it's shorter than a Toyota Highlander, Honda Pilot, Chevy Traverse or Dodge Durango — might suggest less headroom or seating that's too low to the ground. But the Ford exhibits neither: the second row has both decent seat height and good headroom, and both the first and second rows are easy to get into. With either a three-position bench seat or two captain's chairs, there's legroom to spare in the second row. For a three-row crossover, the Flex's third row is habitable enough for short trips. Accessing it requires tumbling the second-row seats forward. It's not as easy as some competitors' sliding seats, but the space it leaves to climb in back is big enough.

Unfortunately, the Flex's height does hurt cargo room. Behind the rear seats is an impressive 20 cubic feet of cargo volume, but you may not be able to stand a lot of things upright: The cargo area's height is just 31 inches. I had to dismantle my stand-up grille to get it and other tailgating accoutrements inside. It's little wonder the Flex's maximum cargo volume is just 83.2 cubic feet with the second and third rows folded. That's in the same neighborhood as the Durango and Pilot, but it trails the Highlander's 95.4 cubic feet and the Traverse's 116.4 cubic feet. (Incidentally, this underscores how spacious a minivan is. Most of those have more than 140 cubic feet of maximum volume. If cargo space is your priority, crossovers are no match.)

On the Road
Even with four adults and a cargo area full of gear, Ford's 3.5-liter Duratec V-6 pulled our test car up to highway speeds swiftly enough. Although the Flex's six-speed automatic can upshift a bit harshly around town, it kicks down quickly on the highway. The car accelerates smoothly from 60 to 70 mph in 4th gear, and the automatic wastes little time getting there.

Should you want more oomph, the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 makes a robust 355 horsepower, versus the normally aspirated V-6's 262 hp. With standard all-wheel drive, the EcoBoost Flex feels like it has a V-8 — and a strong one at that. One caveat: Ford recommends premium gas for maximum performance, versus regular for the 262-hp Flex. The EcoBoost V-6 can run on regular, but doing so means a slight loss in performance. Both all-wheel-drive variants get the same 18 mpg in combined EPA ratings. The front-drive Flex gets 19 mpg. Those figures are competitive for a three-row crossover, though the Flex's 4,500-pound maximum towing capacity remains at the low end of the segment.

The suspension settles in fine on the highway, but the Titanium's P255/45R20 tires will cost you ride comfort over major bumps. Potholes and manhole covers are rather jarring; lesser Flex trims, with their higher-profile tires, smooth those out. Automotive bling comes at a cost. Consider yourself warned.

The steering tracks well enough on the highway, but the Flex's boxy shape makes it a victim to crosswinds. Hit the interstate on a gusty day, and the steering wheel will need constant attention if you want to stay on course. At lower speeds, many drivers will want more power assist. For a large crossover, the Flex requires too much effort to wheel around a parking lot, and its awful turning circle doesn't help: At 40.7 feet, the Flex eclipses even the larger Traverse. The Durango, Pilot and Highlander all come in under 39 feet.

Four-wheel-disc antilock brakes are standard. The pedal takes some getting used to, exhibiting a truck-like mushiness in the first inch or so of travel. Farther down, the response is more linear.

Safety, Features & Pricing
In crash tests by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the Flex earned the top score, Good, across the board, making it an IIHS Top Safety Pick. The Flex has not yet been crash-tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration using its new testing standards. Standard safety features include three-row curtain airbags, antilock brakes and an electronic stability system. Click here for a full list of safety features.

Reliability has been average, though the EcoBoost Flex has fared better than other variants. The Flex SE starts at a hefty $29,220 — close to the Traverse but more than $1,000 more expensive than the Highlander and Pilot — but comes standard with front and rear air conditioning, 17-inch alloy wheels, a power driver's seat and steering-wheel audio controls. Many of those features are optional on the other three. Options on the Flex include the usual luxury upgrades — heated leather seats, a navigation system and the like — as well as Ford's iPod/USB-compatible Sync system, a self-parking system and a moonroof with three additional rear skylights.

All-wheel drive is an $1,850 option on the SEL, Limited and Titanium. It's required for the EcoBoost V-6, which tacks on another $2,995. Load up an all-wheel-drive EcoBoost Titanium, and the tab can top $53,000.

Flex in the Market
Despite rising gas prices, three-row crossovers are steaming along. As of this writing, the Traverse, Highlander and Pilot — the segment's three leading sellers — have all seen steady sales improvements this year. The Flex, for all its distinctive styling, hasn't been lifted by the same tide: Sales are in a free fall.

Why? It seems shoppers haven't warmed to the styling — especially since Ford's more conventional-looking Explorer was redesigned to a crossover platform this year. Although it's a bit smaller on the inside, the new Explorer has three rows of seats standard and outsells its boxy sibling by a ratio of 6.5-to-1. It seems Ford shoppers are flocking toward the venerable SUV nameplate and paying little heed to the nearby Flex; a Titanium edition will do little to change that.

Send Kelsey an email  



Latest 2011 Flex Stories

Consumer Reviews

Exterior Styling
(4.4)
Performance
(4.5)
Interior Design
(4.5)
Comfort
(4.8)
Reliability
(4.5)
Value For The Money
(4.5)

What Drivers Are Saying

(5.0)

Great Family Car

by Lance from Midland TX on June 18, 2018

This car was very dependable , The car was my wife's car and she loved it , it was perfect for us and our 4 kids, still had plenty of leg space room.. Overall a Great family car for everyday use or ... Read full review

(4.0)

Nice road feel, Plenty of room

by SndGuy from Braintree, Ma on April 30, 2018

I like the layout of this car, plenty of interior space, the only disappointment is the drivers leg room. I am tall an like to stretch out my legs when driving. The Flex does not allow that. Read full review

Safety & Recalls

Recalls

The 2011 Ford Flex currently has 2 recalls

IIHS Crash and Rollover Test Ratings

Based on 2011 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

Other

Roof Strength
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