Ford Flex Performance
While the base 2012 Ford Flex delivers competent, though somewhat boring, performance, reviewers say that models with the turbocharged EcoBoost engine and paddle shifters are almost sporty. However, adding EcoBoost power to your Flex will cost you. You’ll have to pay about $12,400 more than the base trim’s MSRP in order to get it.
- "The Flex's ability to maneuver through tight turns is matched only by its well-mannered ride and hushed interior.” -- Kelley Blue Book
- "The bottom line is that the Ford Flex will do almost everything the traditional minivan will but in a much more drivable package.” -- Examiner.com
- "The 2012 Ford Flex isn't all that inspiring from behind the wheel, but it certainly is not disagreeable, either.” -- Edmunds
- "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
- "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
Acceleration and Power
The 2012 Ford Flex comes standard with a 3.5-liter V6 engine that puts 262 horsepower to the ground through a six-speed automatic transmission. Reviewers say that this engine provides more than enough power for most situations, although some say the transmission can be frustratingly slow to respond.
However, the auto press raves about the 355 horsepower contained in the Flex’s twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine. Though they admit that the extra power isn’t crucial to the Flex’s duties as a family hauler, the turbocharged engine and paddle shifters endow the crossover with sporty performance that’s rarely seen in its class. Keep in mind that the EcoBoost engine is only available on Limited and Titanium trims, which means to get the extra power provided by the turbocharged engine, you’ll pay about $13,300 more than the Flex’s base sticker price, for a total of about $42,600.
The naturally-aspirated engine paired with front-wheel drive gets 17/24 mpg city/highway, or 16/23 with all-wheel drive, according to the EPA. The EPA hasn’t tested 2012 EcoBoost models, but the ratings should be nearly identical to those from 2011. The 2011 Ford Flex with the EcoBoost engine got 17/24 mpg city/highway in front-wheel drive models, while all-wheel drive models got 16/21 mpg city/highway. These fuel economy ratings are typical for a three-row crossover SUV.
For better fuel economy, you can either opt for a hybrid SUV like the Toyota Highlander Hybrid, or a smaller SUV like the Kia Sorento. The Toyota Highlander Hybrid gets 28/28 mpg city/highway with its standard all-wheel drive, but starts at about $38,100. That’s about $4,300 more than the least expensive all-wheel drive Flex. The Kia Sorento is rated for up to 22/32 mpg city/highway with two-wheel drive and an automatic transmission, and with its optional third row seat it will cost about $25,600, which is about $3,800 less than the base Flex. But compared to the Flex, the second and third rows aren’t as comfortable or easily accessible in the Sorento.
- "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.” -- Consumer Guide
- "The Ecoboosted Ford Flex is a veritable rocket ship. Seriously, it feels way faster than any vehicle this large with fewer than eight cylinders should feel. The engine is well worth the extra $3000.” -- Automobile Magazine
- "The smooth and efficient V6 generates a respectable 262 horsepower and 248 pound-feet of torque - not the best in class but certainly far from being tagged as anemic. Fuel economy, on the other hand, is near the top of its class, with an estimated 17 miles per gallon city and 24 highway.” -- Kelley Blue Book
- "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
Handling and Braking
Reviewers say that the Ford Flex takes bumpy roads with the poise of a luxury car, but can still be sporty in some trims. The steering is responsive overall, though one mentioned that hard braking can result in a nosedive. One reviewer was surprised by the Flex’s 20.4-foot turning radius, saying it was smaller than expected, but another mentioned that the Flex is still too big to maneuver easily in parking lots.
- "The ride is always comfortable - even with the bigger wheels - soaking up bumps in the road with luxury car ease.” -- Edmunds
- "Despite its boxy SUV appearance, the Flex is surprisingly nimble, providing quick turn-in response with little sway or body roll. At highway speeds, the Flex slices through the air impervious to the commotion its boxy shape should be causing.” -- Kelley Blue Book
- "Some testers find the steering too light in models equipped with the base engine. The brakes feel strong and are generally responsive, but Flex tends to nose dive during aggressive stops. For a vehicle with such large dimensions, Flex has a surprisingly tidy turning radius.” -- Consumer Guide
- “In tight quarters, the Flex was less flexible. It's somewhat cumbersome in parking lots. In fact, the grocery store parking lot is where I remembered that the Flex is actually a pretty big car.” -- Cars.com