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#14

in 2011 Affordable Midsize SUVs

Avg. Price Paid: $16,407 - $26,668
Original MSRP: $29,355 - $45,520
MPG: 17 City / 24 Hwy
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2011 Ford Flex Performance

This performance review was created when the car was new. Some links may no longer point to an active page.

The 2011 Ford Flex delivers a competent though somewhat boring performance. However, test drivers especially liked the ample engine power and smooth ride.

  • “The Flex with EcoBoost is more than just a Flex with a different engine. The engineering team has also modified the suspension with stiffer springs, higher damping rates, and a ride height that has been lowered by ten millimeters. Combined with the already-low ride height and excellent body control, the subtle changes make this Flex one of the best handling crossovers on the market and do a good job of disguising its 4839-pound weight." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "In addition to added muscle, EcoBoost models include other worthwhile mechanical enhancements that only improve Flex's already solid package. Add to the mix good handling and refined behavior and you have a people mover that merits our Recommended approval." -- Consumer Guide
  • "The EcoBoost'd Flex drives like a nicely sorted, and much lighter, car. The increased bodyroll management makes for probably the smoothest CUV driving experience we can remember. Grab the thick, leather-lined steering wheel and guide the Flex like you would any other car. No amusement park rollercoastering, no dancing from side-to-side. It's a job well done." -- Autoblog
  • "The ... Ford Flex is rather unremarkable to drive, but it's not offensive either. The ride is always comfortable -- even with the bigger wheels." -- Edmunds
  • "Despite the additional power, Flex is still a very staid ride, more of a family hauler than a hot rod -- not a criticism, just an observation and categorization. As a matter of taste, I prefer an SUV that's a little lighter on its feet, a little more responsive than the Flex." -- About.com

Acceleration and Power

The Flex comes with a more-than-adequate base engine, a 3.5-liter V6 that makes 262 horsepower. The engine is paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Available on all trims but the base model is a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 that makes 355 horsepower. It’s paired with a six-speed SelectShift transmission with paddle shifters. Test drivers loved the EcoBoost’s extra power, but said you don’t really need it unless you want a more fun driving experience.

  • "The 4,839-pound Flex is well served by the EcoBoost. The turbos don't wait to kick in, so the plenary complement of torque is available from 1,500 rpm. Acceleration is a feel good event, especially considering you're driving something that's sized like a Costco on wheels." -- Autoblog
  • "No powerhouse with the 262-horsepower V6, but Flex has adequate muscle to cope with most passing and merging needs, even with a full load of passengers. With the EcoBoost V6, Flex is strong and smooth with noticeably more power for nearly any situation. Turbo lag is minimal at worst." -- Consumer Guide
  • "While the normally aspirated engines -- a 3.6-liter V-6 in the Acadia and a 5.7-liter V-8 in the Dodge Durango -- wheezed from a lack of air, the Ecoboost's turbochargers kept the Flex steaming ahead." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "The base V6 is adequate for a vehicle this size, motivating the Flex with enough gusto to keep up with competing crossovers. The six-speed automatic can be frustrating, though, often refusing to downshift unless you put your foot to the floor." -- Edmunds
  • "The 355-hp EcoBoost is far more than just capable: Even with the added weight of standard all-wheel drive, it handily steams past both competitors. It's quicker than any other non-luxury crossover I've driven lately. Turbo lag, which used to be the bane of most turbocharged cars, is virtually undetectable." -- Cars.com

Handling and Braking

The Flex features an independent front and rear suspension that make for a smooth though relatively unexciting ride. Models with the base engine come with rack-and-pinion steering, while EcoBoost models get special electric power assist steering that improves steering feel.

  • "Combined with confident body control and surprising handling, the torque-monster [EcoBoost] engine creates a fun driving experience. All-wheel drive provides sure footing, and the paddle shifters allowed us to run up and down through the gears and keep boost at the ready." -- Automobile Magazine
  • "Direct steering and controlled body lean in corners give Flex a fairly nimble feel. EcoBoost-equipped models have a specific steering system that is accurate and well weighted. But some testers find the steering too light in models equipped with the base engine." -- Consumer Guide
  • "Where the stock Flex wobbles and floats over bumps and through corners like the crossover that it is, the EcoBoost felt downright sporty. That's no small achievement for a 4,600 lb. tall wagon. Crisp handling, a rarity in a world of electric power steering, and a taut but composed ride gave the Flex a truly world-class feel that we haven't encountered in its Japanese or domestic rivals." -- Left Lane News
  • "The chassis is well tuned for a family crossover, with pleasantly direct steering that has just the right amount of boost and good on-center feel." -- Car and Driver
  • "As if the styling isn't enough to differentiate the Flex from workaday crossovers and stroller-toting minivans, Ford has been eager to make the driving experience something unexpected. And, indeed, for a big ocean-going passenger liner of a vehicle, the Flex is pretty damn composed through bends." -- Edmunds