A refreshed Ford Flex is coming to the Los Angeles Auto Show , except that its "refreshed looks" don’t do much in the way of improved aesthetics. Sure, it’s different, especially the front fascia, but it still looks a little weird and takes a design cue from, of all things, the Range Rover .
Peculiar looks notwithstanding, the 2013 Ford Flex does have some good qualities, particularly the impressive engine line-up and the bevy of safety and technological features that no other crossover in its market can compete with.
If there ever was a Ford model that fits the description of ’polarizing,’ it’s the Flex. Some people will find the quirky look endearing while others will probably just opt for something else. But whatever you may think of the new Ford crossover, you can’t deny that it’s an attention-grabber, for better or worse.
Find out more about the 2013 Ford Flex after the jump.
Exterior and Interior
The overall design of the Ford Flex doesn’t appear to have been completely overhauled, although it does feature a vastly restyled front fascia that did away with the signature Ford blue oval badge on the front in favor of the Flex badge that looks similar to how the Range Rover badge is installed in the luxury SUV. We’re not quite sure if the ’retro-modern’ look of the front will do the Flex any favors, but it’s not like the crossover isn’t a quirky looker to begin with. The front end of the Flex is also more rounded than the previous model, doing away with the boxy edges to make the crossover more visually appealing.
As far as Limited and SEL models of the Flex are concerned, a number of options are included in the Appearance Package that distinguishes the model from the standard trim. The additional exterior options available include two-tone roof and mirror, and a new set of 20" machined aluminum wheels.
Meanwhile, the interior of the new Flex also gets a more modern and dynamic look, highlighted by new clusters, a refreshed steering wheel, and electronic finish panels, as well as new seat trim and foam. It also carries Ford’s new SYNC with the new generation of MyFord Touch, making it easier to manage information, control features, and adjust settings. The whole set-up comes with two 4.2-inch screens in the instrument cluster and an eight-inch screen in the center stack to go with all the features that come with the SYNC package. There’s a hands-free, voice-activated calling via a Bluetooth-connected mobile phone or USB-connected digital music player. There’s also 911 Assist, Vehicle Health Report, and a slew of other features locked and loaded into the overall SYNC system.
Under the hood, Ford brought in a couple of powertrains for the Flex. The first is upgraded unit of the standard 3.5-liter Ti-VCT V6 engine, one that produces 285 horsepower and 255 lb/ft of torque, an increase of approximately 20 horsepower from the previous version. This engine delivers even more performance and efficiency, with the projected fuel economy hitting 18 mpg on the city and up to 25 mpg on the highway.
The second powertrain for the 2013 Flex is the popular 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine, one with all-wheel-drive capability and an impressive 355 horsepower output to go with a peak torque of 350 lb/ft.
One distinguishing feature of the 2013 Ford Flex is that it’s equipped with what Ford considers the automotive world’s first production rear inflatable belts that offer improved comfort and protection for the rear seat passengers. What this advanced restraint system does is helps reduce head, neck, and chest injuries for rear seat passengers, especially the young children and older passengers. The new second-row belts operate like traditional safety belts in everyday use. Upon sensing an imminent collision, the seatbelts inflate with cold compressed gas, which flows through a specially designed buckle from a cylinder housed below the seat.
The new Flex also features a radar-enabled adaptive cruise control (ACC) and collision warning with brake support and Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with cross-traffic alert. Together, these two technological safety systems help drivers avoid potential accidents using radar to detect the relative position of other vehicles and warn the driver through a combination of visual and audio alerts.
No word yet on pricing, but we do expect more information to become available when the car is officially presented at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
The new Ford Flex, redesign and all, will have plenty of competition in its market, particularly the Chevrolet Traverse and the Toyota Highlander . Both alternatives come with their own set of features, including an output comparison with which the Flex comes ahead - 285 horsepower and 255 lb/ft of torque - compared to the Traverse - 281 horsepower and 266 lb/ft of torque - and the Highlander - 270 horsepower and 248 lb/ft of torque.
As far as pricing comps are concerned, Ford has yet to reveal the price for the 2013 Flex, although if you base it on last year’s model, the Ford crossover hits about the same price ($30,180) as that of the Traverse ($30,180) and the Highlander ($31,890).
We’re pretty sure that the 2013 Flex will be priced a little higher than the 2012 model to accommodate for the aesthetic and performance modifications done. Having said that, if it means paying a little premium for all those improvements, then it’s definitely a purchase worth making.
- Impressive powertrain
- Safety features are top-class
- Interior is dressed-up
- Quirky looks don’t do much for us
- No price yet