Expert review written by the Kelley Blue Book vehicle review editorial team.
Any number of SUVs can carry seven passengers, deliver sure-footed all-wheel drive and get decent fuel economy, but very few are as distinctive as the 2016 Ford Flex SUV. From its grooved side panels to its black-painted roof, the Flex is the evolution of the vintage family wagon. It’s so cool you might even be tempted to customize it.
You'll Like The 2016 Ford Flex If...
Need minivan-like room in anything but a minivan? Check out Ford’s Flex SUV for 2016. Its boxy styling maximizes interior space, while its car-like ride and numerous options will appeal to your softer side. Available all-wheel drive (AWD) and a turbocharged engine are two more bonuses.
You May Not Like The 2016 Ford Flex If...
If you need maximum ground clearance, an advanced AWD system or the ability to tow more than 4,500 pounds, scratch the Flex off your list. A full-framed SUV like the Nissan Armada or Chevrolet Tahoe might be more to your liking. The Dodge Durango offers a V8 and greater towing ability.
For 2016, the Ford Flex gains a rearview camera on all trims and tosses the problematic MyFord Touch system in favor of a new, user-friendly Sync 3 setup. A revision to EPA figures this year drops fuel economy by a few mpg.
Ford worked hard to make the 2016 Flex a special place to be. The inviting interior is functional, elegantly appointed and meticulously assembled. The Flex’s instrument panel is clean and functional, with the three screens for the Sync 3 system. A massive 4-panel Vista skylight is one of the noteworthy features. The 2nd-row and 3rd-row seats fold flat, and so does the right-front passenger seat, creating what feels like acres of cargo space. For hauling people, the front and middle rows provide spacious and comfortable accommodations for four, or five in a pinch. Third-row occupants will find legroom a little tight.
The Ford Flex for 2016 looks functional and quirky, but still timeless. Think vintage Ford Country Squire meets Mini Cooper. It’s a box, for sure, but an elegantly detailed box, with aero-friendly contours and soft edges. The Flex’s face is quite modernistic, with a strong horizontal character and some unconventional treatments in the shapely headlights and prominent Flex name in chrome across the nose. A liftgate clad in brushed aluminum and the optional contrasting-color roof are also strong visual elements. This “flying brick” shape may not appeal to everyone, but it’s a distinctive way to build a family hauler.
While its long, wide body might suggest a truck-like driving experience, the 2016 Ford Flex crossover SUV is actually quite maneuverable. In sharp turns, the Flex’s steering is precise and responsive, although the electric assist somewhat numbs its feedback. The Flex’s suspension manages to keep the car fairly level during high-speed cornering, with good control over sway and pitching, plus one of the most comfortable rides in the segment. Ford has done an excellent job holding outside noise at bay, although the Flex’s larger wheel-and-tire packages vary the amount of road noise that sneaks in. The base 3.5-liter V6 is adequate, but we prefer the surge of power delivered by the available 365-horsepower EcoBoost engine (that’s more horsepower than the V8-powered Dodge Durango). The optional all-wheel drive operates seamlessly and brings an added measure of safety and capability when the weather turns nasty.
The Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) for a 2016 front-wheel-drive Ford Flex SE starts just under $30,500. For the mid-level SEL, prices start around $33,200 (FWD) and $35,150 (AWD). A top-of-the-line Limited begins just under $39,000 with the base engine and FWD and bumps up against $44,000 with the EcoBoost V6 and AWD. Heavily optioned, a Flex Limited can easily exceed $50,000. That pricing is in line with such competitors as the Chevrolet Traverse, Mazda CX-9, Dodge Durango and Honda Pilot, but more expensive than the Kia Sorento. To make your best deal, be sure to check our Fair Purchase Price and see what typical Flex transaction prices are in your area. Considering resale value, Kelley Blue Book expects the Flex to hold a good portion of its original purchase price, on par with the Chevy Traverse, but falling slightly behind the Honda Pilot.
The 2016 Ford Flex comes in three trim levels: SE, SEL and Limited. Standard equipment includes keyless entry, a 6-way-power driver’s seat, tilt/telescoping steering wheel, Reverse Sensing System, fog lights, front and rear air conditioning, rearview camera, and a leather-wrapped steering wheel. Specifying the Limited trim adds heated front seats, a 10-way-power driver’s seat with memory, Sony Premium audio with Ford Sync 3 communications system, a heated steering wheel, voice-activated navigation, leather upholstery, a power-folding 3rd-row seat and 19-inch alloy wheels. Standard safety equipment includes 3-row side-curtain airbags and inflatable 2nd-row safety belts.
Options for the 2016 Ford Flex vary by trim and include the 365-horsepower EcoBoost V6 (Limited only), all-wheel drive (SEL and Limited), a power rear liftgate, heated 2nd-row seats with power Autofold mode, 2nd-row captain’s chairs with a center-console refrigerator, a 4-panel Vista roof, a contrasting-color painted top panel, adaptive cruise control with Collision Warning and Brake Support, remote start, a rear-seat DVD entertainment system, and the Park Assist active parallel-parking aid.
REAR-CONSOLE REFRIGERATORAvailable on the Limited trim with 2nd-row captain’s-chair seating is a center console refrigerator. With the ability to cool down to 23 degrees Fahrenheit, this onboard appliance is perfect for storing everything from sodas to ice cream.SYNC 3 COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMReplacing the much-maligned MyFord Touch system, Sync 3 offers a vastly better user interface, faster screen response times and a more intuitive look. With Sync, occupants can use voice commands to select music, make or receive phone calls and even have text messages read aloud.
Under the Hood
Across its trim levels, the 2016 Ford Flex offers a choice of two V6 engines (both with a 6-speed automatic transmission) and either front-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD). The standard engine is a smooth and efficient 3.5-liter V6 with variable valve timing. It makes 287 horsepower and is certainly adequate if not class-leading. Fuel economy is below average for the vehicle’s size with an estimated 16-mpg city and 23 highway. AWD models earn slightly lower estimates. The Limited trim offers the option of the EcoBoost V6, which has twin turbochargers and direct injection to produce an impressive 365 horsepower. This EcoBoost engine is offered only with AWD.3.5-liter V6287 horsepower @ 6,500 rpm254 lb-ft of torque @ 4,000 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 16/23 mpg (FWD), 16/22 mpg (AWD)3.5-liter twin-turbocharged V6365 horsepower @ 5,500 rpm350 lb-ft of torque @ 1,500-5,250 rpmEPA city/highway fuel economy: 15/21 mpg
Ford’s 2016 Flex crossover SUV seems the logical evolution of the full-size family wagon of the 1960s and 1970s. Low to the ground and sporting long side glass, the Flex makes no pretense of being a dual-purpose SUV. Those seeking capable off-road ability will be better off in a Honda Pilot or Ford Explorer. However, if the most treacherous road conditions you encounter are snow-covered streets, then the 7-passenger Flex has much to offer. The Flex’s roomy interior can be configured to carry large cargo loads, and its lower ride height makes for a smooth ride and easy step-in. A choice of V6 engines, numerous electronic and convenience features and one-of-a-kind styling all combine to make the Flex the perfect family wagon.