The 2012 Ford Flex is offered in four different trims, with a choice between naturally aspirated or turbocharged V6 engines across most of the model line.
A 262-horsepower, 3.5L V6 comes standard on base SE models, with front-wheel drive. Across the rest of the lineup, which consists of SEL, Titanium and Limited models, all-wheel drive is optional, as is a 355-hp, 3.5L EcoBoost turbocharged V6. Fuel economy ratings range as high as 24 mpg on the highway for the front-wheel drive version, while EcoBoost models deliver the performance of a V8 while achieving mileage numbers almost as good. With either engine, there's a quite responsive and smooth-shifting 6-speed automatic transmission.
The fashionable, boxy wagon-meets-SUV design of the Flex pays off dividends in terms of interior space. With three rows of seating, the Flex truly has enough space to accommodate six adults, and thanks to rather long back doors and a tall roof, getting to that third row isn't too hard. The configuration, with second-row captain's chairs, won't disappoint, even for long road trips. And with the second and third rows folded flat there's an impressive 83 cubic feet of cargo space.
Overall, the Flex drives more than a station wagon than a sport-utility vehicle--which is a good thing. It handles curvy highways without breaking a sweat, all the while maintaining a ride that's absorbent but not too floaty. Even though the Flex is a boxy wagon, sidewinds don't get to it on the highway either, thanks to a Pull-Drift Compensation technology that utilizes the electric power-steering system. There's even more high-tech steering wizardry: Active Parking Assist is optional and uses sensors in front and behind the vehicle to automatically steer the vehicle into a parking space. Limited and Titanium models also include a rear-view camera system. And some will appreciate the Class III Trailer Tow Package, bringing towing capacity up to 4,500 pounds--enough for most boats and recreational needs.
The Flex Titanium comes with a distinct, dark-and-glossy appearance package that brings a special black-chrome-finish grille, blacked-out roof and liftgate and fog lamp bezels. Equipment on the Titanium is otherwise the same as the top-of-the-line Flex Limited, including adjustable pedals, memory seat and pedal settings, power heated mirrors, a power liftgate and 110-volt inverter.
Among the options offered in the Flex are Ford's Sync interface, which allows phones, media players to be remotely accessed with voice commands. New Traffic, Directions & Information services make traffic reports, turn-by-turn directions and even sports scores and weather easily accessible by voice, too. There's also a full navigation system, with a touch screen and voice-activated features, as well as Sirius Travel Link, which includes real-time traffic and gas-price information.
On Limited and Titanium models, there's even an optional class-exclusive refrigerated console between second-row captain's chairs; it can cool up to seven 12-ounce cans or four half-liter bottles faster than a standard refrigerator.
After the Ford Flex got extensive updates and improvements for 2011, including new HD Radio capability, PowerFold/tumble third-row seats, and a new Titanium series, very little has changed about the Ford Flex. The rear wiper has been repositioned, more cupholders have been added for second-row occupants and a few option packages have been reconfigured. A new golden hue, Ginger Ale Metallic and Cinnamon are part of a revamped color palette.