Looking like a square-cornered and slab-sided shoebox rolling on big flashy wheels, the 5-door and 7-seat 2017 Ford Flex retro-style wagon offers three trim grades, front-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive traction and two V6 engine choices including a neck-snapping twin-turbo EcoBoost plant lifted from Ford's Taurus SHO muscle car.
The original Flex rolled out for Ford's 2009 line as a rather long and squatty mid-size crossover wagon perched on the elongated platform of a sport-tuned sedan. Initially, it offered three trim grades and a 262-hp V6 tied to a 6-speed automatic transaxle with standard FWD or optional AWD traction.
Flex for 2013 scored a makeover outside with bold body sculpting, new standard or optional features in the passenger compartment with improved materials wrought with fine craftsmanship, and a choice of two V6 powertrains.
Flex for 2017 extends the feature-packed trims (S/SE/Limited) with a host of electronic safety systems and two high-output powertrains.
Flex's standard engine for 2017 is a DOHC (dual overhead cams) 3.5-liter V6 with performance-enhancing Ti-VVT (twin independent variable camshaft timing) technology. The plant produces 285 hp at 6500 rpm and SAE net torque of 254 lb-ft at 4000 rpm.
The shifter is a 6-speed electronic automatic with SelectShift manual controller.
Top-trim Flex Limited AWD lists the optional 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 upgrade. This twin-cam aluminum twin-turbo engine with direct injection and VVT (variable valve timing) delivers 365 hp at 5500 rpm and SAE net torque of 350 lb-ft at 3500 rpm. For those who count, the power numbers work out to 104 hp/liter.
The EcoBoost V6 ties to a 6-speed electronic automatic SelectShift transaxle with steering-wheel paddle shifters and standard AWD traction.
All versions of Flex 2017 employ a monocoque structure which unites chassis and body into one cohesive unit that remains extremely rigid when set to motion. A generous wheelbase length of 117.9 inches and broad wheel track of 65.4 inches set up a long and wide platform which brings stability when turning.
Brakes on Flex consist of a disc at every wheel with linkage to ABS (anti-lock brake system) plus TCS (traction control system) and ESC (electronic stability control).
Ford applies additional dynamic safety devices such as Torque Vectoring Control, which adds a touch of braking to the outward front wheel when powering through a corner, and Curve Control, which automatically slows the car when onboard motion sensors detect that a driver is proceeding too quickly into a curve.
Flex's 7-seat cabin is substantial in size with a total volume of 155.8 cubic feet and 83.2 cubic feet of flat-floored stow space stretching from front-row seatbacks to the tail-side liftgate. Three rows of seats apply to all trims and legroom for riders seems generous. The layout shows a pair of bucket seats up front divided by a multi-function console and followed by two captain's chairs (or a 60/40-split folding second-row bench), then a third-row bench with 50/50-split for two more riders.
Flex S FWD entry edition stocks 17-inch alloy wheels, heated exterior mirrors, keyless entry keypad, remote locking/unlocking, cruise control, air conditioning, tilting-telescoping steering wheel, cloth seat upholstery, rearview camera, Microsoft Sync 3 system, Bluetooth connectivity and a 6-speaker audio kit with CD/MP3/USB.
Flex SE mid-level trim adds 18-inch alloy wheels, foglamps, keyless entry and ignition, remote start, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, 10-way power driver seat and 6-way power front passenger seat.
Flex SE options range from a power liftgate to power-adjustable pedals, leather seat upholstery, and 7-speaker audio system.
Flex Limited gets 19-inch wheels, xenon headlights, LED taillights, power-folding mirrors, automatic wipers, a navigation system and 12-speaker Sony audio system.
And a Flex Appearance Package features black trim for door handles, window sills, roof, and grille plus 20-inch rims.
We estimate that Ford's MSRP chart for 2017 Flex models extends from $30,025 to $43,030.